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considering an older naim set-up

Discussion in 'audio' started by pawnshop92, May 10, 2018.

  1. pawnshop92

    pawnshop92 pfm Member

    I am thinking about an older naim set-up, either a nait 1,2 or possibly a 5 or a pre/power set-up as second system with a turntable (project rpm5) and likely some sort of digital device. Can I get a bit of buying advice as to what to consider or look for and possibly what to avoid? I've been up and down the hifi path for a number of years and have had the likes of NAD, cyrus, bel canto, moon, krell. I don't have speakers for this set-up yet, either, but have an older set of kef ref103/4 in the lounge and have used the likes of proac, psb, audiovector, b&w as well. Any advice would be gratefully received, I tried to look back in this thread for similar threads but didn't see anything jumping out. Thanks in advance
  2. whatsnext

    whatsnext Naimless

    Bon chance Mssr
    pawnshop92 likes this.
  3. manicatel

    manicatel pfm Member

    Why old Naim?
    Theres a LOT of difference between some of your suggestions, ie between a Nait1 & a pre power. You may want to narrow that list down a bit.
    If you want a digital streamer as a source as well, it may be worth listening to a new Naim Uniti Atom. Its an amp/streamer combined in one very neat unit & you can add a turntable to it as well. It would be more expensive than a 2nd hand Nait, but close in price to a pre/pwr & separate streamer set up & it is very good indeed.
    Older Naim stuff may need a 're-cap' service, which Naim seem to recommend doing every 10-12 years or so. If you were to buy an old amp which is in need of a service you would have to add that into the cost as well.
    Lots of Naim lovers/ex Naimee's/Naim haters on here so you may get a fair bit of conflicting advice & alternative suggestions.
  4. Gaius

    Gaius Trade: Stiletto by Tangerine

    OP, from what you propose I'd say a Nait 2 would tick all the boxes; it's a superb amp and sounds better than many Naim pre/power combos. It's also cute as all get out and will hold its value.
    pawnshop92 likes this.
  5. pawnshop92

    pawnshop92 pfm Member

    I like the look the olive and chrome bumper series, just fancy something a bit older and maybe enjoy it for a while. If I don't like the sound, I know I can resell with minimal loss. Was just for a small set-up in a bedroom/lounge, probably a pair of stand mounts. The Atom is well beyond what I am looking to spend, thanks for the recommendation though. I was just wondering if the pre/power combos were worth considering soemthing along the lines of nac 62/nap 90 or would a nait 2 or even a 5 (not i) be money better spent.
  6. lencotweaker

    lencotweaker Mostly dreaming of record players

    I have an Atom and it is indeed very good in terms of its functionality for streaming and in terms of its sound quality. It is expensive though.

    In my home office I've been slowly putting together a modest Naim classic system which started with a bargain buy of a NAC112x pre-amp, swiftly followed by it's matching NAP150x power amp. Cost for the pair is very modest and it sounds really good. I added a cheap Flatcap 2 recently to the pre-amp and it absolutely transformed the sound. All in this trip has cost under a grand and its a musically involving listen driving Proac Tablette 50 signature with a source of MacBook Pro/Roon/Arcam rDAC. The Naim 5-series is a really good place to start in my view.
    pawnshop92 likes this.
  7. Mick P

    Mick P Retired and content

    Your biggest problem when buying older Naim is buying stuff which has been bodged up. Naim gear attracts bodgers like moths to a candle and most of it is dire and totally devalues the product. Anything by Darren or Witchhat is fine but avoid anything else like the plague.

    When buying you are going to have to get the seller to confirm that it is original as bodged up stuff is less valuable that than which is pure and unsullied.

    I am fortunate in that I have a 32.5 / Hicap / 250 / SBL system which was bought 25 years ago and has been maintained exclusively by Naim, I know that it is all above board and if I ever sold it, would put that down in writing. Anyone who buys that will be getting a 100% original system with a brilliant sound and full investment potential.

    If you buy anything without such provenance, assume it has been bodged and put it in immediately for a service to either Naim or the two guys mentioned above, all of whom will make a decent job of it.

    Despite all the hassle, it will be worth it.


    ryder and pawnshop92 like this.
  8. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Worth noting Mick is not electronics literate at all and probably thinks something as fundamentally simple as recapping an amp is some kind of witchcraft.

    Much classic kit is so because all the knowledge required to service and restore it is in the public domain. No need for gurus, faith healers, expensive boutiques etc. It can be serviced simply by replacing old tired components like-for-like and following simple instructions to set the rail voltage, bias etc.
    anotherdom, TCar, Still and 6 others like this.
  9. Mick P

    Mick P Retired and content

    I admit that I cannot even switch on a soldering iron unlike many who think they can, but we all know the truth there.

    For someone who keeps on about old kit proving to be an investment, you have to admit that any old Naim box with a receipt of service by one of the three I have mentioned, will attract more interest and will sell at a better price than something bodged up by dear old Joe on a kitcen table and newspapers on the floor. With these people you are buying into the unknown.

    Also no need for insults (ref witchcraft), this is a discussion not a war and I know that renovating old Naim kit successfully relies on technical expertise and having recourse to the correct equipment, most of which bodgers have very little.

    Originality is always worth paying for.
    pawnshop92 likes this.
  10. Whatsisnaim

    Whatsisnaim pfm Member

    The problem with vintage Naim shoebox kit is that you’ll never get a digital source in a matching box, if that’s a concern, although a streaming source can potentially be hidden away off the rack. Mind you, now that a Unitiqute is ‘legacy’ Naim kit......
    Regarding the condition of old Naim amps, buying a used one is certainly a lottery, and unless it’s had a recent Naim authorised service, you can never be sure what you will get. That isn’t to say modded kit necessarily sounds bad, you may prefer it to the original spec, but you should budget for a service in case you need it.
    You could do worse than contacting Tomtom audio for older Naim gear.
    pawnshop92 likes this.
  11. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I agree with regards to modifications, they do usualy devalue classic kit, but anyone competent can recap and service an amp once the info is in the public domain. You would not be able to tell the difference between Naim, Witchhat, Avondale or for that matter me assuming the correct coponents were used. To accuse people of “bodging” when you don’t even grasp the basics is just ignorant name calling. I know you view Naim as some kind of status symbol, but the reality is they are just amps. They obey the laws of physics and are actually very, very easy to sevice properly.
    Still, Tony Lockhart and pawnshop92 like this.
  12. HydeLea

    HydeLea pfm Member

    I'd just like to endorse the previous comment about the lottery buying older Naim gear, especially in the private sale space. Close friends of mine have had recent really bad experiences in the 2nd hand market, one with a pair of olive NAP135s, and the other with a olive NAP250. When auditioning the amps after purchase it was clear they just didn't sound right, and had lost that Naim sound. Further investigation revealed they'd been fettled by the so called 'upgraders', and the items where no longer Naim at all.

    I would recommend buying from trusted sources and avoid any 'one man and his dog' so called upgraders.
    pawnshop92 likes this.
  13. MJS

    MJS Trade: Consultant at WH Audio

    I'd start with a NAC72 and NAP140. Either of these are built to last and very easy to service or repair when/if the need arises unlike, say, the 62/90 which are based on a single boards and in the case of the 90, prone to overheating. You now have an upgrade path by means of a Hicap or changing some of the electronics inside these boxes. Naim won't DR an old Hicap despite it being identical to modern versions but we can fit alternatives.

    The NAIT2 is a very capable little amp, beware though that its volume control is far too sensitive for high-output digital sources. An attenuator may be necessary if going down that route. A small number were made with a CD attenuated input in place of the phono stage but I haven't seen one in decades. We have tried a couple of methods of fixing this with different results.

    If you want to go really old Naim then probably the most musical pairing you could find would be a bolt-up NAP160 and NAC12 pre-amp.
    pawnshop92 likes this.
  14. MJS

    MJS Trade: Consultant at WH Audio

    I hope that wasn't us. The original Witch Hat dog Toby sadly died a few weeks ago. We have since rescued two more.

    What we pride ourselves on is the fact we're ex-Naim engineers who have worked on every bit of kit in the factory. We have also heard what it is supposed to sound like in context, so when we offer upgrades for example, it is to take a NAC82 to far nearer to the level of NAC52 performance after service, and all this is done with the same methods that the factory R&D engineers use. We don't change the Naim sound - after all, that's why our customers bought the kit in the first place.
    pawnshop92 likes this.
  15. docstocker

    docstocker pfm Member

    Nait2 is an excellent choice, have a CB Nait 2 which successfully streamed music by an apple TV(not sure which one) from other apple devices. best with efficient speakers but sounds wonderful. Any of the mentioned fettlers can ensure it is up to scratch.
    Another option would be a Nait3, which divides opinion. I had one and liked it very much. Beware caveats from MJS above.
    Preference would be 32.5 or 72 and 110/140. Hicap with TPR4 later.
    One solution is just to wait until 'Gaius' tires of latest 'best ever device' and puts it in small adds!
    I have bought a couple of good items this way
    pawnshop92 likes this.
  16. david ellwood

    david ellwood Kirabosi Kognoscente

    Another vote for proper old school 12s/160 or the wonderful 42.5/110 ,
    pawnshop92 and Gaius like this.
  17. Tigerjones

    Tigerjones Bagpuss

    Forget the Nait 2. 32.5 and a 110 chrome bumper would be my choice. Great amps and the best looking stuff Naim have made, especially compared to their current drabness.
    TimF, Still and pawnshop92 like this.
  18. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    The 160 is a bit of a sleeper IMO, a really good amp that is often overlooked. As are the non-.5 preamps. Assuming it all could be found in really tidy condition I think my vintage Naim choice these days may actually be 42/Snaps/160. Almost all of the fun of say a 32.5/HiCap/250, but far less price tag.

    The 180 similarly looks a bit of a sleeper, matched with an olive 62 it would make for a decent combo with an easy PSU upgrade potential.
    Rana and pawnshop92 like this.
  19. Gaius

    Gaius Trade: Stiletto by Tangerine

    The 160 and 180 are brilliant amps and arguably the best pick of the older stuff. Sweet as it is the 160 can sound a little weak. Its replacement the 180 is quite superb and has more slam, I have a NAC12S straight off a 180 and it makes for a great amp at little cost. I also have a Nait 2 in a cupboard, all you need!!!
    pawnshop92 likes this.
  20. Snufkin

    Snufkin pfm Member

    I would agree with this, a very musical combo with plenty of wiggle room for improvements if the urge happens (separate power supply/reversible upgrades to the pre-amp boards etc). The 110/140/160 amps do seem to be the most fun and not that expensive in the UK.
    pawnshop92 and Tigerjones like this.

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