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Entry Level Naim amplification... is it worth it?

Discussion in 'audio' started by hiphopopotamus, Feb 3, 2020.

  1. I'm looking to build up a 2nd system and, on the amplification side of things, I'm interested to dip my toe into the Naim world just to see what it's all about.

    I hear differing things, however, as to whether "budget" Naim is worthwhile.

    I have up to approx. £400 set aside for the amp - this will drive some old Goodmans that, a few months down the line, will likely turn into some Proacs or ATCs.

    From recent sales in the classifieds I see my options are something like:

    Integrated Nait 5i
    Pre NAC 112x + Power NAP 150

    I quite like the idea of going down the pre + power for future upgradability. But I know that concerns from this community seem to exist around the quality of the 112/112x.

    Do either of these options seem better than the other to anyone here?
    Or, with the £400 available, does anyone recommend going a different but interesting route?

    I've had long term experience with Arcam, Marantz, XTZ, Audiolab, and Cambridge amps in the past, and would quite like to try another style in particular (hence the Naim thoughts) without the risk of losing much on the monetary side just in case it turns out to not be suited to my listening style (which is edging on warm & musical - which, from descriptions of Naim on this forum and elsewhere, I believe it will be suited to).

    Any thoughts welcome!
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
  2. Enfield boy

    Enfield boy pfm Member

    Tom Tom audio do a roaring trade in "pre-loved" Naim gear, I've bought a few items from them and found them very good to deal with. If you can get to St Albans they're well worth a visit. Sorry I can't give any recommendations on recent models as, over the years I've gone from a 42/110 to 52/135s, but they have a range of vintages and prices.
    wiresandmore and Jonathan like this.
  3. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    From the amps you had in the past, the Arcam is likely to be the closest match to the Nait 5i and this Naim integrated is the best value for money in its category and also easier to sell if it doesn’t suit your taste. So if your favorite was the Arcam, the Nait is the next step.

    YNWOAN 100% Analogue

    I’m not a big fan of Naim’s ‘modern’ entry level separates and second hand Olive era (or CB era) gear offers hugely better performance for the money (IMO of course).
    Dan K, Burrells Boy, lazycat and 6 others like this.
  5. thebiglebowski

    thebiglebowski pfm Member

    I've got a UnitiQute 1 you can have for £400 + postage (24/96, original box, remote, and display has not dimmed or have any issues)
  6. pocketkitchen

    pocketkitchen Registered User

    A Nait 3 should come in well under budget and sound good, as would an Exposure X or an Ion Obelisk. It's possible all would need a service, so perhaps budget £100 for that too.
    Jono_13 and Caledon1297 like this.
  7. Caledon1297

    Caledon1297 pfm Member

    +1 for Nait 3 - better performance than any Black Naits, IME, and likely to be significantly less expensive than a Nait or Nait 2.
    Jono_13, joe loss and Gervais Cote like this.
  8. ryder

    ryder pfm Member

    I'm not sure if you can get the NAC122x and NAP150x for £400 but if you are able to, I would think it's a great choice.

    I'm not a fan of Naim's lower range integrateds. I tried the Nait XS and it sounded almost the same as the Rega Elicit Mk2, not much difference. It's usually their pre/power which sets the Naim apart from the rest.. IME and IMO.

    You may try other alternatives - Exposure, Sonneteer for high quality integrateds at not too exorbitant prices.
  9. MVV

    MVV pfm Member

    + 2 for the Nait 3. Unfashionable hence really good value and more powerful than the Nait 2. I bought one while the main amp at 10X the cost was away being serviced and could have lived with it no problem.
    Jono_13 likes this.
  10. Thanks all for the input - a lot of info here!
    To summarise what I think I'm hearing:
    • Look to the olive era for the maximum vfm in Naim separates
    • It may be difficult/impossible to find the NAC112x + NAP150 within budget - prob would have to increase the budget a fair amount to get them (but having said that, they don't seem a good option compared to equivalently priced (on the current 2nd hand market) olive era amps)
    • The Nait 3 seems good value at the pricepoint I am looking at
    • There is the option of the Unitiqute at approx the same price point as the Nait 3, which (as far as I can tell) is similar to the Nait 5i but (i) pared back a little on the power front, and (ii) includes a DAC
    The best option to me does seem to be the Unitiqute - as this will remove the need for me to purchase an external DAC (and potentially postpone a CD player indefinitely, should the Spotify/Tidal streaming prove as effective as it sounds from online reviews) - this will allow me to up my budget for speakers - potentially (CD dependent) quite considerably...

    Does anyone think the Nait 3 sounds significantly better than the Unitiqute (and does the more "modern" Unitiqute preserve the Naim sound?)? ie - is the £200 or so that would have gone on an external dac worth just being pushed into the speakers with a Unitiqute covering both bases?

    Ultimately, if there's not much in the Nait3 vs Unitiqute selection, @thebiglebowski I will take you up on your kind offer, thanks...
  11. PerF

    PerF Member

    A UQ and Nait 3 is very different and might require different setup - both probably better sounding than most Arcam, Cambridge, Marantz etc..(IMO)

    Depending on speakers efficiency & room-size, a UQ might be all you need.
    Its a great receiver with streaming (not sure about Tidal) & DAC.

    Do you want to explore further, any Nait matching budget would be fine, indeed if serviced.
    Separates will be more expensive, lots to choose between, usually free hifi if later upgrade as they keep good value.
    TBH I'd avoid the 112 and early Uniti's if display fade.
  12. Gaius

    Gaius Trade: Stiletto by Tangerine

    I have just enjoyed a Nait 5i whilst my 250 was being serviced. I really rate this little Nait and would defiantly have it in front of a 112/150. The 112 being a bit pants.

    The older Naits 1 & 2 are both superb amplifiers and highly recommended.

    Other thoughts would be to try the shoe box pre powers, something like a 32.5/110 or 140 is very good.

    Sorry, just read your budget OP, I'd say the Nait 5 or 5i would be the way to go.
  13. I do enjoy this forum...so many different thoughts...it seems the following could be my options (I've tried to average recent sales of good condition ones on ebay in my mind to get this list):

    UnitiQute: ~£400
    Nait 3: ~£300
    Nait 2 (non chrome): ~£500
    Nait 5i: ~£375
    NAC 32.5: £300 + NAP 110: £400 = ~£700 (though these seem to vary hugely in final price on ebay - some bargains, some not so much)
    NAC112x and NAP150 = ~£500

    Anyone think any of those are clearly better value than others?
    ...with the idea that I can pull the trigger on £400 right now, but would have to wait a little while for anything more - and that would consequently also push back the speaker upgrade.

    My Goodmans don't take much to drive, and the speaker I'd be moving to would be even less so (small bookshelf sized Proacs - but perhaps Harbeths if I can get it together - seem most likely right now)
  14. Ponty

    Ponty pfm Member

    I’m currently using a 112X / 150X / Flatcap 2, with CD5 and Neat Motive 2’s. I have to say, it’s an excellent little system. I used to run a 252/Supercap/300, it has the same sound signature and the gap certainly isn’t as wide as you’d expect. However, the Flatcap2 gives a huge performance boost so think about whether you’ll want to upgrade at some point, which you can’t with a Nait.

    I’m actually going to move this on soon as I’m going for a single box solution (Linn DSM) but will miss it, it really rocks. I think unless you up your budget, stick with a Nait (certainly no hardship). I’ve been looking at values and the last 150X sold yesterday on eBay for £475. Keep your eye out on here, Naits crop up and it’s better to buy from a trusted forum member than take pot luck on eBay.
  15. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    Sounds like a bargain to me!
  16. thebiglebowski

    thebiglebowski pfm Member

    I do like it but the killer for me is it not having a sleep function as it would be the bedroom amp otherwise.
    gintonic likes this.
  17. Alex S

    Alex S carbon based lifeform

    32.5/110 - Now you’re talking.
    Jonathan likes this.
  18. chrisnaim

    chrisnaim pfm Member

    I have used a Nait 5i its a wonderful amp and went up the ladder.I could quite be happy with a nait 5i.
    Gaius likes this.
  19. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    +3, I had a Nait 3r, which I believe only differs from the original Nait 3 in that it has remote control functionality. I used it with a Rega Planar 3, CD 3.5 and Rega ELA MK1s, lovely amp!

    The Qute offered by TBL is a real bargain too, it’s a genuinely good sounding amp with a DAC and streaming capability thrown in!
    Jono_13 likes this.
  20. Ah you are right - I was looking at the one on here but that was a straight 150, my mistake (have now corrected it in my pricing estimates) - the 112x and 150 pairing was listed on here for £500 together recently but has unfortunately already sold.

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