At the very onset, let me be forthright by saying that I, per se never had any great interest in the Naim brand and to be very honest always felt that a lot of hype was seemingly generated towards this brand from the Naim Owners/Loyalists/Followers, what ever you may call them.
What's in a Naim to use one of their advert cliches was always what I really thought about them in the truest sense. That was about 3 years ago, when I first got acquainted to the brand by one of my good friends, who at that point of time was looking out for an integrated amplifier. We started the whole audition/demo journey where we heard quite a fair number of amplifiers/speakers/sources and so on. We would identify a brands particular model that was in his budget window, audition it then go back and do some further research/analysis on it and exchange notes on the information collated individually by us. This continued for a while till there came a point that whatever we heard was not cutting the mustard for one reason or the other and that led to us going to a dealers place to hear something he had of another brand but ultimately leading us towards Naim unintentionally. This dealer was to demo something he thought was going to work for my friend, but since my friend was feeling weary and frustrated due to the whole situation he was experiencing of not finding anything to his liking, he requested the sales rep of that dealer to play the Naim rig that was also there on demo. We heard a few tracks that we always played during each of the demo's as per our usual practice and suddenly it all fell into place for him. I think the sound was kind of love at first sight for him, in the sense that his mind was made up of what he was hearing was having the right sonics and what he ultimately was looking for. We left the dealers place and went to a pub nearby to have a few beers as my friend was elated to find himself mentally at a place that was what he thought was the end of his journey as far as amplifiers were concerned. The Naim bug had bitten him!
To cut a long story short, he subsequently got the Naim Nait 5i integrated amp and started his journey into the world of Naim with me subconsciously accompanying him. As a matter of fact, I was not too convinced to begin with as I still was quite uncertain about the Naim sound yet. The subsequent hunting for speakers to pair with the Nait 5i slowly but surely made me understand more about the Naim sound philosophy to a very large extent. Having that background of the Naim Nait 5i, thanks to my friend, I started doing research on the Naim background and its philosophies, which led me to get more insight into their other products and as luck would have it, opportunities to hear their expensive amplifiers/CD players, Streamers, Interconnects/Speaker Cables, at various places. Having this background now, I was very happy to get acquainted to a newer model of the Naim Nait 5i, the Naim Nait 5Si.
The Naim Nait 5si, looks pretty much the same as its predecessor which is the Naim philosophy. A flat matt grey-black casing with the volume control on the left, the Naim logo in green bang in centre and 4 buttons denoting 4 inputs, named as cd, tuner, tape and av. The addition of the 6.35mm heaphone jack is what distinguishes the 5Si from the 5i. At the back, on the left side we have CD input both in RCA & Din female receptacles, tuner input again in RCA & Din Female receptacles and then 2 hdd in/out and av RCA input female receptacles. Then to the right side, the speaker cable terminals and IEC power cord receptacle and a power piano switch. That's it folks!
We have paired the Naim Nait 5Si with a variety of speakers but kept an almost constant source pairing with either the matching CD5i or a CD5XS CD Player. We also tried a Project Debut Carbon Esprit as an analog source with an outboard Phono Stage. Details of the various speakers as below:
Amphion Helium 410
PMC DB1 Gold
Heil AMT Aulos
Heco Celan GT702
Heco Musicstyle 900
Canton Vento 890DC
Canton Vento 880 DC
Canton Ergo 690
NOTE: Being on a long term loaner, the 5Si will further be paired with different sources and speakers that will be reviewed in future.
The Nait5i had a conservatively rated 50W RMS @ 8 Ohms, whilst the Nait 5Si has 60W RMS @ 8 Ohms. A bigger toroidal transformer and power supply are welcome additions to ensure better performance of the 5Si.
What that 10 additional watts does is that the 5Si now becomes even more attractive a purchase than before, as it now certainly has more oomph than before, creating that head room that was sometimes required in the case of the 5i. I can confidently state that now the 5Si can be the weapon of choice for driving a wider section of speakers, either stand mounts or floor standers. Play any kind of music and the first thing that appeals to the listener is the famed Naim PRAT, which reels you in immediately. Its ability to handle nearly everything thrown at it is remarkable indeed. I for one certainly feel that the 5Si is now even more a very attractive integrated amplifier for one to start a set up with. Musicality, dynamics and details retrieval are the strong points of the 5Si.
1) Synergy wise, what we have noticed is that if one wants to extract the maximum from Naim products, then one must definitely use their DIN Interconnects & Speaker cables.
2) By far the best speakers to really go well with Naim gears are PMC. They are like a match made in heaven. They just seem to have a synergy that is locked in which results in the end user having no reason to nit pick on anything that is critically deficient. This makes one forget about the gear and enjoy the music for long periods of time, which ultimately should be the end goal for any music lover.
3) Give Naim signature sometime to grow on you. It isn't something to be heard for a short while. It has its charm and quirks which one has to understand and live with.
4) At the price point, one would definitely expect the 5Si to have a phonostage, but this could be taken as nit picking since not every buyer would be utilising one as he may or may not be having a turntable to make use of it or the converse could be that one might be having a dedicated outboard phonostage dialed in to his specific requirements. Naim also have their own dedicated phonostages to offer but that is an additional cost none the less.
At a price of 1.4L, the Naim Nait 5Si is by no means cheap but given its performance and enduring qualities, it certainly is a long term keeper and that is one of the reasons why the price would be justified in the long term. The fact that it comes bundled with a 5 year warranty indicates that the company is confident of the build quality of its products which is very reassuring to the buyer. Yes, it looks very unassuming almost bordering on boring and will no doubt be frowned upon in the WAF, but for what it does sonically, these nit picks are forgiven and is embraced whole heartedly by its owners. This amplifier will certainly be part of the test rig at HifiHunt as a benchmark, which says a lot about the 5Si.