On Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd September, we held our Naim 300 series launch events. Here is our write-up of what happened.
When planning this, Naim’s Jason Gould requested a specific triple full Fraim set up as pictured above.
On top, left, NSC 222 streamer / preamp then below an empty level of Fraim, sitting below a NAP 250 and another empty level and finally the NPX 300.
Middle tower of full fraim contained, at the top, the new NAC 332 preamp then one empty level of full fraim and settled below the New NAP 350 mono block power amps.
The final stack of full fraim contained the New NSS 333 streamer then another empty shelf of full fraim followed by a second NPX300 power supply. The bottom two levels remained empty as we moved Jason’s Uniti Core into our front demo room.
Jason’s recommendations for this style of set up allowed him to walk us through the 200 series right up to the new 300 series using virtually every permutation possible.
Before the event kicked off on the Friday Jason made a few tweaks to our super lumina speaker cable runs (my tidying up for photos had been a little over zealous) and tweaked the din plugs, at this point I must mention just how good Jason’s knowledge and ears really are!! Things definitely improved.
Once happy, and we were very happy, with how our main room system was sounding we prepared for the arrival of our first guests.
Quick side note:
At our 200 series launch we used the Kudos Titan 707’s and played a couple of tracks using the NSC 222 fed into the NAP 250 then demonstrated the upgrade path using the same two tracks with the NPX300 feeding the NSC222.
In the interest of doing things slightly differently this time we opted for a pair of £36000 Dynaudio Confidence 60’s. This was actually a two fold decision. Firstly, the Confidence 60’s are quite amp friendly and would allow the NAP 250 show its potential, rather than show off the NAP 350 mono blocks by using speakers which made the NAP 250 uncomfortable and overworked.
Secondly, we like the Confidence series and the 60s can drive the room well. We tried the Titan 808s and, whilst they suit the NAP350s very well, they definitely ask more of the new NAP250 than it can give in our large listening space.
Alistair opened proceedings with an introduction of the system and handed over to Jason Gould.
Jason explained the design process and some of the ‘work rounds’ Naim had developed to meet half watt standby power consumption regulations whilst retaining the all important transformer power supplies which are very much part of the Naim sound. He also touched on the importance of the sophisticated volume controls in both NSC 222 and NAC332 which were first developed for the flagship Statement S1 pre amplifier.
Once the technical details had been revealed Jason started playing music.
The first track was Eucalyptus by Laura Veirs. Source CD rip Naim Uniti Core, Equipment NSC222 & NAP 250 into Dynaudio Conference 60’s.
The two box system produced a very musical and dynamic experience with decent levels of detail and soundstage.
Jason then plugged in the NPX 300 power supply, this reduces the magnetic fields inside the Pre Streamer and equips it with a much larger power supply also separates the Digital and Analogue via the twin Burndy cables connecting the two devices.
Laura Veirs track was played again and the sonic benefit was very apparent. Bass was cleaner and tighter, each note seemed to have a starting point further back in the soundstage and her vocal tone had a more emotion presence with each phrase somehow seemed a touch longer!?
Jason switched to a different piece of music, the rather haunting Kyrie (Vidala-Baguala) by Mercedes Sosa, with the system remaining as a full three box 200 series system.
The vocals really were quite impressive and engaging with subtle nylon string guitar drifting in and quite hefty low end percussion.
The system was changed to the new NSS333 and NAP332 using their own internal power supplies and connected via superlumina din lead connecting the streamer and pre together still running the NAP250 stereo power amp.
The second listen to haunting track the uplift in quality was very obvious, the vocals were now “goose bumps” inducing, the cymbal now had shape the low end percussion expressed variance in texture and depth, clearly separating steaming and pre amplification duties has big benefits.
As before the system remained unchanged but the music was now Veto by SOHN.
Interesting percussive track with synth chords and clear vocals.
We listened to the entire track before Jason added the NPX to the Naim Streamer.
The uplift in musical and spatial vocal storytelling was obvious.
The music was changed to The Road to Ensenada by Lyle Lovett and the process of listing and then listening again with a NPX300 attached to the New Pre amp. This has the least impact so far but was nevertheless perceptible, it’s possible the track was already very interesting and engaging that my critical listening skills had gone out of the window!?
The last track Jason played was Jenny Again by Tunng.
A strange piece of music with a sample ‘Jenny so shy’ followed by acoustic guitar and male vocals. At this point we’re hearing full 300 front end with external power supplies yet still running the NAP250, very much holding its own and performing admirably.
After walking through the upgrade path from 200 series up to 300 series Jason plugged in the new NAP350 mono blocks. It’s worth mentioning Naim were proud to hit the 100 watt RMS figure with the NAP250, the new mono block are a whopping 175 watts each, more powerful than the NAP500!
The track started again and clearly the power amplifiers announced their presence, any hint of edging on the vocals was gone, the mids were incredibly clean. The LF had more weight and felt more taught but the biggest impact was definitely in the soundstage.
Even though our speakers are on the tall side, they sounded even taller, wider and bigger with the new mono block power amps. I asked Jason if he would play the first track again, Giving us the full arc.
What had been a stereo image before using the 200 kit now became truly three dimensional, the percussion seemingly walked up and down the speakers as well as left to right. Naim are clearly very proud of their New Classic Series and well they should be. Designer Steve Sells has done a terrific job.
The two box 200 set up sounded excellent and each add-on treated us to more better bigger cleaner etc etc! The full 300 system really is rather special and although not “better” than 500 series, it’s certainly nipping at its heels. If like me you’re a fan of the New Classic voicing? You might find yourself preferring the 300 kit to anything you’ve heard from Naim before.
I evaluated this journey over all four demonstrations over two days of listening.
They say that first impressions last but I’d recommend listening to the new classic kit as many times as you can, it’s different, yet, still very Naim and very very good. Definitely a ‘grower’.
Huge thanks to both Jason and Darren Woodyatt for all their hard work. Thanks, also, to all who came along, some from quite some distance away.