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The tables turn on Naim’s NAIT XS 3 & SUPERNAIT 3

  • NAIT. Naim Audio Integrated Amplifier. We must journey back to 1983 to locate the original model: a shoebox-sized chassis that could be fed via Naim’s own DIN-socketed line-level inputs or an RCA-socketed MM phono input. Loudspeaker output power was rated at a mere 13wpc but to this day it remains a deceptively punchy performer.

    When the V3 NAIT rolled off the production line ten years later, the original’s (and NAIT 2’s) ‘chrome bumper’ look had been swapped out for ‘olive’, the power output nudged to 30wpc and the chassis widened to full-width (but with a lower roof).

    The first of the 5 Series NAITs issued in 2000 added still more power  – bringing it to 50wpc – and a remote control as standard but 2003’s 5i took away the internal phono stage. 2008’s NAIT XS gave us 60wpc and the first ‘flagship’ SUPERNAIT 80wpc plus a raft of digital inputs / internal DAC.

    In 2013, the NAIT 5si, NAIT XS 2 and SUPERNAIT 2 took speaker juice higher still – to 60wpc, 70wpc and 80wpc respectively – but with the SUPERNAIT 2 curiously stripped of the original’s digital connectivity.

    It’s fair to say that Naim’s evolution of the NAIT has not been a rush job.

    Nait XS 3.

    Six years later comes news of two new NAITs: the NAIT XS 3 (£2199/€2699/US$2999) and SUPERNAIT 3 (£3499/€4299/US$4599) will both feature an upgraded power amplifier section, an internal Class A headphone amplifier, an ALPS Blue Velvet volume control and – with a nod to the late Julian Vereker’s original design – internal MM phono stages.

    Those upgrades in more detail, copy/pasted from the press release:

    • “The Naim R&D team has found a way to more than double the speed of the 
voltage gain stage, which in turn doubles the rate at which the speaker 
output stage can react.
    • The second gain stage transistors have been optimised, so they no longer need 
to be shielded by a cascode stage transistor. Removing the cascode means less amplifier stabilisation is required: that doubles the slew rate and delivers an 
uplift in sound quality.
    • The phono circuit topology comprises 3 stages: the gain stage, passive equalisation and final gain and active equalisation. This enables excellent noise performance, extended RIAA equalisation beyond the audio band and great overload headroom.
    • All RIAA equalisation capacitors are ‘through-hole’ mounted film designs, with low microphonic pickup and excellent transient performance. As phono stages are 1000x more sensitive than other inputs, this greatly benefits the sound quality.
    • Input impedance is 47kΩ in parallel with 470pF capacitive loading; the gain is perfect for 5mV moving magnet cartridges.”
    Nait XS 3 internals.

    What are the benefits of stepping up from the NAIT XS 3 to the SUPERNAIT 3? The press release again has us covered:

    • “Full 24V DR module built-in: enjoy the purer power and performance improvement of Naim’s Discrete Regulation technology for the entire pre-amp stage
    • Larger toroidal transformer in the power supply: provides greater power and speed of recovery
    • Additional leaded through-hole components in the signal path: further minimises negative effects of vibration and transient thermal conditions
    • Chassis-mounted input sockets hand-wired to the circuit boards: offers enhanced vibration isolation
    • Full Alps Blue Velvet Balance control”

    Both the NAIT XS 3 and the SUPERNAIT 3 begin shipping in early August.

    Further information: Naim Audio

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John is the editor of Darko.Audio, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is an occasional contributor to 6moons but has previously written pieces for TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile. John used to live in Sydney. Now he lives in Berlin.

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