The one that got away. We all have a story of a hifi product we bought, enjoyed…and never should have sold. For this commentator, that product is the Naim Nait integrated. Nait? Naim Audio Integrated Amplifier.
First manufactured in 1983, the original Nait came housed in a shoebox chassis fitted out with (what came to be known as) the ‘chrome bumper’ trim. Its humble 20wpc lent music unreasonable amounts of punch and vitality. At least, that’s how I remember it. I also recall the internal phono stage as being excellent but even harder to forget was having to source the RCA-to-DIN cables needed to connect third-party components to the Nait’s three line-level inputs. (That was an irritation I could’ve done without).
Discontinued in 1987 as it gave way to the Nait 2, the original Nait has gone on to become something of a collector’s item. Try to score one on the second market today and you’ll be looking at well north of US$1000. Nagging doubts about the state of its capacitors will come for free.
A capacitor is an electronic component that temporarily stores electric charge to release it when needed. It consists of two conductive plates separated by a dielectric material that insulates the plates from each other. When a voltage is applied across the capacitor, an electric field is created and charge accumulates on the plates, ready to be released whenever the music signal demands it.
However, capacitors can degrade over time due to their operational temperatures, voltage stress, operational environment (hello humidity!) and, sometimes, overuse. As capacitors age, their electrical properties degrade, resulting in changes to capacitance (their ability to temporarily store energy) and impedance (their ability to release that charge in a timely manner).
But hang on…
To mark 50 years in the audio business, Naim is introducing the Nait 50 integrated amplifier. Same shoebox form factor. Same visual aesthetic, complete with chunky source selector switches, medium-sized volume knob and ‘chrome bumper’ trim. However, the amplifier circuit has reportedly been brought up to 2023 standards, bumped up to 25wpc, the phono stage revised with all-discrete components and a new headphone amplifier added. BYO DAC. Refusing to bend to modern connectivity trends, Naim has maintained the DIN sockets for the Nait 50’s two line-level analogue inputs: ‘stream’ and ‘aux’.
The twist? Only 1973 units will be made when the Nait 50 goes on sale for £2699, US$3599 or €3000 — no re-capping required. Shipping begins June 2023.
Further information: Naim