Regular readers and hi-fi aficionados will know that Naim’s 50th anniversary has seen the UK firm release not one but three new products at CES 2023, including a sixth-generation overhaul of the 1975 NAP 250 power amp.
But this one is special, for me. This is Mr. Vereker’s Nait 1 in a 2023 iteration. To clarify, Nait 50 is a remaster of the very first Nait amplifier, released in 1983. And as with that original and iconic piece of hi-fi history, it is being made in Salisbury, UK, but this time limited to only 1,973 pieces – see what they did there?
There’s a glorious understated functionality to it and you love to see it – check out Copland’s brutalist amps or Moon’s high-end North options for further reference.
Back to the Nait though (because it’s worth it) and with technically improved circuits thanks to the enriched, unique know-how gathered over the years by Naim’s engineers, Nait 50 promises top amplification performance in its price category. I haven’t heard it yet, but I truly hope it reproduces the most exacting dynamics with all the confidence and authority I’ve come to expect from a Naim.
I do know it’ll link with almost all types of loudspeaker, including the best stereo speakers we’ve tested, and can also be combined with a streamer to make the ultimate analog/digital hi-fi system. New features on this anniversary edition include a headphone output, a new MM phono stage with discrete transistors (for hooking it up to one of the best turntables in our buying guide, as long as the deck sports a moving-magnet variant cartridge), and a chrome finish.
You’re also getting 25W of power per channel with peaks of 225W, three analog inputs, and just look at that Spinal Tap-esque volume dial on its front panel. I really do want one of these.
Opinion: Naim at 50 is irrefutable proof that if it ain’t broke there’s no need to fix it
If I had my way, I’d hook this amp up to a set of Tannoy speakers I heard at High End Munich, in the 1970s heritage hi-fi room of my dreams.
When it comes to hi-fi, brand ethea seems to swing in two distinct directions: looking back (even as far as the awesome 1927 Western Electric 12B, seen at High End Munich 2023) to wooden cabinets and a wholly traditional approach, or looking forward with all-new materials, concepts, and radical approaches – see Wilson Audio’s aggressively radical speakers, Magico’s metal enclosures or Monitor Audio’s majestic and wildly alternative Concept 50 design.
I see plenty of room for both – alongside a hybrid approach where each concept is embraced and celebrated, as is the case with something like Focal’s foodie-themed Sopra 2 speakers. And even Naim itself has branched out into one-box streaming solutions with great success, owing to the excellent Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation.
But there’s a reason Naim’s heritage lines persist – something I wrote about extensively for TechRadar’s sister publication in a labor of love entitled 9 of the best Naim products of all time. The reason is simple: they still work.
Yes, the company has always had a rock-n-roll approach – I remember a poster with 250 stereo power amp embedded in a broken wooden floor and a sheepish-looking man in the background, with the caption “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your Naim” – but the separates speak for themselves. And long may that continue.
Naim Nait 50 will arrive in June, with a suggested retail price of $3,599 / £2,699 / €3,000 (which is around AU $5,089). Mark your diaries and let’s all keep checking back with Naim.