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eclecticmonkey's picture
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Naim vs Audiolab

I've recently tested the Audiolab 8200CDQ with 2 8200MB monoblocks against the NAIM CD5i and NAIM Nait 5i amp, both with Spendor A5 speakers. I like both but the NAIM sounded the more musical although I felt it was underpowered - does anyone else have the same impression? Swapping up to the Nait XS amp made a lot of difference. Interested to hear anyone else's views on this.

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RE: Naim vs Audiolab

I'm not at all suprised.  As you know, the basic Nait is Naim's junior integrated.  You've neatly highlighted the difference between power and musicality.

85 dB per watt speakers need a lot more grunt than a Nait has, especially for realistic volumes, and quite possibly a largish room (given the size of your speakers).  I'd think the XS was the minimum in power terms, not just the numbers but dynamic capabiilty.    

 

Krell CD and amp, Michell TT, Hitachi and Sony tuners, Nakamichi cassette, SBT streamer, Sonus faber spkrs.  

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RE: Naim vs Audiolab

I went up to Nait XS from Nait 5i . More of everything . 

I added the Flatcap 2 that helped as well . Nait 5i is pretty remarkable though 

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RE: Naim vs Audiolab

Many years ago I used to run Audiolab's 8000Q preamp with the 8000M monoblocks into my Tannoy D-700s. The sound was OK but I always got the impression the amps were not really able to grip and control the speakers, and that they struggled at higher volumes. I then switched to a Naim NAC 82, 2 Hicaps and 2 NAP 135s and found the improvement to be very substantial.

Of course, it's only fair to add that the Naims were much more expensive (triple the cost of the Audiolabs, if memory serves me right). But between the two brands, I would opt for Naim, finicky cabling and all.

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RE: Naim vs Audiolab

I really like the standard Nait, but think the XS more than justifies its price premium. It really does sound like a more complete amplifier to me.

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RE: Naim vs Audiolab

Thanks everyone for your comments, some food for thought!  I've seen in several places the Spendor speakers advocated as a pairing for the Nait 5i and I just don't get it, it doesn't seem to work.  Plus, working on an equal distribution of budget, the A5s are somewhat of an imbalance!  But if I go for Nait XS I kind of feel I should go for CD5 XS also otherwise I would feel that the source was imbalanced.  I'm throwing something else in the mix too, gonna go and listen to both the Roksan Kandy and Caspian cd/integrated amp pairings - given the budget we're talking here I feel I owe it to myself to hear as much as possible before a final decision.  Interestingly, I've noticed people using Roksan Caspian CD player with Naim Nait XS amp so feel there might be some common ground here, does anyone have any comments on that?

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RE: Naim vs Audiolab

I agree with everyone else, the XS is a better all-rounder. I've heard the 5i and XS numerous times over the years and the XS, IMO, is easier to speaker match.

I've also heard Naim with Spendors (A5 and SA-1s) and wasn't that thrilled by the combo. The best combo, IMO, was XS with Dynaudio Contour S1.4. It demonstrated fabulous control. That said I've compared the XS to the Leema Pulse, ended up with the latter. IMHO, in certain areas, the Pulse is a game changer at the price.

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RE: Naim vs Audiolab

Before the current Spendor1/2, I owned A6 for 2 years paring with Accphase e460 integrated.
To me, spendor is a safe choice always. I mean, it doesn't take very expensive front end gear to get great performance out of them.
No experience with Naim though, any well designed 80w amp should work fine with Spendor.

So far, Accuphase Spendor (being both A6 and 1/2) combo has produced the most satisfying sound to my ears, among not less than 15 pairs of speakers I owned for the last 3 years. Blum 3

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