What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 3 Oct 2013, 12:01pm

Naim Nait 5si

Tested at £925
100100
5

Best stereo amplifier £800-£1500, Awards 2013. An assured performer, which offers detail, precision and energy by the bucketload

Write your own review

For

  • Dynamically and rhythmically strong
  • Stacks of detail
  • Powerful but refined sound
  • Energetic

Against

  • Could be smoother

When an update of a much-loved product launches, there’s a lot of expectation for it to be everything its predecessor was, and then some. With the Nait 5si, Naim has nailed it.

Looking near-on identical to the Nait 5i and the Nait 5i before it, the Nait 5si has that minimalistic Naim charm that follows the adage that, sometimes, less is more.

MORE: Awards 2013

 

Naim Nait 5si

Build and design

Nothing blemishes the aluminium front fascia, save the volume control, placed quirkily on the left, four input buttons on the right and the 6.35mm headphone jack.

It’s under the hood that you’ll find the most changes. Power output has taken a jump from 50W to 60W per channel (into 8 ohms), thanks to a larger toroidal transformer and improved power supply.

The main circuitboard and wiring loom have also seen improvements, drawn from work done on the excellent Naim DAC-V1, while components in the power amp stage and all signal capacitors have seen an upgrade too.

Naim Nait 5si

The inputs available are the same as ever, with four stereo RCA inputs and two DIN connectors. Since the Naim Nait 5si has no screen, the chosen input will instead feature a green circle of light around its input button. Simple, but effective.

Performance

We play Beyonce’s Dangerously In Love, and the 5si immediately shows that it shares a similar character with its predecessor. But it sounds clearer and cleaner than ever before.

There’s real muscle behind its performance, and Beyonce’s powerful vocals are handled and relayed with refinement and realism. That extra power output certainly does not go unnoticed, and sounds more than its 60W.

Naim NAIT 5si

Dynamically it’s strong too – play Etta James’ My Baby Just Cares For Me, and the punchy piano instrumental bounces along with absolute rhythmic precision.

You can pick out the layers of detail in every individual drum stroke, and all the soulful texture of James’ vocal comes across with stunning clarity.

There’s plenty of space and separation in the musical soundstage, too. A run through of Vivaldi’s Winter from the Four Seasons is hugely enjoyable, with each violin precisely placed, given space to breathe and extend right through to the top end without sounding pushed or restricted.

Naim Nait 5si

Equally, the low frequencies have admirable punch and solidity. The bass may be on the lean side for some, but what’s there is taut and well controlled.

We certainly didn’t feel as though we were missing any low-end grunt in a play through an energetic performance of Eminem’s Love The Way You Lie.

The Naim Nait 5si walks the tough line between muscle and subtle admirably, masterfully turning its hand to whatever music is thrown at it.

Verdict

It might not always be the smoothest of listens, and some may find its fairly minimal input count or lack of phono stage offputting, but the drive and attack the Naim Nait 5si puts into your music is no mean feat, and makes it nothing short of a gem for the this end of the market.

 

MORE: Naim UnitiQute 2 review 

See all our Best Buy amplifiers

Follow whathifi.com on Twitter

Join whathifi.com on Facebook

Find us on Google+

Latest offers