This Naim-powered CD and vinyl system celebrates the best of British hi-fi

British Hi-Fi Week high-end system
(Image credit: Future)

Our third British-rooted hi-fi system of British Hi-Fi Week 2023 is a heady mix of styles of the terrific-value £1600 separates set-up, and the step-up mid-range digital system. A rather more expensive mix, admittedly – but there is certainly still great value in this turntable and compact disc system. This impressive set-up takes four What Hi-Fi? Award winners from over the years and brings them together in a wonderfully musical system that should set up your listening enjoyment for many years.

The system

Turntable: Vertere DG-1S (£3550/$4995/AU$7000)

CD player: Naim CD5 si (£1499/$1999/AU$2950)

Stereo amplifier: Naim SuperNait 3 (£3799/$5699/AU$8650)

Loudspeakers: ATC SCM19 (£2400/3249/AU$5500)

Total: £11,248/$15,942/AU$24,100)

Turntable: Vertere DG-1 S

Turntable: Vertere DG-1 S/Magneto

(Image credit: Vertere)

This new generation Vertere DG-1 S builds on the excellent original deck to remain at the forefront of the best record players at this level. 

It brings a musical sound, as one would hope – one that is rhythmically as surefooted as they come. But it also has a spring in its step when it comes to rendering dynamic nuances, and with it an appealing sense of energy about the way it reproduces sound.

Listening, in our review of the DG-1S, to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Cave’s bold yet vulnerable vocals come through with impressive clarity and we are never left in any doubt as to the feelings he is trying to convey. The backing instrumentation all slots neatly into place, every note neatly organised to form a cohesive and musical whole. Despite the Vertere resolving an immense amount of detail, we find ourselves lost in the music rather than encouraged to analyse the recording or production. And that, surely, is what great hi-fi ought to be about. 

We move on to Four Tet’s There Is Love In You, an album that could have been made just to highlight the DG-1 S’s strengths. The mass of instrumentation shows off the deck’s excellent resolution and its ability to keep track of a multitude of musical strands without getting confused. Just as importantly, unlike some other highly resolving products, the Vertere doesn’t sound as if it is diminishing the music’s sense of freedom or life despite having all that control. This is a neat balancing act few manage to do well.

There is no shortage of punch and drive when the music demands. We particularly love the way this Vertere delivers bass frequencies; they are taut, agile and tuneful but also beautifully textured.

We haven’t come across a similarly priced alternative that sounds as entertaining and informative as this. 

CD player: Naim CD5si

9 of the best Naim products of all time

(Image credit: Future)

And we could say much the same for the compact disc player in this system.

The CD5si bends over backwards to deliver an exuberant and enjoyable performance, with an unmatched enthusiasm and concrete drive that we take to instantly. In terms of musicality and cohesion, it is spot on. This is a hearty delivery; detailed and confident with dynamics, it embraces the quieter parts of a piece gracefully before climbing up to crescendos with explosive drama and intensity.

The Naim CD5si is a highly capable performer with an authoritative grasp of rhythms and enough punch and power to really transform your music collection.

Integrated amplifier: Naim Supernait 3

Naim Supernait 3

(Image credit: Naim Audio)

It makes sense to pair one of the best CD players we've tested at this level with its stablemate amplifier – especially one that is so well-regarded. The winner of What Hi-fi?’s Award for best stereo amplifier over £2500 in 2019, the Supernait 3 seems to offer everything we like about the company’s far pricier pre/power combinations, but in a neater package and at a more affordable price.

Of course, an integrated amplifier costing £3800 is still distinctly premium, but when it has us questioning the need to spend more, it suddenly seems pretty good value.

This is about as well equipped as an all-analogue amplifier needs to be. There are four line-level inputs, each offering the choice of conventional RCA or Naim’s favoured Din options. We prefer Dins simply because this input tends to sound just that bit better, particularly when using Naim’s Din-equipped sources.

Given a suitable amount of time to settle, and a source of suitable quality, this amplifier turns in a remarkably assured performance. 

The Supernait 3 sounds solid and muscular, never sounding as though it has to try hard to make the speakers bend to its will.

Such confidence works wonders for the listener. When that subliminal messiness of an amplifier struggling isn’t present, it is easier to focus on the music instead. That’s what the Supernait, regardless of generation, has always done best.

We go back to Four Tet’s There Is Love In You set and the Naim sounds as happy as a toddler in a sandpit. It has a fast, punchy sound that is backed with real heft at low frequencies. We are impressed by the organisation on show and the amplifier’s ability to track a multitude of musical strands and still tie them together as a cohesive and musical whole. We can’t think of a more capable alternative when it comes to rhythmic drive and precision. It conveys the changing momentum of the music brilliantly, capturing the various mood changes between tracks with conviction.

Detail resolution is good, and it’s easy to get insight into a recording and the production methods used. But it never feels as though the Naim makes this a priority. Once again, it’s simply about getting to the heart of the musical message and feeling the emotion that the artist intended. 

Stereo speakers: ATC SCM19


(Image credit: ACM)

And on that appropriate note, we move on to the rather splendid loudspeakers in this premium system. We have always been fans of ATC speakers, and the SCM19 you see here romped home with the What Hi-Fi? Best Standmounter £1500+ Award in 2019.  

Listening to Clair De Lune, we get a clear sense of how large the recording venue is, the SCM19s picking up the subtle acoustic clues that allow us to perceive that size. Piano notes are delivered with solidity and finesse. We are struck by the layers of harmonics the speakers resolve and the natural way these standmounters render the varying intensity of the keystrokes. The leading and trailing edges of notes are crisply defined without sounding artificially hyped. These speakers sound right at home, delivering a presentation that is as convincing tonally as it is spellbinding dynamically.

Those dynamic skills come into even sharper focus when we play Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. These ATCs have no trouble delivering the piece’s crescendos with power and an impressive degree of composure.

We also like the SCM19s’ ability to render a large-scale soundstage and populate it with well-focused instruments. Things stay stable even as the piece’s complexity increases.

These boxes are very happy to party too, delivering relentless rhythmic momentum with enthusiasm. The bass kicks hard, and vocals are handled in a crisp and articulate manner, but they also lack nothing in terms of body or natural warmth.

These ATC speakers have the remarkable ability of being analytical without ever sounding clinical or lacking in passion. It’s a tricky balance, but the SCM19 pull it off with seeming ease.


This quartet combine to make a wonderfully musical, cohesive stereo system – and once again, one that will deliver many years of faithful, joyful service. Clearly, 11 grand plus is quite an investment, but if you are in the happy position of being able to invest that sort of money in your passion, you will struggle to better the system we have curated here. 


Read our British Hi-Fi Week 2023 news, features and reviews

Why the 1970s were the perfect time to start a British hi-fi company

11 of the best British record players of all time

These are the best stereo amplifiers: the best integrated amps for every budget

Jonathan Evans
Editor, What Hi-Fi? magazine

Jonathan Evans is the editor of What Hi-Fi? magazine, and has been with the title for 17 years or so. He has been a journalist for getting on for three decades now, working on a variety of technology and motoring titles, including Stuff, Autocar and Jaguar. With his background in sub-editing and magazine production, he likes nothing more than a discussion on the finer points of grammar. And golf.