Naim NAC 122X review

The Naim is no looker, but its dependability, reliability and sweet, powerful sound make the NAC122x a great choice Tested at £760

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

This is a worthwhile upgrade from the 112x, and Naim’s most accomplished entry-level preamp to date


  • +

    A cohesive and musically compelling sound, upgrade potential


  • -

    Takes forever to run-in

  • -

    not exactly a looker

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This is a worthwhile upgrade from the 112x, and Naim's most accomplished entry-level preamp to date.

Having upgraded its old NAC112 preamp to NAC112x status, Naim's latest revamp has seen a model unmber change to NAC122x, and the adoption of some design touches from the pricier NAC202.

These include a hardwired volume control from Alps, and the relay switching of the six inputs, rather than them being multiplexed as they were in the 112x.

The volume control gives lower noise and a better feel in use than the old resistor-ladder type in the 112x, and the new input switching gives better performance, as does Naim's usual care with internal layout and isolation.

There are six DIN inputs, with two of these duplicated on RCA phonos, and there's also a pair of RCA stereo outputs alongside the DIN connection to a power amp, these sockets being optimised for use with a subwoofer. That's clearly been done with an eye to systems using Naim's n-Series speakers.

As ever, power for the preamp is drawn from a partnering Naim power amp, or the NAC122x can be upgrade with the addition of one of the company's dedicated offboard power supplies.

Needs plenty of running in
In common with other Naim products, this preamp takes an age to run in and be heard at it best. We'd give it a good few days' use before making any judgements; do that and you'll be rewarded with a sound of superb power and transparency, with both fine detail and the ability to shake the room with a suitable power amp, such as Naim's NAP150x in harness.

True, there's a little hardening when you push the volume really hard – and here we're talking ASBO-inducing levels – but Naim assures us even that will smooth out after extended use.

OK, so it's no looker, some rival designs have a greater feeling of solidity than its no-frills casework suggests, and adding phono capability or a headphone output means bolting on more Naim boxes. But that fine sound, plus easy upgradeability and Naim's legendary reliability, add up to a very tempting buy.

What Hi-Fi?

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