Naim Nait 5i review

The Nait 5i is more than just a great introduction to the Naim brand; it’s an extremely musical amplifier Tested at £850

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Thrillingly confident, widescreen sound makes the 5i a no-brainer when it comes to drawing up your shortlist


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    Energetic, dynamic and downright musical sound

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    just enough of that Naim eccentricity to please traditionalists


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    A bit short, spec-wise

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    just enough of that Naim eccentricity to perturb newcomers

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For all that its most recent products are geared towards an all-embracing, all-inclusive future (we're thinking specifically of the Uniti and HDX), there's still more quirk about Naim's Nait 5i than most manufacturers would dare to serve up.

The fascia-mounted 3.5mm input may suggest pragmatism, but the pair of DIN inputs around the back (alongside four stereo RCA ins) suggest anything but.

The volume control sits at – for right-handers, at least –definitively the 'wrong' end of the machine's fascia, and you've just one, Henry Ford-style, choice of finish.

But as long as four inputs is enough for your needs, and you don't need to power a second set of speakers or a turntable, you really owe it to yourself to find out what a 5i could do for your listening experience.

A vivid, muscular device
Once through Florence And The Machine's Lungs is enough to demonstrate just what a vivid, muscular device this is – the Naim's combination of refinement and realism makes long listening sessions an absolute pleasure.

Dynamic prowess is never in question, detail is retrieved and relayed explicitly without impinging on the overall picture, and low frequencies punch with the sort of implacable solidity Naim might once have deemed flashy.

This dynamic vigorousness, which puts the Naim's declared power rating of 50W per channel into some question, is even more pronounced playing Peace Orchestra's Who Am I?

Integration, focus and separation are first-rate, the Naim taking the dense recording by the scruff of the neck and gripping transients, midrange plosives and top-end rattles mercilessly.

Little to grumble about
The 5i strikes the balance between full-fat, full-strength harmonic intensity and tonal lucidity with admirable skill, conjuring a presentation that's as bludgeoning or as tender as the material demands.

It's by no means an easy path to tread, but the Naim walks it confidently.

Downsides are few. Some will hanker after more inputs, a phono stage or a heftier remote control. But anyone who allows those shortcomings to get in the way of Nait 5i ownership has their priorities all wrong.

It's one of a few £700-£800 stereo amps you absolutely, positively must hear before you make a purchase.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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