Naim NAC-N 172 XS adds streaming preamplifier to company's network music player range

The new Naim NAC-N 172 XS, which goes on sale this month at £1650, sees the Salisbury company further expanding its network music player range with its first streaming preamplifier.

Having launched its internet-capable range with the HDX music player and the Uniti line-up, then consolidated its offering with the NDX, ND5 XS and NDS, Naim is now offering buyers a further choice with the NAC-N 172 XS, which combines the streaming features of existing models with a those of a preamplifier.

The NAC-N 172 XS has five 24-bit/192kHz-capable digital inputs – two optical, two electrical, and a front-panel mini TOSlink optical on the front panel – plus a front-mounted USB port for memory devices and the digital connection of iPods and iPhones.

Three analogue inputs are provided: one on Naim's familiar DIN socket, one on conventional RCA phonos and a third using that front-panel 3.5mm combination socket, while preamp outputs are available on both DIN and phonos. There's also a line-level analogue output plus a front-panel headphone socket.

The new model supports WAV, FLAC, ALAC (Apple lossless), AIFF, AAC, WMA, Ogg Vorbis and MP3 files, with gapless playback of all lossless formats, and can handle content at up to 32-bit/192kHz from either the front panel USB or streamed over a home network from UPnP devices such as Naim's UnitiServe or HDX, or NAS hard drives. Both wireless and Ethernet connectivity is supported.

In addition the NAC-N 172 XS offers internet radio, using the vTuner 5* service to allow the management of favourite stations and also offering Naim's Choice of selected internet streams. A variant of the new model will also be available fitted with the company's FM/DAB radio tuner module, this adding £250 to the price.

Designed and built by Naim in the UK, the NAC-N 172 XS uses Burr-Brown's PCM1793 digital-to-analogue conversion, and an analogue volume control under digital control in its preamp section.

It can be controlled by the remote handset supplied or Naim's latest n-Stream control app on iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad, this also giving system automation of connected Naim products, and has a mini-USB socket on the rear for future updates.

Unlike other Naim preamplifiers, which take their power from connected power amps or external power supplies, the NAC-N 172 XS has an internal 230VA transformer, with separate windings for the unit's digital and analogue sections.

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Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.