I’ve been into audio since 1980. Since then, I’ve been aware of the Naim Audio brand, but I’ve never owned a Naim product—though I’ve been tempted to. Naim Audio has always had a fervid, almost cult-like following. People don’t seem to just buy Naim; they live Naim. I’m reminded of that whenever UK-based SoundStage! contributor Jonathan Gorse speaks of the brand. He owns several Naim components, including the Nait 1 integrated amplifier, which the company released in 1983 and just refurbished for Jonathan. Never having owned a Naim component, I can’t quite understand this fervor, but it’s something I kind of envy.
As High End 2023 opened, Naim announced the Nait 50 integrated amplifier to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the company’s foundation in 1973 by Julian Vereker. Almost immediately, Jonathan contacted me on Whatsapp, writing, “OMG, have you seen the new Naim Nait 50 yet??? The coolest damn thing Naim have done in decades!!” Jonathan’s plural usage—“have done” instead of “has done”—reminded me of his British-ness. At the very moment Jonathan’s message came in, I was staring at the Nait 50 in the room shared by Naim Audio and Focal. Both brands are owned by Vervent Audio Group.
Like the Nait 1—in fact, just like the Nait 1—the Nait 50 is a tiny little thing, measuring 8.1″W × 3.4″H × 12.6″D. On its website, Naim writes, “Our engineers have been sure to preserve the DNA of NAIT 1, whilst making technical improvements to the circuits thanks to their unique expertise. Some of the new features on this anniversary edition include a 1/4″ (6.35mm) jack headphone output, so you can enjoy all types of listening.”
There are three analog inputs. One feeds the onboard moving-magnet phono stage. Presumably, the input labeled Stream is for connecting a digital music streamer, but since it’s an analog line-level input, you can attach any analog source. The third is labeled Aux; it’s another analog line-level input. One caveat: the phono input uses RCA jacks, but the two line-level inputs have five-pin DIN connectors, which Naim Audio seems to favor. Not coincidentally, Naim offers interconnects terminated with a five-pin DIN plug on one end and a pair of RCAs on the other.
Power output is rated at a modest 25Wpc into 8 ohms, 40Wpc into 4 ohms, or 60Wpc into 2 ohms. That’s not super-duper power, but truth be told, it’s enough for most listeners using most speakers in a small- or medium-sized room. It’s also all anyone expects out of a traditional class-AB amplifier as small as the Nait 50.
I’ve saved the price for last: £2699. That’s not cheap, but it’s not outrageous either, given the love for the brand, the history of the product it’s based on, and the fact that only 1973 will be available. Or maybe 1971: Jonathan has already said he’s buying one, and I’m tempted to get one as well. If I do, I’ll have finally joined the Cult of Naim and might better understand what it’s really about.