I could get used to this, you know? Jon likes to tell me that I’m awfully fond of the sound of my own voice and now he’s handed me a platform from which to wax lyrical about my favourite passe temps. This week I had a definite itch to scratch. I had spent a decent part of last week trying to explain life beyond airplay speakers to a friend, I had used the brand Naim in my explanation to try and get across a sense of craftsmanship and individuality – he’s the type of chap that will pay £10 for a pint of ironically-named beer, lie to you that he’s always drank the stuff and that you can “tell” its from a microbrewery despite being part of the Diageo group – so I thought the bespoke nature of building a Naim system may be of interest to him. At the first mention of price, the subject of the conversation was changed. Frustrated, I had been waiting for my opportunity to root around in our Din cables.
The combination that I have put together is a classic midrange pairing of the NAC282/HiCap/NAP250. The 282 having a great sense of musicality, making turning the system off nigh impossible and the 250 having enough muscle to bully most loudspeakers into keeping time! The NDX2/XPS2 streamer and power supply show just how dominant Naim are in the high end streamer market by its ability to handle any genre that I threw at it without breaking a sweat. With the insight and resolving capability of the source and pre-amplifier, I decided to partner the system with the lush and organic Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 2, a three way, ported floorstanding design that exudes style and finesse.
Now that I had selected my glass and microbrew, it was time to listen to some music! I found myself on a journey through my library, the system leading me down the rabbit hole with its ability to open a recording up without creating a sterile dissemination of the music. I was stunned at the way the Naim and Sonus Faber handled the overlaid guitar tracks of Damien Rice’s seminal Cannonball from 2001’s O. The timbre of the guitars was utterly realistic, the accuracy of the NDX2 and the natural quality of the Olympica Novas working perfectly in tandem. With the hairs on the back of my neck firmly up on end, I decided to change up the pace somewhat with Bloc Party’s phenomenal 2005 album Silent Alarm. The machinegun pace drumming of Banquet showing the Naim power amplifier to have complete mastery over the Sonus Fabers with its poise and agility. Many other recordings were played over the course of the day but the final stand out piece was Roots Manuva’s Dub masterpiece, Witness Da Fitness. This 2001 Hip Hop classic features one of the most challenging, and constant, heavy synth basslines that can hide and blur the rest of the recording. The Naim did not miss a beat here, Roots exploding out from between the speakers whilst the walls were trembling from the bassline.
This combination took me on a journey today; with hints of dub, a whiff of rock and notes of acoustic it was a simultaneously fast and exciting and delicate and balanced sound. I imagine the feeling is similar to my friend finding the perfect beer, the key difference is that the Hi-Fi will still be enjoyable tomorrow!