Monday, February 15, 2010
The One That Got Away: Naim NAIT 2
At first I paired the NAIT 2 with my rather insensitive (84 dB) Spendor S20 bookshelf monitors. I won't indulge in that tired audio reviewer cliche that the NAIT was a little amp that sounded really BIG. It wasn't. With the S20s, the sound of the NAIT would implode during louder passages. Whenever I played really loud rock or symphonic recordings, the sound would be dull and small and utterly unengaging. But put on some intimate jazz or acoustic rock, and the realism was amazing.
Later I had the NAIT 2 coverted into a preamp (something every Naim dealer knows how to do) and added the Naim NAP 140 power amp. Suddenly I had 45 wpc, which meant that I could now listen to all types of music. Then I upgraded the S20s to the bigger and more efficient (90 dB) Spendor SP100s and suddenly I had my first taste of world-class high-end sound. I even took the NAP 140 out and used the NAIT 2 as a stand-alone integrated and was truly astonished at the quality of the sound.
When I bought the NAIT 2 in 1993, it retailed for $995. I bought a demo unit from my friend Gene Rubin at Gene Rubin Audio (http://www.generubinaudio.com/) for just $695. After the NAIT 2 had been replaced by the more powerful NAIT 3 (and then the NAIT 3R, the NAIT 5, the NAIT 5i and the NAIT 5i), you could find one used on eBay for $300 or $400. Now that some of the Naim faithful have proclaimed the NAIT 2 as the best NAIT ever, it's hard to find one for less than $600. I've owned the NAIT 5i, and I see their point. If I can find a mint NAIT 2, I'm going to buy it. It's truly a great little amp with the right speakers.