Saturday, November 13, 2010

Naim NAIT 2...getting more expensive all the time!

The legend of the Naim NAIT 2 continues to grow, and I continue to lament selling mine oh so many years ago. Case in point: this NAIT 2, which sports the older-style cosmetics, just sold on Audiogon for $925. I'm not sure what the first generation 2s sold for back in the day, but the newer version sold for $995. I bought mine as a demo unit from Gene Rubin at Gene Rubin Audio for just $695--and it had only been out of its box for six weeks. $925 seems like an awful lot of money for an older unit that has some cosmetic defects on the top of its case.

As I've mentioned before, the Naim NAIT 2 could be found used on eBay or Audiogon for $300 to $400. Then audiophiles such as me started to sing its praises, and the last time I checked they were going for around $700. Now it's such a collectible that sellers are getting close to its original retail price for them. I'm not saying the Naim NAIT 2 isn't worth a grand, but it's no longer the outstanding bargain it used to be.

After all, you can get a brand new Naim NAIT 5i for just $500 more than its twenty-year-old predecessor. For $500 more, you get much better cosmetics, more versatility (you won't have to buy Naim-approved speaker cables or interconnects) and--most importantly--a lot more power. The NAIT 2 only had 15 to 21 watts per channel, while the new 5i has 50 watts per channel, which means you can mate the newer model with just about every speaker on the market. With the NAIT 2, you needed a speaker than had a sensitivity of about 90 dB with an impedence of 8 ohms before you could approach realistic listening levels.

That said, many people (including me) feel that the NAIT 2 is the best-sounding NAIT of all time. I owned a NAIT 5i (note that this was the "i" model and not the current "i" which is supposedly a little better), and I have to admit that it was a slight disappointment...especially since it replaced an LFD Mistral which was another spectacular little integrated amp that I wish I still had. The NAIT 5i was a bit grainy through the treble and sounded a little rough around the edges. The 5i (again note the italics) is supposed to be much better in this regard. My NAIT 2 never sounded grainy. Aside from its relative lack of oomph, it was resolving and detailed and very, very musical. It also had an excellent MM phono section, something its successors lack.

So do I still want to own a NAIT 2? Absolutely, but I have no intention of paying these kind of prices for one. Honestly, I would get the new NAIT instead. I even saw a Naim NAIT 3R for sale at Echo Audio in Portland a few months ago and Kurt Doslu only wanted $600 for it. For that price, you even get a remote!


  1. A Nait 2 can still be had for 700 or so if you shop. I just bought an olive Nait 2 with the conversion kit added that allows one to make the Nait a preamp if desired, and I got it at Gene Rubin's, as an auction win. The new Naits just don't have the sound the old ones do. You're right about the speakers, though. I'm running B&W Matrix 805's and an ASW 800 sub with mine, and the sound is incredible.

  2. There's something about the styling and feature set of the older amps that I think just "clicks" with a lot of people though. It's a purity type thing, exactly what you need, no more and no less. It's also a great size, being able to fit just about anywhere. I can't believe they crammed all that sound into that little box. The styling is clean, modern and still very chic over 20 years later. It's the amp the Bauhaus would've used ;-)

    When I ask my wife or a friend or someone else unfamiliar with the unit to turn it up or down or turn the unit off, nobody is ever confused, there is a big giant knob for that and a clearly marked switch. I love the way the essential controls are laid out and present for you. A perfect "interface" to get what you want out of the box. This is an amp that knows what it's there for, playing music. It's not like my tube amp where the science-project like appearance and myriad of odd identical knobs scare people off.

    And the sound of course! Let's just say that when I put some vinyl on with company over I find that even the most staid guest's toes are tapping. Are there better amps? I'm sure there are, but why would I ever need one?

  3. I have one, playing through an original xerxes. Any ideas as to how to get my brand new flat panel tv to sound even half as nice? - progress?