To be honest the Naim name was a negative for me, as I felt that a speaker brand would be able not make a serious headphone amp.
I was mistaken, and very impressed.
Edited by Jon-LF - 2/14/14 at 3:40am
I wish that I had auditioned the McIntosh D100 before I got the Naim. TBH, I could live with any of the DAC's that I listed. The Naim was just too darn sexy, I got it at a great price so went for it. It's really smooth and non-fatiguing with the HD800 and has the best synergy there. That's what I mean as far as the best DAC that I've had. Is it work 2x the asking price / 2x better than the other's lsited.. probably not.
Speakers are not their main claim to fame and a much smaller fraction of their sales. They began as an electronics company and it's still their main focus.
Maybe 20 years ago. Reviews would tend to differ.
There will be preferences for everybody but there's never reason to comment like that on a specific product that you haven't heard. When it comes to USB DACs, so much will have to do with player and source setup that results can vary significantly by user.
Yeah, I think it is wrong to try to put Naim in a corner. First off, I don't see anything wrong with their products, prices, and practices over the years given their market and the company they keep. They definitely have a house sound, and like CJ or Roland or AR or any other top brand (by rep, not by price) there is nothing simple and one-dimensional about their performance. I have heard many Naim products, and had them recommended to me by many folks I respect, and that included the headphone output on one of their integrated amps.
Yes, it is true they start with PRAT as their strength more than most brands with the exception of Linn and a few others, but to then sell them short on detail/resolution, truth of timbre, natural sustain/decay, and spacial imaging breadth/depth/focus....is not justified IMHO. Though there are other brands and products that may excel in one or more of those areas by comparison, there is nothing lacking in Naim products in absolute terms.
Most of the comments I have seen in this thread could just as easily be attributed to headphone pairing and system synergy before even getting to the "different strokes for different folks" part of how we all hear a little differently.
At this price point, I would do anything without hearing the D100 and others in this general ballpark, but the idea that HD-800 and HD-700 owners would be really well served by the DAC-V1 with no other gear required to deliver the goods is one I have no trouble believing.
I got my Naim Dac V1 for about 1.5k USD. It was a bargain for the what it was and it mated very well with my HD700/800s.
That being said I think it's a much better DAC than amp, as I've only recently had the opportunity of finding out.
The Fostex and the Naim has sounded at my home together for more than a week in my setup because i'm writing their review for my site (www.stereo-head.it).
The Fostex it sound better as dac with external amp (CMA800R, Schiit Asgard and Human Audio Sileo) and also as headphone output.
The Naim's headphone output perform well only with high impedance headphone (HD800 and HD650) but it's not very good with low impedance headphone (Denon Ah D2000) or orto (HE500).
The Naim it's very musical, but it lacks in detail and dinamyque and the bass it's not a good detail compared with the price. Also the high it isn't something special and the soundstage it's a little compressed.
The most cool of it it's the audiphileo usb tecnlogy and the trade on it, not a gret deal in my opinion.
If your want to use it in a speaker system it perform very well with the NAP100 power amplifier (http://www.naimaudio.com/hifi-products/pdt-type/nap-100) connected with DIN connection
Ps Naim it's famous most for their electronics (especially CDP and power amp).
I could not disagree more strongly with this statement; it's excellent with my Fostex TH-900s.
This is from the Chord Hugo Head -Fi thread, Naim if you're reading this take note (I've underlined what I think is important):
"Yes, I had the TeddyPardo 12vDC power supply plugged into the Hugo when I tested it. Here’s a question that I still need to get accurately answered. My distributor shared that when the walwart or other power supply (in my case the Pardo) is plugged in, the battery provides the DC for the DAC. However, when the battery becomes fully charged, then it is bypassed and the external power supply becomes the power source.
I don’t know if the Hugo was fully charged when I was using it. When I played the Hugo only with battery, it sounded great. When I then (while still playing) plugged the Pardo supply into the Hugo, the sound was similar and not a huge difference. However, there was just a small bit of improvement that took the sound quality right over the top. I kept doing this for awhile (plugging and unplugging) and could hear that difference. I need to revisit this and check it out more closely to be sure and also need to do this on a well burned in Hugo.
The answer you might be looking for is that the Hugo does not need an external high quality linear power supply to make it sound better as is the case for the QuteHD and QuteEX. The internal battery supply for the Hugo is really good and provides greater detail, full body, and a more musical presentation. But . . . that little bit of improvement that I heard was the key to hitting the MSB Analog DAC sound quality and I’m still taken back at how good this sounded. Yes, you do need a really well tuned audio system to hear these things but, there is something there. I’ll share more when I get another Hugo (hopefully to keep) from my March shipment.
OK. Sound quality is tough to answer. What I will share is that the Qute HD and EX are the first DACs that I fell in love with. They brought me closer to the sound of music that I would hear when playing piano in my jazz quartet. The best way that I can answer this is to provide you with the following analogies. These are what I use to evaluate a music playback system.
The piano is the mother of all instruments. It encompasses a little bit of every other instrument that accompanies it but includes them all. I also played trumpet and found it to be an entirely different experience. Trumpet speaks from the throat (throat chakra if you understand that implication). Drums hit you in the chest (solar chakra) and string bass catches you down low in your groin. Put them all together and you have a musical sound that comes close to real life. Now . . . add a 5th musician, the tenor or baritone saxophone. All of the other instruments touch you at a particular point in your subtle body. (Amen to that).
The sax, however, envelopes your entire energy field head to toe. Sitting immediately next to a saxophone player like I have many times is a real interesting experience. You hear the spit, the vibration of the wooden reed and the resonance of the metal body of the sax. The sound is so powerful that you feel like you might lose consciousness or at least could release yourself to the sound and let it become you.
The Qute HD and EX recreate that incredible sax sound. However, there is something missing that I might call lack of air if all that I had was the HD and EX to compare. However, with the Hugo, I find it wasn’t the lack of air. It was a touch of realism that didn’t exist with the HD and EX that is now there with the Hugo. The Hugo somehow releases not only a veil but brings forward more information – enough so that the musical experience is more real.
I apologize for using this kind of an analogy but if you are a musician, you’ll understand that what I’m sharing is how we listen to music, not just with our ears, but our entire body and energetic fields. The Hugo makes enough difference to not only sound like real music but to bring the vibrational experience into our energetic fields in a powerful enough fashion to cause goosebumps and to take your breath away from the beauty that exists.
Its impossible to fully experience what the musician recording the music experiences if you are just a passive listener after the fact. However, the reason I’m involved with audio reproduction equipment is to further my quest to come as close as possible to that real experience as a passive listener. (Ditto).
I’ve also recently purchased an Ableton PUSH controller and Ableton Live Suite software. I also use this cool digital instrument to make music but way different than I used to play professionally. Its more like club music and dance music but can be twisted and turned into something else. I’m enjoying the heck out of it and recommend that any audiophile buy this equipment and software directly from Ableton and get involved. There is nothing like experiencing the creative process first hand. Anyhow, when I played my PUSH last night through the Hugo, I found that the beats and driving rhythm had more soul and power and sucked me in deeper than when using my old Qute HD.
I’m so excited about the Hugo that even though I’ve complained about Chord’s imperfect release of it, I couldn’t be more in awe of the sound quality they came up with. Don’t worry about whether the Hugo is better than this or that. Just get one and you’ll understand why its hard to put into words how great it is. Thank you Chord for your achievement. Now lets perfect it further.
What a gift the Hugo is and what a great way to cause non-audiophile younger generations to join us in what has been becoming an old guys club. If you don’t get the youngsters in now and do it with the type of power the Hugo can wield, this audio industry of ours is going to die out in a few years. With devices like the Hugo, both the old guys and the young need to relax and be able to learn and change as our appreciation for music increases along with the technology to reproduce it".
The problem with the Naim, as traditionally with a lot of British Hi-Fi, is that it doesn't really truly understand music. From my perspective (as a Brit BTW), music is something you feel rather than hear, but a lot of British manufactures go for detail for detail's sake. Very annoyingly British manufacturers are also very snobbish; I've been into Hi-Fi since the mid-70's and overseas Hi-Fi, particularly American, was then viewed (by the British Hi-Fi press and manufacturers) as being overly coloured and just not accurate (I believe that view still exists, although now it is not expressed). My own experience is just the opposite: I think British Hi-Fi sound's overly analytical and just doesn't seem to capture the essence of the music. I Have a Dac V1 and whilst seemingly it conveys the detail of the music and superficially the emotion, in reality it doesn't convey the performance at all. I much prefer the CI Audio kit I have which, in my opinion, genuinely conveys the musical performance. Just my 2 cents worth.
"It all depends on what type of item it is. Quite a few British DACs have gone for overly clinical sounding DAC chips. But DACs like the Rega have struck a good balance between detail and musicality with its Wolfson chip. And that chip itself is British.
But when it comes to turntables, the coloured sounding LP12 has been all the rage for many in the British press. I had to get rid of mine within a month of buying it. I just couldn't play any of my reggae, House, or Drum&Bass on it. The bass was devoid of force.
I had a quick listen to the Naim at a recent meet. I tried some of my own test tracks and I have to say that I won't be saving up for one. The Benchmark makes a better effort in trying to be clinical if that is your thing. But neither perform well in the bass stakes as far as my own taste is concerned."
Ok, well I had to post this: it's been about a couple of months since I've had the DAC-V1, and I always thought that, compared to the CI-Audio it just didn't stack. Well, I have to concede I'm wrong, very wrong. On well recorded tracks, and usually at the higher bit-rates it does get the music, big style. As an example I have the Melody Gardot album "The Absence" downloaded from Linn; it's 24/96 and is just emotion on a stick. The subtlety and nuances of the music are just beautifully portrayed on the Naim, and whilst it superficially sounds soft, and also superficially sounds as if it's manipulating the timing and frequency of the music - particularly the mid-band, and even more particularly the "presence" region it isn't. I listen to a lot of live music, and I know, having extensively listened to the Naim, that it gets closer to the real thing than the CI. However, to me the CI is the more consistent performer; it always sounds good. It's just that mostly now (but not always) I'm more engaged by the Naim and when I am engaged it's just magical to listen to..
I really did have to get this off my chest since the Naim DAC is very special, and I couldn't leave this thread having posted such negative comments previously.
Actually I have to qualify something. Like I said, I'm mostly more engaged by the Naim, but sometimes I listen and think this is not happening; however I sometimes think exactly the same thing about a band I may have seen earlier and really liked. In other words I treat the Naim DAC as I would treat musicians - sometimes I think their really on the ball and sometimes I think this it's not happening.
So, I think its a mood thing. I always like the CI, but the CI does not take me to the same places that the Naim and real musicians do. Food for thought.