The amplifier really comes to life conveying the two-drummer
set-up on Burn –the latest 24/96 Naim Label rip by the Sons of Kemet. It
vividly contrasts the styles of the two drummers and generates the sort of
excitement that I am sure the band originally set out to create among its
audiences playing live.
The Nait proves
exceptionally communicative with vocalists of all sorts.
The Nait proves exceptionally communicative with vocalists
of all sorts: from Vinci’s Cantu aria on his album with Bill Foristell Laurimar
Mexicana to Marianne Faithfull singing The Crane Wife 2on the album Easy Come
Easy Go. Both demonstrate effectively the concept of conveying the emotion in a
piece of music or in a performance.
The Nait 5si also fares well with the wonderfully etched
note shape of Joe Pass’ guitar on Virtuoso. It vividly brings out the slickness
of his dexterous phrasing.
Naturally, an amplifier – especially a 60W integrated – is
going to have its limitations, levels beyond which it cannot be pushed and
types of music that tax its capabilities. The performance of the 5si, of
course, can only stretch so far, but the capabilities of this little amplifier
are truly exceptional. For example, it retains the complete tonality of the
piano when pushed and does not begin to sound strained or uncomfortable as many
do: it retains the complete harmonic complexity of notes and their full dynamic
contrast, and so, the player’s expression and the drama of the composition.
amplifier – especially a 60W integrated – is going to have its limitations,
levels beyond which it cannot be pushed and types of music that tax its
Edgard Varese’s Avant grade, percussion-led, orchestral
masterpiece Ameriques poses a stern test for any hi-fi with its unconventional
instrumentation and arrangements. It requires an amplifier to exert maximum
grip and dynamic control throughout: the delicate triangle requires similar
dynamic expression as does the thunderous bass drum and magnificently strident
brass. The Nait 5si demonstrates an amazingly robust and credible portrayal of
the Utah Symphony Orchestra throughout this challenging composition mixing
extreme orchestral climaxes with the most delicate of percussion interjections.
It also seems able to maintain a wonderful perspective on the layout of the
orchestra and the acoustic space in which the performance takes place. Most
importantly, it maintains Varese’s vision throughout and brilliantly conveys
the feelings he experienced as he composed this daring and adventurous work.
This is not a recording that is an ideal ‘demonstration’ piece in conventional
terms and it is certainly far too demanding for the majority of true high-end
systems. That an inexpensive integrated amplifier can even attempt to play it,
let alone make fluent musical sense of it, speaks volumes for the outstanding
capabilities of the Nait 5si. I have heard far more expensive pre/power
combinations make this music appear turgid and pointless, which, I believe, is
little short of criminal.
This extreme communicative dexterity extends way beyond
tackling the fearsome challenge of modernist, Avant grade symphonic music and
translates to rock music with which the Nait cleverly focuses the listener’s
mind on the poetry of Lou Reed’s lyrics with a gripping ease, emphasizing their
meter and rhythm and the persuasive way in which the words combine with the
music itself to produce a compelling whole – the Nait 5si hammers home the
poignant beauty of the poetry in Reed’s lines.
The Nait 5si also
fares well with the wonderfully etched note shape of Joe Pass’ guitar on
Virtuoso. It vividly brings out the slickness of his dexterous phrasing.
The Nait 5si’s presentation subtly augments the relevance of
the music and enhances its effect upon the listener in a truly captivating way.
It’s without any sense of blandness and simply goes about conveying beautiful
music with appropriate enthusiasm, vigor and poignancy in a way that a great
How it compares
Comparing the Nait 5si to the slightly more expensive – and
twice as powerful – Creek Evolution 5350 proves enlightening because the Nait
reveals that although the excellent-sounding latter – with its claimed 120W
into 8 ohms and 200W into 4 ohms – excels in presentational terms, but in terms
of musical communication the Nait has a distinct edge to its performance.
Nonetheless, the 5si operates with a noticeable ease and grace that certainly
eluded the original Nait the Nait 5si ultimately sounds a bit more convincing
and believable with challenging material than the highly capable Creek does.
Sound quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Build quality: 5/5
Ease of drive: 4.5/5
Like: Superb musical fluency that befits a far more expensive,
Dislike: Not a lot
We say: This amplifier offers near-high-end performance and will
drive quite demanding loudspeakers with ease
Product: Naim Nait 5si
Type: Integrated amplifier
Dimensions (W x H x D): 432 x 70 x 314mm
Features: Quoted power output: 60W into 8 ohms, 90W into 4
ohms;4 analogue inputs: 2x DIN, 2x RCA; 6.35mm TRS headphone socket;
Custom-designed steroidal transformer with two separate windings