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MULTIMEDIA

Naim Nait 5si - The Latest Naim Integrated Amplifier (Part 2)

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11/18/2013 9:58:09 AM

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.

Description: The Nait proves exceptionally communicative with vocalists of all sorts:

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.

Description: 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.

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.

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.

Description: 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 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.

Conclusion

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 amplifier should.

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.

Verdict

·         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, sophisticated design

·         Dislike: Not a lot

·         We say: This amplifier offers near-high-end performance and will drive quite demanding loudspeakers with ease

·         Overall: 5/5

Details

·         Product: Naim Nait 5si

·         Origin: UK

·         Type: Integrated amplifier

·         Weight: 6.4kg

·         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

·         Distributor: Naim

 

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