Naim Nait 5i amplifier

Nait5iAfter nearly 30 years in my hifi system, the made in Italy jewel amp Unison Research Mood was almost part of the family. But I parted ways with it in 2019, when I had the chance to get an English celebrity amplifier, the remarkable Naim Nait 5i.

My blindfolded advice to those who ask for an amplifier of this level has always been “buy a Naim Nait”. I have been rather curious of testing one compared to my Mood, but sadly I have never had the chance. But my hifi website of reference, TNT-Audio, has a flattering opinion about the English integrated. Any journal of the sector has great consideration of Naim products. Plus, I have never been wrong in following editor Lucio Cadeddu’s advice before. So when he assured me that a Nait 5i would have been a sure upgrade to my former Mood, I sold the Italian amp and on the very same day it left my home, I ordered a Naim Nait 5i on eBay Germany. It was a practically new specimen, used only a few hours and still under Naim warranty for one year!

Nait5i-backOne thing that attracted be towards Naim – beside its reputation – was that when in 1991 I decided to buy the TDL Studio 0.5 speakers, the first advice I got was to hook them to a Naim. I think that at the time we were talking about a Nait 2, small and powerful and still revered today. For weeks I had been dreaming of comparing the Naim to other amps of the same level while testing the TDLs I was about to buy. But then I listened to the Mood and brought it home without ever comparing it to a Naim…

Funny how today an English Naim amp is powering the fellow English TDL pair…

At first impression, the Nait’s sound did not cause my jaw to drop. Maybe it was true it had only a few hours of usage on it. Possibly it still needed some burn-in period. But the more I spent time listening to it, the more I liked what I heard. I started to notice that things were better in several aspects: details opened up, more air and space between instruments, more separation, more control and depth in general, even in the lower range. It all contributed to a greater transparency.

Naim-Cambride-ThorensMaybe my little enthusiasm of the beginning was due to almost 30 years spent listening to one amplifier’s sound. And the Mood was certainly in need of a recap. Actually I learned from its new owner that when at Unison Research they performed a repair under warranty on the power stage, they had been using cheap components, especially the 4 power stage resistors that should contribute to the transparency of the amp’s performance. Practically, with the Mood I was not able to tell the difference between streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music versus an original CD (obviously through the same Dac). With the Naim, the CD is clearly the winner. Even when I listened to phono cartridges not at the top of their possibilities, like my Shure Me97HE – that I’m running with an elliptical stylus rather than a hyperelliptical one – I was rather satisfied with the Mood. It did not happen with the Nait. Quality amplifiers sure highlight any issues with certain recording or hifi components. The AT95 HE I am running today works wonderfully on my Thorens TD160. I am sure the Naim is revealing all its possibilities.

Later I moved to another apartment, another listening room, maybe with better acoustics. Well, I like the Nait even more today. It sounds beautifully and it has been one of my best snatches on the Hifi used market ever. I didn’t spend a cent to buy it, thanks to the vintage value of my former Unison research Mood, which turned out to be a real 3-decade investment! And it has actually been used a few hours – it looked like new right out of the box!

Therefore I am no longer in the Mood: the Nait has come…