More from Focal and Naim

The second demo I heard in Focal Naim's spacious, hall-sized room was centered around the brand new Naim NSC 222 streaming preamplifier ($12,000) from the company's New Classic Series. This is big news in the realm of Naim, though it doesn't entirely replace Naim's last Classic Series, which was launched … 50 years ago! The New Classic Series also includes the NSC 222 preamplifier (without streaming), the NAP 250 power amplifier, and the NPX 300 power supply. You might say the NSC 222 replaced Naim's Statement NAC S1 preamp ($129,999), but only at this show: The NAC S1 was supposed to be part of this demo but was damaged in transit. NSC 222 to the rescue!

Fortunately, the demo pair of Statement NAP S1 monoblocks ($130,000 each; 746W into 8 ohms) arrived unscathed, as did the mighty Focal Maestro Utopia Evo speakers ($100,000/pair). Cabling was from Naim's Super Lumina series.

Across a selection of Tidal-streamed tracks, this system delivered unfettered power and scale. Sounds were big, vivid, and close-up—not close-up in the hot-treble sense but in the sense of seeing the structure of notes. Yo-Yo Ma's cello revealed boundless texture and a richness free of artificial warmth.

When a system is equipped with a power output equivalent to one horsepower, it's tempting, as with a race car, to drive it fast—which is exactly what Iain Richardson, Focal Naim's Ontario sales manager, did. With a mischievous smile and a preliminary warning, he launched Ghost Rider's bass-heavy audioshow chestnut, "Make Us Stronger." The soundstage blew open, sending sounds previously cemented in space hurtling toward us at breakneck speed (for a moment I was actually worried about my neck), and a bass beat that threatened to knock down anyone who was standing up. Exhilarating.

All prices are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise specified.

zimmer74's picture

I feel compelled to mention that, no, the Classic Series is not 50 years old; it dates back to 2002. These are the plain black boxes with green illuminated Naim labels on front. (Technically the 500-level components, which originated in 2000 with the NAP-500 amplifier, are not called "Classic", although they have the same appearance). Before that was the "olive" series, started in 1989, and before that the "chrome bumper" series. Each era has its devotees, and Naim can service and repair almost everything they have ever made (some CD players excepted, due to lack of available drives).

You mention that the SC 222 preamplifier is available without the streamer, but this has not been officially announced. We are all waiting impatiently for additional models in the New Classic series, but Naim, like Apple and some others, closely guards such information until official launch and immanent availability.

rschryer's picture

Also this from Naim's website: "Since 1973, the Naim Classic range has embodied the best separate Hi-Fi elements."

zimmer74's picture

in some Naim promotional literature, which is abbreviated, reductive and often written by uninformed PR guys with little direct knowledge or experience. However, here is a summary of the ranges, recently posted on the Naim forum by a knowledgeable individual:

"This is my attempt to summarise the history of Naim Audio, based on the Product History, which can be found here: Naim Audio Product History 11

To keep it simple initially, just in terms of ‘Eras’, to start with.

1971 to 1979/80 - Bolt Down construction - BD
1979/80 (x) to 1988 - Chrome Bumper - CB
1988 to 2002 - Olive
2002 (xx) to 2015 - Black
2012 (xxx) to date - DR

(x - CB seems to have started with the introduction of the 42 & 110, in 1979, with the other units transitioning to CB in 1980)
(xx - Black really started with the introduction of the 500, in 2000)
(xxx - DR first appeared in the PS’s, in 2012, and then in the Power Amps, in 2015)"

In this scheme, "black" is shorthand for the Classic Series, which is an official category very clearly laid out on the official Naim website. "DR" is a modification to the power supplies of the Classic Range.

My intent was not to criticize your coverage but rather to further articulate the very interesting history of this special audio company, whose fans have, with some justification, been labelled a "cult."

rschryer's picture

It's a bit of a confusing situation, so I appreciate your input and the time you've taken to set the record straight.