Naim Audio is one of the most commercially successful British audio companies today. Its success comes from having a world-wide legion of faithful supporters built through simply refusing to deliver ‘me too’ style products. Each of its new products delivers appreciable performance benefits and Naim resolutely avoids blindly following fashion.
For example, it was 10 years after Compact Disc was launched before Naim introduced its first CD player. Now its top model is widely regarded as being the finest CD player in the world. The company does not look upon its equipment as mere products but rather as conduits through which individuals can connect with their music collections. As such the components need to ‘step aside’ and allow the music freedom to communicate with the listener’s soul. Every piece of equipment Naim sells undergoes intensive and stringent testing to ensure that it meets all of the company’s criteria for safety, consistency, reliability, and, above all, class-leading performance that will convey all the music’s passion and emotional content.
Effectively, by breaking all the rules and ignoring “accepted wisdom”, Naim has survived and prospered where others have fallen by the wayside. The efforts of its research and development team are set to ensure that its “Music First” message spreads to even more listeners around the world.
High Fidelity Audio
The term High Fidelity (or Hi-Fi) has been badly devalued over the years. Many people nowadays use it to describe anything with a mains lead and a loudspeaker that can produce a sound of any description. Naim, however, prefers the original definition: equipment that recreates recorded music with unerring precision, neither adding nor subtracting anything from the original performance.
In today’s busy world it is easy to lose sight of the value and riches music brings to our lives. It is also too easy to imagine that iPod devices and MP3 players are as good as music reproduction gets… or needs to be. Hearing a true high fidelity system will convince you in a flash that these examples of ‘modern’ technology still have a long way to go to reach the performance standard that Naim equipment, in particular, achieves.
The Naim Sound
Since the company’s foundation, Naim Audio has relentlessly pursued the same, single, outwardly simple aim: to recreate the performance a musician has recorded accurately and with all of the information wholly intact. That means that not only must the musical notes be faithfully preserved but so must the emotion and passion that inspired the performance.
This philosophy distinguishes Naim from mainstream manufacturers who boast of their equipment having ‘ultra-low distortion’ and ‘extended frequency response’. In all honesty, such considerations are a given with any decently designed and manufactured product nowadays. Sadly, they tell you nothing about how successfully the equipment communicates music. What makes Naim stand out cannot be conveyed in numbers alone: what measurement, for example, reveals how one singer’s phrasing is more evocative than another’s or that one guitarist plays more fluently than another?
Pace, rhythm and timing are elements that always crop up whenever enthusiasts discuss Naim and these terms attempt to describe the equipment’s phenomenal temporal acuity, which is only appreciated by hearing how precisely it arranges notes in time and gives music its natural, lyrical flow. It’s not unlike the difference between a drum machine and a real drummer. The former might have militaristic precision but it has no feel, no sense of any human involvement. Naim excels in revealing such nuances.
This, along with its pitch accuracy and tonal faithfulness, probably explains why many discerning musicians feature among the great many that have chosen Naim equipment exclusively to enjoy music in their homes and studios.
The Naim Story
You can trace the origins of Naim Audio back to the late 1960s when a young racing driver, Julian Vereker (pictured right, along with current Managing Director; Paul Stephenson) decided to take some time off from the sport and spend his evenings recording musicians playing in his local pub. What he imagined would be a relaxing and satisfying pastime, though, proved to be frustrating, with many of the recordings sounding annoyingly dissimilar to the original performances.
This perplexed him and so he turned his formidable intellect to discovering what was going wrong and how best to solve the problem. His investigations indicated that the amplification was at fault and ultimately led to the development of what was to become the globally renowned NAP 250 power amplifier.
Naim’s designs have often seemed to disregard accepted wisdom but the inspired, pragmatic thinking behind them has attracted legions of devoted admirers around the world. Furthermore, many manufacturers today follow what was once the heretical concept of removing unnecessary components – tone controls and filters – from the audio path.
Although always able to see the bigger picture, Vereker was near obsessive in his attention to detail. This resulted in Naim’s Balanced Audio Engineering concept, which acknowledges the critical relationship between mechanical and electrical engineering.
As his company began to grow, Vereker resolutely crafted a workforce that shared his single-minded determination to produce nothing less than the best. Every member recognised that “good enough” simply was not good enough for a Naim product. Even now, several years after his death, Julian Vereker MBE’s motivational spirit still drives the award-winning company and is proudly encapsulated within every product that leaves the Naim factory.
Befitting its founder’s original intent, Naim also operates its own record label, which provides the company with an invaluable and unique insight into music from its creation and recording right through to its emergence from the customer’s loudspeakers.
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