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 Naim’s Pint

Apr 01, 2023Apr 01, 2023

The mid-1960s witnessed a cultural upheaval in music and fashion when the "British Invasion" shocked the world with heresies like The Beatles and bell bottoms. A decade later, the audio industry witnessed a British Invasion of its own, when Naim Audio, Linn, and other upstart manufacturers from the U.K. challenged just about every accepted norm with top-tier components that were simpler, more elegant, and more musical than practically anything coming out of anywhere else in the world.

In the intervening years, these iconoclasts have hugely influenced the high-end consumer electronics scene with products as understated in appearance as they are cutting edge in performance. In celebration of Naim's 50th anniversary, the company (founded in 1973 by Julian Vereker) has released the limited-edition NAIT 50, a contemporary re-envisioning of the NAIT 1 integrated amplifier launched in 1983.

The first NAIT was a diminutive component that turned the tide for Naim and, with a dedicated fan base, has become a coveted collectible in the decades since. The key to its charm—in addition to the sound—is the compact dimension and simple layout of both the original NAIT 1 and the new NAIT 50. Slightly larger than 12 inches deep, 8 inches wide, and 3 inches tall, the 10-pound billet-like case is aesthetically styled after the original, and even features the "chrome bumper" polished front edge of the aluminum enclosure. Front and back panels are dark anodized aluminum.

With a Class AB amplifier inside its chassis, the NAIT 50 delivers 25 WPC (watts per channel) into 8 Ohms. That may seem modest, but a beefy power supply, premium components, and a peak output of 225 watts ensure that this integrated amp punches well above its weight and size. The original NAIT 1, which made only about 15 WPC, was relished by owners of Quad ESLs, still one of the most articulate and revealing loudspeakers ever made.

On the front panel, users are confronted with simplicity in the extreme: a large volume knob, a quarter-inch headphone jack, three inputs, mains standby, and a power-indicator LED. Rear DIN sockets accept Stream and Aux inputs, and a pair of RCA jacks and ground lug let users enjoy analog sound from a turntable through the NAIT 50's discrete transistor MM phono stage.

As for headphone users, they will appreciate that the new headphone amp—absent on the original NAIT 1—produces 1.5 watts into 16 Ohms. Made in Salisbury, England, Naim's $3,599 NAIT 50 will be fittingly limited to 1,973 examples when it becomes available in July.