Mis à jour le 10 March 2023.
Presented at CES 2023 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the brand, the new Naim Series 200 line inaugurates the New Classic range with three prestigious electronics: the Naim NSC 222 connected preamplifier, the 2 x 100W Naim NAP 250 power amplifier and the Naim NPX 300 separate power supply. A majestic setup whose €21,000 price tag (€700 per component) reflects the ambition of the brand: to offer a compromise-free system to ensure many years of musical pleasure.
Naim New Classic: the range
The New Classic range is closely tied to the history of the British brand. Since the first Naim NAP 200 power amplifier released in 1973, the Naim Classic range has delighted audiophiles around the world by bringing together the best of the British specialist’s hi-fi components. For its 50th anniversary, the manufacturer has renewed this range with the Naim New Classic Series, inaugurated by the Naim 200 Series line. The brand promises to “take listening to the next level” with these three sophisticated models, all designed and developed by Naim’s engineers in Salisbury in the UK.
Naim 200 Series: an exceptional design
The Naim NSC 222 preamplifier, Naim NAP 250 power amplifier and Naim NPX 300 power supply adopt scrupulously identical, no-frills designs. Each unit is 432mm wide, 91mm high and 317mm deep. The weight testifies to the build quality of these electronics, with 11kg for the preamp, 16.8kg for the power amp and 14.4kg for the power supply.
The understated and elegant design of these three devices are inspired by the brand’s most prestigious electronics, including the Naim Statement and the Naim Uniti Nova integrated hi-fi amplifier. Consequently, the sides are entirely covered by large fin heat sinks in solid aluminum. This material has been used since the company’s early days for its thermal properties, as well as its ability to resist vibrations and block electromagnetic interference.
The thick aluminum chassis has been given a brushed, bead-blasted and anodized finish to enhance its appearance and durability. It is now divided in two by a central black glass block. The black glass centerpiece runs across the front and top of each unit to add a touch of refinement and break up the bulky appearance. The front of this panel is decorated with the brand’s logo. It glows white when each element is turned on. The brightness can be adjusted using a control on the back of each device.
The Naim NSC 222 preamp differs with its 5” LCD screen. When streaming, it displays the album cover and the resolution of the file. The display is clear thanks to the high brightness. The latter can be changed in the mobile app. The screen also helps when selecting a source. To do this, the Naim NSC 222 preamp has a dedicated control where each press switches from one source to another. The screen then indicates the chosen source. However, it is a shame that the screen isn’t touch-sensitive, which would have made this step even more intuitive. Moreover, the NSC 222 also features a large metal potentiometer with an illuminated ring.
Naim NSC 222: presentation
The Naim NCS 222 preamplifier/network player is the central element of the British manufacturer’s new 200 Series. It is designed to centralize all the sources to control their signals and increase the gain without losing any details. To do this, it uses audiophile-quality components, starting with a huge toroidal transformer. The latter benefits from the exclusive Naim DR (Discrete Regulator) technology to provide a correctly regulated, smooth and stable current.
The input stage of the Naim NSC 222 preamplifier uses unbalanced class A transistors. They are combined with a buffer, as well as a filter circuit and polystyrene capacitors. Everything is hand soldered. This design means the gain can be increased while preserving the integrity of the acoustic signal. This capability is also achieved through the use of the same volume control as the incredible Naim Statement. The potentiometer uses an electrically controlled optical encoder with a precision ball bearing. This ensures smooth volume adjustment and a perfect balance between the two channels.
The various digital inputs of the Naim NSC 222 preamp and the audio streams are processed by a PCM179A DAC. The latter is compatible with most formats up to 32-bit/384kHz, as well as DSD128 files. To process these files, the DAC works with 44.1kHz and 48kHz master clocks to maximize stability and ensure perfect timing. The SPDIF inputs feature a DSP RAM buffer which eliminates jitter caused by modulation. Moreover, ultralow dielectric absorption filter components eliminate any interference. Lastly, a DSP 705.6kHz/768kHz oversampling filter enhances the quality of the files and allows the DAC to work in the best possible conditions.
In order to accommodate every source in a modern hi-fi system, the British manufacturer has equipped the Naim NSC 222 preamplifier with a wide range of connectors. The analog stage features a phono input allowing you to connect a turntable with an MM cartridge. Alongside it are an RCA input and a DIN input to connect a CD player or an external DAC, for example. The digital stage includes two optical inputs and two coaxial inputs, one of which is in BNC format. Two USB-A ports are also available so you can play files stored on a USB stick or an external hard drive.
The Naim NSC 222 preamplifier features a balanced XLR stereo output and an unbalanced RCA output so that it can be connected to the Naim NAP 250 power amplifier or to another model. There is also a headphone output on the front panel. To enjoy the best performance with any headphones, this output benefits from the technologies introduced with the prestigious Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition. The built-in headphone amp works in class A or class AB to combine musicality, power and control. It manages to control the highest power peaks very effectively.
In addition to the wide range of connectors, the Naim NSC 222 preamp has its own network player for streaming. The features it offers are similar to those of the Naim ND5 XS 2 and Naim NDX 2 players, making it possible to stream music from a smartphone, tablet or computer using AirPlay 2, Chromecast and Bluetooth aptX protocols. It is also possible to access web radios and various streaming services, such as Spotify, Qobuz and Tidal. Lastly, its DLNA compatibility allows you to play tracks shared over the local network from a NAS or an audio server. This is also possible with Roon thanks to the preamplifier’s Roon Ready certification.
The Naim NSC 222 preamplifier is also multi-room compatible. It allows you to enjoy music throughout the house when connected to other compatible Naim and Focal devices. It is important to note that multi-room listening is also possible with AirPlay 2 compatible speakers or amplifiers.
The Naim NSC 222 preamplifier features four buttons on the front panel. They allow you to turn on the device, start or pause playback, select the source and activate a previously saved shortcut. A large volume knob rounds off the front panel controls. It allows you to adjust the volume smoothly and precisely. The Naim NSC 222 preamplifier can also be controlled using the remote control. The latter is made of aluminum and looks to be very high quality. It features all of the necessary functions to control both the preamplifier and the integrated network player.
Another way to control the Naim NSC 222 preamp is via the latest Naim app for iOS and Android on a smartphone or tablet. Entirely redesigned, this app is very well thought-out and intuitive. Via this app, it is possible to access tracks shared over the local network, web radios, playlists and streaming services, with the ability to discover artist biographies and discographies.
Naim NAP 250: presentation
The Naim NAP 250 power amplifier, first released in 1975, has become a benchmark reference model. Thanks to both aesthetic and technical evolutions, it has continuously offered first-rate performance over the years. The new Naim NAP 250 is the sixth generation of this iconic model.
To go even further, the new Naim NAP 250 power amplifier features a large toroidal transformer, which is also paired with exclusive Naim DR (Discrete Regulator) technology. It is combined with polystyrene capacitors to maximize the current capacity and, as a result, optimize the rise time and dynamics. Moreover, there is an Eddy current divide situated between speaker output terminals. This reduces loss and interference to preserve all the details of the original signal.
The Naim NAP 250 power amp features a balanced stereo XLR input so it can be connected to the Naim NSC 222. It also comes with the necessary cables for this connection. The Nail NAP 250 also has a Remote input and output so that it can be controlled with the integrated preamplifier. Once again, the cable is provided. Lastly, a switch allows the Naim NAP 250 amp to automatically go into standby mode after 20 minutes of inactivity.
Naim NPX 300: presentation
While the Naim NSC 222 preamplifier is equipped with a very high quality power supply, the manufacturer lets you go even further with the Naim NPX 300 separate power supply. By adding this device to the system, the preamplifier can concentrate on its main task: controlling the signal. Separating the power supply also completely reduces the risk of interference due to electromagnetic radiation. A method that the manufacturer is no stranger to, as the vast majority of its electronics feature their own external power supply. However, the Naim NPX power supply is designed to be more versatile and can be used with all future devices in the Naim New Classic range.
To improve the electrical power supply, the Naim NPX 300 incorporates a new toroidal transformer that is isolated from the rest of the components. It works alongside a set of six exclusive Naim power regulators. The latter benefit from the Discrete Regulator technology to provide a perfectly clean, smooth and stable current.
Naim NSC 222 + NAP 250 + NPX 300: listening conditions
For our review of the Naim 200 Series, we first tested the Naim NSC 222 and Naim NAP 250 duo. These two devices were connected using the included XLR cables. We mainly used the network player integrated in the preamp to play music stored on the local network and to access Qobuz. The speakers used were Focal Sopra n°2 floorstanders connected with Audioquest Rocket 88 cables.
After several listening sessions, we added the Naim NPX 300 external power supply. That way, we had in mind the reproduction of the Naim NSC 222 + Naim NAP 250 pair, allowing us to be fully aware of the real contribution of this separate power supply. To connect it, we connected the two included cables to the dedicated terminals on the preamp, after having removed the link plugs.
Naim NSC 222 + NAP 250 + NPX 300: listening impressions
Naim NSC 222 + NAP 250
This Naim duo provided an incredibly high quality sound reproduction and served the music with brio. We rediscovered the British manufacturer’s sound signature, with great verve, an undeniable sense of rhythm and constant precision. The impulse response was impressive and instantly responded to the instruments’ slightest demands. With classical music, this Naim pair truly honored the orchestra, reproducing their performance dynamically and naturally. The attacks were clear-cut and always perfectly controlled, never faltering.
The new Naim NSC 222 and NAP 250 painted a vast and extremely detailed soundscape for the listener. The soundstage was spacious and felt truly three-dimensional. We could hear the acoustics and the slightest resonance of the recording room. The instruments seemed holographic thanks to the countless nuances and textures offered by these two devices. The minutest chords were audible and allowed us to hear all the details and subtleties. We literally rediscovered our music!
The Naim NSC 222 and Naim NAP 250 pair acted like an invisible conductor, directing each instrument with precision and finesse. The spectral balance was perfect at any volume level. Each tonal range was reproduced naturally, freely and precisely. This duo managed to extract the subtlest details from each frequency range. The transparent highs, smooth mids and deep bass were combined in a balanced way, offering a thorough listening experience. The details were so precise that we could hear every breath and murmur, as if the artist was right in front of us. The listening experience was both very technical and emotional. It offered pure auditory joy, and each note sounded incredible.
Naim NSC 222 + NAP 250 + NPX 300
After adding the Naim NPX 300 power supply to the mix, the sound performance reached new heights. The original sound signature was still there, but each detail seemed even more clear and precise. The power supply perfected each frequency range without altering the overall harmony. We enjoyed more precise details, greater clarity in the highs and softer mids. The bass also seemed to be a whisper deeper.
With the addition of the Naim NPX 300 power supply, the Naim NSC 222 + NAP 250 system surprised us by delivering an even wider and more spacious soundstage. The instruments and vocals came alive in the room, each note resonating with clarity. The details became tangible and even more subtle. All the information seemed to stand out even more effectively from the rest of the scene, as if it were delivered to us on a silver platter.
Naim NSC 222 + NAP 250 + NPX 300: compared to…
Naim Uniti Nova: sold for €5,699, the Naim Uniti Nova condenses many of the features of the Naim NSC 222 and Naim NAP 250 into a single unit. It provides the same network features, with access to Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal and web radios, as well as AirPlay 2 and Chromecast streaming. However, it is limited to a playback of 24-bit/192kHz, compared to 32-bit/284kHz for the NSC 222. Sound-wise, the Naim Uniti Nova is exemplary, offering the perfect balance between neutrality and warmth. The Naim NSC 222 and Naim NAP 250 set goes further, with more finesse and refinement. It extracts details with greater ease and distributes them perfectly across an extremely wide and beautifully layered soundstage.
Devialet Expert 1000 Pro Dual: available for €27,900, this Devialet system consists of two Devialet Expert 250 Pro amplifiers used in double mono (one amp for each channel) to achieve a colossal power output of 2 x 1000W into 6 ohms. It is better suited to very demanding speakers, although it does not rival the Naim trio in terms of finesse and smoothness. Its built-in network player is also more limited.
Naim NSC 222 + NAP 250 + NPX 300: who are they for?
The Naim NSC 222 and Naim NAP 250 duo are perfect for passionate audiophiles looking for an uncompromising system. The Naim NSC 222 preamp covers all the needs of a modern installation, offering numerous streaming options without sacrificing analog and digital connectivity. It works in perfect symbiosis with the Naim NAP 250 power amp, whose dynamics, vitality and control do justice to all music and speaker pairs. However, it should be associated with speakers capable of harnessing its full potential, such as the Focal Sopra n°2, Elipson Legacy 3230 or B&W 804 D4. The Naim NPX 300 separate power supply is for the more experienced user who is looking to optimize every connection in their system to enjoy the very best performance.
Naim NSC 222 + NAP 250 + NPX 300: conclusion
The new Naim 200 Series condenses the brand’s 50 years of expertise to offer the manufacturer’s most accomplished separate element hi-fi system yet. The Naim NSC 222 and Naim NAP 250 duo still deliver the smooth and organic musical reproduction of their predecessors, while refining every aspect to provide an even more detailed, dynamic, balanced and natural listening experience. The music reproduced by this system is remarkably vast and recreates a true orchestra in front of the listener. A feat!
The Naim NPX 300 power supply is a great addition to this system, extracting even finer, clearer details to provide a more breathtaking soundstage. However, the price point for this power supply is the same as that of the other devices in the range, which may beg the question as to how advantageous this investment is.
- The understated, clean design
- The dynamic sound
- The rich mids
- The breadth of the soundstage
We would have liked:
- A lower price for the power supply
- A touchscreen on the preamp