Our story begins with one man’s passion for music and weaves its way through four decades and a raft of iconic product launches to the present day.
Naim Audio founder Julian Vereker MBE (1945-2000) was a racing car driver, entrepreneur and self-taught engineer with a deep passion for music. Spending his spare time listening to and recording his friends playing live in the 1960s, Julian found that playback on his system at home fell woefully short of the experience he craved.
Not content with second best he decided to design his own amplifiers and loudspeakers, ignoring accepted wisdom and focusing on aspects of performance that made music burst to life. These first designs laid the foundations for a range of iconic and award-winning hi-fi products that would reach well into the next century.
Frustrated with the quality of music reproduction after recording his friends playing live, Naim Audio’s founder, Julian Vereker turned from building his own racing cars to experimenting with amplifiers.
Julian won a contract to supply then start-up radio station, Capital Radio, with audio equipment. The successful design was a compact version of an early Naim Audio power amplifier combined with speaker drive units in one cabinet – the NAM 502.
Following the success of Capital Radio, Naim Audio was officially incorporated in 1973 with Julian Vereker and his co-founder Shirley Clarke as directors. Based in a shop in the centre of Salisbury, our first HQ had both manufacturing and demonstration facilities.
Our first consumer product for home use was launched in the year of our founding: the NAP 200 power amplifier. Originally designed in 1971, its descendant power amplifiers differ greatly technologically but still aim for the same performance goals of pace, rhythm and timing.
With a network of dedicated independent retailers now on board in the UK, the NAC 12, our first production preamplifier, was launched.
As Naim Audio grew in popularity through the 70s and early 80s, the team decided to grab the attention of the press and public with a series of tongue-in-cheek adverts. They reflected the confident, often unorthodox nature of our approach to music playback and have become iconic in their own right.
Naim Audio’s first integrated amplifier the NAIT introduced. This iconic little integrated amp sounded quite unlike any other integrated of its day and set a trend for so-called ‘super integrateds’.
Julian joins friend and fellow inventor Andrew Ritchie at his newly founded company. Their product is an innovative bicycle which can be quickly and easily folded up for transportation and storage. He backs the business and becomes a director, helping them to set up production and eventually to become one of the most iconic British brands in the world: Brompton Bicycle.
Naim Audio is recognised with the prestigious Queen’s Award for the first time in 1985. We would go on to repeat this achievement a further two times in the 21st century, winning for Export in 2010 and for Innovation in digital music streaming in 2014.
Like so many Naim Audio products, the design of our first CD player, the CDS, flew in the face of conventional wisdom. Its two box configuration gave the power supply its own separate enclosure and the CD clamp used a rare earth magnet to keep its mass low whilst still firmly holding the disc without vibration.
Created by Naim founder Julian Vereker, Naim Records combined his love for music with his quest to deliver the best sound quality, from the studio to the listening room.
The year 2000 marked a step change in Naim Audio history. After several years in development, the new flagship Naim Audio NAP 500 power amplifier was born and with it the new industrial design aesthetic that would redefine Naim Audio for the 21st century. Its music-making ability would only be bettered by the arrival of Statement in 2014.
Two brands with a distinguished British heritage and a passion for engineering excellence share an 18 month development project to produce the Naim for Bentley in car system. Using sophisticated Naim Audio DSP (Digital Signal Processing) and speaker drive unit technology, the system is available as a custom extra on all Bentley models.
Crafted for pure musical performance, 2014 saw the pinnacle of Naim’s engineering knowledge and artistry in the arrival of Statement. The ground-breaking series comprises the NAC S1 preamplifier and NAP S1 mono power amplifier.
Conceived over a decade ago, with development from 2011, the objective was to set a new reference standard in high-end audio and music reproduction and aesthetics, a new page in the Naim Audio story.
Naim Audio launches its first complete wireless music system, Mu-so, offering real versatility and performance alongside multiroom capability, a new landmark in high fidelity digital music. Mu-so is driven by a powerful digital brain and fitted with custom-designed speakers for a musical experience that has to be heard to be believed.
Every Naim product is conceived, designed and engineered entirely in service of the sound, revealing a pure experience of music that is as close as possible to its original live source.
We believe that the exploration of sound is an adventure that rewards you with a clarity and connection that becomes more powerful the deeper you travel within it. Which is why, every element within our systems is crafted to create a silence around the sound, reducing any interference between you and the intention of the artist. We achieve this through tireless attention to four fundamentals in our engineering:
We give each of the critical components their own environment, omitting outside or ‘toxic’ interference, which means no compromise on the purity of sound.
We minimise any interplay between the internal levels, so that you can simultaneously enjoy both the quiet and the loud, as originally intended.
3. Purposeful materiality
We use materials that excel in performance, not just appearance.
We constantly strive for new and innovative ways to achieve our goals, integrating sophisticated electronic design and software development, with mechanical engineering and acoustics to deliver a truly advanced sonic experience.
By managing the relationship between these four pillars of engineering we enable our listeners to hear every single note in equal measure and transcend from audio sound to musical performance. We call this unique and emotive transmission the ‘Voice of Naim’; it’s our signature, our calling card.
This ‘voice’ has been carefully engineered across our product portfolio and crafted to take you the listener deeper through this journey into music, from the excellent entry-level Mu-so wireless range, through to the ultimate listening investment in our ‘Marque’ separates - Classic, 500 and Statement, our flagship amplification system.
Let the voice of Naim take you inside the music… Go Deeper.
The Naim Audio Way:
Ever since the early days we’ve ignored trends and trusted our own sense of what matters most in music playback.
No matter how vanishingly low we’ve managed to make distortion and jitter or how well we’ve controlled power supply noise and interference, we will always make our final judgement on a product in the listening room. Every component has to earn its place.
When we listen it’s not just for technical competencies. It’s about being able to forget that you’re listening to hi-fi at all and becoming immersed in a complete experience, feeling all the emotion that the artist intended when they first created the music.
Unlike most other consumer electronics, Naim Audio products are not designed to be replaced in three to four years. Buying a Naim Audio product is an investment in many years of incredible musical experiences. It’s a choice to make music a central part of your life.
We can still repair almost every product we’ve ever made in our service and restoration department. The skilled technicians there are some of our most experienced, with the know-how to breathe life into classic Naim Audio equipment. They regularly restore some of the first hi-fi products we ever made, ready to provide another 30 years of musical enjoyment to their owners.
If your product is over 10 years old then it’s a good idea to send it back to us for some care and attention. You can book in a service with our Customer Support team.
Once you’ve chosen Naim Audio you may find that you crave for even more of the musical performance that our products deliver. The good news is that there is usually an upgrade path which will allow you to attain the next level of performance without having to purchase a completely new system. That could be as simple as upgrading to a Power-Line mains cable, opting for an additional power supply or even making the move to separate pre and power amplifiers.
It takes infinite curiosity to be a Naim Audio engineer. To define, test and redefine each component and material in every product we design, ignoring trends to find new and better ways to achieve state of the art performance.
Pictured: 555 PS power supply rear panels being extracted from a bath of electrolyte fluid. A DC current is passed through the liquid, anodising the metalwork and giving a perfectly even black coating.
Every Naim Audio interconnect is shaken 180 times by a custom-designed pneumatic production device affectionately named ‘The SNAIC Shaker’ by our technicians. Why do we do this? Because it improves sound quality.
The digital filter in the NDS is mathematically precise enough to count 2 32 x 2256 seconds (that’s a 5 followed by 86 zeros). In other words, it’s powerful enough to count every second since the universe began many times over with pin-point accuracy. This level of precision is essential in order to keep filter arithmetic noise below – 144dB (the theoretical signal-to-noise ratio of 24bit PCM audio) at all times for best sound quality.
Nowhere is our determination to dance to the beat of our own drum more apparent than in our understanding of and enthusiasm for better quality power supplies. Improving the power supply has a clear and tangible effect on sound quality, we’ve observed it over and over. It’s why Naim products carry large transformers with isolated windings. The philosophy is exemplified in our range of separate power supplies that have the sole purpose of providing smooth, stable and low-noise power for audio electronics to shine.
Minimising mechanical, electromagnetic and thermal interference between components is a key part of Naim Audio design. Decoupling sockets to cut off interference from incoming mains power and suspending circuit boards on brass sub plates to create an isolated environment for critical electronics are two applications of this principle. A less obvious example is the creation of small bends in individual resistors by hand, decreasing microphonic interference (microscopic vibrations which degrade sound quality). But similar techniques are applied at every level of the design and build. And we only introduce techniques if they prove effective and repeatable in listening tests.
Matching the characteristics of sound critical components for each channel (left and right speaker) of an amplifier can greatly improve sound quality. Batches of resistors typically come matched to within a 5% margin of error. Through listening tests we found that if the resistance of the left and right channels are matched to closer than 0.5% music becomes dramatically more communicative and engaging. Following this discovery a bespoke production procedure was conceived to help us match resistors by hand.