Integrated Amplifiers

Naim Audio, SUPERNAIT Integrated Stereo Amplifier with DAC

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

I abandoned my multi-channel home theater/music rig almost a year ago and have never looked back. I foresee a resurgence in 2-channel gear. For one, you can get so much performance from a 2-channel system of equivalent value to a 5.1 or 7.1 system. Second, it's just so much easier to set up, wire, operate, etc. I am a music lover first and foremost, and anything that lets me enjoy new music and also re-appreciate my library brings more pleasure to me than a system capable of playing a soulless blockbuster movie. Editorial rant aside, there's not much in the set up for the SUPERNAIT. There are some quirks though.

First, the SUPERNAIT does not accept bare wire or spade connectors natively. The speaker connectors are meant for 4 mm banana plugs. Naim does provide a unique bare wire to banana connector, which I have to say is not as good as real banana plugs. It requires you to open the adapter by removing a screw, then feeding raw wire and "spooling" it into the banana connectors. Each speakers pair is in one housing, and I do feel this design might be susceptible to shorting if there are errant strands of wire.

A second quirk is that all feature implementation (selecting which input is the HT pass through, or assigning digital inputs, etc.) is through a series of button combinations on the remote control and/or front panel. The timing has to be executed very precisely, with almost no visual feedback. It takes some practice, but once you execute it correctly once, it becomes easier. Be prepared for a bit of frustration initially.

There are some very modern and useful features in the SUPERNAIT. The mentioned balance control. Most useful is the home-theater bypass. Many integrated amps offer this but the SUPERNAIT allows you to assign which input is the HT bypass. Many other units require more than one button press to engage HT bypass, or inconveniently it's a physical button on the front panel, and worst yet, a switch on the back or bottom of the case.

Digital inputs can be custom assigned or used in their default allocation (listed in the owner's manual) for quick use. It's all very simple to use.

One other note, the unit remains in mute for 30 seconds after you turn it on. It's not a normal mute either where you can continue to select sources, etc. The unit is essentially powers on but will not respond to controls for 30 seconds. This is not highlighted in the manual and it did concern me when I first turned it on and the SUPERNAIT did not respond.

There is only one pair of speaker connectors so bi-wire users, you need to have cables shot-gunned at the amp end.

Setup was painless for my installation, I connected my banana speaker cables, hooked up my Squeezebox through coax, a PS3 via optical, and my iPhone through optical using an imported Onkyo ND-S1 dock. I put on white noise, set up my dB meter, balanced my speakers, and I was ready to go.