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DAC - NAIM V1
AN ELEGANT BRITISH DAC
THE NAIM V1


I-INTRODUCTION.

The British manufacturers are very strong on the market. NAIM has been one of them since 1982 on the international market.
The list of the products that NAIM has manufactured over the past years is long, and almost all the sectors have been reached: compact disc, tuner, integrated amplifier, tuner, monaural amplifier, etc... The philosophy of NAIM has remained the same along the years: simplicity and performance. My best souvenirs are from the SUPERNAIT, the NAT-01 and the very surprising NAIT-2.

I have to confess that the Supernait is an excellent amplifier....

Here is a photography of the well known vintage tuner:


naim NAT01.jpg

and here is the small NAIT2 integrated amplifier:

naim nait2.jpg

To date, NAIM has not made a lot of efforts to be a winner on the digital market. Nevertheless, a DAC based on the Burr Brown 1704 chip has been recently introduced:

dac_front.jpg
The DAC that we review in this article is manufactured by NAIM, and it is the only available with the previous model matching the 19" form factor.


II-THE DAC NAIM V1.

This DAC has been recently introduced on the market, and like most of its competitors, it offers a headphone amplifier alongside with a preamplifier. These additional features are more important than a few years ago
because a lot of users can avoid to buy a preamplifier and/or can find a real usage the headphone amp.
This DAC is based on a  BURR BROWN PCM-1791A conversion chip and a DSP from SHARC, the ADSP-21489 use for the filtering and "supposed to be total" jitter reduction. The preamplifier section is exclusively based on discrete parts, which is a good indicator of the manufacturer goals in terms of dynamic and overall expected sound quality.
The look of this device clearly matches the NAIM brand image with the general black presentation with a few green inserts. The front face is both simple and beautiful to our eyes.

 
dac-v1_avant.jpg
The rear face provides as usual a lot of interesting information regarding the connection capabilities, which are quite complete excepted the XLR connectors. Although most of its competitors do not offer this possibility, the NAIM seem more « guilty » to our eyes because it has a DIN connector that is totally useless for most of us. This DIN connector should have been replaced by a XLR output...

The DAC V1 specifications:
  • USB asynchronous input: 24bits, from 44.1kHz up to 384kHz
  • SP/DIF inputs: 1xBNC 75 ohms, 2xRCA and 2xToslink optical, 24bits 192kHz (although we doubt that the Toslink inputs can reach this level...)
  • Compatibility: Mac OS-X 10.7 and above, Windows 7 and 8 (24bits 384kHz) and XP (24 bits 192kHz) with a specific driver
  • Output line level: 2xRCA, 1xDIN, 2.1Vrms
  • Headphone output: 1x6.35mm
  • Bandwith: 10Hz to 20kHz +/-0.1dB /-0.5dB
  • Harmonic distorsion: 0.002%
  • Size: 87 x 207 x 314mm
  • Weight: 4.3kg
  • Price: 1,650€ with remote



III-SYSTEM SETUP.

As always, we have used the same system setup than before in order to give you a constant basis of comparison regarding the various DACs that we have reviewed on Threshold Lovers.
config_naimV1.jpg
IV-THE LISTENING SESSION

 
Let us go directly to the conclusion: this NAIM DAC V1 offers the same sonic signature than the ANTELOPE Gold and the EXIMUS DP-1 that we have recently reviewed on ThresholdLovers.

 As my personal taste is oriented towards a punchy bass, a lot of weight on the notes, a lot of emotion and speed, I am once again a little bit disappointed, although I recognize that this DAC is a good product without any doubt, but it does not offer me a direct ticket to the Nirvana as I would like to get....

Through the V1, the music is fluid (well guys, it is a Naim, do not forget it !), with a lot of elegance, very analogic and not any trace of agressivity in the high frequencies. The subjective linearity is excellent.

Its major and exceptional capability relates to the voices domain, where it excels and beats all of its competitors on the entire frequency range from top to bottom.

Nevertheless, it did not beat the small  (by the size and the price only...) NuForce HDP in my system configuration. Once again, this NuForce HDP remains at the top of the current available products, and you will have to spend much more to simply equal it...

As a summary, this NAIM V1 is a truly excellent product. It will not join the group of devices that are in my listening room because of the exceptional NuForce HDP, but it is clearly a very very good DAC.


V-CONCLUSION.

The digital revolution has not emerged with this NAIM V1 DAC, and we continue to believe that the engineers still have to work on their schematics to achieve the « perfect DAC », although there is no doubt that this NAIM V1 is a very very good DAC.

Pros:
  • it achieves truly excellent performance on the voices
  • the preamplifier section is included
  • the music that it delivers is very fluid with no agressivity

Cons:
  • the look might be sexier
  • the headphone amplifier is not as good as the rest
  • it just reaches an average performance level with a low impedance headphone
  • no XLR output
  • the price is a bit high
     
TL_4.jpg
A NAIM DAC-V1 dedicated topic is available on our Forum.

This review has been written by Florent - September 2013.

Creation date : 13/07/2013 @ 21:37
Last update : 12/01/2016 @ 19:33
Category : DAC
Page read 8898 times


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