Yesterday evening, Naim Audio – the dream brand of many audio enthusiasts – held a new product launch event at Living Sound Stereo (www.livingsoundstereo.com), an audio retailer in Markham, Ontario. This event was part of Naim Audio’s “The Future of Hi-Fi” tour, currently taking place at various audio retailers around the world.
The star of the party was Naim’s brand new flagship NDS Network Player ($13,000), which promises to deliver the absolute highest level of audio performance from digital audio sources. The reference quality NDS player allows wired and wireless N streaming of audio from UPnP devices (like Naim’s own music servers) and playback from up to three digital sources (via S/PDIF digital inputs). It supports files up to 24-bit/192 kHz and also allows users to listen to Internet radio. A front panel USB port allows playback of music from USB devices. The NDS streams and plays a wide variety of digital files including WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, AAC, WMA, Ogg Vorbis and MP3. As with many of Naim’s current audio components, in addition to using the supplied remote control, playback of the NDS can be controlled using the free n-Stream app designed for the iPhone and iPad. The NDS does not have a built-in power supply – it is up to the buyer to pair the NDS with one of three external Naim power supplies, ranging in price from $3,000 to $10,000. Pictured below is the Naim NDS with an external power supply.
For more detailed information about the NDS, please check out this post: http://canadahifi.com/index.php/naim-nds-network-player/
Emmanuel Lequere (Sales Rep from Plurison) and Doug Graham (International Sales Manager from the UK) were on hand at Living Sound Stereo to demonstrate the NDS for me, along with new versions of the soon to be released Naim iPhone/iPad apps. The demonstration system consisted of the NDS Network Player ($13,000), the top-of-the-line 555 PS Power Supply ($10,000 approx.), a Naim server (in another room) and Naim Ovator S-600 Loudspeakers ($13,000). I’ve been dreaming of building my own Naim Audio system for some time now and so I was delighted to have the opportunity to listen to the reference Naim components. The transparency and realism of this system instantly sucked me in. The incredibly low noise floor allowed me to hear the finest of musical details. Thanks to the powerful presentation, the scale and the dynamics, I felt as if I was sitting centre stage, right in front of the performers. The vocals, guitars and drums all sounded stunningly life-like – the presence of the performer and the instruments was top notch. Some parts of the musical selection were delivered with undeniable three-dimensionality – at times I thought I was listening to a multi-channel system. The Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) in the Ovator S-600 speakers surely had something to do with this amazing soundstaging.
As we were selecting songs for playback on an iPad, Doug Graham took the opportunity to show me the new n-Stream and n-Serve iPhone/iPad apps. The n-Stream app allows for control of all Naim network players/streamers and All-in-one components. The new version will allow users to interact with their music and discover new music like never before. When playing any song, the user can tap an ‘Info’ button which brings up an on-screen booklet containing information such as cover art, liner notes, information about the artist/band, discography, similar artists and similar albums. All of this information comes from the online Rovi database. I can’t think of a better way to learn more about some of the artists or albums that are in my music library. Better yet, I love the fact that the app suggests similar artists and albums – what a fantastic way to discover new music! The n-Serve app, designed to control Naim music servers, is also receiving a number of new features and enhancements. Perhaps the best of these is the ability to find cover art to match with albums for which the Rovi database couldn’t locate a record for – a common issue with many non-mainstream albums. Now you’ll be able to associate the proper cover art with all of your digital albums in a matter of seconds. Both apps will be available to all Naim component owners for free from the iTunes App stores by the end of this month.
Topping up the list of new products introduced at this event, was a new series of power supplies from Naim, launching in the next couple of weeks. All of the new power supplies will be utilizing Naim’s in-house designed discrete regulator devices (pictured above) as oppose to the off the shelf regulators in the company’s previous design. The sonic benefits of this upgrade is a much lower noise floor, allowing many more musical micro details to come through. By the end of this year, Naim will enable all owners of existing external Naim power supplies (going back some 30 years) to upgrade their units with this new technology. To upgrade, owners will have to send their units to Plurison, the Canadian Naim distributor.
Having the chance to listen to and interact with the new Naim NDS Network Player I am fully convinced that this truly is the “The Future of Hi-Fi”. I couldn’t be more pleased with how Naim is revolutionizing the listening experience.
For more info about Naim products, please visit www.naimaudio.com
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