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D/A Converter / Preamplifier + Power amplifier
DAC-V1 + NAP 100

Price (in Poland): 6590 zł + 3490 zł

Manufacturer: Naim Audio Ltd.

tel.: +44 (0) 1722 426600

Manufacturer’s website:

Country of origin: Great Britain

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Photos: Bartosz Łuczak/Piksel Studio
Translation: Andrzej Dziadowiec

Published: 3. July 2013, No. 110

The DAC-V1 D/A converter and the NAP100 power amplifier are the latest additions to British Naim’s Classic Series lineup. Complementing the UnitiServe network player, the smaller in the Uniti line, they refer to it with their front panel size – half the standard “rack” – and enclosure design. The latter is especially important in Naim’s concept. Naim’s engineers have been working for years to minimize the impact of vibration on electronic components, both those generated by the components themselves as well as those from the outside. Multi-faceted approaches and strategies have been employed. It all starts with the enclosure. In the reviewed units it is fully made of aluminum. The front panel is a thick aluminum cast plate. The other panels, except the rear, form together a kind of rigid, pull-over “sleeve”. Naim products feature electronic PCBs that are usually flexibly mounted rather than screwed-on tight. That’s why the connectors seem a bit “loose” as they are not fixed to the rear panel but only mounted to the PCB. Moreover, Naim’s engineers suggest not to screw on tight DIN-terminated cables connecting the DAC to the power amp. Since the two units under review belong to the budget line they don't feature Naim’s trademark “loose” board assembly.
It’s possible to move up a level in terms of anti-vibration control without parting with Naim. The manufacturer offers specialized equipment racks designed especially for Naim's electronics. The modular racks are assembled of individual shelving levels. The bottom shelf called the base level provides foundation for multiple shelving levels placed one upon another. One can choose between the reference level Fraim and entry-level FraimLite versions. The former has shelving levels that feature MDF shelves supported by aluminum uprights and additional sub-shelves made of toughened glass decoupled from the wooden shelves with hardened steel ball bearings. The FraimLite doesn’t have the additional sub-shelves. The base level sits on tall floor spikes with clamping rings on top to support the spikes of the shelf above. The whole looks very nice and I recommend this setup. A FraimLite with two shelving levels costs 2,890 PLN.

There's a subject that can’t be passed over when discussing Naim. DIN connectors. DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung (the German Institute for Standardization) and its standards. For a number of years DIN connectors used to be a common standard in Germany. They were also popular in Poland where they were licensed from German companies like Grundig. Great Britain, USA or Japan early on employed a different type of connectors known as the RCA (Radio Corporation of America), which were used as early as 1940s. Outside Germany, DIN speaker connectors held out much longer than line level connectors.
The DIN 41524 line connector have certain advantages not shared by the RCA, mostly constant connector impedance and common ground for both channels. If devices employ star grounding topology, which is the case of Naim, splitting ground at the output to reconnect it at the input of the next device is a mistake. The world of audio however is governed by its own rules and has long since phased out DIN connectors. A small group of manufacturers like Naim or The Chord Company that manufactures cables have remained faithful. For some time now Naim has equipped their devices with both DIN and RCA connectors, leaving the choice up to the user. The reviewed devices were accompanied by Naim’s proprietary four pin Snaic cable that I used throughout the review. Speaker connectors that we find in Naim amplifiers are equally unorthodox. While they are not DINs, they are nothing like classic binding posts accepting banana plugs, spades and “bare” wire. The speaker connectors are two pairs of 4mm sockets that accept banana plugs and BFAs. Naim’s own two-pin speaker plugs are provided and the manufacturer recommends to use them, preferably with Naim speaker cables. I declined and instead used Acoustic Revive speaker cables fitted with banana plugs.

The description of both devices is much simpler. The DAC-V1 is the second D/A converter from Naim, after the DAC. As a matter of fact, the DAC was also a file player, albeit in a limited capacity. The DAC-V1 is quite versatile, too. It combines a D/A converter, analog preamplifier (with digital inputs only) and a headphone amplifier. It can be fed a 32-bit 192 kHz S/PDIF signal via its BNC, RCA and TosLink inputs. There is also an asynchronic 24/384 USB port. The preamp section is similar to those employed in standalone Naim components. For example, the filtration and jitter reduction circuit is taken straight from the DAC. The converter circuit is the same as the one employed in the NDX and SuperNaiti network players. The amplifier features classic Naim dual mono topology to output 50 W at 8 Ω (75 W at 4 Ω). It is based on the circuit used previously in the SuperUniti all-in-one system.


Albums used during this review

  • Random Trip, Nowe Nagrania, 005, CD + FLAC 24/44,1 (2012);
  • SATRI Reference Recordings Vol. 2, Bakoon Products, FLAC 24/192.
  • T-TOC Data Collection Vol. 1, T-TOC Records, DATA-0001, 24/96+24/192, WAV, ripy z DVD-R.
  • Al Di Meola, Flesh on Flesh, Telarc, źródło: HDTracks, 24/96 FLAC (2011).
  • Bach, Violin Concertos, Yehudi Menuhin, EMI/Hi-Q Records, HIQXRCD9, XRCD24, CD (1960/2013).
  • Charlie Haden & Antonio Forcione, Heartplay, Naim Label, 24/96 FLAC [źródło: NaimLabel].
  • Depeche Mode, Delta Machine, Columbia Records/Sony Music Japan, SICP-3783-4, 24 bity, FLAC [źródło: HDTracks] (2013);
  • Dominic Miller & Neil Stacey, New Dawn, Naim, naimcd066, CD (2002).
  • Frank Sinatra, Where Are You?, Capitol Records/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2109, “Special Limited Edition No. 261”, SACD/CD (1957/2013).
  • Jean Michel Jarre, Essentials & Rarities, Disques Dreyfus/Sony Music, 62872, 2 x CD (2011).
  • Miles Davis, In A Silent Way, Columbia/Mobile Fidelity, “Special Limited Edition No. 1311”, UDSACD 2088, SACD/CD (1969/2012).
  • Persy Grainger, Lincolnshire Posy, Dallas Wind Symphony, dyr. Jerry Junkin, Reference Recordings, HR-117, HRx, 24/176,4 WAV, DVD-R (2009).
  • Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 036, K2HD Mastering, “24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM”, CD-R (1964/2009).
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Laydyland, Columbia/Sony Music Japan, SICP-30003, Blu-Spec2 CD (1968/2013).
  • The Oscar Peterson Trio, We Get Request, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 032, K2HD Mastering, “24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM”, CD-R (1964/2009).
  • Perfect, Perfect, Polskie Nagrania Muza/Polskie Radio, PRCD 1596, CD (1981/2013).
  • Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms, Vertigo/Universal Music Ltd. Hong Kong, 5483572, XRCD2 (1985/2000).
Japanese editions of CDs and SACDs are available from

That Naim favors DIN sockets is commonly known. That Naim started from analog sources to move over to high resolution digital – just like Linn did – is no secret, either. There is another constant line in all Naim equipment reviews: rhythm and pace as its basic sonic characteristics. What is understood by that is the ability to show temporal aspects of recordings, the so-called pace-keeping, a proper handling of time – both crash and pause. Generally, something that makes us tap our feet, shake our head or tap a finger on the table to the beat. It needs to be said that it’s true. Among many characteristic features of Naim devices (shared by them) their fantastically portrayed rhythm section work and the sound attack – without its hardening – is the most important.
To achieve that it is usually necessary to use very expensive components (huge capacitor banks, a special circuit topology) and not all will guarantee that. While Naim’s product lineup includes very expensive audio systems, the said pace, rhythm and timing is characteristic of all its products, including the DAC-V1 and NAP100 under review. What that means is that their sonic character must have been shaped in a specific way.
At first sight it’s difficult to say exactly what has been done. The Naim system sounds dense, dynamic and saturated with no sharpening. Although I had heard a few Naim systems that sounded rather hard, with emphasized upper midrange, I believe it was due to poorly matched speakers or power supply problems, not the components. Paired with the Harbeth M40.1 and the Raidho D-1, the system under review was well-proportioned overall with no discernible brightening or sharpening and no trace of hardening.

The proportions I describe are characteristic for this manufacturer. First of all it is the emphasized range around several hundred Hertz that makes the sound strong and rhythmic. The sound attack was not hard or tiring. Apparently the coherence of the basic sound and higher harmonics as well as proper phase coherence were maintained. I can’t explain this phenomenon any other way. Resolution was exceptionally good which might also partially explain the result but selectivity was nothing remarkable. And it is the latter that makes the instruments seem clear and is often responsible for a fast, attractive sound. Here the sound planes weren’t clearly separated and phantom images lacked clear shape and body. The foreground was preferred, almost to the point of having “exclusive rights” to the listener’s attention. The accompanying acoustics was dense and pretty but decayed quite quickly which had its effect on direct sound.

Given that, the vitality of music presentation was all the more shocking. The modest 50W stated by the manufacturer can’t explain that. The amplifier is compact in size and doesn’t double its power at half the impedance so its current capacity may seem limited. I know this effect from amplifiers from another British manufacturer – NAD. The point is that the power supply and amplifier are able to deliver very high peak current. The Naim is exceptionally good in that respect. I know only one group of amplifiers where power output seems higher than it is in reality – tube amplifiers. The NAP100 does something very similar.

What we get are clear, fleshy guitars, even on recordings that usually sound under-saturated, like Dire Straits Brothers in Arms or the CD reissue of Perfect’s debut album. I don’t mean that they sound light but that most systems choose contouring over saturation. The system under review seems to focus on what’s most important in that kind of guitar-driven sound – the rhythm and aggressiveness of full on guitars.
Actually, lower midrange and upper bass are stronger than with more neutral amplifiers, which is audible on Miller and Stacey’s album New Dawn. It features mostly acoustic and classical guitars with electric guitars making appearance from time to time. It is the former that sound low and deep – much more so than in reality. The sound engineer is partly responsible for that in his pursuit of a deepened sound at the expense of neutrality, and his choice of an intimate contact over breath. Yet the Naim also added its own attribute, saturating the guitars even further and showing them even nearer.
The midrange and treble are dense, too, which combined with nice detailness makes for a very pleasant listen. We get an almost perceptible tape noise as on Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way, but in the positive meaning of the word – as a part of presentation, an integral element of the “record” viewed as something separate from live music event.


Yes, the Naim system sounds in its own special way. Strong, full, with strong bass, great pace, rhythm and resolution. However, selectivity is not that high which results in showing larger ensembles, bigger planes rather than particular details, outlines and textures. Imaging favors the foreground – almost at hand’s reach – over acoustics, soundstage width or reverbs. The sound is very engaging and “from the gut”. An exceptionally well designed USB input will allow high quality playback of audio files from the computer. The headphone output works very well, too. I didn’t feel any discomfort even with the demanding Sennheiser HD800 and although the sound was lighter than on the speakers I had no problem with that since it was resolute and clear. This option is so good that using an additional headphone amp will only make sense if we are really “fanatical” about it. In any other case it will be throwing money down the drain as Naim offers a high quality headphone output included in the price of the main component.
The Naim system, for that’s how the two reviewed components need to be treated, is relatively inexpensive. Its sound, however, doesn’t indicate that. Beautiful colors, saturation, resolution and great functionality are the system’s most important characteristics. What’s also important is that the brand has its own group of faithful, intelligent followers. And being in a group, especially such an elite group as this, is something unique.


The system was reviewed in an A/B test with both A and B known. Music samples were 2 minutes long. The source was: Ancient Audio Lector AIR V-edition transport section (Philips CD-Pro2) and my HP Pavilion dv7 laptop, 128 GB SSD, 320 GB HDD, Foobar2000+JPlay connected with the Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SPS USB cable. The system sat on the stock board which was placed on the floor. The speakers were connected via Acoustic Revive SPC-PA speaker cables. I had three pairs of speakers at my disposal: the Harbeth M40.1, Raidho D-1 and Castle Richmond Anniversary Limited Edition, signed for me by Castle’s chief designer. That must have improved their sound a lot. I’m kidding.


I’ve already given the basic information at the beginning. Both devices are modest sized and sport 207 mm wide aluminum cast front panels. The rest of their enclosures and chassis are also made of aluminum. The DAC-V1 front panel features a nice green OLED display that shows basic information on the current volume level and selected input. Volume level change is indicated by large digits. The display dims out after a user-predefined time. The input selectors and the logo remain lit. The latter may also indicate the Mute mode. On the left side is a large volume knob and the headphone socket.
The rear panel clearly shows the unit’s true purpose. It’s a D/A converter with a built in preamp section. We have only digital inputs at our disposal: USB, BNC, two RCAs and two optical TOSLINKs. The S/PDIF inputs, in other words all inputs except USB, accept signal up to 32-bit and 192 kHz. The asynchronic USB input works up to 384 kHz but its bit length is limited to 24 bits. As such, it doesn’t support the 32-bit or DSD signal. Next to the inputs are analog outputs – a pair of RCAs and Naim’s preferred DIN, here in a less typical 4-pin configuration. There is also a small ground lift switch. The picture is completed by a mains socket and mechanical switch. There is no standby switch which suggests that the unit should remain on all the time.

The electronic circuit is mounted on one PCB that features a cut-out hole for the transformer. The latter is a 210 W massive toroidal unit from Talema, center potted with vibration damping epoxy and mounted to a thick rubber mat. It sports three secondary windings – separately for the inputs and digital filters, DAC and analog section. Next to the USB input we see a DSP chip from Atmel that works as a USB receiver. All other inputs are isolated with impedance matching transformers. From the selected input the signal goes to the SHARC ADSP2148 DSP chip from Analog Devices that houses Naim’s custom written software for digital filters (with 16 x oversampling) and jitter reducing circuit. Such prepared, the signal reaches a single stereo Burr-Brown PMC1791 D/A converter. Next to it are two fine clocks, separate for the 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz families of sampling frequencies. The analog section is mounted on the same board but is separated from the digital section by a distance and optoelectronic components to isolate from high frequency noise. It also allows a layout with each section having its own grounding point. I/V conversion is performed by Burr-Brown OPA604 chips. The volume control uses an IC resistor ladder network. The control is digital but the attenuation is performed in the analog domain. The output stage employs transistors mounted on small heat sinks that work in a single-ended Class A circuit. The headphone output is driven from the same circuit. To provide enough current, after plugging in the headphones the gain is automatically raised by x5. The outputs are switched by reed relays. The complex power supply section looks impressive.

The plastic remote is rather small and can additionally control the basic functions of a computer software player.

The amplifier is housed in a similar enclosure as the DAC, except that its front panel only sports the logo and the rear an IEC mains socket with a mechanical switch, silver plated speaker sockets and analog inputs – a pair of RCAs and DIN. Both are active at the same time.
The NAP100 circuit employs a full dual-mono topology, starting with two separate secondary windings of a large solid toroidal transformer from Noratel. Power filtration uses four 47,000 μF capacitors. The gain stage is built on discrete transistors. The push-pull AB Class output stage is based on 2SA1386+2SC3519 transistor pairs bolted to the bottom panel strengthened with a thick aluminum plate. This ensures that the whole enclosure acts as a heat sink. The assembly is mixed technology with SMD and THT components.

Specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Type: D/A Converter / Preamplifier
Inputs: 5 x S/PDIF (1 x BNC, 2 x RCA, 2 x TOSLINK) / 32 kHz – 192 kHz, 32-bit
+ USB (asynchronic) / 44.1 kHz – 384 kHz/24-bit
Frequency response: 10 Hz – 20 kHz (+0.1dB/-0.5dB)
THD: <0.002%
Input voltage: 2.1 Vrms
Power consumption (max): <17W
Dimensions: 87 x 207 x 314 mm (H x W x D)
Weight: 4.3 kg

Input impedance: 18 kΩ
Output Power: 50 W/8 Ω, 75 W/4 Ω
Gain: 29 dB
Frequency response: 3.5 Hz – 69 kHz (-3 dB)
Power consumption: 15 W (standby), 260 W (maximum)
Dimensions: 87 x 207 x 314 mm (H x W x D)
Weight: 5.1 kg

Audio Center Poland
Audio Center Poland

ul. Henryka Sucharskiego 49 | 30-898 Kraków
tel. 12 655 45 12, 12 425 64 43
tel. 12 265 02 85, 12 265 02 86




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- Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
- Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
- Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
- Multiformat Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD
- Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
- Power amplifier: Soulution 710
- Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
- Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
- Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
- Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
- Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
- Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE
System I
- Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
- Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
System II
- Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
- Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA
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- Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
- Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
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- LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
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- Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
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- Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
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