A new day is dawning at Naim

NAIM NSC 222 Preamplificateur AND NETWORK PLAYER,

Here it is, the New Classic series from Naim. The manufacturer is therefore making a big splash with three new devices, being the first three within the new classic series. There are many new features under the bonnet and a new look, saying goodbye to the unmistakable green colour, long associated with the brand’s image. These three new products represent a major change within the classic Naim series. The new series starts with an all-in-one preamplifier, the Naim NSC 222 which manages the music signal and provides networked file playback. To optimise its performance, it is accompanied by an optional power supply, the Naim NPX 300. Then the new version of the classic Naim NAP 250 amplifier completes the set perfectly. These devices come with several technical innovations and a resolutely modern sound. This is one of the very first test benches on these new products. It will give you a good idea of the changes made and what these devices have to offer.

• • •

We have been waiting for a long time for this new series. There were already rumours of a revamp of the classic Naim series. Several of the devices in this series have been in the Naim catalogue for many years. However, as the British manufacturer from Salisbury is not the type to change its models every year, it was necessary to be patient. A long wait, which has now been rewarded with the arrival of these three new products. It must be said that the classic series was due for a good overhaul, not to say a good tidying up. Some of the models were a bit redundant and some of their features were from another era. The needs of music lovers have since changed and their listening habits have evolved towards other technologies. So a major change was needed. These three new devices are the first of these. Other models will follow in the New Classic series. However, it is still unclear which models of the former Classic and XS series will be redesigned and which will disappear. In terms of circuitry, the New Classic series borrows technologies, which were originally developed for the Statement from Naim. In addition, the new series of devices uses the control interface of the Uniti series, having proven itself in terms of user-friendliness and modernity. In terms of aesthetics, I can already hear the cries of the most hardened Naimists. Reading the comments on social networks, the choice to abandon the colour green has not been received well. Having had the devices in my possession, I can assure you that the new look is absolutely superb, with a white backlight. It even reminds me a bit of the very first Naimchrome bumper series. So, we have before us a new series of devices, which in principle inherits the audio qualities of the classic series, benefits from the research and development carried out on the Statement and adopts the design and functionality of the Uniti series. In short, it promises a lot! First, let’s dive into a technical exploration.

Technical overview
The Naim NSC 222 preamplifier and network player
The Naim NSC 222 is a preamplifier with a phono stage, a line stage that controls gain and inputs, a digital to analogue converter and a network player. The preamplifier has two analogue line inputs and one input for a moving magnet turntable. The preamplifier is equipped with two outputs, one on RCA socket and the other on XLR socket in balanced format. The big novelty for a Naim preamplifier is the extraordinary volume control that the NSC 222 is equipped with. This is directly inherited from the NAC S1 Statement by Naim. It is in fact a network of sealed relays, of very high quality, coupled to a scale of fixed resistors. This type of volume control is extremely expensive to implement and is mounted on a board, taking up almost a quarter of the Naim NSC 222. It allows a volume adjustment without any loss, without any noise, with perfect precision, regardless of the level selected. In fact, the device would probably be worth its retail price just for this volume control! It is to be hoped that it will be found in a possible new all-analogue preamplifier.

The Naim NSC 222 also has an excellent phono input. This is designed for moving magnet cells and is very similar to the one already present in the new Nait amplifiers by Naim. This is great news, as this phono section is not just a convenience. It is very efficient and very quiet. The so-called digital section of the Naim NSC 222 is based on, if not identical to, that seen in the Uniti series. The networked playback platform is essentially the same, as is the digital-to-analogue conversion stage. This is still based on a Texas Instrument PCM 1791A chip. Basically, why change a formula that sounds good and has already proven itself? The Naim NSC 222 is equipped with four digital inputs to the usual standards and two USB ports, including a very practical one, located on the front of the device. All of this is operated by a very good quality two-way remote control. The unit can also be controlled by the Naim-Focal application for certain functions, such as volume and the input selection. The application also allows for adjustments and customisation of settings, as only an ultra-modern device like the Naim NSC 222 can provide. Finally, the Naim NSC 222 can be seriously upgraded, by the optional addition of an external power supply, the Naim NPX 300.

This optional power supply is entirely dedicated to the Naim NSC 222 preamplifier and has no effect on the Naim NAP 250 power amplifier. It can also work with other Naim devices such as the former NAC-N272 and NDX-2. Its role is to completely free the Naim NSC 222 from its internal power supply, thus ensuring several beneficial effects. When the Naim NPX 300 is plugged in, the Naim NSC 222’s internal transformer remains off and it is no longer necessary to connect the power cable. Since the Naim NSC 222 power transformer is inactive, it cannot vibrate, radiate or pollute the sensitive circuits of the Naim NSC 222. To do its job well, the Naim NPX 300 power supply has a huge toroidal transformer and six discrete regulators. These ensure a clean and smooth flow of electricity. This allows the various circuits of the Naim NSC 222 to operate optimally. To get the right electrical signal to the right circuit, the connection is made using two huge umbilical cables with multiple plugs. The chassis of the Naim NPX 300 is identical to the other two devices of the 200 series, with the same quality of aluminium and finish.

The Naim NAP 250 power amplifier.
This is an update to the ultra classic and proven Naim NAP 250DR. This amplifier delivers a good 100 watts per channel, in class AB. It has been in the Naim catalogue since the 1970. When it was integrated into the New Classic series, Naim ‘s engineers took the opportunity to give it a good update. Of course, the huge toroidal transformer is still there, characterising this device and its sound signature. It is identical to the one used in the previous version. Both amplifier circuit boards have been refreshed, with new regulators and a new component layout. The big change is the incorporation of new Naim proprietary output transistors, from its Statement series. These, called NA009, are now cooled on ceramic heatsinks, which are in turn cooled by a tunnel-shaped metal heatsink. This tunnel ends in a micro-fan to accelerate heat removal when required. Many long-time Naim NAP 250 enthusiasts screamed sacrilege when they saw a fan on the new Naim NAP 250. I want to reassure you right away. At no time, even after pushing the amplifier for several hours, did I feel any air escaping from the little fan or hear any noise. I really have the impression that this ventilation system has only been installed for extreme situations and that the vast majority of the time it will not even work. The Naim NAP 250 New Classic version is now equipped with two XLR sockets, which will only make people happy this time! Like the other devices in the New Classic series, the Naim NAP 250 is now equipped with a standby circuit and a power switch that is (finally…) located on the front.

Unpacking and setting up
Unpacking and setting up three such ambitious devices requires patience and a good minimum of knowledge This is a case where it would be better to have it done by your retailer. The connections of the NPX 300 power supply are far from obvious to a novice, especially the connection of the large power umbilical cables. If you feel confident doing the installation yourself, take it step by step, making sure you read the instructions thoroughly. The first thing to do will be to install the Naim-Focal app on one or more of your Android or iOS devices. You will then need to inform the application of your passwords for the various online music platforms. The Naim NSC 222 comes with a fairly advanced remote control, which performs all the functions of the device perfectly. You can operate the NSC 222 from the controls on the front panel, the remote control or the app. Beware of the volume control included in the application, which is done from a scroll bar that looks very much like the scroll bar of a song. It’s just a terrible as an ergonomic mistake! Fortunately, in the app settings, you can change it to virtual ‘plus and minus’ buttons. Do it as soon as possible. The same applies to the volume control on the device. The illuminated endless wheel does not display the volume position. This one is just waiting for a child to come and play with it and turn it to the maximum… In the settings, be sure to limit the maximum volume to 50 – 60 %, to prevent damage to your speakers. On the home automation side, the devices of the New Classic series are now equipped with sockets for small communication cables, which make it possible to switch all the devices on / off or or hold all at the same time. In conclusion, these Naim devices need, in order to properly express all their musicality, an anti-vibration audio cabinet, solid, high quality.

Listening impressions
A whole new musical light
I set about listening to this new series of Naim equipment, setting aside as much as possible, any preconceived ideas about the famous Naim sound signature. For this first listening, I didn’t try to isolate the devices from each other. Instead, I approached the listening as a whole. I was in for quite a surprise. These new Naim devices clearly offer a sound that has been considerably modernised and improved. The New Classic series from Naim, will become part of today’s high-end landscape. Any comparison with the sound of the old olive and classic series would be completely futile. While there are many features of the Naim sound, the overall sound quality is now on a different level and this, in all respects. This is immediately obvious when listening to the album Le concert des nations, masterfully conducted by Jordi Savall. The music opens up before me with magnificent precision and three-dimensionality. Have you ever dreamed of hearing Naim devices produce an amazing stereo image? With this New Classic series, it’s done! The depth of the soundstage is very realistic and even allows a certain notion of height to be perceived. To achieve this kind of result, the equipment must be able to extract all the necessary micro-details from the recording. These new Naim devices reproduce music that is packed with little details. The music is rendered with just the right amount of timing, which allows you to relax, since the brain doesn’t have to work too hard to imagine them. So, on first listen, we can definitely say that this new Naim series provides a modern, detailed, coherent listening experience with beautiful timbres.

Naim NPX 300 power supply added
Of course, I enjoyed listening to the Naim NSC 222, with and without the addition of the NPX 300 power supply. On its own, the NSC 222 preamplifier and network player remains an exceptional device, capable of delivering excellent music quality. It has his own personality, is very transparent and the listening has a lot of body. As such, the Naim NSC 222 represents a considerable improvement, when compared to the NAC-N272 model it replaces. At the time, I even wondered if I wouldn’t prefer it without the NPX 300 power supply. My opinion quickly changed, from the moment I reconnected the Naim NPX 300 power supply. Once the Naim NPX 300 power supply is back, the Naim NSC 222 gets quite a boost! Its ability to render the dynamics of the music now seems tenfold. The attacks, the deviations in volume, present in the recording of the piece Jazz Variant, taken from the album La Bamba by the collective O-Zone Percussion Group, take on a whole new dimension. Looking for dynamics? Hold on tight! Boosted by the NPX 300 power supply, the Naim NSC 222 literally blows up the music. Even with very small differences in dynamics, these become more obvious. This greatly enhances the listening experience, making it more active and alive. In terms of noise, listening is quieter too. The listening atmosphere is calmer, the music seems to have more time to play and comes from a completely silent background. This Naim NPX 300 power supply is a nice addition and is a substantial improvement. It enhances a device, which at first, is already really good.

The NAP 250 New Classic amplifier, literally a monument
Of these three new devices, it is definitely the Naim New Classic NAP 250 that was my favourite. I have to admit, I have always loved Naim’s 250.This amplifier model has always known how to touch me, with its incredible base in the bass, its unalterable sense of rhythm and its solidity. This set of qualities, which makes the personality of the NAP 250, is still present and nothing has been lost in this new version. From now on, with the New Classic version, it will be necessary to add undeniable qualities, such as a new ability to recreate a grandiose sound image, both in depth and in width. Add to this a much more refined tonal rendering, as well as better compatibility with other manufacturers’ equipments. You are looking at a product that is a winner in every respect. Lovers of deep, beautiful bass will get their money’s worth. Alva Noto’s Subterraneans track, a techno-drone revival of a David Bowie classic, really makes it possible to appreciate the power and control qualities of the Naim NAP 250. The amount of quality bass that this amplifier is capable of delivering is simply mind-blowing. With small monitor-sized loudspeakers, it even feels like you’ve added a subwoofer! With big loudspeakers capable of going deep into the low frequencies, it’s a really bliss. What an amplifier this Naim NAP 250 is! One day I’ll own one.

Nice extras very much appreciated
The Naim NSC 222 is equipped with a very respectable phono stage and a high class headphone amplifier. The phono stage is very quiet, has a lot of gain and will work perfectly well with a very good quality moving magnet cartridge. I was able to do some excellent listening with a Goldring 1042 cartridge. This phono stage has a very warm tone and a lot of resolution. It will probably please anyone who wants to get quality vinyl listening, without having to invest thousands of dollars in a phono stage. The headphone amplifier in the Naim NSC 222 is derived from the one in the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition. It is truly excellent. It’s powerful, extremely quiet and will get the best out of most headphones on the market. With my Grado Hemp headphones on, I could enjoy a wonderful listening experience. Unless you have very high-end headphones, the vast majority of audiophiles will certainly find what they are looking for.

This new series of Naim devices is really a great success. It is never easy for a brand like Naim, with an ultra-loyal and also dedicated clientele, to make changes of such magnitude. I’m sure that fans of the iconic brand will fall in love with the New Classic series when they see and hear it. The listening experience has improved considerably with these three new devices. Their high level of performance will now be better matched with products from other brands. The best part is that the complete overhaul of the Naim product ranges is probably just beginning. This should lead to several other interesting products, which will complement these, for more specific needs. A new day has dawned at Naim and it looks like a sunny one. It’s up to you to listen to it out in this new light.


NAIM NSC 222 Preamplifer and network player

Price: $11,999
Warranty: 2 years - mechanics, 5 years – electronics.
The warranty covers all costs of the parts, labour and delivery

NAIM NPX 300 Power Supply

Price: $11,999

Warranty: 2 years - mechanics, 5 years – electronics.
The warranty covers all costs of the parts, labour and delivery

NAIM NAP 250 Power Amplifier

Price: $11,999
Warranty: 2 years - mechanics, 5 years – electronics.
The warranty covers all costs of the parts, labour and delivery

Distributor: Focal Naim Canada,
T.: 1 866.271.5689,


  • J-F. Rebel & G.Ph. Telemann, Le concert des nations, Jordi Saval, Alia Vox AVSA9929
  • O-Zone Percussion Group, La Bamba, Fichier Tidal.
  • Alva Noto, Subterraneans, Tidal file.