James keeps reminding me that I owe a blog on my history with hi fi and Naim so here goes.
My first system was home made, age about 17 in 1972. Heathkit amp, Garrard deck ripped from an old Dansette type record player and home made chipboard, sheeps wool filled speakers with old Tannoy drivers. It probably sounded awful but I only listened to Van der graaf Generator, Matching Mole and Soft Machine in those days so you wouldn't have noticed.
The system I listened to more though belonged to my mate Julian's Dad. Leek amplification and tuner, Thorens 164 deck with a thick felt mat, Pickering cartridge (?) all in a custom cabinet and huge floor standing Wharfedale speakers in carpentry cabinets and metal, sand filled backs. It sounded wonderful and he let us use it, he was a gent, and a huge jazz fan, hundreds of jazz LPs. That was what turned me on to hi fi, the jazz came later.
My first proper system was bought with vacation earnings in my first year at uni in '75 Pioneer PL 12D (of course ) Technics SU 7100 amp and Ditton 15 speakers. A bit of a classic. That system lasted a good 10 years and the speakers longer. I replaced the Pioneer with a technics direct drive deck (why??) and then quickly with a second hand Thorens 164 which I still have somewhere altho the motor has burnt out.
The early 80s found me in the Middle East, still with the Ditton 15s which I then replaced with Rogers LS 5s, the vinyl was all in store and cd had been invented, so a very early Philips CD 104, primitive but sounded smooth, NAD pre/power combo and the Rogers. And a Nakamichi auto reverse tape deck, superb piece of kit, the cassette literally span round in a small perspex "cage" to reverse, loved it and still have it in store.
Roll forward to 1991 and I decide it is time to splash the cash. I am getting back into vinyl and hunting around second hand shops. I did a big auditioning exercise with Kellogg; and a great shop in Brighton, I think it is called Grahams? Heard US stuff, was tempted by valves, nearly bought a Pink Triangle deck before coming across Simon at Infidelity and spent weeks mulling over Linn/Sondek and Naim/Roksan Xerxes before plumping for the latter, the Linn was too polite and the Roksan really rocked. So my first Naim system was 82(olive), 180(olive), CDS, SBLs and the Roksan with a Rega arm and a Shure cartridge.
The SBLs had a driver upgrade in 1995 and new tweeters last year. The CDS was upgraded to Mk II in around 2000.The 180 was replaced with a 250 in the late 90s.I bought the analogue tuner in 2004
And so it was until a friend of mine in Darlington (hi Chris) asked if I had heard of Tom Tom.Enter James. 2008 or thereabouts? First, the 82 was replaced by a refurbed 52 with phono stage.
Then the Roksan suspension collapsed, it does ! My mate Chris said I HAD to listen to an Avid, I did and I bought the Accutus, SME arm and Dynavector Te Kaitora cartridge from James. Sensational, a new vinyl collection. But the 52 phone stage was limiting, so a Super Line phono stage came next ( probably the single most remarkable upgrade i have done, until the next paragraph) along with the NX5D streamer ( great for parties and the radio is fantastic, I still don't like the Naim app interface though, very clunky).
One fateful day last Spring James rang, he had a 3 year old CD 555 at less than half price, perfect condition and had been thoroughly shaken down back in Salisbury. Interested? Er yes. And it IS astonishing, incredible sound stage, total control, it breathes music in a way I have never heard a cd player (or even top end turntables) achieve.Completely non technical sound, it sounds analogue like it runs on valves and coal. I utterly love it, it is the only thing which gives the Avid a run for its money.And it looks so beautiful.
So there we have it, 25 year old SBLs (albeit fettled) , 20 year old 250, 15 year old 52 driven by utterly awesome state of the art front ends and the whole things works, beautifully, at times breathtakingly, always effortlessly and musically. That's why i love Naim
Oh, and i did eventually get some Linn kit, a KNEKT system which streams all of the above around the house.