Over the years I have found myself on numerous occasions explaining to those less well informed what my hifi is, why there are so many boxes and answering the ever present "well I've never heard of it" comment. I certainly don't need to do that here but this is probably the first opportunity I have had to actually sit down, think about how I first got acquainted with Naim and write about it. If only to recount the story to myself and put the events and changes in the correct order.
It was probably the late 1990's and I first got a taste for real separates based hifi in the strangest of places. I was sitting in the departure lounge at Luton airport waiting for a flight to Austria to start a family holiday when the urge to go and find something to do took over. I wasn't old enough to drink back then so I made do with the news agent and looking along the lines of popular magazines (no, not those ones) I took a quick flick through the current issue of What HiFi. That will do, I thought, plenty to look through there and it kind of fitted well with a sense that I should consider moving up from my Pioneer midi. A friend of mine already had a Technics based CD separates setup and no matter what I did there was always a sense that his sounded better somehow.
I won't dwell too much on the gear I used back then but none of it was Naim - Marantz, Arcam, Audiolab, Mission, Epos were the chosen few in various mixes and setups over the next few years. My first exposure to Naim was a friend who I'd lost touch with after school, a chance meeting some years later and we were reacquainted and swapping stories. The common ground was music and hifi, I recall his system was a CDS & PS, NAC82, NAP180 and SBL. What a surprise that was, modest looking speakers wedged tight and flat against the wall of his lounge. I can still hear that system in my head as I write this, I even recall flinching on a few occasions when the treble got the better of my ears and felt like someone stabbing me in the head with a sharpened pencil. Evenly balanced it wasn't but there was so much of everything else going on I heard stuff on well known tracks I didn't even know was there.
That was the start of it, a change of CD player came first - a CDX which injected some pace and life into the Audiolab amps and Epos ES22's. The Epos speakers sound great, unusually they are 3-way designs and give their best when at least bi-wired, the Audiolab setup bi-amped them with good effect. So the CDX headed system stayed with me a few years, I drifted away from Hifi for a while and it provided little more than background music most of the time. When I got back to it properly the sound of that SBL system kept crashing around my head. Naim Audio it was then, at least most of the way.
Whichever way I looked at it new kit was going to be costly and with care and consideration there was enough to be found in the used market. The NAC82 and 180 came first then the XPS to add onto the CDX, all things considered for about half new price. I noted at some point that the CDS2 was about to go the way of the Dodo, the CDS3 was on the horizon and I saw my opportunity. The cost was reduced this time around on account of already having the XPS and I found a late serial numbered CDS2 in the classifieds. Up to now the NAC82 had been powered from the NAP180, very successfully I must add. At this point I'd not had any experience of the gains to be had by using dedicated power supplies other than the CDX / XPS combination. The CDS was different, it needed the XPS to work at all. I began to wonder and after looking through the latest Naim brochure I got a real sense of just how much is held in store by using power dedicated power supplies on pretty much every component. I added a HICAP to the NAC82 shortly after. I am still using the ever-present Epos ES22's, yes, they really need a bigger room but I don't have any complaints.
As I write this I am listening to "I Got The Same Old Blues Again" from Eric Clapton and Friends "The Breeze" album. I think I have a good balance, plenty of treble detail but smooth enough, an open mid-range that lets me hear every word and bass that I can feel as much as hear.
There we are then, My Naim Story..... Wakey wakey, I've finished now.