Last month I went over to Salisbury for the launch of the NAC-N 272, Naim’s latest preamplifier/streamer. While at the factory Naim showed myself and some other journalists the production area for the Statement NAC S1 preamplifier and NAP S1 power amplifiers, Naim’s most ambitious electronics to date.
This is a jig for holding main and sub assemblies during production. The one in the foreground is a main assembly consisting of the DR regulators, audio filters/volume control and relay drive PCBs. At this stage just the DR PCBs are fixed onto the brass suspension weight.
Because the Statement amps are so complex they are built in a far more three dimensional fashion than most audio electronics. It’s a big production engineering challenge. In an effort to make the job less daunting Naim has created a touch screen system for each assembly worker to navigate through the build process. This tells them which parts need to go where and in what order they should be incorporated. Naim has two work stations with these screens in the Statement assembly area but employs between seven and eight people on Statement at any one time. Each pre and mono power amp combo takes two and a half to three days to build.
Once fully assembled each amplifier is thoroughly tested before the final casework is attached. These units are awaiting this crucial part of the process. The large solid aluminium chassis of each Statement unit means that they become extremely heavy by the time they are built up. In order to move a NAP S1 power amp two people clip on six cables to the chassis and use a powered hoist that can lift and move the amplifier into place in a flight case. This image gives you a better idea of how densely packed these amps are, two layer circuit boards are not exactly common in audio, the Statement NAC S1 has three layers on one side and two on the other. It’s amazing what it takes to get closer to a “straight wire with gain” (QUAD founder Peter Walker’s description of the perfect amplifier).
Will you look at the size of that mains transformer! This reveals more clearly precisely why you need lifting gear to get a Statement power amplifier with 746 Watts on tap from one workstation to the next.
Manufacturing Director Jim Totczyk explains how the 3D assembly instruction system works. By touching the screen you can move each element around and look at it from any angle, this ensures that the correct components are fitted in the right places on the densely populated Statement boards.
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