This is matched to a natural and very engaging tonality that gives instruments such as the piano and guitar a tangible level of realism. Vocals too have an unforced quality that avoids the sensation that the amp is ever working hard or being pushed too far – indeed it is possible to push the NAIT XS very hard without any sense of compression or discomfort. There is a slight sense that the very top end of the Naim’s frequency response is very slightly rolled off in comparison to more expensive offerings but the rest of the spectrum is so well reproduced for it to escape attention most of the time. An interesting departure from older Naim designs is the sense of soundstage that the XS produces. Any group of musicians from a vocalist and backing piano through to full orchestra are given more opportunity to escape the confines of the loudspeakers and assemble themselves in a believable manner between them. This is especially true with the Stageline phono stage in attendance where the results are truly panoramic in scope.
Adding the FlatCap XS does not bring instant sonic fireworks to the party, because the overall balance of the XS is too well sorted for that. What it does do is augment the positive qualities of the amp and push the performance still further. The richness of vocals improves and with it the sense of space around performers. The already unflappable presentation takes another step forwards becoming almost impossible to upset or wrong foot. Although the power amp section of the NAIT XS is not directly affected by the addition of the FlatCap, it is as if taking the preamp section off it removes a distraction and enables it to drive a little harder with even less of distortion or grain. The effects of using the second output on the Stageline were even more profound. While the logic of adding £675 of power supply to a £250 phono stage might be questionable on paper, the actual results of doing so were convincing enough to quell any doubts I might have had. Given that if you were to buy the FlatCap to augment the NAIT XS, the second output to a Stageline would essentially be ‘free’, it makes a great deal of sense. For those of a digital persuasion, this second output would be equally applicable to the forthcoming CD player in the XS range.
The Nait XS is an immensely likable product. It builds on the classic Naim virtues we have come to expect and adds a civility and balance that in partnership with that row of RCA connections on the rear panel should win it friends outside of the traditional Naim clientele. It is a great product for £1,350 and the addition of the FlatCap XS turns it into an exceptional £2,000 one. The fact that it will function extremely well without the FlatCap if you wanted to stagger your purchases is an appealing proposition as well. The NAIT XS is an altogether larger and more complex device than the original NAIT, but the lineage is clear. Beyond the numbers is a satisfying and genuinely musical amplifier.
Naim NAIT XS integrated amplifier
Audio Outputs: speakers, preamp, and variable sub
Power Output: 60Wpc into 8Ω, 90Wpc into 4Ω
Analogue inputs: 6 DIN and RCA on rear plus 3.5mm jack on front
Input overload: 34 dB
Input sensitivity: 130mV at 47KΩ
Remote input: 3.5mm rear panel jack (modulated/demodulated RC5 system)
RS232: Optional Naim RS232 board
IR remote (handheld): NARCOM 4
Supply Voltage: 100V to 120V or 220V to 240V, 50/60 Hz
Power Consumption: Quiescent 20VA Max 290VA
Dimensions (WxHxD): 43.2x7x30.1cm
Naim FlatCap XS power supply
Power Output: 2x24V dual-rail feeds (to power two components)
Mains Supply: 100V to 120V or 220V to 240V, 50/60 Hz
Dimensions (WxHxD): 43.2x7x30.1cm
Tel: + 44 (0) 1722 426600