Naim NAT-01 Tuners

Naim NAT-01 Tuners 


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[Feb 01, 1997]
an Audio Enthusiast

Firstly, let me clearly state: the rest of my system is neither Naim nor Linn.
To be honest, I was always turned-off by the hype attached to their products by
the UK Hi-Fi comics who proclaimed that they were independent and objective
whilst insulting their readers' intelligence with sycophantic review-on-review
singing the praises of the above two UK manufacturers, to the virtual exclusion
of every other genuine competitor. Notably - both Naim and Linn usually placed
large adverts in such magazines and enjoyed the support of UK "freelance"
reviewers who "personally (purchased?) used" Naim/Linn products
- what a nonsense.

In my opinion any/every report on a piece of equipment has to be considered in
the context of the system in which it is matched together with an "allowance" to be
made for the credibility/known/accepted bias of the "reviewer".

My current base system (in which the tuner is used) is:
Audio Research LS 7
2 x Counterpoint SA 220 (bi-amped)
Martin Logan Aerius
Rel Stentor Sub-woofer

I use a custom Orion (20 element 3m) rotating aerial and live in a city, close to a
transmitter with few obstructions. Prior to purchasing the NAT 01, I lived with a
Revox B260S FM RDS tuner for approximately three to four years. Having used
the NAT 01 for about a year, I was recently fortunate to acquire a Marantz 10B
FM Tuner, and now alternate between them both.

I regularly listen to BBC Radio 2, 3, 4, Classic FM, and some local commercial

I do not intend to state which of the above tuners I prefer - its irrelevant and at this
level, all are superb (and really, you would be well sorted with any one of them).
Each offers a unique view - with it's own compromise, of course - which you
either; live with, enjoy & accept or; ultimately reject.

The 01 is a purist and frighteningly minamilist design (that must return comfortable
profits for it's producer) which works month in, month out, (permenantly powered
-up) and is a delight to use. The classic Naim casework is functional, robust and
durable and has a timeless quality - until such time as they decide to up-date it
in order to generate renewed interest.

The "tuner" consists of two identical boxes:
one houses the analogue tuner head with digital read-out and tuning knob,
the other, the power supply with (redundant) on/off knob.

The tuning knob is poorly weighted and has a cheap feel to it - bettered by tuners
costing 1/10 the price! The din connectors are a pain. In my system, differing
inter-connect cables can be heard - and this tuner can benefit greatly by a
sympathetic match, to tailor it's sound. I use Audioquest Lapis Hyperlitz - in
preference to Naim's standard stuff.

I found this tuner adequately, FM sensitive (based on it's ability to pick up distant
FM) but then this tuner was not designed for DX work. Be aware of the quality of
your FM signal before parting with your dosh - and yes, you absolutely will need
a high quality rotating aerial for this tuner...

What does it sound like?

The sound is smooth and detailed and manages to "lose" that digital and
filtered quality, that so often lets-down lesser tuners.

The upper range is very well extended providing the tuner with "air" and detail
but I feel the treble balance can emphasise sibilants - particularly noticeable on
received (BBC 4) pronounciation - consider system matching.

The mid-range is of reference quality, being balanced and dynamic and has an
enchanting amount of clarity with attack which projects the programme and keeps
you glued to the source. Of course, particularly with radio (unlike your favourite
and well played cd's & records) you are often surprised by what plays next.

The lower range is fairly well extended and is "tuneful" (not to the same degree as
naim's CDi player which I feel has a blatantly engineered upper base "B O P"
which, once identified, becomes a tiresome colouration.

A final lack of definition is evident on the deepest notes, played by this tuner.

The Naim NAT 01 not only deserves to be regarded as the "UK" reference, but as
world class - and currently costs about £1700. However, it is not the ultimate tuner
as many would have you believe - indeed does such a thing exist?

Any feed-back? Or if you are into tuners, I'd be pleased to hear from you,

[Oct 02, 1998]
Bob Edwards
an Audio Enthusiast

The finest sounding tuner extant.

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