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First impressions: NAIM NAIT 5i

May 17, 2010

A few weeks ago, while I was listening and enjoying the music, the left channel went silent. I discovered that the 5842 tube of my 45 amplifier died a graceful death - while singing.

I only have ONE pair left of a compatible tube and that's my WE417A, which I will pay an enternal thanks to oldfogey. I don't plan to use this for my 45 amp, as it is reserved for my headphone amplifier instead. One way to revive the amp is to revise the circuit and use an available tube in my trash bin. But, DIY is not in my vocabulary right now. I'm burned to death, and lost the passion.

But I've never lost the love for music, so in the name of love for music, I have to do something.

I spent my past weekend with the big grin still etched on my face today. Why? Because I AUDITIONED!

Thanks to the boys at Architectural Audio, especially to Epoy for putting up with me and for not getting tired in me taking home their gear for audition just to return it because it didn't work in my setup. Thank you also to Noel of Audio Amplified, to Eric of Acoustic Dimensions, wait a minute... they all start with 'A' 

I still like the feeling of being 'horny' and I have no plans to let go of my little horny system, which by the way, thank you to Joey of Harana Audio for giving it a facelift. So whatever amplifier I will get should work with my speakers, a DIY route. Oh by the way, another thank you to Joseph Esmilla for having patience with me in tuning this speaker and being a mentor while I'm trying to get a good sound out of it.

Being an efficient system that can rock given 1.5W of power from my 45 amplifier, I look forward to a small integrated amplifier. Dino Lara who's been away from Wiredstate for many years suddenly pop up and that gave me the idea.

Last friday, I went to Architectural Audio and I took it home. Epoy told me to keep it plugged overnight, so that I can enjoy it better the following morning.

This thing has a weird speaker connection and an equally weird speaker cable that goes with it. I was told I can't use my DIY speaker cables made using OTA wires, also from Architectural Audio. Since my horny system does not have a binding post (yeah, I suck) I had to pull out the solding iron from the dumps and attach a pair of binding posts to each crossover (modified from an off-the shelf crossover bougth from Centrise Trading in Guadalupe).

Putting in those binding posts took the toll out of my remainging strength and knocked me down to sleep.

When I woke up the following morning, I immediately checked the amplifier and the binding posts if they're still attached to the crossover.  It was a hush-hush job nowhere near what a Rene Rivo would ever do on his laziest nights. But it held up, so I took out the first record and...

DAMN! This amplifier has a different sonic characteristic from what I'm usually accustomed with. It enveloped me with its rich, and open midrange. With my speakers, I get that horny flavor without being shouty. It's so sweet I can actually lick it. This is something I've never experienced before! The tonal quality with my speakers are so wonderful and natural, and yet it sounded so dynamic. Thanks to me for AUDITIONING it.

As I spun records in succession, which I have not done for a very long time, I'm becoming in love with the musical qualities of this amplifier, coupled with my speakers of course. And did I tell you they're horns?

Another quality that I truly appreciates is the macro- and micro-dynamics and resolution I'm now enjoying. I don't even know what the damping factor of this amplifier is, but the control and pacing was exceptional. From memory, I only heard these qualities from a megabuck system featured in a past HiFi Show (coming to again this November) where I heard the Blue Man Group The Complex Tour played with this kind of characteristics. Thank you to Cong Jack Duavit and partner Keith Roy for letting me audition a system I can never, ever afford. Unless

I win the Lotto, of course. 

But wait! There seems to be somthing lacking in thes combination. Where's the bass I'm used to feel creeping from the wooden floor? The mid bass is very very good, well articulated and detailed. Attack and decay, focus and separation are top notch overall. I now have a high-end sound I can afford (I have to subject myself to a noodles diet for two months) but I still miss the lower octave.

Since I cannot change the speaker wires, I thought of changing the interconnects. I am eternally grateful to Keith Roy for these wonderful Verbatim cables terminated with Eichmann Bullet Plugs (a product I used to distribute and sell). So into the system it goes, and wham! I'm not deaf yet!

Putting in the Verbatim cable to replace the entry level Clearaudio SmartWire was a night and day difference. The creeping bass is back, but now more muscular and solid. No excess fat here!

Overall, the integration and coherence was solid! Tonality and musicality is solid! It sounded so natural, with full control and transient lucidity.

Ladies and gentlemen, the NAIM NAIT5i. I'm getting one.