Nait 5i-2 with B&Ws


New member
Username: Paudio

Post Number: 1
Registered: Feb-09
Hi All,

Need an advice on upgrading issue.
I currently have a pair of B&Ws 601 S3 driven by an old (ebay purchase) Rotel RA 940 BX. I don't know much about these so-called highend systems and the associated jargon - trying to learn though. Now, I think I am happy with the B&Ws, but I am thinking about updating my int. amp. I would like to buy something that is good with further upgrading in mind, that is change of speakers later on.

So, after reading lots of reviews, I've more or less set my mind on Nait 5i-2 with some good speaker cables (people suggest the Naim ones). I won't ba changing the speakers soon, so the new system should be at least as good in sound as the old. I've read that Naims can be quite picky on the other components, so I'd like to ask whether you think it will be a good match with the B&Ws 601 S3.

Forgot to mention the source: it's mainly my ibook,through airport (thus bipassing the ibook's sound card) playing mostly apple lossless formats (very high sampling rate). I also play vinyl on a Rega P2. (I know the Nait 5i-2 doesn't have a phono stage - but that's ok, I can get one).



Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 3581
Registered: Sep-04
The Nait5i-2 and B&Ws should be a reasonably good combination. The S3 was a bit full in the bass but otherwise fairly well behaved and an easy impedance load.

The Naim cable (minimum 3.5m a side for best results) would also be my recommendation. Do not biwire - Naim amps don't like it. Either have the end of the wire double terminated (so-called F termination) or use a separate snip of the same cable between the biwire terminals.

My only concern would be the use of the airport express as your DAC. It's not particularly high quality. Look to replace it with something better such as Beresford, Cambridge Audio or (by all accounts) Lavry at your earliest opportunity.


New member
Username: Paudio

Post Number: 2
Registered: Feb-09
Hi Frank,

Thanks for the advice.

Some friends have confused me with mentioning other options like Creek Evo for example. I am not sure that's a good choice with B&Ws - and I can't find Creek to audition here in Berlin.
What do you think?

Regarding the airport express, I am aware that this is not the best DAC (to put it mildly), but I want to play wireless, I particularly dislike cables around (I know some people will say that I am loosing some quality in sound). Can I do this with one of these good DACs?

A general question:

Has anyone tried to test old speakers with new amps? I mean, when the speakers were made they were tested (even in the production process) by amps available at the time. Now, say 10 years laters there are some 'better' amps around. One could argue that trying them on the old speakers could:
1. Show nothing new
2. Reveal the true potential of the speakers.

Same questions could be asked for new speakers + old amps. I guess there is a (vicious?) circle of testing+production here. Or maybe since I am too ignorant :-).


Silver Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 513
Registered: Jul-07
Panos, you can still do the wireless thing with any external DAC. Instead of connecting to your Airport express analogue outputs, use the digital out to the DAC, then the analogue (RCA) outs of the DAC to your amp. You'll need a decent cable to do that.

There are lots of good DAC choices out there.

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 3587
Registered: Sep-04
You can't do it with the DACs I mentioned. If you want to do it properly, get a Squeezebox to act as your source into a decent quality DAC. That'll be better.

I haven't heard the Creek, but I'd be surprised if it's not very good too. You don't have the restrictions in terms of connectivity that you get with the Naim, but then you don't get a Naim. Difficult to say. There are many brands at that kind of money.

In every case, you can't beat doing the job properly. i.e. getting the source sorted out, adding decent quality cables.

It's been some years since I heard a pair of 601S3s, but I remember them fondly (which is saying something) so I wouldn't worry too much about their appropriateness at this point. Later on, once you've sorted your source and amp, you can add better speakers, but only once the rest are sorted out.

New member
Username: Paudio

Post Number: 3
Registered: Feb-09
I can't? I read the Beresford product info. on their website and it says I can simply connect the optical out of the airport express to the optical in of the DAC.. What is wrong with that?

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 1787
Registered: May-06
Panos, old amp / new speakers works with the right amp, old speakers / new amp not so much.

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 3632
Registered: Sep-04

I must have been in another dimension when I wrote that note. Of course you can!

As for matching older and newer units, in part it depends on the units, but generally speaking so long as they're built to similar standards (or in the last 40 years basically), then the only things that change are quality and condition (i.e. age). Your speakers aren't so old that they wouldn't work with a Naim Nait5i-2. After all, I was selling 601S3s with Nait5i's just a couple of years ago.


New member
Username: Paudio

Post Number: 4
Registered: Feb-09
Hi All,

Just an update on the upgrade:
1. Got the Nait 5i-2, it drives the 601S3s with NACA5 (5 meters).
2. Sorted out my source: MAC to Airport Express to DacMagic (new version from CA) via toslink.
3. Some descent interconnects - 20-30 Euros each.

Good music! The difference between the old Rotel and the new Naim is huge (nothing surprising here I guess).

AE with DacMagic works well, very stable (the AE is added to my Wireless network at home for internet). DacMagic seems to make a difference only for 'medium' to high quality data. For the casual low quality mp3s it can be worse. Can't say whether upsampling is a good idea - or whether is has something to do with that.

I would like to try other DACs as well in the future.

Rega P2 to Azur 640P (yeah..i am going for the hip, good, and cheap Cambridge Audio these days) is very good.

Next upgrade will be the speakers (not that soon though): I have the Epos M12i on my mind..


Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 3638
Registered: Sep-04
In my opinion the weak link is the P2. Although capable and good value for money, I'd suggest upgrading that to pretty much anythjing you like. The only question mark is how good the Azur is so that will eventually become the bottleneck.

The other place to look at is the interconnects. I tend to recommend Chord Co because they have a history with Naim (being round the corner from each other and having supplied many cables with Naim in mind in the past). So their Crimson (about 50 euros) and more capable Cobra3 (about 80 euros) are the ones I recommend with Naim on the basis that they're a great match. The higher stuff is not so much to my taste as matches with Naim go, but those two are very good matches, and they can be made in the better RCA-DIN configuration to work into the better DIN connector of the Naim amp, which always helps.

New member
Username: Goodwill

Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Post Number: 1
Registered: Nov-10
I think your weak link is your DAC.

I used the DacMagic for a while and was never very impressed with it.

As you say, it is particularly weak with poor MP3 files (lower than 192kbps) and the I think the USB input is poor.

However, I didn't realise how rough it was until I upgraded to the Arcam rDac. This gives a much more enjoyable, refined, well timed sound with much fuller base. Also you can now buy the Arcam wireless attachment to play music wirelessly from anywhere in the house. Whether it makes a natural partner for the Nait 5i, I'm not sure but it'll certainly be better than DacMagic.

Might be worth waiting for the Rega Dac (due Christmas 2010). At £500 I'm sure this will be a big step up from the rDac and rega sources have a history of partnering well with Naim amps (According to the hi-fi forums). I do know that my old Rega Planet CD player was the most rythemical and sweet sounding source I have owned.


Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13391
Registered: Feb-05
Note that the last post prior to your was in April 2009.

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