Naim Audio announced their flagship Statement Amplification System, which includes one preamplifier (model NAC S1) and two mono power amplifiers (model NAP S1) for the most demanding high-end loudspeakers. Each mono power amplifier is each rated at a massive 746 watts (one horse power) into 8 ohms, 1450 watts into 4 ohms and over 9000 watts burst power into 1 ohm.
Over the last three years the whole amplifier topology, methodology and philosophy has been defined, considered and refined by an experienced team of electronic, mechanical and industrial engineers from across Naim. “Every aspect of the design was imagined, modelled and auditioned to extract the ultimate in performance, not only in technical excellence as measured on a test bench but where it really counts: playing music.” said Steve Sells, Naim Electronic Design Director.
NAC S1 Technology
New electronic design
The NAC S1 features a completely new electronic design, optimised from the ground up for sound quality. At the input stages in the lower enclosure all switching is mounted on a brass frame, which is suspended using a leaf-spring system to decouple it from mechanical vibration. It is also covered by an inert metallic cage to dissipate electromagnetic radiation. The signal is converted to balanced within the lower half before being sent through the acrylic divide to the main analogue boards which are isolated in their own spring-loaded suspension system in the top section. All inputs are also individually isolated from each other so there is no detriment to performance when multiple sources are connected.
Dual Volume Control
The new Naim DVC includes a chip volume control that is used while changing volume to allow a smooth progression of change. The millisecond the volume is fixed the electronic volume control switches completely out of circuit back to the now set stepped attenuator. A fixed set of single resistors handles each of its 100 volume possibilities.
Vertical Suspension Isolation
The NAC S1 utilises a unique mass-loaded suspension system (a technique pioneered by the Naim 500 Series) for the critical preamplifier audio circuit board. Mounting the circuit board onto a heavy brass plate suspended by springs, a combination with a resonant frequency of 9Hz isolates the critical circuits from external and internal vibration from significantly below the human threshold of hearing. Within this isolated system a board housing Naim DRs is suspended in parallel to audio circuitry, giving each stage its own dedicated supply along the shortest possible path.
NAP S1 – Technology
No Global Feedback
Sells was determined from the outset that the design would not use overall feedback. By breaking the feedback loop he could guarantee the speed of the amplifier would exceed what was needed to achieve the demanding new power levels and bandwidth. Secondly, by breaking the feedback loop the dynamic loading of the speaker is isolated from the delicate gain stages. The gain stages are then free and always working into a known load.
Three Stage Design
The NAP S1 power amplifier is a bridged design, which uses three short stages with only the first, the instrumentation voltage gain, using negative feedback. The second is an ultra-fast error cancellation system and the third is a unity gain high current output buffer. Each stage is optimised for only one task and the result is genuinely state of the art performance.
Naim 009 Transistors
To deliver the power with the performance targeted required a very special output transistor. Naim worked with the supplier of its already famous 007 transistor to produce a very special device, the 009. The 009 utilises Aluminium Nitride (ALN) – a substrate that has ten times the thermal conductivity of traditional Aluminium Oxide. In addition, the thermal paste used, to ensure good thermal conductivity to the heatsink is Nano diamond based. Diamond conducts heat 2.5 times faster than copper, as an example. The result is a transistor running with the maximum possible temperature stability for maximum linearity.
Statement Discrete Regulators
Both preamplifier and power amplifier feature multiple heavily-regulated linear power supplies. The power transformer of the NAP S1 is a huge 4000VA toroid using the finest grain orientated steel for maximum efficiency. Statement’s requirements necessitated specialised Naim discrete regulators to be designed, as currents and voltages are significantly higher than in existing products. This brings the fast recovery and low noise so praised in Naim’s DR technology.
Design & Manufacture
Statement’s radical new vertical form grew out of this experimentation. The heavy power supplies are at the base of each product, suspended on an A-frame and coupled to the floor through floor spikes to protect sensitive electronics housed above from interference. The two sections are separated by a beautiful acrylic divide, which also breaks the path of eddy currents and minimises electromagnetic radiation.
The imposing monolithic structure with its stark silhouette is offset by the organic flow of the heat sink and the beautifully lit volume control and central divide. This duality in the design reflects how Naim’s pursuit of technical brilliance is always grounded in the abstract human experience of music.
The distinctive, sculptured heatsink itself starts life as a single billet of solid aluminium. It is then machined to achieve the general curve profile before the fins are cut by a five-axis CNC machine, which is continually doused with coolant over the course of several hours. The metalwork then travels to a specialist supplier where it is submerged in an electrolyte fluid containing black ink. A DC current is passed through the solution causing a reaction, which creates a perfectly even black coating around the aluminium. Each piece is then painstakingly polished and inspected before being hand assembled at Naim in Wiltshire.
Price and Availaibility
Naim Audio’s Statement is expected to ship in July 2014 for around $200,000. Exact pricing was not released.