Aside from the speaker manufacturers, who appear to be working their way through the periodic table in the pursuit of ever more exotic materials, the rest of the Hi-Fi world seems perfectly happy where it is. Which brings us to Naim's new NAP 100 which is a good old fashioned two-channel power amplifier, offering a classic combination of fidelity and quality. After recently reviewing a number of A/V receivers with so many features that their manuals could give War & Peace as run for its money, we were happy to embrace the relative simplicity of the NAP 100. So in combination with Naim's new DAC-V1 digital-to-analogue converter, we sat back and prepared for an extended period of two-channel listening that was, frankly, well overdue.
Despite the well engineered build, the power amplifier remains compact in its appearance and is clearly designed to be used in conjunction with Naim's new DAC-V1 digital-to-analogue converter. The actual dimensions are 87 x 207 x 314mm (HxWxD) and for such a relatively small amplifier it weighs a substantial 5.6kg. The reason the NAP 100 weighs more than a depleted uranium shell is that the linear power supply includes a sizeable toroidal transformer inside the compact exterior. The NAP 100 is a discrete transistor power amplifier that uses a dual mono design based on the circuit topology found in Naim's SuperUniti all-in-one player. As a result the NAP 100 can delver 50 watts per channel into 8 Ohms and 75 watts per channel into 4 Ohms.
At the rear of the NAP 100 there are the left and right speaker connections that are designed purely for 4mm plugs. There are no standard speaker terminals but Naim do supply custom block plugs for bare wire connections. There are RCA left and right inputs sockets, as well as a DIN connector input, and the NAP 100 comes with a dedicated DIN cable for connecting the amplifier to similarly specified equipment. The inclusion of a DIN connector is meant to isolate the amplifier stages from any external vibrations. It's worth pointing out that the DIN and RCA input sockets are connected in parallel and thus they should not be used simultaneously. Also at the rear is the three-pin mains input and fuse, along with a power switch.
The NAP 100 certainly had no problems driving the nimble and very responsive Guru Juniors and the combination of the two resulted in a sound that was both detailed and precise, without ever becoming clinical. There was a lovely sense of richness to the sound produced by the NAP 100 and a full-bodied performance that brought out the best from our decidedly eclectic music collection. The NAP 100 and Guru Junior combination was able to create a sense of impact and urgency that made music sound exciting whilst also retaining a genuine sense of realism. Whilst the NAP 100 is clearly designed to be partnered with Naim's DAC-V1 and we did review it in that configuration, it's worth pointing out that this little power amplifier is a fantastic performer in its own right. Yes it's true that when combined with the DAC-V1 it produced some of the best sounding audio we've heard in a long time but it will also benefit any other source you choose to connect it to.
However, with the combination of the DAC-V1 and the Guru Juniors we found the NAP 100 really delivered the goods, proving itself to be a highly capable power amplifier that could punch well above its perceived weight. As we worked our way through our collection of music the NAP 100 surprised us again and again, deliver a sound that was crisp and clean without ever sounding harsh. It handled the high notes and piano on Kate Bush's This Woman's Work with ease but was also able to deliver Nice Cave's growling vocals on O Children just as effectively. For those that prefer their music a bit rockier, the NAP 100 had no trouble giving AC/DC's Back in Black all the impact we would expect and the bass had real depth. When it came orchestral arrangements, such as Suede's Still Life, the NAP 100 was able to deliver an open soundstage with some excellent localisation, building to a room filling crescendo. There's no denying the NAP 100 is a class act, delivering a flawless performance that reminds you how good music can sound when using a dedicated two-channel amplifier.
- Excellent sound
- Impressive bass
- Surprisingly powerful
- Attractive design
- Solid build quality
- Half-width dimensions
- No standby mode
Naim NAP 100 2-Channel Power Amplifier Review
At £650 the Naim NAP 100 represents, for them at least, their entry level two-channel power amplifier and it's pleasingly simplistic in its design, sporting their traditional black powered coated finish and very solid construction. The dimensions are decidedly compact and will no doubt remind some of previous Naim models, but it does mean the NAP 100 is only half the width of a standard audio product. Of course if you're pairing it with the DAC-V1 (which Naim would obviously like you to do) then that isn't an issue, but it's worth bearing in mind if you plan on using it with something else. Since this is a Naim product, the NAP 100 is designed and built in Britain using audiophile grade components which certainly helps to justify the price tag.
Inside the NAP 100 there's a linear power supply that includes a sizeable toroidal transformer, along with a discrete transistor power amplifier that uses a dual mono design based on the circuit topology found in Naim's SuperUniti all-in-one player. As a result the NAP 100 can deliver 50 watts per channel into 8 Ohms and 75 watts per channel into 4 Ohms. At the rear of the NAP 100 there are left and right speaker connections that are designed purely for 4mm plugs, along with RCA left and right inputs sockets, as well as a DIN connector input. Since the NAP 100 doesn't use standard speaker terminals, Naim include custom block plugs for bare wire connections, along with a DIN connector cable, which we used to connect the NAP 100 to the DAC-V1.
Whilst the NAP 100 is clearly designed to be partnered with Naim's DAC-V1, and we did review it in that configuration, it's worth pointing out that this little power amplifier is a fantastic performer in its own right. Yes it's true that when combined with the DAC-V1 it produced some of the best sounding audio we've heard in a long time, but it will also benefit any other source you choose to connect it to. It is capable of delivering a clean, precise and well produced sound that has a tight and surprisingly deep bass. Don't be fooled by its diminutive looks or modest power claims, the NAP 100 can deliver more than enough kick for any music fan and it does it with style and grace, making it an easy choice for a Highly Recommended badge.
Ease of use
Value for money
Our Review Ethos
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