That I’ve been reviewing Naim products quite often (Naim Uniti Nova, Naim Uniti Atom, Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, Naim Uniti Core, NAIM Mu-So Qb 2nd Generation and NAIM Mu-So 2nd Generation) isn’t something of a secret. Right now we’ll be looking into a different part of the Naim Series. A power amplifier, named the Naim NAP 250 DR.
Let’s start off with the specs!
1 x XLR
Minimum Load Impedance
-3dB at 3Hz – 50kHz
Black powder coated
Brushed and black anodised
240 x 590 x 500 mm
87 x 432 x 314 mm
100V, 115V, 230V; 50 or 60Hz
Power Consumption (quiescent)
L & R, 4mm “banana” sockets
Standard Interconnect, Power-Line Lite mains cable (UK denominations only)
After finishing up my review of the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition I wondered what more I could hook up to the Atom Headphone Edition. And sure enough… There are power amp capabilities on the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition. And that is cool…Why? That’s what I’ll be explaining in this review.
From Naim’s distributor I have received the Naim 250 DR in a beautiful casket. And without reason. The 250 DR is very valuable, and very heavy too. Once again, for good reason.
This was a used and scratched up product meant for review. I can guarantee that if you buy it new, that it won’t look like this at all!
For this review, I was also granted a custom made connector (on the left in the image) so I could hook up the NAP 250 DR with the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition.
On the back of the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition you can find the pre-amp output and use 2 tulip plugs to connect the Naim NAP 250 DR.
As you can see, the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition does not have any connections for speakers. The NAP 250 DR thankfully does provide. And that’s one of the boons of a power amplifier. A set such as the Atom HE won’t have to be replaced due to not having any speaker inputs.
The Naim NAP 250 DR doesn’t have that many connections. Only the input- from the pre-amp, and the banana plugs that go to the speakers.
In this case I’m using the AudioQuest Type 9 courtesy of the Naim NAC A5 audio cables.
Time to turn on both of the Naim’s with a set of speakers.
Power amplifiers, what’s the use?
A power amplifier has multiple benefits, which I will try to elaborate on in this chapter.
Everyone should be familiar with this, you hear an amazing song on the radio or a playlist and you crank that volume dial to the max. Meanwhile, you notice the louder it gets, the more distorted the audio becomes. You’ll think the sound is too loud for the speakers to handle, but the issue is probably your amplifier not being sufficient enough. This causes distortion of your sound, and that might kill the mood you were in listening to that banger of a song in the first place. If you’re stuck with bargain box speakers, well, not much you can do…If you’ve got an expensive set of speakers and the exact same problem, well, that hurts…In your soul…And that’s not what music should be doing to you.
Let’s say you buy an amazing system such as the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition with the Focal Stellia from my previous review, and after some time you decide to hook up a stereo set of speakers. Without having a power amplifier, you might as well get rid of the Atom HE because it just won’t suffice.
By getting yourself a power amplifier to work together with the speakers, you can still enjoy your amazing sound system with more than enough power to upgrade in the future.
But..It goes even further than that. For example…You decide to get yourself the Naim Uniti Star – Which is quite the amplifier on its own- and you decide to upgrade your speaker set from let’s say the Focal Kanta 1 to a set of Focal Sopra 2 or even 3. You could definitely decide to keep the Star and get yourself a Naim NAP power amplifier.
On the Naim Uniti Atom itself, I’ve hooked up a multitude of speakers such as the Focal Aria K2 906, Focal Kanta 1 and Focal Sopra 2. Besides that, I was able to place the Naim Uniti Atom (HE) and the speakers in between the NAP 250 DR.
And to come back to the example of cranking up the volume to enjoy that one song just that little bit more. With the Naim Uniti Atom hooked up with the Focal Sopra 2’s, you’ll notice something missing. The track that I played sounded great, let’s be real, the Focal 2’s are amazing speakers, but something is still missing. And that missing piece was reclaimed by the Naim NAP 250 DR. You can get more out of it. There’s more power and control on the different tones. It sounds more refined. Like the artist meant for it to be.
Just a few examples, as a big fan of Above & Beyond I’ve listened to tons of their music, especially the acoustic editions. Miracle is one of those examples.
Using the Sopra 2’s on the Naim Uniti Atom and listening to it, I noticed ‘context’ missing in the vocals. Also the piano sounded ‘flat’. In my opinion, there was a crucial ‘sound’ missing.
Combining it with the NAP 250 DR the track sprung to life. There was more detail. The piano was softer, but not flat anymore. Not the annoying flat sound of a baby of 10 months old throwing a plastic cup on the floor. (And yes, I am very familiar with that one..). The total sound is more present.
The NAP 250 DR is already quite the unit. There are lighter variants in the series available, but also heavier ones.
At the end of the day it all depends on the type of music you listen to, and how you do it. I can imagine that you’d love to start with the Naim Uniti Atom and a Focal Aria K2, because these two alone make a great set. I’ve also had the privilege to listen to them, and they truly shine with EDM and similar genres. If that is your main jam, the Naim NAP 250 DR might be a bit overkill, although.. That’s just a personal observation, you might prove me wrong. The tones were on-point where you can expect them to be. Editing your setup by adding the 250 DR didn’t give too much of a difference for me. A bit like driving 61 miles per hour where you’re allowed 60. Not really a reason to buy a race car.
But there is a clear turning point when it comes to the set of speakers and the pre-amplifier that you’re using.
With the Focal Kanta 1 I experienced that point. The Naim Uniti Atom sounds alright, but I could still notice the difference when I combined it with the Naim NAP 250 DR(Check NL zin). A difference that was even more noticeable with the Focal Aria K2.
Talking about the Focal Kanta 1… What a gorgeous set of speakers. Being quite content with the Bowes & Wilkins 705 S2 except placing them in a large room (You’ll miss undertones/bass), the Focal Kanta 1 trumps it in power. The speakers will fully light up a room with lows/mids and high tones.
And to emphasize, especially the low tones are being done justice. And that’s not something that requires an entire pillar in your room. I much prefer the Kanta 1 above the 705 S2.
And then you end up listening to Louis Armstrong – What a wonderful world. Thinking, he’s right! Listening to music with this system truly does the title justice. All the different instruments in harmony including the background tracks. And Armstrong’s unique voice is heard how it’s meant to be heard.
On the Kanta 1, Night Train by Oscar Peterson is a joy to listen to. The cello comes through beautifully from the background. The Kanta shows its true colors here. And it’s able to go a lot deeper than the 705 S2 van Bowers & Wilkins.
Comptine d’un Autre été, let’s continue with hitting some piano keys. And that is a joy as well.
I sat on the couch with goosebumps on my arms. Crystal clear, like you’re there during the recording of it.
And spontaneously I just started laughing, it’s such a great thing to be a reviewer. To get such cool products to borrow for a while. And my heart breaks knowing that I’m just borrowing it for a review…
Let’s continue with the next track. Muse – Uprising which has a heap more instruments and different tones than the previous track.
Not only is it an amazing song, the Kanta 1s handle it with ease, and loud as well!
Just to test how loud they can handle it, I strolled out of the living room. The Naim NAP 250 DR doesn’t encounter the slightest hint of trouble.
And now Masego and FKJ – Tadow, which is a delight of a track in my opinion. All instruments are on display beautifully. The mid tones are truly present. I’ve compared it with the Focal Stellia and I don’t have the feeling that I’m missing out with the Kanta 1.
After the session with the Kanta 1 I was pleasantly surprised. The Beryllium tweeter above the speakers makes a noticeable difference. The high tones were put in the foreground beautifully. And the finish is fantastic as well. The walnut, synthetic material casing on the front, glass on top, it’s a special look. Quite unique. Besides having an amazing sound, it’s also a fashion statement in your abode. And that is a returning feature of the Kanta series.
If you get the Kanta 1, I’d personally choose a combination with supports. It just looks a bit neater and fits everything together.
An amazing speaker despite its pricing that in my opinion deserves 5 out of 5 stars.
And now we arrive at the Focal Sopra 2, which I was able to use just for fun. And I was very thankful to have bought a hand truck…With them being 55 kilograms for each speaker it’s not something to throw over your shoulders…
Returning to the quality of the set. I’ve also been able to use this combination with the Naim Uniti Atom and the Naim NAP 250 DR. With, and without a power amplifier. Despite my small apartment not being suited to the Sopra 2, there’s an immense difference having, and not having a power amplifier. Without one, you’ll also be missing crystal clear mid and high tones. With it, they become a treat.
And that is what it comes down to with a power amplifier. It will give you the power! And the full spectrum of tunes will ensue.
The Focal Sopra 2’s are also astonishing.. What a beauty of a set. The soundscape possibilities are numerous. The low tones even sound great on a Naim Uniti Atom, on-point and most of all… present.
A power amplifier normally doesn’t have bells and whistles, because they’re not needed. It should be there to enhance the existing sound. And the Naim NAP 250 DR does exactly that in my opinion. Yes, there are setups where you don’t need the 250 DR at all, like hooking it up with a Focal Aria K2 906. The Focal Uniti Atom might do enough for you. If you’re considering a Kanta 1 or even a class up, such as the Focal Sopra 1, I can definitely recommend hooking up a power amp. And let’s be real here. No, it doesn’t specifically have to be a Naim pre-amp like the Naim Uniti Star or even Nova. It can also be a different product. But I can guarantee that if you have a ‘heavyweight’ speaker set, there will be something missing. A power amp ensures a set like that does what it needs to do. Enhancing your audio. And the NAP 250 has shown that in my opinion. I’ve had a lot of fun with a multitude of speaker sets, and playing them in my living room.
If you start out small with a small main amplifier, or if you have the wish to upgrade to a power amplifier that’s able to control multiple speakers. It would be a shame to ditch a good set, amplifiers, and headphones because you’re stuck not having the connections to expand. And that is something you won’t have with the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition. Still that possibility to expand with a power amp. Like I said before, it doesn’t have to be the Naim NAP 250 DR. There are other products available. Like the NAP 200 DR or NAP 500 DR.. 😉
Personally I do find it a shame that the NAP series doesn’t have the same aesthetic as the Uniti series. I’m a huge fan of the finish and look of the Naim Uniti series. The NAP looks so different. And that is something that bothers me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but in my opinion, they don’t look right stacked together. Although, if you get a Naim Supernait 3 and NAP series. Then it does seem to fit. Maybe it’s the Uniti series that is missing their own amplifier?
The Naim NAP 250 is a special kind of amplifier, and heavy as well. Like I’ve stated before, you don’t get anything else with it. The amp doesn’t turn itself on or off. And personally, I don’t care about that either. It does what it needs to do. Prepare the sound how it should be. Of course this needs to be in line with the set of speakers, but I’m fairly sure that the people that want an upgrade speaker wise, that the NAP series will be more than enough .
The Focal Sopra 2 sounding loads better with a power amplifier as opposed to a normal one proves once more how well the balance can be noticed between speaker and power amplifier. The NAP 250 DR just isn’t fully there yet. There’s still more to extract from your speakers.
Talking about the Focal Kanta 1 combined with the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, we see a match made in heaven.
There’s a difference between hearing music and feeling it. Having tested a multitude of speakers courtesy of Focal and Bowers & Wilkins I can personally notice a difference between not having a power amplifier and having one. In the review of the Bowers & Wilkins 702 S2, which I hooked up to a Denon x6400h, I was able to use one of the Rotel flagship amplifiers. And that also opened up a whole new world.
The Naim NAP 250 DR gave me that same feeling, you could hear more than with any other cheap preamp. Whether the pre-amp has the option to connect speakers or not, if the system lacks power, you’ll miss music. And that’s fine on a set costing around 500-1000 euros. If you exceed that, it would be a waste of money not to get the maximum performance out of your system. For example, don’t buy a Naim Uniti Atom if you are going to use a Focal Kanta 2 or Bowers & Wilkins 702 S2 Signature. You’ll miss tones and refinement, I can guarantee that. And that’s a shame, that’s not what you want to do with your hard earned money. Don’t be forced to drive 45 on a 60 road… Invest a little bit more so you can drive 70 ;). Because…You’ll notice…
And yes, there is such a thing as overkill. Expanding an existing cheap speaker set with a pre and power amplifier would be a waste too.
Oh how much fun I’ve had… I’m a happy reviewer with products like these. But even happier hearing the difference with different products in combination with a power amplifier.
Naim is a known name in the market, just like Rotel. I’m not saying you HAVE to go for Naim specifically. But I would recommend listening to it, just to hear what they have to offer. The Bowers & Wilkins 702 S2 and 705 S2 both had a beautiful sound on the Naim Uniti series.
The Naim NAP 250 DR has a price tag of 5350 Euros. Not a cheap power amplifier by any means, but a good one. Despite its pricing, the NAP 250 DR earns 5 out of 5 stars. A real powerhouse, capable of drawing the maximum performance out of your audio.