The Unofficial Naim Audio FAQ

The FAQ

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  • Cables

    Can I use non-Naim interconnects or speaker cables  with my Naim equipment?

    All Naim equipment is designed with particular cables in mind and using non-Naim interconnects or speaker cable with Naim equipment  will invalidate your warranty.  Specifically any damage caused to your Naim equipment by non standard cables will not be covered by the warranty and you will be charged for any subsequent repairs.

    Some dealers do recommend non-Naim cables for use with Naim despite the warranty implications.  They generally do this because they feel it sound better and in their experience the cables cause no damage to Naim equipment.  In this case you need to decide if you prefer the proposed cable to the standard Naim  cable and if you are prepared to take the risk with regard to the warranty.


    Warranty implications apart, can you recommend any interconnects other than the one supplied with my Naim CD player?

    No. For a start Naim's use of DIN connectors rather than the more common RCA phono plugs means that most third party interconnects cannot be used between a Naim CD player and amplifier. 

    Some companies do make DIN to DIN interconnects and some dealers and Naim users have experimented with making up DIN versions of third party cables.  However, the overwhelming majority have decided that the Naim supplied interconnect works best.

    Also note that all Naim CD players come with a suitable DIN to DIN cable included in the price. 


    What about connecting a Naim CD or preamplifier to a non-Naim component? Can you recommend a suitable DIN to RCA interconnect?

    Chord cables are the most common option for use between Naim CD players and non-Naim amplifiers.

    Another alternative offered by a number of dealers is to make up a set of interconnects using the same cable used in the Naim ARO tonearm. In the opinion of many who have tried this this is the best solution for connecting a non-Naim CD player.

    Some people have reported success with Nordost interconnects.  However these cables are very expensive you should give them a long and careful audition.

    Note that connecting Naim CD players to non-Naim amplifiers is much more common in the US and your local dealer will probably be able to offer advice on a much broader range of interconnects than are commonly used in the UK.


    Warranty implications apart, can you recommend any speaker cable other than the Naim manufactured NACA5?

    No. The same facts apply to NACA5 as to Naim interconnects - the vast majority of people who have tried alternatives have found NACA5 to be by far the best.  Its also worth noting that compared to the majority of high performance speaker cables A5 is very cheap.

    Note the warranty implications of using non-standard Naim is particularly important with regard to speaker cable as Naim amplifiers rely in part on the electrical characteristics of NACA5 to ensure their operational stability.  There is a real risk of damage to your Naim amplifier from using speaker cable other than NACA4 or NACA5.


    Why do  Naim design their amplifiers to use specific types of speaker cable?

    The reasoning goes something like this: All power amplifiers require certain electrical conditions to be met in their output stages to ensure they remain stable in operation. All power amplifiers need to be connected to speaker cable in order to be used and all cables will have electrical properties.  If you  know  these properties in advance then it turns out you can simplify and improve the design of the output stage of a power amplifier by using the cable as part of the circuit.  Of course this means that a cable with the appropriate electrical characteristics must be used with Naim amplifiers.

    This is the reason for Naim insisting on using Naim supplied speaker cable and for the minimum length requirement of 3.5m.  If the cable does not meet these criteria then the output stage of the amplifier can become unstable and potentially cause damage to both the amplifiers and the speakers.

    For the technically minded the assumed electrical characteristics of the speaker cable are as follows:

    • 1.3 - 1.5microHenries per metre (Loop)
    • MAX 20picoFarads per metre
    • About 25milliOhms per meter (loop)
    • MIN Length 3.5 metres

    Also note there is a specific warning not to use Litz type high capacitance cables.


    I've heard that Chord make the cables sold by Naim (or vice versa) is this true?

    No. Because Chord cables are so widely used to connect non-Naim sources to Naim amplifiers and they are similar in appearance many people incorrectly believe there is some connection between the two companies.

    Naim make their own cables and don't make cables for anyone else


    Do Naim recommend any particular cable for connecting to non-Naim components?

    No. Not even the widely used Chord cables are officially endorsed by Naim.

    Overall Naim think that cables are highly susceptible to sample variation. So although they may find individual examples which work well they do not feel able to recommend another manufacturers cables over which they have no quality control.

    In practice your dealer will be able to advise on the most suitable interconnect for use with your chosen CD player.


    What's a Stealth cable?

    A Stealth cable is an interconnect made by Mana Audio.  It is available with DIN plugs and a number of people have reported great success using this cable in Naim systems.  You should contact Mana Audio for more information..


    Should I try different plugs on the end of my NACA5 speaker cable - for example some gold plated ones?
    No.  The plugs on A5 have been designed to provide the best possible electrical and mechanical contact and those who have tried alternatives have invariably reported the Naim plugs to work the best.

    NACA5 speaker cable is very stiff and difficult to install conveniently. Do you have any advice for installing it?
    A5 will bend quite easily to allow it to go around corners. It won't break. If you have problems bending it then heating it up with a hairdryer can help and it will stay in position when it cools down.

    Is there any way to hide NACA5?

    If you have carpet you can cut channels in the underlay and with careful bending and use of a hairdryer the A5 can be persuaded to lie flat.  The A5 can also be taped down which can help keep it in place. Your Naim dealer should be able to advise and/or help you to do this.

    Also note that A5 is available in white which makes it less obtrusive if laid along white skirting boards.


    What is the best/required length for NACA5?

    NACA5 is nominally designed to be used in 10m lengths.  Some people claim longer lengths sound better but any length between 5m and 20m should sound fine.

    You should always use at least 3.5m for safe operation as Naim amplifiers rely on a certain minimum cable inductance for stability.  Note that using less than 3.5m of Naim cable or using a speaker cable other than a Naim supplied one can invalidate your warranty


    How do I connect Naim A5 speaker cable correctly?
    The cable is directional and should be connected so that the arrow marked on the cable points in the direction of the signal flow (i.e. it should point to the speakers). The cable also has a ridge running down one side of it so that you can ensure that the cable is connected to the correct terminal at each end (i.e. the +ve loudspeaker terminal on the amplifier is connected to the +ve terminal on the speaker).

    Should I bi-wire my speakers?

    Almost certainly not. Naim amplifiers and speakers are designed to work without bi-wring and will sound better when single wired.  Bi-wiring Naim amplifiers may also invalidate your warranty.

    In some non-Naim speakers the crossover is designed in a way which means that bi-wiring brings an improvement which is why some speakers sound better when bi-wired.  Naim amplifiers, however, work best when single wired and generally - although not exclusively - work best with speakers designed for single wiring.


    My speakers have two sets of terminals for bi-wiring. What's the best way to connect a single run of NACA5?

    Your speakers will have come supplied with some type of connector to connect the two speaker terminals together - often a couple of metal plates - so you can just connect the A5 to either terminal.  Some people claim with certain speakers there is a difference in sound depending on which set of terminals you connect to so you may like to experiment to determine which is best.

    If your speakers allow these connectors to be easily removed (and put back again) then many people have gained a worthwhile improvement from using A5.  There are two accepted methods one of which may be suitable for your speakers :

    1. A small piece of A5 is soldered between each set of terminals.
    2. Two sets of plugs are connected to the A5 - one on the end as usual and one the appropriate distance away to fit into the second set of speakers terminals.  I.e. when viewed form the side - with the plugs connected at right angles as is usual with A5 - this forms an F shape and the A5 can be plugged into the two sets of terminals.

    Note that you should always switch the power off before connecting or disconnecting any cables form your system. 

    You should consult your dealer for advise and possible assistance before trying the above.


    What is a SNAIC?
    A Super Naim Audio Interconnect - a capable for connecting Naim components which carries both music signal and DC power.  Different types of SNAICs are  used to connect preamps, power amps, power supplies and active crossovers.  For example, a SNAIC connecting a preamp to a power amp carries the music signal from the preamp to the power amp and also the DC supply  from the power amp's internal power supply to the preamp.

    I've often heard that cables which carry a power supply should be kept away from signal cables. Surely this means that the SNAIC is a bad idea?

    You should take reasonable care keep leads with AC power - for example the mains supply leads away from signal cables such as interconnects and speaker cables.  In particular you should avoid parallel runs of AC and signal cables.

    However SNAICs carry DC power at relatively low levels which doesn't affect signal cables in the way that AC power does so having a music signal and power supply in the same cable does not cause problems in this case


    What's the difference between a SNAIC-4, SNAIC-5, etc.?
    The number refers to the number of separate cores inside the outer cable housing. There are SNAIC-4s, SNAIC-5s and SNAIC-17s.

    What's the little plastic band around a  SNAIC with a number like NA34 written on it?

    SNAICs are directional and the band indicates which way round it should be connected.  Specifically the band should be at the end where the music signal originates.  For example, in connecting a preamp to a power supply the band should be at the preamp end.

    The number written on the band does not refer to the type of interconnect but indicates the Naim employee who made the cable


    What's a "Black SNAIC"?
    The original SNAICs were grey and a Black SNAIC is an improved version of these cables. Black SNAICs are a worthwhile improvement over the original grey SNAICs especially given their low cost.

    What's a Burndy cable? \

    Another name for the SNAIC-17 which connects the multiple power separately regulated power supplies in a SuperCap to the component for which it provides power. The type of connector used is called a Burndy connector and hence the name.

    There are three different types of Burndy cable for connecting a SuperCap to a 52, an XPS and a SNAXO.

     
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