In terms of marketing, the Naim NAP 300 DR is not something original: like many other high-end manufacturers, Naim has taken the path of transferring the technology tested in high-end devices to more affordable models. Or, one might say, less inaccessible – it all depends on your budget. Specifically, this amplifier uses the same custom transistors found in the flagship Statement NAP S1. The Naim NAP 300 DR amplifier consists of two cases, as does the much more expensive and powerful NAP 500 DR.
On the back of the amplifier there is a fan grill which, according to the manufacturer, is “virtually silent”. I agree with this wording, since I did not know whether it worked during the audition – I could not hear it, and I didn’t look in to make sure it turned on or not. So it’s time to move on to electrical noise and distortion, which, as usual with Naim, are missing from the device’s passport. And if for a power amplifier the signal-to-noise ratio is really not a determining factor, then it is worth dwelling on the second characteristic in more detail.
The manufacturer, perhaps, is right: distortions can be of all kinds, and it is impossible to estimate their effect on sound by one number. Moreover, sometimes a reduction in distortion of a particular type causes feelings that are opposite to those expected. In this case, something similar happened. The abbreviation DS in the model name stands for Discrete Regulator.
We are talking about a power regulator made on discrete elements and allowing the amplifier to work out undistorted peaks up to 500 volt-amperes. However, I did not notice any phenomenal underlining of the attack during testing. On the contrary, Rush’s harsh album “Permanent Waves” played quite comfortably, without making you shudder from each beat of the snare drum, even at high volume.
The external difference between the “300th” and the younger models is only one: there is not a single button on the front panel of the rather thin case – not even POWER! The fact is that it is just a “superstructure” of a composite two-component amplifier. Like the superior Naim NAP 500, the huge transformer and stabilization system are housed in a separate Naim NAP 300 PS unit. It comes with the main unit, connects through two impressive cables with bayonet connectors and is designed in a case identical in size and design. Therefore, in what follows, for simplicity, we will consider the combination as a whole.
As described, the Naim NAP 300 DR features improved grounding patterns and more efficient vibration isolation for the main board. The output stages of increased power required forced backup cooling (running ahead, I would say that I did not hear the noise from the fan installed on the rear panel during the test, even after very “hot” listening sessions). Unlike the Naim NAP 250 DR , the 300th power amp is also wired differently with Naim preamplifiers – not just one cable, but a pair of dedicated XLR / DIN 4s (included). Note that their “input” terminals do not plug directly into the Naim NAC 252 preamplifier., and into its SuperCap power supply. Such ornate connections, and even with “motley” connectors – not just a whim of the Naim engineers. The British company has always adhered to its own, and not generally accepted, principles of wiring signal and ground circuits, power circuits throughout the system. And to protect the components from incorrect switching, willy-nilly, you have to use non-standard connectors.
A key upgrade to all amplifiers in the new “Classic” Naim Series is the move to circuitry designed for Naim Statement super systems. In particular, there are output stages based on powerful custom transistors NA009N, in which a silicon crystal is “seated” on an efficient copper heat sink. In this case, the transistor base is attached to the grounded radiator not directly, but through a ceramic heat-conducting gasket with low thermal resistance. The benefit of this solution is to reduce unwanted capacitance between the manifold and the heatsink. In addition, decrease, etc. thermal distortion of transistors, which occurs due to instantaneous overheating of the crystal at the signal peaks. Finally, the technology from “statements” allows you to get a fairly high output power from circuits without complementary transistor pairs (its elements always have, albeit small, but quite harmful discrepancies in dynamic parameters). The NAP 300 DR, by the way, has a rated power of 90 watts into 8 ohms and reaches 500 watts peak.
The second feature of the updated series is given by the letters DR in the name. Instead of conventional integrated voltage stabilizers, proprietary Discreet Regulation circuits are used here on special low-noise zener diodes. They provide about a 30-fold reduction in the level of noise and ripple on the power rails, due to which a comparable expansion of the dynamic range is achieved precisely towards weak levels in the field of microdynamics.
I’ll tell you that this is exactly what you notice first of all. A first time trial run of the entire system using a regular Naim speaker cable and Neat Momentum SX5i speakers takes a different look at the musical possibilities of familiar floorstanding speakers. The attack is excellent! Expressive, clear and accurate interpretation is achieved even at very low volumes. A solid and well-developed bass register does not end with the impressive sounds of a large orchestral drum – literally all the shudders of the air in the hall become audible.