Does the latest Nait incarnation have the functionality and poise to come out on top? Read our Naim Nait XS 3 Review.
PRODUCT Naim Nait XS 3
TYPE Integrated amplifier
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 432 x 70 x 314mm
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• Quoted power output: 2x 70W (8ohm)
• Inputs: 4x RCA; 5x DIN; 1x MM phono stage
• 6.35mm headphone socket
DISTRIBUTOR Naim Audio Ltd.
TELEPHONE 01722 426600
As the name suggests, the Nait XS 3 is an ongoing evolution of the original Nait XS integrated and compared with several amplifier designs in the group, this third- generation model looks a little on the simplistic side. The power output is quoted at 2x 70W into 8ohm and it provides four line-level inputs via RCA as well as DIN connections for use with Naim sources. There are no digital inputs and unlike the Primare, no option to add them as an upgrade further down the line. There is, however, a headphone amp via a 6.35mm socket on the front panel.
Unlike its predecessor, the XS 3 incorporates a moving-magnet phono stage and Naim is adamant that the care taken with its implementation and design ensures best-in-class performance along with a number of revisions to the pre and power amplifier stages. Further performance upgrades can be achieved by investing in one of Naim’s external power supplies.
The Nait XS 3 possibly isn’t the most eye-catching chassis in the group, but
1 Single-wire speaker outputs
2 RCA subwoofer output
3 MM phono stage input
4 4x RCA analogue inputs
5 5x DIN inputs
6 Turntable grounding post
it is handsome and well proportioned. It’s beautifully made and the familiar casework feels solid and carefully assembled. It comes supplied with Power-Line Lite mains cables (HFC 427) as standard, while the remote control is sensibly laid out and has a solid feel to it.
The test level is easily reached and the Nait XS 3 has plenty of output power in reserve. The most noticeable aspect of the performance, however, is the vastly improved sense of space and three dimensionality over its predecessor. The effect this has on Hugh Masekela’s performance of Stimela is significant as the Naim does a great job of creating a believable space, clearly differentiating between the audience and the band. It demonstrates the same attributes with instruments too, with Masekela’s trumpet solo sounding vibrant and entirely believable.
This dovetails with more traditional Naim virtues of rhythmic energy and ebullience that consistently entertain.
The result is that it handles Walking On A Thin Line with a genuine sense of fun and enthusiasm that is comfortably the best in the group. It also shows an impressively forgiving nature with the upper registers, although it doesn’t have the ability to define the locations of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett with the same total assurance of some rivals in the group. Having said that, it still manages to deliver the track with plenty of get up and go.
The space and three dimensionality is vastly improved over its predecessor
Aurora Aksnes’ rendition of The River is also delivered brilliantly, with a deep clean bass extension that perfectly matches the smooth and spacious upper registers.
Moving to the built-in phono stage reveals that the Nait XS 3 has a consistent character to its line-level inputs. Noise levels at idle are fractionally higher than some of the other phono stages incorporated into rivals, but once the music is playing, this ceases to be an issue and the Naim delivers a performance that consistently allows the positive attributes of whatever turntable is connected to shine through