CES & THE Show 2014 • Hot Product

The debut of Naim's Statement electronics was a true happening at CES. These massive and massively expensive (around $200,000 as a set when they begin shipping) mono amps and stereo preamp are the product of some innovative and extreme thinking. The combination of audio section and power supply -- the former sitting atop the latter -- that both have minimizes electromagnetic interaction between them while keeping the high-current supply route as short as possible.

The NAC S1 preamp uses Naim's Dual Volume Control, which switches from a stepped-resistor system for best sound to a microchip control for seamless volume transition. Select circuits of the NAC S1 are suspended in order to decouple them from mechanical vibration.

The 223-pound NAP S1 amp delivers 746 watts -- or "one horsepower," as Naim proudly proclaims -- into 8 ohms and staggering 9000-watt bursts into 1 ohm. Each amp comprises a pair of isolated bridged power modules that are flush with proprietary parts, including. . .

. . .newly developed Naim 009 transistors, which feature an aluminum nitride substrate. This has ten times the thermal conductivity of the more traditional aluminum oxide. The thermal paste used to ensure good thermal transfer to the heatsink has nano diamond as one of its elements. This conducts heat two and a half times faster than copper, ensuring maximum possible temperature stability. Each amp monitors many operating parameters, including DC offset, power-supply voltage and overcurrent voltage.

We could literally go on and on describing design points great and small. How did these extreme electronics sound? With Focal Stella Utopia EM speakers, there was utter blackness from which each note emerged, along with purity and delicacy of tone and dynamic immediacy -- promise in the extreme.

The Audio Beat • Nothing on this site may be reprinted or reused without permission.