When it comes to building a high-end music system, there are two schools of thought. The first school is attended by die-hard audiophiles who mix and match components like a circus clown assembles an outfit. Plaids, stripes and polka dots are fine together, as long as the end result is harmonious. And so, components from disparate manufacturers are connected by cables from many others, each one adding or subtracting, warming or cooling according to their makers’ notion of sonic accuracy. And it can be very successfully done. The other school of thinkers believes that a single-brand system, one whose engineers and designers start from a clean sheet with soup-to-nuts in mind, can create the greatest synergy between components and hence, the most holistic sound.
Not many high-end brands offer an A-to-Z system. Of those, few are as ambitious as the Focal Naim 10th Anniversary Edition, created to celebrate a decade-long union between the French speaker manufacturer and British electronics firm under the VerVent Audio Group. Priced at US$48,000, the one-stack, two-speaker ensemble is distinctive in that components and speakers share uncompromised sonic standards, as well as unique—but complementary—industrial design sensibilities.
The special-edition system features an array of Naim Audio electronics to deliver source and power to Focal’s Sopra N°2 loudspeakers, which combine concrete-finish side panels with a unique tin-color front baffle. Focal designers have put woofers, a midrange and tweeter in separate enclosures, thus eliminating distortion from standing waves and optimizing the performance of each driver. A beryllium tweeter is centered vertically between a 6.5-inch midrange driver above and two 7-inch woofers below. A tempered-glass base with stainless-steel floor spikes keeps things grounded and reduces vibration. Nearly four feet tall—but with a modest footprint—and weighing 122 pounds each, the Sopra N°2, with its shimmering metallic effect, suggests a piece of modern architecture in intimate scale.
As far as the component stack goes, the Naim NDX 2 network player, with upgraded DAC and 5-inch color display, streams from a variety of sources, including Chromecast built-in, Spotify, Tidal, AirPlay and Bluetooth AptX HD.
Then there’s the NAC 282, a full-function control preamplifier (a Naim phono stage and turntable are available) that allows the use of DIN or more common RCA connectors. In quest of sonic purity, the preamp is connected to an external HiCap DR power supply as well as the compact NAPSC, which supplies low-noise power for the preamp’s digital circuitry.
Also part of the configuration is the NAP 250 DR amplifier, a Naim legend, continuously improved since the original’s introduction in 1975. Employing design aspects of Naim’s US$300,000 Statement amplifier, including that amp’s NA009 transistors, it delivers 80 wpc into 8 ohms. All the sleek Naim Classic Series components are housed in anodized aluminum casework, uniquely finished in tin color.
A pair of Naim Super Lumina speaker cables are also included, while Naim’s Fraim component rack is available for an additional US$5,056. The Focal Naim 10th Anniversary Edition is available in May.