Making a Statement

How to build a $200,000 amp...

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Categories:
Solid-state power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers
|
Products:
Naim Audio Statement
Making a Statement

Naim Audio has been building audio electronics since the 1970s. So, it knows a thing or two about handling the products it’s building. But when you move into making an amplifier of the size, scale, and weight of Naim’s new Statement, suddenly things change. Suddenly, you have to think more like a custom car maker as well as an amplifier designer.

The Salisbury-based company has devoted a portion of its top-floor product assembly area to the Statement building project, as a result of the early success of the amplifier. All of Naim’s electronics are made in an ESD-free zone, so visitors and workers alike have to wear grounding tags that fit around the heel of a shoe, and an inelegant uniform of white or pale blue coats to limit static electricity build-up. It’s not a clean-room environment, because the devices made do not require a clean-room, but it’s not far off.

The dedicated centre uses colour-corrected lighting, both to the main overhead lighting and the individual magnifiers used for close-up work. This adds absolutely nothing to the build of the product, except that it makes the build process slightly easier for the engineers. That may in turn make the product built with a tiny bit more care and attention, as the engineers do not have to unconsciously adapt to different colour temperatures around the room, but it shows the lengths to which Naim goes to build these devices.

The Statement combines surface mount and hand-soldered devices in a complex, 3D design. This makes assembly more complicated than many amplifier systems and requires both an engineer who can think beyond simple linear board-stuffing, and this is helped by the installation of clever touch-screen CAD/CAM workstations, which allow the builder access to the schematics during build that would have been impossible only a few years ago.

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