Naim Audio ND5 XS, Nait XS 2, Neat Acoustics Motive SX2 system

Naim Audio NAC A5,
Naim Audio Nait XS 2,
Naim Audio ND5 XS,
Neat Acoustics Motive SX2

Appearances can be deceptive. This is not your 1980s Nait. The Nait XS 2 is programmable, and even has a mini USB port for potential firmware upgrades. The level of programming is fairly limited (such as assigning default source, disabling unused sources, volume levels at power on, etc), but too many options would detract from the overall minimalism intrinsic to the Nait ethos.

As you might expect from Naim, both products can be upgraded with off-board power supplies. This is often read wrongly by the chattering classes, who view it as a good product hobbled until you add an expensive power supply. The other way of looking at this is a pair of great products, which can be made even better at a later date by adding beefier power supplies. Given the performance of the two, I’d go with the second answer.

Finally, the Neat Acoustics Motive SX2. This is a diminutive (765mm tall), reasonably lightweight (11kg), back-swept, floorstanding two-way bass-reflex loudspeaker, with a fair bit in common with our 2006 Product of the Year Motive 2. It still sits on a plinth (the port is built into the base of the speaker) and is single-wired. It still features a 25mm inverted dome tweeter, although this time it’s black anodised aluminium, with a large screened magnet assembly behind. Under the hood, the tweeter now has its own cavity, the port has been revised and the crossover reworked (although this last comes with the change in tweeters). These are not small changes though, and build on the predecessor’s strengths.

We could go all wig-out crazy here, with cables that double the cost of the system and a room full of power conditioners, tables, platforms, cones, decouplers, uncouplers, recouplers and marriage guidance counsellors. But that’s not what this system is all about. It’s a simple system, and should be treated as such. The electronics ended up stacked one atop another on an Ikea Lack table, and the speakers were plonked down against a wall, with no care or attention given. The power cords are the ones that came with the boxes; bog-standard affairs, albeit ones with good MK plugs in place of moulded plugs. The interconnect is the giveaway grey DIN lead that also comes in the box and the loudspeaker cables were Naim’s own NAC A5. This last is a relatively inflexible stranded copper pair of conductors separated by a central spacer. It’s not giveaway cable, and has its detractors (unsurprisingly especially among rival cable makers) but is one of those ubiquitous speaker cables that does its job unobtrusively, especially in this context. 

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