The co-mingling of Naim and Focal last year came as something of a surprise to many in the industry. How could two brands whose identities are so closely aligned with their places of origin coexist in peace and harmony? Before the union, it was rare to find Naim electronics paired with Focal loudspeakers, but this had more to do with the rather conservative nature of retailing than with any intrinsic lack of synergy between the products. The commercial aspect of the situation was the only real barrier. We may have a long standing rivalry with the (pesky) French but have to begrudgingly admit that they are quite good at some things, and I’m not just talking about wine and croissants.
This system was put together because it looks good, with luck we will be able to find a white RP6 to go with 1028Be speakers in the same shade, it does a lot with the minimum of boxes and it makes a great sound. A style system for the quality conscious if you like, the speakers aren’t diminutive enough to be described as ‘lifestyle’, they are proper speakers with the capacity to move air and quicken the pulse. Turntables are of course the accessory of choice for the young sophisticate today and no self respecting resident of Hackney would admit to not having one, whether they have many ‘vinyls’ is of course another matter. But the point is that vinyl is once again king both in and out of the hi-fi salon so it seemed like a good excuse to get my favourite midprice turntable out for another spin. It needs a cartridge and a phono stage so I chose two fine examples from the Dynavector range, a DV-20X2H moving coil and a P75 Mk3 from the same brand. A stonking combo with the RP6 because all three elements pull in the same direction yet have complimentary balances, the DV-20X2H is a very secure and strong MC while the RP6 has the pace of the devil and an awful lot of panache for the price.
Naim’s SuperUniti is the top streaming integrated in its extensive range of network oriented components. Aall you really need to get sound out of it is a hard drive and a length of ethernet cable, preferably green cable as it’s a Naim and CAT6 as it’s only 10p more expensive than CAT5 but nothing special. What Naim recommends you use however is an Airport Express network hub and a (preferably gigabit) switch. Hook the Airport up to your wi-fi router then take the signal from there to the switch and connect it to both SuperUniti and HDD. This creates a network that’s specific to the audio system and isolates it from noise in the general traffic going to the household network. It’s relatively inexpensive (sub £120 plus cable) and creates a stable and consistent network that doesn’t take a rocket scientist to set up.
SuperUniti is also a very competent DAB/FM/internet radio although in truth I did not use it to receive terrestrial broadcasting on account of the rather more interesting and niche stations available online. The SuperUniti is particularly good for finding online stations, podcasts and on-demand radio with if you have a suitable iDevice with which to sift through them. In fact you need an Apple tablet, phone or iPod Touch to be able to get full use from the Naim, it is possible to combine the remote with the front panel display but with big music collections it’s not a lot of fun. The iPad is the ultimate controller for SuperUniti, its large display lets you see album artwork and you can access pretty much all of the features of the amp including volume control. There are rumours of an Android app but it wasn’t in Google’s Play Store when I last looked.
As an amplifier SuperUniti is specced at 80 watts per channel and has both digital and analogue inputs, most of which are on conventional RCA phono rather than Naim’s preferred DIN sockets. It has a front panel USB socket for iPods but can’t be used with a computer, its own streaming abilities essentially making this unnecessary. There are also outputs for a power amp, sub and headphones plus digital on a BNC. It’s a well equipped and highly flexible device that replaced three boxes in my home system (amp, streamer and DAC).