Hands-on: Naim Statement, at £125,000 this is the 'Bentley of amplifiers'
Naim could have named the Statement anything it liked, as one glance at this giant pre-amp and twin mono amplifier trio is an aesthetic statement in itself. Oh, and then there's the £125,000 price - $206,000 for our American friends - which would make for a bank statement most of us would baulk at. Even without the speakers or input sources that's as pricey as a Bentley Continental GT Coupe.
Pocket-lint arranged a meeting with Naim at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 to check out what the company describes as the pinnacle of its audio and design knowledge. It's easy to see why: this trio of monolithic structures each weigh 101kgs; a mass softened by the curvaceous edges of the heat-sink that look almost as though they're undulating when stared at for long enough. And stare we did until our eyes crossed.
As much as the aluminium heat-sink's "wave" design looks as though it's entirely for visual purpose, the different depths on that curve sit next to different components within the amp's design that require different levels of heat extraction. The amount of engineering that's gone into the project is second to none.
We were shown the innards of a single amp and it's mind boggling just how much work has gone in to every element of the structure. There are transistors engineered by an aerospace company, with each wire meticulously placed by hand rather than automated and machined. Materials are far beyond what would typically be used in such products too. Copper? Forget about it, Naim has opted for nano-diamond due to its thermal conductivity.
The large volume dial atop the NAC S1 pre-amp also feels as perfect as any rotational dial as we've ever used. This Dual Volume Control has a certain weight to it, but glides so smoothly as the volume cranks up. The "dual" aspect of its name come from the combination of resistor system and chip control for immediate and precise control.
To the centre of each amp is the Naim logo that is laser cut into glass and backlit to give that distinctive point of interest. The input display works in a similar fashion when toggling between the CD, stream, AV, phone and AUX inputs available.
Does this level of build make for the best possible listen? This is an amp after all and that's what it's designed for. Audiophiles will likely think so. We stood and listened and loved what we heard from the Ovator S800 speakers that were wired up.
Did we £125,000 love it? As the common folk we are, perhaps not, but then if you have as much money as water then for the sake of a quality listen and as a stunning centrepiece we can see the attraction. It is a beautiful, if not huge, amplifier that delivers on the promise of its name for plenty of reasons.
Naim Statement will be available from July 2014 and is made to order. Pre-orders direct to Naim have already started should you happen to have that £125k spare.