IP networking is the Next Big Thing in multi-room audio/video - and Naim Audio is the first UK company to get there. And how. In the 12 months since the company previewed NaimNet at the CEDIA Expo 2006, the company has launched a whole range of products, including music servers, room amps, DAB tuners and touch-panels. So what's to love?
The big deal with IP networking is this: it promises no-compromise performance across an infrastructure (CAT5E cable) that's robust, relatively inexpensive and infinitely scalable. Naim claims that the system is more advanced that that offered by its rivals. It's no wonder then that many multi-room systems offered in the US are already using the technology. Specifically IP under NaimNet delivers the following things:
No audio compression - NaimNet sends bit-for-bit copies of your original CDs across the network. This enables you to hear maximum sound quality no matter where you are in your home.
RoomSync - Just because you can play music in multiple rooms in the house doesn't mean it'll play nicely when streaming audio for a party, for example. In fact you'll experience a rather disconcerting delay, a bit like when you try to listen to DAB and FM signals at the same time. RoomSync gets over this problem. Naim says it eliminates lip syncing problems with TV viewing too.
No audio degradation - many multi-room systems rely on long runs of low quality speaker cable and matrix switchers to deliver the sound to each room. NaimNet delivers full quality audio to digital amps instead.
Scalability - even the richest multi-billionaire would struggle to build a 1.8-million room mansion. That's how expandable NaimNet is.
Easy to install - It's not quite plug 'n' play says the company, but it is relatively simple to install with relevant training when compared to rivals. That makes it cheaper.
Easy to control - Naim says NaimNet is family-friendly with a choice of rich interfaces - for wall-mounted keypads, PDAs, tablet PCs, etc.
Secure Data - All music on hard drive in Naim's four NaimNet servers is mirrored so you need never worry about losing your stuff.
Fully compliant with DigiLinx IP-based systems - enables you add, change or remove parts of the system.
Easy integration - NaimNet can be connected to other home automation kit in your home, including lighting, heating, air-con and security.
Sync across your own network - if you're lucky enough to own a place in the country and the city, why not enjoy the same audio-video files in both places? Rip a CD in one location and it will automatically be copied to the next, says Naim.
Naim Extended Music Database - makes it easy to choose the music you want to listen to. It can even track down hard-to-find jazz and classical pieces, says the company.
Music portable integration - you don't have to compromise on audio quality just because your music is stored on an iPod , PlayStation Portabl e (PSP), mobile phone or other portable hardware. Naim's Digital Music Dock bypasses each device's audio stage and delivers your music straight from its built-in drive.
Now for the hardware...
Naim's NaimNet line-up looks like this:
- NS01 - single output NaimNet music server - £3,000
- NS02 - four output NaimNet music server - £3,500
- NS03 - four output NaimNet music server with control screen - £4,250
- NS03-AA - NS03 fitted with analogue archive circuitry - £4,850
- NSREF - Audiophile two-box music server - £TBC
- NNT01 - quad DAB/FM NaimNet tuner - £2,000
- NNT01-RS232 - quad DAB/FM tuner with RS232 and audio output only - £1,600
- NNT02 - single DAB/FM NaimNet tuner - £850
- NNC01 - Multi-input preamplifier and room player - £TBC
- NNP01 - 2x 110W room amplifier - £2,600
- NNP02 - 2x 90W compact room amplifier - £1,300
- NNP02-DC - 2x 90W compact room amplifier DC supply - £1,300
- NNVMS-88 - 8 x 8 high quality video matrix switch. CAT5 cable - £3,500
- NRB01 - active video room receiver - £500
- NRB02 - active video room receiver with transcoding - £600
- NNTAB - portable tablet with NaimNet control and music server PC client installed £TBC