Messing around with a Nait3
Take one innocent Nait3:
   
Take it to bits and start fiddling with it's innards:
   
   
Not forgetting the power amp board - adding a Din input socket so it can be used as a standalone power amp:
   
And hey presto - the dining room test system: An old Technics SL150mk2 with my old Ittok and an equally as old (but hardly used) Audio Technica AT30e. Also my old cheapo Sony DVD player which actually sounds not bad when playing CDs.
   
The Nait3 has only been lightly breathed-on (so far... I haven't even done any component changes). I've split the pre and power amp sections so that the preamp can be used separately. This was a standard Naim mod which turned it into a Nac92. However, I've also separated the power and earth lines for the control/switching circuitry from the preamp analogue stages. This makes no difference when powered by the internal PSU, but should make a difference when using an external supply - the switching circuits will be separately powered by the internal psu which would otherwise be sitting there doing nothing - it should be like having a NapSC to separately power the switching circuits. Finally, there's was a blank space on the power amp board for a Din input socket - by fitting this I can use it in conjunction with the preamp section or as a separate, standalone power amp - i.e. like a Nap90.
   
Note the 70s-tastic speaker stands! The rather beat-up Mission 70s were 'abandoned' in my garage by a friend and have been there for the past 20-odd years.
   
And how does it sound?

Well, in standard Nait3 form it sounds pretty good! One does have to make allowances for the Mission 70 speakers which, by any standard, are pretty rubbish from a HiFi point of view - no treble to speak of, funny mid-range and a soggy 'wet-fish' bass!

But once you've become accustomed to the odd 'tone' of the system, and the fact that everything happens at floor level (the tweeters are at the bottom of the cabinets), it does boogie along quite nicely!

The Nait3 does seems to be the 'unloved' member of the Nait family - the Ferrari 308 GT4 of Naims! I do think it looks a bit ugly and the fact that the single in-built preamp psu also has to power a whole bunch of switching circuitry not present in Naits 1 and 2 could be one reason why many think it sounds worse that its predecessors. It's also got a fairly ordinary looking Nuovetem transformer which is probably not a patch on the Holden & Fishers in the earlier Naits.

However, on the plus side, I think it's got a number of key things going for it:

- It's the only integrated Naim that can take the 5-series phono cards
- It's got a bit more power than a flea!
- The preamp pcb is a generous size with plenty of room around each amp stage for furture modding
- Both pcbs are hassle-free to remove - no wires to unsolder
- Being 'unloved' means you can pick them up pretty cheaply
- And best of all, there's a decent amount of empty space for adding more power supplies, transformers, etc!

All-in-all, I reckon there's enough potential to turn it into a Nait3 XS or Supernait3.



But that's for the future. For now, with the light mods I've made I've got a compact (ish) integrated test amp where the pre and power amps can be used separately or together. The pre can also be used with an external psu, so I tried it with the ValueCap (aka 'the fat one').

Well, even with the crappy Mission speakers, it pretty much stomped all over the standard Nait3 - music sounded a lot more engaging. With the standard set-up, playing CDs on the cheapo(40) Sony DVD player sounded like they were being played on a cheapo CD player, but with the fat one, it sounded like a pretty good CD player!

In fact this set-up sounded not too unlike a Nac62 which is not too surprising given that both pres have the same circuit configuration inside.



Anyway, as it has to double-up as a test amp, I thought I'd try it with the Hypex amps...
Of course they sound rather better than the Nap90.... and the difference with and without the fat one is much more marked. But, as you'd expect, these power amps are a bit wasted on Mission 70s, but nonetheless, I did end-up spending a fair amount of time sitting in my hallway, recently, listening to this combo!



So feeling suitably encouraged (and going a bit beyond the remit of this thread!) I thought 'what the hell' and dragged the breadboard AirG preamp into the dining room.
So what did this lot sound like? We know the Mission speakers are a bit rubbish. But I think the reason the Hypex plus Naim combo didn't really ignite the burners is due to the Nait also being a limiting factor.

With the AirG plus Hypex, the sound quality was in such a different league it was laugh-out-loud funny!
   
   
   
The view from the hallway listening position:
   
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