Naim Audio has always been considered a special, iconic company, and it retains this status to this day. History itself also contributes to its image: the headquarters and production are located in Salisbury, the very heart of England, not far from Stonehenge, and from the office windows you can see the famous Gothic cathedral of the 14th century, considered one of the symbols of the British Empire.
It is possible that the spirit of the time and place influenced Naim’s sound ideology. The medium and her guide to life was Julian Woereker (1945 – 2000), a man who devoted himself to the art of technology in all its material manifestations. Race car driver, yachtsman, audio engineer and passionate music lover who recorded live in bars and clubs. It was this passion that led the young man to design his own audio equipment – every time he listened to a recording he made, he could not understand why, when played back, it sounded so much worse than in life. Werker constantly changed his technique, but this did not bring the desired satisfaction. One of his friends advised him to design his own amplifier, and the very first prototype outperformed all purchased devices. The first orders came from friends, after which the idea arose to found a business and begin mass production. Werker’s friend agreed to invest in a new project, and from there the history of the company began in 1973. When the time came to come up with a name for her, Werker, without hesitation for a long time, settled on a homophone of the word Name. We must pay tribute to his foresight – this simple but effective move was subsequently played out more than once in advertising and magazine headlines (“Sorry, I din’t catch your Naim”, “You’re nothing without a Naim”, etc.).
In the early 70s, musical life in Salisbury was literally in full swing – jazz festivals and club concerts were held, celebrities and representatives of recording labels came. The young company found itself at the center of events, business is booming, and soon Roy George, a graduate of the University of Portsmouth, who still holds the position of technical director, joins the team. Under his leadership, the line of electronic components was expanded and the first speaker systems under the Naim brand, SBL, were launched into series. The redistribution of responsibilities allowed Julian to become more involved in recording music, and as a result, his own label, Naim Records, was founded. TODAY AND TOMORROW And 40 years later, the company is following the course laid out by its founder. The company is now run by Douglas Graham, who met us in the office, told us about the current situation and gave us a tour of the production premises.
Naim Audio advertising
Naim products are supplied to 47 countries, turnover is growing by more than 10% per year, and the staff is constantly expanding. Its market position is strengthened by the fact that the company produces everything: CD players, pre-amplifiers and power amplifiers, universal all-in-one components, network devices and acoustics. The 2008 crisis was survived mainly due to the trust of dealers, who were confident that Naim would not leave the market under any circumstances, and they would retain their business. On the other hand, customers also trust the brand due to its high reliability and guaranteed service. By the way, in the Naim service center we saw models that were almost 20 years old, and they are still being serviced. Support is denied only to craftsmen who decided to independently upgrade their components and, as a result, hopelessly damaged them. “We don’t abandon our customers because we view them as investors in our business, our brand,” Douglas likes to say. Therefore, during the recession, when many manufacturers reduced production or closed their business altogether, Naim, on the contrary, strengthened its position, winning new supporters. A third of today’s buyers have never dealt with a company’s products before. Everything worked – the collaboration with Bentley, online customer support, and our own record label. By the way, the Bentley story turned out to be interesting. About seven years ago, the company asked Naim to develop an audio system for five of its models, but with the condition that neither the interior nor the cabin configuration could be changed. It was necessary to fit into the existing space and style, and the locations of the acoustics were strictly defined. When designing the system, not only the acoustics of the cabin were taken into account, but also all types of noise – engine, tires, turbulence, etc. For this purpose, new speakers, amplifiers and unique algorithms for DSP were developed. Of course, Bentley doesn’t sell many cars, but they are sold all over the world, and the prestige of the brand is reflected in the prestige of Naim.
Naim Nait 2 (1983)
The Naim Records label also helps to increase brand awareness, but among a different audience – music lovers. New names are brought in to record albums, the process is improved and quality increases. Circulations, by the standards of majors, are, of course, small, about 4 – 5 thousand on CD and LP, but with 140 titles in the catalog, the overall figures look impressive. However, the releases do not bring much profit, but they have a considerable effect as a PR campaign. Finally, in 2007, the company moved into multiroom with the founding of NaimNet. Moreover, here, as Douglas says, the approach is somewhat different than that of other manufacturers – not quantitative, but qualitative. Those. Regardless of how many zones need to be sounded, in each of them the client should hear an uncompromising Naim sound. The main direction, however, remains hi-fi, but hi-fi in the modern sense – with the ability to decode audio files, network functions, a developed user interface and convenient access to music content. Each component takes a lot of time and effort to create, for example, the NAP500 amplifier was developed over 15 years.
Naim Nap 500 (2013)
Component design hasn’t changed for decades, and there’s a reason for this – you can add any component to your system in a few years, and it will look the same as the rest. According to survey results, many people refuse to buy new equipment, even from their favorite manufacturer, just because it no longer matches the style of what they already have. In the case of Naim, the situation is aggravated by the fact that systems of this level and cost are very rarely purchased entirely (their share of sales in the total is 2 – 3%), as a rule, you have to save for several years for the next component. Accordingly, the company rejects all accusations of industrial design, considering it timeless. Douglas believes that the main thing for his business is to be a little ahead of his time, understanding what will be in demand in the near future. He says: “Many people believe that streaming will kill music and, as a result, the hi-fi industry. Don’t believe it. The more accessible the music, the wider the audience, the more people who want to listen to it in high quality. And these are new buyers with ever-growing appetites for both information and reproductive technology. And don’t forget that the sale of high-resolution files gives a powerful impetus to the development of the recording industry.”
Highlights of Naim’s history
1969 – Julian Verecker (1945-2000), founder of Naim, MBE, young inventor and racing driver, disillusioned with the capabilities of sound-reproducing equipment, began to design his own amplifiers. 1972 – Julian won a tender to supply audio equipment for the then just starting station Capital Radio. The NAM 502, which combines Naim’s previous power amplifier and speaker system into one package, has proven to be a huge success. 1973 – Following the success of Capital Radio, in 1973 Julian Vereker and his partner Shirley Clarke officially registered their company Naim, in which they became directors. Our first head office was located in a workshop in the center of Salisbury, with production and demonstration facilities.
1973 – Our first device for home use was launched in the year of our founding. This device was the NAP 200 power amplifier. The descendants of this power amplifier, created back in 1971, are very different in technical terms, but their goals are the same: tempo, rhythm and precision. 1974 – NAC 12 Preamplifier. This year, through our network of representatives throughout the United Kingdom, we launched our first preamplifier.
Naim Nac 12 (1974)
1980 – With the Naim brand growing in popularity in the seventies and early eighties, the team decided to attract the attention of the press and potential customers with a series of humorous commercials. Reflecting our distinctive, often unconventional approach to music reproduction, these videos have become somewhat iconic. 1983 – The NAIT integrated amplifier was introduced to consumers. The unparalleled sound of this small integrated amplifier was very different from the characteristic sound of other integrated amplifiers of the time, and gave birth to the so-called “superintegrality”. 1985 – Collaboration with Brompton. Julian is collaborating with his friend and fellow inventor Andrew Ritchie, who has just founded a company that has created an innovative bicycle that is perfect for transportation and storage. He invested in the business, helping a friend set up a product that eventually helped the company become one of Britain’s most recognizable brands: Brompton Bicycle.
1985 – Naim Audio received the prestigious Queen’s Award for the first time in 1985. Naim Audio has received the award twice more in the 21st century: in 2010 for excellence in exports and in 2014 for innovation in digital streaming music. 1991 – CD player CDS. Like other Naim products, our first CD player, the CDS, was carefully designed. The CD player and power supply had separate housings, and rare-earth magnets were used in the drive mechanism of the CD tray, which made it possible to achieve low weight and at the same time good clamping of the disc, along with getting rid of vibrations and interference.
Naim Nat 01 (1984)
1993 – Naim Records is born. Naim Records, created by Naim founder Julian Vereker, combines a passion for music with a commitment to delivering the very best sound quality – from the recording studio to the listening room. The year 2000 was a turning point in the history of our company. After many years of hard work, we have created our new flagship power amplifier, the Naim NAP 500. It features a new tech-inspired design aesthetic that defines the direction Naim is heading into the 21st century. Only the Statement line, which will be released in 2014, can compete with his musicality.
Naim Nap 135 (1985)
2008 – Naim for Bentley. The two companies, symbolizing Britishness and a passion for excellence, worked closely together for 18 months on a project to create Naim car audio systems for Bentley. These systems, which use state-of-the-art digital signal processors and Naim’s flat BMR drivers, have become an optional extra on Bentley vehicles. 2009 – An all-in-one player goes on sale, combining the new world of streaming music, a CD player and an integrated power amplifier in the best traditions of the company. NaimUniti has been awarded Product of the Year by What Hi-Fi twice (2009 and 2012). 2013 – We celebrated our 40th anniversary the Naim way, with live music from Naim Label at Salisbury Arts Center – very close to our first headquarters on Salt Lane in the heart of the city.
Naim Statement (2014)
2014 – Naim wins the UK’s most prestigious business award, the Queen’s Award, for its range of digital music players, all-in-one players, hard drive players/servers and digital-to-analog converters. This is Naim’s third Queen’s Award (previously awarded in 1985 and 2010). 2014 saw the launch of the Statement sound reinforcement system, the culmination of all of Naim’s engineering and design expertise. The Statement system consists of the NAC S1 preamplifier and NAP S1 monoblock amplifiers. Development of the project began in 2011 with the goal of creating a new standard in High-End audio, sound reproduction and aesthetics. The Statement opens a new chapter in Naim’s history.
Naim Nu-So (2014)
2014 – Naim Audio launches its first fully wireless music system, the Mu-so, which sets a new milestone in digital hi-fi with its extreme versatility and multi-room support. The Mu-so system is equipped with a powerful processor and specially designed speakers to create an unforgettable musical experience. 2016 – the birth of the charismatic “younger relative” of Mu-so – the new wireless music system Mu-so Qb. A compact “cube” (only 20 cubic centimeters) made of glass-filled polymer with bass drivers is capable of delivering incredibly deep low frequencies. The Mu-so Qb system is equipped with the same processor as the Mu-so.