Naim Audio was based in 1973. Initially, the corporate solely constructed amplifiers, however it wasn’t lengthy earlier than different components of the hi-fi chain had been added. There have been cables, tuners, a tonearm and quite a few audio system.
Over time, it reached a degree the place it was doable to have a top-to-tail Naim branded set-up, together with gear helps and even the recordings to play on it. However there was one evident omission within the firm’s output, one which’s lastly full of the introduction of the Solstice Particular Version document participant package deal.
After ready virtually 5 many years, we lastly get a Naim turntable. The Solstice is an interesting mixture of intelligent engineering and fuss-free operation. The introductory run of 500 items is just accessible as a package deal, which incorporates the turntable (full with arm and cartridge), a phono stage and a devoted energy provide.
You additionally get a bespoke accent set, which incorporates necessities resembling a digital stylus gauge, spirit degree and hex instruments to arrange the deck, together with a particular Naim-produced document and a e book on the corporate’s historical past and the Solstice’s improvement. The value for all this loveliness is £16,000 ($20,000).
For the time being, it isn’t doable to purchase the varied constituent components of this package deal individually, however whether it is effectively acquired, we’d be shocked if the person parts weren’t made available for purchase. Time will inform.
The Clearaudio connection
The abilities set required to design, develop and manufacture a document participant are totally different from these wanted to make audio electronics, so it is sensible for Naim to staff up with turntable specialist Clearaudio to make the Solstice.
Naim admits that Clearaudio has manufactured the deck, arm and cartridge, however the firm can be eager to level out that every part is finished to its design and specs. The Solstice isn’t merely a rebadged Clearaudio product.
In actual fact, as we have a look across the deck, it’s solely the Solstice’s floating magnetic predominant bearing design that reminds us of Clearaudio’s merchandise – just about every part else on the Solstice seems to be bespoke.
We definitely can’t complain about the usage of that magnetic predominant bearing on the grounds of efficiency. It’s a intelligent design that actually floats due to the energy of the magnetic subject, and produces nice leads to high-end decks, such because the Clearaudio Innovation we used as a reference for a few years.
The minimal contact between surfaces implies that mechanical noise ranges are extraordinarily low. There’s additionally an optical sensor constructed into the meeting that sends alerts again to the 24V DC brushless motor to keep up pace stability.
The artwork of isolation
The Solstice’s ‘suspension’ is uncommon. It wouldn’t have been a shock to see a standard sprung suspended sub-chassis system right here, however Naim has gone down a special route solely.
It has designed compliance into the deck’s 47-ply plinth core to offer a level of mechanical decoupling of the primary bearing and arm from the remainder of the turntable construction. Aluminium high and backside plates are used to rigidly couple the arm to the primary bearing, and different plates reinforce the plinth’s ply core the place compliance isn’t wanted. Even the ft are specifically designed to filter out sure frequencies.
That chunky aluminium platter is topped off by a felt mat and doesn’t have trendy extras, resembling a clamp to carry the document down. There’s no lid equipped as customary, although Clearaudio does supply mud covers for its personal decks that can do the job for the Solstice.
The Aro tonearm lives on
The unique Aro arm has lengthy had one thing of a cult following, and this new model goals to construct on its sonic strengths. Evaluating previous with new, it’s apparent that the Mk2 has a slicker construct and improved ease of use.
The armtube is now fabricated from carbon fibre, slightly than the aluminium alloy of the unique, and the bias mechanism makes use of magnetism to use pressure, slightly than the essential string and weight association that went earlier than.
By way of use, Naim has taken large strides forwards with the Mk2 providing simple top adjustment and larger compatibility with a wider vary of cartridges. There’s even a cartridge carry mechanism, one thing that was an optionally available additional on the unique.
The Aro Mk2 stays a unipivot design, and meaning it should really feel rather less safe to deal with than a standard gimbal-bearing different. As soon as the stylus hits the groove, any extra wobble merely doesn’t matter.
Equinox MC is Naim’s first cartridge
In all the thrill, it’s simple to miss the truth that the Solstice package deal additionally consists of Naim’s first cartridge, the Equinox MC. This shifting coil is predicated on a high-end Clearaudio design, however the truth it makes use of a specifically machined aluminium physique, boron cantilever and microline stylus makes this very a lot a Naim product.
That’s by no means doubtful once we get to the phono stage and partnering energy provide. These are constructed into a wise new model of case, with solely the ability button on the highest panel of the Solstice energy provide marking the only real level of distinction.
That’s till you see the again panels, the place the phono stage has separate shifting coil and shifting magnet inputs and rotary dials for loading changes and the ability provide sports activities simply a few energy sockets.
The phono stage is appropriate with a variety of shifting magnet and shifting coil cartridges and, in contrast to earlier designs, is definitely adjustable so you’ll be able to fine-tune the efficiency of the cartridge. Inside, is a low noise Class A circuit that makes use of classes discovered from Naim’s range-topping Assertion pre/energy to maximise efficiency.
We take the lid off and, as common with Naim merchandise, it’s genuinely astonishing to see the eye to element within the manufacturing. We’re all the time impressed by the care taken in dressing the varied cables and the neatness of the circuit format.
The partnering energy provide has separate energy feeds for each the phono stage and the turntable. It, just like the phono stage, makes use of the corporate’s much-vaunted DR regulation circuitry to make sure a clear, steady and low noise energy feed.
Does the Solstice sound good?
We heard the Solstice package deal in Naim’s newly refurbished demo room. It was plugged into the corporate’s Assertion pre/energy mixture (£160,000) and a pair of Focal Stella Utopia Evo EM floorstanding audio system (£95,000).
In case you decide a product on value, then the Solstice package deal seems to be fairly light-weight in such firm. However begin listening and the story is kind of totally different. It’s inconceivable to supply any agency judgment on a product that is in an unfamiliar system and room, however we get the impression that the Solstice is a extremely aggressive performer.
For starters, the turntable doesn’t really feel as if it is holding the remainder of the system again. As we take heed to a variety of music from Johnny Money to Faithless, it’s apparent that the deck digs up loads of element and is able to organising it right into a cohesive and musical entire.
The system has a excessive degree of transparency that makes the manufacturing and recording variations between the albums apparent. It’s a quick and clear sound that has loads in the best way of assault. We’ve no problem with bass depth, energy or punch, with the system displaying spectacular ranges of grip and management at low frequencies.
We benefit from the large scale of the sound and love the convenience with which the system dynamics go from pin-drop quiet to borderline uncomfortable. In fact, these lavish amplifiers and audio system play a pivotal position on this, however we predict it’s honest to imagine that the Solstice document participant deserves a bit of the credit score.
Any definitive judgment must wait till we get a pattern of the Solstice in our take a look at room and plugged right into a reference system we all know effectively. Till then, all we are able to say is that the indicators are excellent certainly.