The Naim DAC-V1 is the Salisbury company's latest effort to create computer sound accessible to everyone. Basically, it packages much of the technology that we have seen on the very able (and pricey) Naim DAC, adds a little more and then crams it all into a quite pleasant small 'half-width' box complete having a decent display to let you know what it is up to.

As it's a volume control also, the DAC is not simply a convertor that is digital. The latter is done on a SHARC ADSP21489 DSP along having a RAM buffer, and following this the analogue signal visits a distinct Naim preamplifier gain stage using components that were passive that were selected.

Sound quality

There is no mistaking what you are listening to. Like many fine brands, Naim Audio has its own distinctive character to the way it goes about making music, which does not appear to change much regardless of the product. This really is pure twenty-first century Naim, which would be to say it is clean, tidy, tonally smooth - dark even - but grippy, rhythmic and dynamic, too. That which you do not get is a rich, fat, bloated sort of sound, but neither is it thin and reedy, with detail.

Kicking off with a few standard 16/44 silver disk activity from a Cyrus transport plugged into the DAC via coaxial digital, and Corduroy 's London England is riotously good enjoyment. This early nineties Acid Jazz record is wonderful, late- interval analogue along with the Naim is incisive enough to throw out every detail of the record, yet refined enough to capture its inherent smoothness. Bass drum is magnificently taut with that characteristic Naim 'on-off' type of envelope, snares, meanwhile, are penetrating and tough, although not spitty while hi-hats are sharp and comprehensive, but with feathery smoothness - a quality that before classic Naim kit did not possess.

Ramping up the resolution and changing to USB, the Naim really sings with a 24/192 rendition of REM 's plaintive Texarkana via a Audirvana - equipped MacBook Pro. It actually lets Peter Buck's Rickenbackers ring out. In front of this is a sweet sounding Mike Mills singing his heart out - and some lovely, pacey drum kit work. It is so simple to pull individual strands out from the combination, yet the song that is whole coheres so well together. In every respect, in the superb depth perspective to the strong bass guitar work that is crunchingly, it's a joy to listen to.

In the same time,

I really like the ultra explicit location of instruments in the mixture, as well as the great awareness of space. This DAC is tight enough to allow the first recording push out into your room in proper proportion, yet never stifle it.

The good bits are taken by it from the more pricey Naim DAC, adds an outstanding asynchronous USB implementation along with a volume control as well as the effect is a sound that's good enough to let rip into most speakers. Partner it with the NAP 100 amplifier of Naim and you'll be rewarded using a package that's greater even compared to the total of the parts - and excellent worth too. Just like it was planned all along, it makes computer audio simple and reachable, will play back your disk group via a CD transport and does not take over your listening room. My only regret using the DAC-V1 is that it doesn't have a single analogue line input signal to plug a turntable in, but I suppose that is just being selfish!

Naim DAC-V1 DAC photo
Tags: Naim, DAC, DAC Naim