Portable Audio (or lack of) ?

Hi, 

Just wondering about Naim not offering anything in the portable offering space. Is there a market for this?

Over the years, my listening on the main system has decreased and I tend to do the majority of my listening whilst travelling or commuting. Quality wise, it's pretty good with a combination of lossless source (Tidal), good DAC (Chord Mojo) and some good closed back headphones (B&W P7 wireless). This seems to be a growth area as the number of high quality portable headphones seems to be increasing, as is the number of portable DAC/Amplifiers as well. But as far as I know, there's nothing from Naim in this area. Although a portable 'Statement' would be of course be nice, something similar to Mojo would be a very interesting product to me. Any other potential takers?

Gareth

Original Post

I would very much like to have a Naim alternative to my beloved Sony or Astell & Kern devices. However I belief this kind of business is very risky and involves a huge amount of marketing dollars. Let alone the remark huge already made about the different aspects of engineering involved. So I guess you have to limit your dreams to things like a new statement level streamer etc...

The problem with something like the mojo is that it's an extra box exactly where you want to keep things as simple and as portable as possible.  

I'd love for Naim to get involved in a Portable DAP.  Maybe something akin to Ayre's involvement in the unfortunate Pono Player.

Ayre was arguably behind what made the Pono Player special  with their balanced, zero feedback, output stages.  It makes for a natural sounding player and one that can be really rather beguiling the longer you spend time listening to it.  Unfortunately the rest is rather less stellar - tiny screen, short battery life, "fisher price" styling (actually this is rather endearing).  However, on performance alone it is still my favourite DAP.  

I've had a number of DAPs, looking for that perfect blend of performance and usability.  So many times I have loved a players UI but thought to myself, "if only the engineers at Naim had taken a hand in the sound performance aspects of this player". So there's definitely scope for Naim to do something interesting here. But it would likely need to be collaborative. Of course, I know how busy they are on so many other projects, so I'm not ready to bet on it.  But I'd be very excited if such a thing were ever to get the green light.

Emre I think that Naim got there a long time ago - way before the most recent headphone renaissance - with the Headline. Match with the right headphones and it's still a superb headphone amp that's great powered from a NAPSC, even greater from a Hicap and pretty awesome from a Supercap.

And then there's the DAC-V1, with integrated DAC and power supply, which I haven't heard so not sure whether it approaches or even eclipses what a Headline is capable of.  However, it does seem to be very well regarded by many.

I hadn't heard of the Pono player, I guess it was somehow related to the Pono streaming service. Surprising I missed it as it's the kind of thing that would appeal to me. Taking Richard's point about the Dac/Amp part being an extra box - this is definitely right and something I put up with as part of the trade off for better quality. I'd definitely rather have a separate portable device which is entirely dedicated to audio with the caveat that it supports high quality streaming/offline download type of solution such as Tidal. The downside to producing this, I guess,  is that it needs to cover a lot of bases (display, user interface, storage, dac, amp. Perhaps this is why it's more compelling to produce a dac/amp such as Mojo/Oppo HA2SE,Meridian Explorer, etc. 

Another approach to simplifying the setup is to lump it all in the headphones and use bluetooth as the data source. I've found that I use the wireless aspect of my headphones much more than I initially thought i would as it's much more convenient than wiring up the Mojo and the quality is pretty good. Sure, if I'm sitting down for a while, I'll wire things up and it's definitely better though. But as streaming quality improves (Aptx) and components get smaller and more battery efficient, I can see things getting pretty good quality wise. Perhaps the new Focal headphone range and Naim Dac's and (headline) amp could be combined in someway. Like active speakers for the ears. 

Richard Dane posted:

Emre I think that Naim got there a long time ago - way before the most recent headphone renaissance - with the Headline. Match with the right headphones and it's still a superb headphone amp that's great powered from a NAPSC, even greater from a Hicap and pretty awesome from a Supercap.

And then there's the DAC-V1, with integrated DAC and power supply, which I haven't heard so not sure whether it approaches or even eclipses what a Headline is capable of.  However, it does seem to be very well regarded by many.

Fair enough, now a new an improved one for classic range please....

I listened both many times, they are good but there is a place for improvement for the price tag... although a  used DAC v1 is a good value for sure, it was very good with Fostex 900s

Mojo has been mentioned - but has anyone tried with its music store/renderer lock-together partner, the Poly? It is capable of carrying up to 400GB (present micro-SD card maximum size) of music, including hi def, and additional music only needs spare SD cards.

I gather it is Roon enabled, and if wanted  can play from phone etc by bluetooth (as well as  connecting Mojo by wire if Poly removed).

On paper it seems like an excellent portable music solution, capable of superb reproduction when paired with really good headphones.

Certainly the output of Mojo could be plugged into a preamp with a suitable 3.5mm terminated cable - I believe @Analogmusic may have done that (but not yet with Poly fronting it).

I wondered similarly, but only re Poly: i.e.  whether I could play it through Dave, so I asked Chord, and the response  was no. However all it would need is a cable from its micro-USB output, and, if used for more than just the occasional few hours, some arrangement for more convenient recharging than recharging plugging into Mojo and the latter's charger, so not beyond possibility. (The reply was from Chord's marketing people, and of course they may have plans for a non-portable version with a bigger profit margin.)

My interest would be a definite if its sound quality is as good or better than my present streaming source (Audirvana on Mac Mini), especially if its library handling is better than Audiv: My portable music playing is so infrequent as to not justify the cost of Poly, however, if it was usable at home, and just grab it and go when I want to be mobile, that would be quite another matter - and the same control at home as when travelling would be a bonus. But the big unknown is its sound quality - expectation and reality are not always the same...

At present the highest capacity micro-SD card of which I am aware is 400GB, so if I wanted all my music collection I'd need maybe 3 cards, perhaps splitting by genre - but I imagine in due course they'll reach 1GB, when all my music would fit.

 

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