Our New Phoenix Upgrade for Naim Power Amps

If you hang out on Pink Fish Media or the Naim forums, I’m sure you’ve seen Mark Tucker’s comments about the state of Naim. It’s upsetting to see a company that has delighted so many music lovers all across the world move away from away from its audiophile roots towards more profit-seeking consumer products.

Naim hasn’t lost its spark yet but we are worried for their future as a move away from Julian Vereker’s original vision. Fortunately, Naim’s Chrome and Olive series were built to last and sound just as beautiful as the amps they build today – if not more so.

It’s not only the amps that make Naim great though; the community behind them never fails to amaze me with such dedicated customers, modders, and companies keeping these products alive. But with over 30 years of experience working at Naim and 8 years of operating Witch Hat, we feel it’s our duty to continue their legacy, maybe not in name but in the way we approach audio equipment.

We have a lot planned with this in mind and we’re now ready to launch our latest upgrade for Naim’s chrome bumper, olive, and some classic power amps. We call these boards the Phoenix because they breathe a new life into Naim’s NAPA circuit boards which has been barely altered in over 40 years – a decision they made to preserve the Naim note.

As this does not limit us, we have leveraged some technological advances, vastly improving the power filtering on the sensitive input stage and simply opting for higher quality components in other key locations. This has lead to a huge increase in clarity across the full audio range whilst in keeping with the Naim note as much as possible.

With greater resolution, you’ll be able to hear much more in how the instrument was plucked, hit or blown. The benefits are not only contained in the attack phase though as the full envelope of the note can easily be followed through from its initial beginnings, into the long decays at the end. Vocals especially stand out as the singer sounds more individual with their frame and posture becoming more apparent.

These boards can be fitted in most of Naim’s chrome bumper and olive power amps as well as a few of their classic series. They cost £400 for a pair (most amps need two, however, 135s take one in each) and are currently only fitted by us, however will be available for DIY installation. Since we know the thought of modifying the Naim note can be worrying, we are providing a 60 day trial period in which you can request a free refitting of your old boards including carriage and a full refund.

If you’re like to know more about these boards give us a call on 0330 660 0402 or email me directly at mitch@witchhat.co.uk

9 thoughts on “Our New Phoenix Upgrade for Naim Power Amps

  1. David Roberts says:

    If they are are as good as the Avondale boards that you fitted in my 250, then I am sure they will be a great success for you, many of the sound improvements mirror my experience with the Avondale NCC and HCC boards. Good luck with the new range.

  2. Martin Dawson says:

    I’ve known Mark ( Slade ) since he operated out of Tonbridge Kent. I had a 250CB, Snaps and 2 Hi-Caps serviced by him and then the Hi-Caps were upgraded with Avondale ASR units. 
    When he moved to Milton Keynes I bought a pair of the moonlight mono amplifiers which have been used with an Avondale Grad 1 pre amplifier. I then had a problem with the volume pot on the Grad I which Mark was able to replace.

    Incidentally I wonder if there would be an advantage to changing the Avondale boards in the monos to Phoenix?

    All in all a nice gent and a talented engineer.

    Regards,

    Martin

  3. Robbie Inglis says:

    I note that these are described as fitting “and some classic power amps”, can you please state which models.  Thanks Rob

    • Mitch Kite says:

      We’ll release more information on the product page. The only power amps they don’t fit though are the bolt-down 250 and the 250.2. Everything else can be done DIY except the 200 which requires factory fitting.

  4. Iain says:

    I’ve recently had the Phoenix upgrade done to my 135s, Newt boards in my Supercap and the Superlink mod for my NAC 82.   It is a truly stunning combination resulting in greater clarity and detail, a fantastic soundstage, deeper bass and sense of realism. I’m re-evaluating albums I thought I knew and listening to musical genres I’d not thought of before, because this combination of upgrades results in foot-tapping super musical hifi with real emotion.  The notes on the various product pages completely undersell their impact.  

  5. mark says:

    I’m running two 180s in active mode. I gather that would require two pairs, yeah? I have a nac82 and two supercaps. I wonder if this would be my next worthwhile upgrade or whether I’m better saving towards a 52?

    • Mitch Kite says:

      Hi Mark,

      Yes you’d need two pairs of Phoenixes, I personally have active 180s with them in and they sound amazing. For the Supercaps, obviously the upgrade will continue on to your 52 when you get it or you could look at our Superlink upgrade on the 82. When we publish the sales page, there will be some advice on what boards to use as you can get away with only changing two in the one currently powering the 82 and four in the snaxo (HF/LF, L/R).

  6. Clive says:

    Avondale NCC220 vs Witch Hat Phoenix

    My starting point is when my system was Linn Akurate System Hub / Linn Akurate Exaktbox with Katalyst DAC & digital crossover into a pair of Naim Olive 250s driving Naim SBLs with exakt filters created by Neil Hallworth of speakerfilter.com. I have to say that it sounded really good, & much better than when I’d been using the analogue Naim SNAOX crossover powered by a supercap. If you are running an aktiv setup with a SNAXO, you owe it to yourself to hear what Linn’s exakt technology can do – amazing.

    Then about two years ago, I swapped out the standard Naim amplifier boards in my pair Olive 250s for Avondale NCC220 boards. This brought improvements all round in the areas you’d expect. Better grip on the bass lines, more detail, more separation etc while retaining all the characteristics that Naim amps are renowned for.

    Fast forward & I changed the SBLs for a pair of SL2s. I described the upgrade as if SBLs are like your young mate who is larger than life & great fun to be around, the SL2s are the person they’ve matured into. Something a more rounded, not quite so in your face, having bags of authority & still great fun to hang out with.

    Then I had the opportunity to compare Avondale boards to the Witch Hat Phoenix boards. To be able to do a fair comparison and switch between the two, I fitted the Phoenix boards in one of my 250s, and put my system back to passive, using the Exaktbox in pass-through mode. To burn in the new boards, I left the system on 24/7 playing the radio for about a week before doing any serious listening comparison.

    I started off with the amp with the Avondale boards so I could get a feel for how the system sounded passive & then switched to the Phoenix equipped amp. The improvement was immediately apparent. It just felt as though the music had come to life and made the NCC220s, which I’d though a good improvement over the Naim standards, seem a bit pedestrian & lacklustre by comparison. Bass lines were tauter, hi-hats & cymbals shimmered & sparkled, female vocals like Eva Cassidy took on a more breathy naturalness while male vocals like Pete Alderton & John Campbell sounded more gravelly. There was greater separation between individual instruments & performers, but they still sounded like they were performing together, rather than the hifi like dissection you get with some amps. The Phoenix board are a stunning upgrade while leaving your amps still sounding like Naim amps… only much better. Needless to say, I immediately converted my second 250 over & restored my system to Aktiv Exakt operation… OMG!

    If you’ve got standard Naim boards, or Avondale boards, you owe it to yourself to try the Witch Hat Phoenix boards – you will not be disappointed.

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