“We can service or repair just about anything we’ve ever made”, say the Naim Service Department at the HQ in Salisbury, now settled into its new location after an expansion and refurbishment last year.
Nick Ray runs the Service Department with good-natured efficiency: he controls the flow of equipment in and out, whether it’s there for repair, routine servicing or upgrades. Nick is conscious to ensure that the products that come in spend as little time as possible away from their owner, to cover the work required and the extensive testing that follows to ensure your equipment is returned in pristine condition and performing at its best. The objective of the team is to identify ways in which we can reduce the turnaround from the time we schedule the receipt of a unit, to getting it back to the customer.
With very few exceptions – such as the DVD5, for which transport mechanisms are no longer available – just about any product from the past 40+ years of Naim production can be serviced and returned to as-new condition: looking at the equipment waiting to be tested, we pull out a NAP 110, dating back to sometime in the early 1980s. It may look a bit worse for wear on the outside, but inside it is as-new: the Service Department engineers have done a great job of completely rebuilding this classic power amplifier, restoring someone’s treasured possession to better than new performance.
How often should I service my Naim product? This is a question often asked, and the Service Department recommendations are as follows: for the Chrome bumper (circa 1975 to 1989) and Olive (circa 1989 – 2000) range products, we recommend every 8 – 10 years and for the newer black products (2000 – present), every 12 – 15 years.
Then, as is the case with everything passing through the Service Department, the product will be subjected to a thorough electric soak-test to ensure everything is working as it should, plus of course a listening test – the sound, after all, is what any Naim product is all about. Products are handled with extreme care: look around and you won’t see any of the familiar Naim fascias, whether they’re olive, chrome bumper or the latest triptych design: black plastic protective covers are placed over the front panels to ensure the cosmetic aspects of the equipment are handled with as much care as the components within.
Staring into the complexity of a NAP 500, sitting on a workbench with its ‘gullwing doors’ open and waiting for attention, Electronics Design Director Steve Sells explains that disassembly of so complex a product is quite time-consuming. Not only do those doors have to be opened, but a similar arrangement in the chassis also opens up, and then the rear panel needs to be removed before the amp modules can be removed. We asked him how much thought goes into servicing when it comes to the design of Naim’s products, to which he says that this is very much part of the next stage after the basic design has been established: “Once we’ve got something sounding right, we then have to work out that a) it’s possible to manufacture it and b) that it will be as easy as possible to service should that be required.”
So why the need for an expanded Service Department? It’s not that the modern products need more servicing: rather the booming sales at Naim, not to mention the launch of high-volume products such as the Uniti range, means there are simply more products out there. Add to that the many thousands of pieces of Naim equipment in use for several decades, and it is clear there’s increasing demand for servicing to keep those products performing at their best.
After all, even the first NaimUniti systems are now seven years old, original examples of the CD555 will have been spinning discs for a decade, and the first NAP 250s could have been in use for over 40 years. That even products so old can be restored to ‘as new’ condition – not to mention being improved to sound better than was ever imagined when first they were designed – is part of the appeal of a Naim system, making it a musical investment for life.
But of course things do go wrong, especially with equipment used hard over many years – so how do you ensure you get your system working again as soon as possible, whether you need something repaired or upgraded?
Nick explains that the first port of call should always be your local Naim retailer or distributor: in order to ensure the minimal time in servicing, repairs or upgrades need to be pre-booked – you can’t just send your equipment straight back to the factory unannounced. In some cases, retailers may be able to carry out minor repairs in-house but, when something does need to go back to Salisbury for servicing, the Service Department will issue the required documentation to the retailer or distributor to get the product sent to Salisbury. Not only does this enable the work required to be ‘booked in’ for a time-slot in the service department – ensuring that, for example, a power amplifier requiring the latest DR upgrade is out of your system for as short a time as possible – but also means that every piece of equipment can be tracked through the system from ‘Goods Received’ to its return.