Naim vs McIntosh – Which Brand Is Better?

Norvan Martin
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McIntosh and Devialet are two renowned and well respected brands in the audio industry that produces high quality speakers, headphones, soundbars, subwoofer, amplifiers and receivers. 

In this article, we will cover a general overview of both brands, looking specifically at sound quality, durability, price and so on. Of course, each brand has different devices at different price points, however, we will compare them as closely as we can.

Naim is a high-end audio brand known for its premium-priced home theater systems and audio equipment, while McIntosh is a high-end audio brand known for its luxurious and expensive audio equipment.

Naim vs McIntosh Comparison Table

CriteriaNaimMcIntosh
Brand ReputationRenowned for high-end audio systems, especially in the streaming and amplification domain.Iconic brand with a long history, known for high-performance audio equipment.
Sound QualityEmphasis on musicality and detail, often associated with a signature sound.Known for delivering rich, full-bodied sound with a focus on accuracy.
Build Quality/DesignCrafted with precision engineering, sleek design, and high-quality materials.Recognizable for the classic "McIntosh Blue" aesthetic and robust construction.
Product RangeOffers a range of audio products, including streaming systems and amplifiers.Specializes in high-end amplifiers, preamps, and audio source components.
PricingPositioned in the higher price range, reflecting premium quality and performance.Falls into the high-end price category, known for investment-grade audio equipment.
FeaturesIncorporates advanced streaming and connectivity features in addition to audio performance.Known for robust construction, analog-centric designs, and timeless aesthetic.

Before we continue, you can check out similar comparisons in the series:

Pros and Cons of McIntosh:

  • Pros: Known for producing high-quality audio components, including amplifiers, receivers, and CD players. Many of their products are well-regarded for their sound quality and build quality.
  • Cons: Some of their products can be expensive.

Pros and Cons of Naim:

Naim is a well-respected brand in the audio industry, known for producing high-quality home audio products such as amplifiers, receivers, and speakers. Here are some pros and cons of Naim products:

Pros:

  • Known for producing high-quality home audio products with excellent sound quality and build quality.
  • Strong reputation in the audio industry.
  • Offers a wide range of products to choose from.

Cons:

  • Some products may be on the expensive side.
  • May not have as wide of a product range as some other brands.

Quick History

Devialet Quick History

McIntosh group is an audio equipment manufacturing company that was founded in America by Frank McIntosh in 1949.

Devialet logo

Since the company’s inception over 76 years ago, it has recorded tremendous success in the production of audio equipment such as amplifiers, home theatres, speakers, car stereos, and other audio equipment.

Naim Quick History

Naim was founded by Julian Vereker in 1973. Vereker was a racing car driver, entrepreneur, and self-taught engineer with a deep passion for music. He spent his spare time listening to and recording his friends playing live in the 1960s.

Naim logo

His disappointment with the sound of professional recording equipment at the time led him to design his power amplifier. The company’s headquarters is based in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Sound Quality

Devialet Sound Quality

In a fair judgment of Mcintosh audio output, they are best described as having a warm sound and soft bass delivery.

Devialet Gold Phantom Speaker

Most McIntosh amplifiers, such as the MC312 stereo power amplifier, are known for their delivery of low distortion sound. However, the audio products have a slightly above-average sound quality and linearity of response.

Naim Sound Quality

Naim devices are a good option for those who want uncompromising sound quality devices. They give you the exact sound as it was recorded, either good or bad.

This type of original recording reproduction is suitable for vinyl record players and turntables. They have a balanced sound at every volume, while the bass hits hard and has a lot of elasticity.

Features

Devialet Features

For a McIntosh device such as the MX123 AV Processor, its primary feature includes an impressive list of audio formats support, including Dolby Atmos, MPEG-H audio, Auro-3D, 360 Reality Audio, and a host of other formats. Other interesting features that come with this kind of device include:

  • Improved gaming experience with the Quick Frame Transport feature.
  • Enhanced HDMI for improved video quality.
  • Multiple digital audio inputs.
  • Support for streaming platforms such as Airplay, Spotify, and mobile device streaming over Bluetooth.

Naim Features

Naim possesses many beneficial features which include the following:

  • Multiroom and high-resolution audio support
  • Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Chromecast built-in
  • Touch Controls
  • Naim App for Android and iOS
  • Bluetooth and Ethernet Connectivity
  • HDMI ARC, Optical, USB, digital and analog Inputs
  • Alarm clock (in some devices)

Build Quality

Devialet Build Quality

Mcintosh audio products are designed with stamped aluminium for a solid build that is made to last. 

Mcintosh Amps

This includes fibreglass in some McIntosh loudspeakers for the ability to deliver great acoustic sound and the ability to retain its quality over a long period.

However, most McIntosh devices do not boast of sleek designs and appear mostly too boxy or with a vintage look.

Naim Build Quality

Naim devices have a unique styling and luxurious build quality. For example, the Naim Mu-So speaker is built with a remarkably wooden cabinet in a layer of anodized aluminum with an elegant brushed finish.

Naim mu-so QB V2

There is a mirrored acrylic base light at one end to highlight the Naim logo, with an extruded heatsink that keeps it cool.

Ease of Use

Devialetc Ease Of Use

Some Mcintosh devices, such as the MCD12000 CD player have a lot of functional buttons that make them pretty easy to operate without a remote control.

For another example, the McIntosh Speaker RS150 is a portable speaker with an excellent digital display and comes with support for most of the streaming platforms that allow you to set up a playlist and enjoy your music anytime through a wireless connection.

Naim Ease Of Use

There are many easy ways to control Naim devices at your fingertip. You can control them using the remote, the Naim smartphone app, or their stylish touchscreen display. There’s also a video and a manual to help you whenever you have difficulties installing or using the devices.

Cost

McIntosh Cost

McIntosh products range from $1,200 to $130,000. However, by category of the products, here are some of the price ranges.

  • Power amp: from $4,000 (MC830) to around $43,000 (MC2KW)
  • AV Processor: from $5,000 (MX100) to around $15,500 (MX170)
  • Integrated systems: from $1,200 (RS150) to around $6,500 (MXA80)
  • Loudspeakers: from $2,000 (XR50) to around $130,000 (XRT2.1)

Naim Cost

Naim devices seem a little bit expensive for the kind of devices they produce. Below is the price range for different devices produced by Naim:

  • Preamplifiers: $2000 – $5000
  • Amplifiers: $1500 – $6000
  • Speakers: $1000 – $3000
  • Digital Audio devices: $500 – $1500

Space Requirements

McIntosh Space Requirements

The large, boxy design of most Mcintosh designs makes them considerably space-demanding. Using a McIntosh device such as the Reference Home theater system would require a large room setting to accommodate the large boxy system and 7 speaker arrangement.

Naim Space Requirements

Some Niam devices consume a lot of space due to their shape and size, while some do not. An example is the Naim compact multi-source music player with a 10.5 x 9.7 x 3.8 inches and weighing 15.43 pounds. It is advised to consider the available space before getting any product.

Remote Controls

McIntosh Remote Controls

McIntosh remotes are mostly universal for McIntosh devices, i.e., they can be used with a large array of devices. The HR085 remote control comes with most McIntosh devices, and interestingly, it can also command from 3 other non-McIntosh components.

Naim Remote Controls

Naim only has a remote control for a few devices, though they produce remote controls that work perfectly for more than one device. Naim mobile app can also be used to control some of their devices. The remote control works in a range of 10 meters to 15 meters.

Power Range

McIntosh Power Range

Typically, a Mcintosh single-channel solid-state amplifier, such as the MC611  has a power range of 400 watts to 600 watts. However, a floor-standing loudspeaker with a Tri-amp such as XRT1.1K can have a power range of up to 1200 watts.

Whereas, a McIntosh bookshelf speaker such as the XR50 has a power range of 75 watts to 300 watts.

Naim Power Range

Naim devices are power-saving, i.e. they use less power consumption. They have an average power range of 100W to 200W. Most Naim amplifiers produce power of 70W per channel into 8 ohms.

Frequency Response

McIntosh Frequency Response

The Mcintosh XR100 floor standing speaker has a frequency range of 30Hz to 45kHz which is common to most Mcintosh speakers. In most Mcintosh AV receivers, the frequency range is 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

Naim Frequency Response

Naim frequency responses are not so wide and generally range from 20Hz to 20kHz. Though the frequency response of Naim devices varies. Like the Naim mu-so QB V2 with a wider range frequency response from 24Hz to 48kHz.

Conclusion

McIntosh products are quite expensive but deliver a satisfying warm sound and soft bass. They might not be easy to use because most of their devices lack remote control. However, they possess amazing features, justifying the cost of their devices.

Naim devices have a beautiful design, extensive features, and outstanding sound quality. Naim is one of the best audio devices you may get out there, especially if you like good looks. It may be a bit costly when compared with some other audio devices, but its stunning design and performance easily justify the hefty price tag.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin