This player definitely deserves it's almost legendary status. First top model CD from Naim, the British legend of transistor amplification. Two box player with separate power supply. The main unit is built around Philips parts: CDM 4/25 mechanism hung on a spring suspension and electronic PCB with Philips parts, including a superb DAC TDA1541A S1 Single Crown.
NAIM workede almost exclusively with this chip untill it was ceased by Philips. Then NAIM moved to use the Burr Brown 1702 and 1404. Not bad choice either.
I would go as far as saying, that NAIM used the TDA in BEST possible way of application. Untill now I havent seen a better job done on this DAC chip.
Having said that - the NAIP output stages are so horrible, that they destroy all the good quality of the digital section. So you have a Porsche Turbo with permanently applied handbrake. What a shame !!!!!!!

Construction is from circa 1989 and it uses 4 op-amps in the output stage. It is a non conventional two-box approach, where the bottom box contains raw power supply. Yes, the CD player which consumes soething like 10 watts of  power has a 15 kilograms of - 500 VA power supply, bigger than most amplifiers have.
Is it an overkill? Sure. Is it marketing? Sure. Does that make sense? It does not hurt. Does it improve sound? MArginally perhaps. Where this machine excells constructionwise is the PCB layout. The grounding, the regulation, the capacitors, the layout, - everything is from the best league, head and shoulders above the Philips / Marantz machines of that time.

This CDP sound is very dynamic, rhytmical, natural sounding. I love it both before and even more - after lampization.
Because this player is so legendary we decided to use external lampizator without (almost) any tweaking of the original player. Mod is reversible.

How informative dislpay! Whoaa! (very funny) But at least it is VISIBLE from a distance, unlike most japanese displays made for people who sit 1 m from their stereo system.

The naim, lampized, driving the ARG mono OTL amplifiers (balanced but running SE).

The speakers are - you guessed right - my own Project7. Vifa plus scanspeak.

Squeezing too many parts in a too-small   of a box.

Lampizator ready to go.

A cool implementation of standard Philips CDM4/25 mechanism. (hard to get this sucker) I found a donor - a cheap Philips CDP-614 but your 614 may have a different mechanism - nothing is guaranteed at Philips.

Here - in top-loader form - suspended on 3 springs. Very funny.
Note the mini magnetic puck. Loose it - and you are done.

Naim famous pushbuttons - the elevator cabin style. Very funny.

Back-lit naim logo. Very narcistic (and funny)

The green PCB is screaming "NAIM job !!!". I don't know any other maker so fanatical about star grounding, tantalum caps and regulation by LM317.

(did I tell you that I consider the whole NAIM system - amps, preamp and speakers - to be the worst sound in entire high-end universe ?!?)
I think that using tantalum caps is a decisive factor in creation of NAIM house sound.

BUT - back to the goodies:
Check out - 13 voltage regulators (lying three-legged squares) each one - high end Linear Technologies LM317 - best of the best.
All caps are ultra sophisticated tantalum (orange heads)
Opamps - the best of the best at that time - OP42
The caps around DAC - all kosher MKP's
All small filtering caps - polystyrenes (best of the best)
The whole PCB is spring suspended (as well as the mechanism) - very funny.

The only logical upgrade would be the clock - there is a standard one although a real Philips - not a noname.
We could fix here a superclock.

After one year I really feel sorry - I did not perform the NOS conversion. It really allows this player to improve A GREAT DEAL ! It should be obbligatory even without any other tweaking or lampization. Just say one - two - three and cut 3 tracks on the PCB.

Another idea for "upgrading the non-upgradable" - to replace the 100 nF caps (silver blocks in 2 rows) with 470 nF MKP type.

The underside of the beast. The PRE-Autocad era PCB.

In the centre - DAC legs solder points. Note the legs 6 and 25 - have the signal traces going inside the solder rectangle of the legs  from the outputs of the DAC to the far left - to analog stage. Thats what we must cut. (red marks)


First, I did the lampization with I/U conversion by using first opamp (a half chip). The sound improved a lot and the job of hooking-up was very quick. The PCB is so neat it is easy to find what is what.

After one year - with more hours spent inside CD players on my clock - I took this baby for a second spin. This time - I/U by a resistor.

Whhhooooaa. My friends. Thats it. The NAIM kicked ass of all other players and equalized with the Grundig 9009. Who knows - bass is even better from the Naim. Oh my goodness, I was blown away.
I cut the tracks of the PCB leading from legs 6 and 25 of the dac, soldered resistors to ground (60 Ohm) and took the signal to lampizator by (this time - convenient  !) DIN plug and cable.
THis is high end  at its best.
Am I too pikcy? What BUT !?
The BUT means that for the NAIM you pay pay pay. 1000 Euros for a 20 year old machine as a minimum, or even more. This machine usually sells for 2000 GBP. There are 5 other NAIM players like for example the CD3 that have same digital guts and even better mechanism CDM9. But also hard to get cheaply.

And basically it is nothing more than a Philips for 50 Euro. With a 10 Euro tweaking and cap tuning - we can get 95% of NAIM sound from any cheapest Philips or Marantz 40. Even from Philips 304 Mk2. So the recommendation is conditional - that you know what you are buying.

By coincident I stumbled upon a oner box variant of this player called CDI. It is a kind of squeezed in CDS-1. I did not lampize it but nevertheless I post the photos for the curious ones.

And now - my beloved bambino NAIM: the flattest CD on earth with sound from category ZERO after lampization.
 Ladies and gentlemen - here comes CD3 !!!  GET IT IF YOU CAN !!!

naim CD3
On the picture you can see the inside of CD3. The TDA has no crown, but who cares. The mechanism is a FANTASTIC CDM9. It is so simple and good that I recommend it very much. Genius at work !
The small transformer and the tube is from me.
With just one Siemens ECC801S it sounds so much better than the stock player that I can not tell you. Lampization thrashes the NAIM 4-opamp per channel analog stage. Even if the op-amps are the best, and application is the best, it looses to the tube in every imaginable department.
Add to this the NOS cut and there you have a dream player. Definitely in my top 5 worldwide.

naim CD3

The yellow wire are the NOS conversion and the trace cuts are marked red.