Am I compromising too much…?

I am new to Hi-Fi set up :see_no_evil:

I will try to ask my questions as concisely as possible FIRST & then out myself as a total newbie by my follow up ‘context’.

Will a Uniti Atom have any issues running B&W 705 Sig. (I Will be using low to med volumes & wish to maintain optimum fidelity)?

Am I correct in assuming that the Uniti Atom will NOT suffice as a headphone amp for my B&W P9’s?

How good is the DAC in the Uniti Atom with regard to plugging a Turntable into in it & would I need a Pre-Amp?

So………

To be totally honest I am going down the ‘All-In-One’ route by looking at the Uniti Atom because I just do not have the decades of experience required to use multiple separate’s & get it ‘right’.

Initially I wanted to use a Cambridge Audio CXA81 & use the A&B to function to the one pair of 705’s, but my concern here is that the forward highs combined with the CXA81 may be overkill & have read that the Uniti Atom will round of much ‘harshness’. (I really love detail & clarity hence my love of B&W)

I have not yet set the system up & am currently only using my old Zeppelin’s at home.

For dedicated listening I use my P9 Headphones with the Dragonfly Cobalt DAC into the Apple camera adapter into my iPhone & stream from Tidal. For on the move I can do the same or use my PX7’s.

Basically I have tried to optimise my listening on my headphones & am now tasked with the ‘Teeth Pulling’ of trying to obtain the same with a ‘Home System’ :woozy_face:

I would love to be able to stretch to the Nova, but with a ‘Cost Of Living Crisis’ looming I just can not keep ‘upping the budget’ everyone I see a better toy lol.

I keep reminding myself to try to keep everything as clean as possible, hence Stream Tidal straight into Integrated Streamer/Amp combo & straight to speakers (using app as ‘remote control only’ & no Bluetooth/Wifi).

Am I compromising too much & in reality with a £5,500 budget should stick to separate’s? I really don’t think I have the knowledge for that, hence my picking your brains here!!!

Sorry for the waffling…….

Kr,

Stu.

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A separates system needs carefully selected components, but it’s not really that complicated and any competent dealer should be able to do this, and ensure that they are properly set up in your home. Naim have traditionally expected their dealers to do this as part of the service. Sadly there seem to be an increasing number of ‘box shifters’ who are unwilling or unable to do this, and should be avoided.

Once a separates system has been set up it is no more difficult to use than an all-in-one Uniti.

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With your suggested budget I would be investigating a previously owned supernait 2 or a sn3 if you want to run a turntable. Attach a streamer such as the Node 2 and you will have all the music you want, and a platform to upgrade from if you should decide in the future that this hobby become the obsession it does for many of us.

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Hello, Stu, you will get any amount of advice on this site, which I’m sure will be valuable in helping to steer you in the right direction.

But you owe it to yourself to find a decent dealer, where you can hear for yourself what people are talking about here.

You probably have an idea of your budget for the new system and whether you expect to be listening mainly to LPs or CDs, so take some of whichever you prefer (and which you know well) along with you to the dealer.

Then let your ears do the deciding.

Good luck! It should be a very enjoyable experience.

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Hi Stu, if you’re a keen headphone user, yet another option you might want to consider is an Atom HE and a pair of active speakers. You should be able to do that well within your budget. But I agree strongly with the advice to find a good dealer, do some auditioning and choose what appeals to you (and not this forum or the dealer).

Roger

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Hi Stu , you’ve got some good ideas . As others have said you need to see a good dealer

You would need a phono pre-amp aka a phono stage. If vinyl is going to be an occasional source you can get turntables that will incorporate a phono stage .

My reading is the B& W 700 are about to be revamped as dealers like Peter Tyson or Audio T were selling them heavily discounted .

I would also leave money for speaker cables and stands

Hope you don’t get too many varying replies

Ian

Assuming you don’t already have the B&Ws (which I’ve never heard), conventionally you’d probably be better off stretching to separates (say a Supernait with a streamer) or the Nova with a pair of cheaper speakers.

There are so many ways you could spend your budget, but listening to various combinations is the most useful thing you can do to help you decide.

The Uniti series digitise all the analogue inputs (to allow for multi room playback with other networked devices). Again, I’m unsure if you have a turntable yet, but some budget ones might have built in phono stages, but most would require a separate phono stage matched for the type of cartridge used and the output for that would go to an analogue input.

Possibly difficult to achieve the ideal for all facets here - will you be listening to headphones more than speakers? Unless you’re sitting quite close to the playback device you might need an extension cord to sit comfortably listening to headphones many feet away from the Atom or whatever.

The key comment is ‘don’t buy stuff without hearing it’, as other say.

You can tell a dealer that you are new to this, and want to hear one or two options, but that it is all early-stage for now. A decent dealer will see you as a good long-term prospect, so should not need to try selling you everything on day 1. My suggestion would be to have a listen to as many plausible option as you can at one or two dealers, then go away and have a ponder (and only then looking at whether one or more things can come from eBay).

FWIW, I have an Atom and not-undemanding speakers in my bedroom.It’s visually and sonically excellent and elegant, also flexible and ultra-easy to use. However, it is not cheap - even on eBay - and the 705s are IIRC pretty revealing. A Naim Nova might well be a more ideal one-box choice - £4800 new but a good deal less on eBay.

If space is not an issue, I’d suggest spending the money on (mostly older, mostly Naim) separates for more sound quality per £ but very much the same character. As mentioned above, a Nait or Supernait from eBay plus a Node 2 would be better VFM than a new Atom, though not as pretty or tidy.

That approach wouldn’t spend all your budget. Do I understand correctly that you have the B&Ws already? If yes, isn’t a Nova inside your quoted budget? If no, an older Nova might be an option.

On the other hand, both Atoms and Novas will take signal from a turntable and convert to digital before converting back to play, as @Alley_Cat says - probably not ideal if you want a TT as a serious source.

A Naim Supernait 2 would cost close to £2K - SN3s are better but more like £3K. A Naim ND5 XS2 streamer on eBay costs about £2K. That sort of combination should be noticeably better than a Nova with your speakers and considerably further ahead of an Atom.

If it were me buying for my living room, I’d buy everything from eBay, starting with SN2 + ND5 XS2. That leaves enough cash for Naim A5 speaker cable (unless yours are already good and over 3.5M long, in which case keep them), plus a Rega Planar 6 turntable and a Rega Aria phono stage for the turntable. Standard Naim interconnect cables should be just what you need. Alternatively, get SN3 (with an adequate built-in phono stage) and you won’t need the Aria.

Other makes are available. More important, the chances that what is ideal for me is also what is ideal for you are not great, so please don’t skimp on listening first.

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There is an SN3 at 2400 pounds on another popular forum if one wanted to look.
That, a node 2 and a headphone amp would be my starting point.

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Thanks Ian!

Yes, I had the Cambridge Audio SOLO Phono Stage in mind for this as I had read some good reviews.

The problem I am finding with auditioning is constantly being pushed in a direction the Outlet has either the ‘stock’ of or the greatest ‘Mark-Up’ on!

I have a Supplier not too far from me & although they are really personable I found myself auditioning an inferior B&W speaker with a Roksan amp & then being pushed toward a £5,000 headphone amp lol. I walked out with a Dragonfly Cobalt (amazingly happy with) but none the wiser with regard to the system!

Thank you for your suggestions, I will go hunting to find suppliers that hold the stick I am interested in, it’s so important to get right this & am more than happy to spend time travelling to audition!!!

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Thank you Graham,

Yes, I am going to focus on travelling around a bit to find a supplier that holds the stick I am interested in rather than be restricted to their ‘pushed products’.

As Ian mentioned (I forgot to refer to this when replying to Ian)…. B&W are about to announce an upgrade to the 700 series so I am a little tentative to pull the trigger, but……. How long will the wait be :man_shrugging: I hear it is likely to be this Autumn so……

Thanks for the reply!

Thanks Roger!

I have thought about this! I was considering the Atom Headphone amp & also going for the B&W Formation Duo. Of course this then led me down the path of increasing my budget yet possibly compromising on the speaker. Although I gather the Duo is simply OUTSTANDING.

My ‘only’ reason for ‘not’ going the Duo route is the fact that there is not the ability to ever use Duo as a passive speaker & therefore when the internal electronics are superseded I am left with an expensive pair of speakers that can not be enhanced by upgrading a separate.

But it is certainly an interesting option. Although I also expect the Duo to also have an upgrade soon, maybe including more adaptability!

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Thank you all very much!!! The only reason I haven’t replied to some posts is that I have jotted down the info therin & am reading around to gather thoughts!!!

What a whirlwind.

It would be more straightforward to get an orchestra & live bands to visit occasionally!

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There was one suggestion I really liked (and it wasn’t mine) and it’s Peak Man 's


These are Acoustic Energy , they are active speakers, which means they have built in amplification . It also means that you can use an Atom HE instead and that will handle just about any headphones .

Total cost for those two would be well within your budget , adding speaker stands would take it just over £4,000 leaving some money for a Rega or Project turntable with phono stage

As Nick says , don’t buy without hearing

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Buying separates doesn’t require decades of knowledge to know what to put together.
Indeed, I would argue that part of the fun is just jumping in and throwing anything together - so long as you can locate a resource that only has quality items and no turkeys.

You seem to have set your mind on a pair of speakers. It is very important to remember that it is a speaker – room interaction that you listen to. The same speakers can sound so different in different rooms in one house and certainly in different houses – this is the first thing you need to do - listen to some speaker / source products at dealers and try them at home in your listening environment. It is only then that you will know whether the speaker is for you or not –

I think the all in one atom is an excellent product and I would try it with speakers in various dealerships and then have the home demo on the ones that do you think are best.

just browse the forum for so many threads on interconnects and various techniques like burndy distressing for separates and be thankful that Naim make an all in one product!

.sjb

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You mentioned Roksan , they make a turntable with a built in phono stage , so that would give you speakers, Atom and turntable for just under the budget you mentioned

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You don’t need decades of experience to boy separates, in fact it’s dead easy. It all depends what you want.

I’d be wary of going to get ‘optimum fidelity’ from the B&Ws with an Atom, excellent as the Atom is. Why have you decided on the B&Ws? If you really want them I’d be getting a Nova. Two minutes on eBay will find you a brand new and fully warranted Nova for £3,699. Another two minutes with Mr Google will find the speakers for £1,900. That’s £99 over budget and of course you’ll need speaker stands and cables.

The most important thing is that you try your chosen speakers at home. They can sound totally different at home compared to in the shop. £5,500 is an awful lot of money and you need to be absolutely sure that they will work for you. A speaker like the B&W with its rear port needs to be well away from the walls, so do make sure you can accommodate this.

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Lots of good advice on here, as usual. My only question is to the forum, advising people listen to prospective purchases, and also suggesting buying off eBay or searching for the best internet deal, implies using a dealer to work out what you want, and then not putting money their way. Do people suggest newcomers actually do this?

I think it’s either take a punt on known excellent kit, buy under the assumption that you might have to sell it on if it doesn’t suit, repeat until satisfied (hah!!!) Or go to a dealer who stocks a good set of new and used options, and accept a cut of your budget will go their way.

@Stu1 does 5k have to buy the speakers as well as the amp and streamer? Stands and cables?

I might “settle” for a XS amp, either NAIT XS3 with built in phono, or original NAIT XS, or XS2, and budget for a nice outboard phono stage. Add a ND5 XS2, and your speakers, include some stands and cables, and possibly a NAS if you download lots of music, and you’ll have a full starter system. You can happily stick there, for years. Or build on it. You could max out amp, streamer and speakers, and then find you’re having to spend more still to sit it all on something suitable

You could likely audition the above at a Naim dealer, one who stocks your speakers. I’m biased, but Graham Slee has a scheme you can audition their phono stages at home, so you could do that last, once you have the rest of it sorted.

Good luck whatever you decide, from your responses it sounds like you’re going to have fun listening to some great gear!

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That’s a really good suggestion, and made me think, TT, Atom and speakers is a much simpler and easier to accommodate system than XS2, phono stage, ND5 XS2, TT. I guess the OP needs to listen and see if the “hassle” of separates is worth it.

A forum member also has that Roksan Atessa (I think that’s the one?) TT, and can likely feedback what they think of it.

I think I just realised I’m old. In my head a stereo is a separates system and rack. That never really was the case, with receivers etc. and certainly isn’t now with the uniti range. Good time to be starting from scratch :smiley:

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