Current setup : Bowers Wilkins CM6 S2/Naim Atom / Open plan Room L 26 ’ X W 18 ’ X H 10 ’ . NYC apartment building so a subwoofer is out of the question. Speakers are 8 ’ apart and seating is 8 ’ back.
I enjoy the sound from my current speakers , For their size the bass is pretty good and I do not find them bright or fatiguing contrary to popular belief. Vocals are beautiful and they have lots of detail. What I would like to get out of the new speakers is a fuller sound for my room, something akin to a small live performance and a little more bass thrown in for good measure. I cannot place them more than a foot from the back & side walls unfortunately.
I have narrowed down my taste as follows in order of aesthetic preference. They all are similarly priced around 4K USD new Appx 2.5K used/open box which I am not averse too. IS the Atom capable of getting the most out of them and which is most likely to give that warm gooey transcendental experience of a small performance space?
Sonus Faber Sonetto 3
Focal Aria 926
Thank you folks in advance, for your valued suggestions!
Not sure the Atom would drive easily the Sonetto 3.
The Focal should be fine.
The problem is that sound signature from BW, Focal, Sonus Faber, Spendor, Dynaudio, Harbeth, PMC….is very different. The first thing to find is which brand you like the most with Naim.
Then choose a model that an Atom can drive easily.
On the forum, you will find very different tastes.
Hi @glunge. That’s a fair amount of room volume (at least by UK standards) to drive with a little Atom. At the very least you’d need to look for efficient speakers and I wonder if that would rule out the Spendors. You might want to add something like the ultra-efficient Klipsch Heresy to your list, though I confess I have not heard them.
But, but … are you absolutely sure a speaker upgrade is the way to go? I don’t know your local prices and I do wonder if your $4k would fund a trade up from the Atom to Nova and if that might bring you closer to what you are seeking. Just a thought.
Personally, I paired my Atom with an older pair of (heavily modified) Dynaudio 1.3SE’s and found this to be a pretty good match in my medium sized space: the bass lacked a certain degree of control (compared to the NAP250Mk2 + NAC152XS I had prior), and the ultimate headroom was limited as the Dyn’s are rated around 84db; however, the little Atom was able to play pretty loud, and offered a lot more in terms of detail and nuance than a $4000 integrated streamer should.
I also listened to the current JBL l100 with the Atom and was genuinely impressed. The higher sensitivity of the JBL’s seemed to give the Atom a good deal more headroom and made it sound a whole lot bigger than 40 watts, albeit at the expense of some nuance. The JBL’s didn’t give back the same sort of detail, space, etc, that the monitors did, but both were super satisfying for different reasons.
For brands, I’ve really enjoyed the Totem element range with Naim, in particular their Fire monitor; just about any monitor I’ve heard from Dynaudio has sounded really good (their towers have been less pleasing to my ears unless you’re really spending big $); and the Wharfedale Lintons sounded amazingly good with the Atom, tho again, these err more on the side of ‘big & fun’ than ‘accurate & nuanced’.
Overall, if you’ve got a smaller space, decent monitors in the 85-88db range should match up pretty well as it’s got a lot of drive for the rated power; if your filling a larger space, something more like 90db+ will likely be more satisfying as it will start to sound strained with demanding speakers.
Its a little disheartening, Cause i have read endless feedback of the Atom driving all kinds of speakers with ease. So the consensus is that if I want a larger floorstander it has to be one with > 90 sensitivity ?
ironically I did enjoy the Klipsch H IV and believe they are easy to drive but cant get them past the gatekeeper who deems them as ugly large dated speaker boxes. Sadly upgrading to a Nova is out of the question budget wise as I can diffuse the cost of new speakers by selling the old ones.
Thanks , I have heard the JBL l100 and like them but the Klipsch H 4 are definitely more nuanced and offer that live feeling ( albeit a little bass lite ) maybe I need to just rethink the subwoofer thing . HAve you had a listen to the focal 926 that Naim paris with the atom?
Here’s a slightly left field idea that might open up some more possibilities - or not…
Trade in the Atom for an Atom HE, and look out for a pair of active speakers. That way you should ensure that your replacement speakers have an amp that can drive them well, as it will be built for the job. Naim claim that the HE has a slightly better preamp than the regular Atom, so maybe a bit of an upgrade there, plus you get a quality headphone amp thrown in if you want it.
As for which active speakers you might choose, I’m not sure what is available to you in the US but maybe something you could investigate.
Certainly anyone writing “all kinds of speakers with ease” was taking a bit of license because there are some speakers it definitely can’t drive.
Even within reason, there are several factors. Combining a rather large-ish room like yours with insensitive speakers and then listening at high volume won’t be satisfying. The same speakers in a smaller room or at lower levels might be fine.
The Sonetto has 89 dB sensitivity, which is middle of the road, but it has 4 ohms nominal impedance (and I don’t know if it drops much lower in practice), and its recommended amp power starts at 50 W, so with the Atom you are clearly at its lower end. Something has to give at some point. Nevertheless it may be just fine if you don’t drive it very hard - but one can’t be entirely sure without trying. Also keep in mind that expectations on this forum tend to be on the high side, so one person’s “mullet” might be just fine for you.
Like frenchrooster said, the characters of the speakers on your list are very different and in the end the room and your personal taste will be decisive
Hi Glunge, I feel @Suedkiez gave you already a detailed response. In you go in the search part of the forum, you will find a lot of threads on speakers with Atom. So you will have a better idea on which speakers can be driven comfortably with an Atom.
But then you have to listen at dealers places, it’s really a matter of taste.
I haven’t heard the 926 with the Atom, but I did have a few mins listening to the Uniti Star with the Kanta 2, and that combo was absolutely superb (no surprise). Here in Canada there is a bit of a ‘focal tax’, so the competition usually wins in terms of $ for performance.
So I just spent a few hours pouring over the old speaker/atom threads and I think I finally get the general idea and consensus . The Electrics matter more than the speaker and the power and source is what affects the end outcome more than the speakers itself.
And while th atom is good enough to make sound out of any given box … it can truly only shine within the given parameters of what it can control.
So if I really want new speakers to up my game , it will have to be something super efficient but iam better of upgrading the electrics first.
So for now I have decided to keep what i have , maybe get a subwoofer and test the limits of my neighbors or spring for the Klipsch Heresy 4. Really not feeling those Focal Aria’s.
Thank you all for your graceful responses despite having to answer this same crap over and over again.
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