Apple AirPlay® 2 for UnitiLite?

I appreciate that we old timers will have to wait in line, but will Apple AirPlay® 2 be made available for the UnitiLite in due course?


I really think there is no chance…


The old Naim streamers never had AirPlay 1, and getting Apple certification takes quite a lot of effort. If you really want it, you’ll need to use an AirPort Express, or splash out on a new Uniti.

Thank you for your answers. They do, however, I believe, present a very contemporary challenge to Naim. To their credit, Naim have committed to the sustainability of their hi-fi but, in this post Greta Thunberg age, all our expectations need to be raised. Getting Apple certification might take quite a lot of effort, but that’s because Apple require things to be nailed down, and that is certainly not beyond the ability of Naim’s engineers. My UnitiLite was, I think, one of the last production models of that range. There can be no logical justification for it becoming obsolete in a world where Re-use, Re-cycle and efficient use of materials will increasingly move from desirable to essential - and where great companies like Naim can prove themselves to be truly future proof.

It’s not just effort. It’s very expensive and would consume engineering resource that would otherwise work on improving current and planned products. There may be hardware requirements for Airplay 2 that the legacy streamers couldn’t meet, although I don’t know whether that is the case. The reason it took so long to get AirPlay 2 into the new products wasn’t that Naim didn’t get round to working on it!

I think realistically that we won’t see any development at all for UQ 2, Uniti 2, Unitilite or SuperUniti, (or NDS, NDX, ND5 XS, NAC N-272) but I hope and expect that Naim will continue to fix any problems that may arise in handling the existing services (Spotify, Tidal, BBC HLS), in so far as they can given the hardware limitations of the units.



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Without knowing the details of the “old Uniti streaming platform”:
Airplay 2 roughly transmits the same amount and quality of data across the network like Airplay 1. However, it uses much larger buffers on the receiving side. This needs significant larger amounts of memory (typically RAM) on the receiving side.
Airplay 1 buffered 2 seconds. That’s about some 350 kByte of stereo 16 bit 44100 Hz signals.
Airplay 2 can buffer “complete songs”. Giving 5 minutes, this is 150 times the amount of data, e.g. about 50 MByte in this case.

(That amount of memory is a lough for modern smartphones and computers; and to modern WiFi; so it’s more (energy) efficient to wake up seldom, transmit the data fast, and put the sender back to sleep. The original Airplay 1 assumes the sender must be effectively constantly sending data at a slow rate.
Otherwise Airplay 2 has very little change/advantage on Airplay 1; but mostly this change allows an iOS device to streams to multiple targets at the same time. iTunes on macOS could do that all along with Airplay 1.)

So clearly, many “embedded” devices running Airplay 1 may be out of resources to adapt to Airplay 2.
I believe, the reason Apple could fit Airplay 2 on the AirPort-Express (from circa 2013) was, that those boxes were full router and print server devices. So all the needed buffer memory was already present.
If a device was dimensioned at the time for LAN streaming, it would not have considered such a massive HW over dimensioning.

Otherwise I’m with davidhendon:
Making sure the features the product was sold with for a long time, and adding what’s reasonable is what you should be able to expect. And that’s sadly far more than you get from many cheap devices these days - because sometimes even “keeping it working” requires investment of work. (E.g. to fix security issues, adapt libraries and/or APIs for online/cloud/streaming services, …)
Adding completely new stuff to old platforms can only be done, if the original HW platform already caters for this. With luck, the new Unitis have enough power to digest any stereo-audio “signals” in whatever format. But looking at upcoming “3D-audio-formats”, these will never be possible to fit into a clear stereo-only design.

So I recommend to always use products, which use as many open/standardized/widely used protocols as possible (or backed by at least 1 “internet giant” company) - then the chance is, that they will interact with “new stuff” also in 5, 10, or even 15 years.
(Like any computer can still view/play any PDF/JPG/WAV/MP3 from 2000 or earlier.)
One reason why I chose Naim (on new Uniti): it’s supporting UPnP, Airplay, standard internet radio, and Chromecast. Plus plain analogue and digital inputs (where other streamers could be connected) and “USB drives” plus Bluetooth.
All the streaming services can be gone any day (in theory), if a company gets bought, gets bankrupt, or decides it can earn more money in other ways.

Well there is the first hardware problem with the old streamers. The new platform has a 50 MB buffer but the old streamers are much smaller than that.

Also I think I recall hearing that Apple certification requires a volume control to be included in the unit, which is presumably ok for the old Unitis but the old ND streamers didn’t have volume controls. There may well be other such details.



David, thank you. I stand amazed in the presence of your commitment to the status quo.

Sorry, but I think your expectations are unrealistic. There’s no way it would be economically viable for Naim to redesign the old streamers, and provide hardware and software upgrades for them, just to give them AirPlay, which is not going to match the sound quality that a Naim streamer is capable of anyway, so what’s the point. It doesn’t make them obsolete, they still do what they were designed to do, which is stream over a network using UPnP.

I’m just realistic. I could easily say “Oh yeah I believe Naim will soon design a new board for all the old streamers and rewrite the firmware.” But would that be more helpful of me or make you any happier?



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I stumbled across this thread by chance as I am a UnitiLite owner along with some newer Naim kit. I was hoping to discover precisely what Apple AirPlay is and offers.

I am aware that I can “cast” music from my Apple devices to my Mu-So (but not to my UnitiLite) which seems to me to be a bit like Bluetooth or Google chrome cast. But presumably, there is more to AirPlay than that?

And what is the difference between AirPlay and Airplay2?

And what is “an AirPort Express” to which you refer?

All information gratefully received.


Hi Alex, the older Naim streamers do not support AirPlay. If you want to use it, you can buy an AirPort Express, and connect it to the Uniti with an optical cable. This is mainly a convenience feature which allows you to play from a phone or computer to the Uniti, but for best sound quality, you should find that the CD player or UPnP input work best.

Airplay makes it possible to play music wirelessly using your home wifi network, from your iPhone, iPad or Mac computer.
Airplay2 makes multi-room playing a possibility - you can play to multiple speakers/systems from your iPhone etc. For example, I can play music on my iPhone and select to play the music simultaneously through my kitchen Muso QB and sitting room Atom and / or dining room Muso QB.
An AirPort Express is (or was as it’s been discontinued but still available 2nd hand) a wifi device made by Apple. It can be connected by wifi or ethernet and may extend a wifi network, or connect to a wifi network or even create its own wifi access point. It also has the ability to “AirPlay” music, receiving the music over the home network and output it by cable (analogue or digital) to any suitable amplifier.
That means, you can have AirPlay added to your UnitiLite. I use an AirPlayExpress to bring Airplay to my Superuniti, connecting the optical output to the optical input on the SuperUniti. I find it useful if I want to play something on my MacBook, such as YouTube, but want the sound through my system rather than the MacBook inbuilt speakers.

AirPlay has a few other features than “just audio”, though those will usually not be very relevant to the “streaming audio” section here. :wink:
This includes streaming video (either individual video streams or “screen mirroring”; I think to remember: including “using TV as additional screen”) or “photos” (i.e. slideshows). The receiver for the latter are typically Apples own AppleTV products; though 2019 brought Airplay 2 also to 3rd party (Smart) TVs.
With Airplay 2, this can include 4K HDR video and surround sound.

For audio, the quality level is “CD/stereo”; not more or less. (Uncompressed I think; maybe lossless these days. Of course not better than any source being played from.) Hence, it’s better than Apple’s Bluetooth (which only support AAC, not lossless codecs). iTunes can for years send the same stream to multiple Airplay 1 receivers; Airplay 2 allows this also from iOS devices (alongside with enlarged buffers sizes; Airplay 1 was for “real Macs”, where constant streaming was not an issue power wise, it had a buffer of 2 seconds; AirPlay 2 allows to buffer several minutes of audio, also “offloading” sender, receiver, and network, except for buffer size on the receiver side).
It’s also well integrated into macOS/iOS, which makes it rather versatile. I.e. you can stream just 1 application (which supports Airplay) from macOS (like iTunes, VLC, …) while the system audio remains on the main output (e.g. your stereo plays music, while system sound still come from your Mac/Screen/…). Or you can redirect the whole of the system audio towards an Airplay receiver; which also support apps, which don’t know about Airplay. (This is similar to sending either a dedicated video stream or a mirror of your desktop to AppleTV).

If you don’t happen to be in the AppleVerse (macOS, iOS, …), it will not give you anything, other protocols won’t achieve as well.

There is or was also non-licensed clients for various use cases for Airplay 1; for version 2 the making of libraries for this is in the making. (Read about it sometime this month.)
PS: This “hacking” comes from the fact, that official devices must be “licensed” from Apple and they limit, which types of devices they allow and under which conditions.

I am so sorry for my radio silence, and so grateful for all your really helpful advice and Information. Whilst it seems to have limitations, I shall nonetheless investigate AirPlayExpress. Ironically, I have to confess that I do have some sympathy with the original contributor (Rogert366) in that I think new technology is driving changes to the way that we think about obsolescence. He was right to question whether we are going to be able to make the necessary change of mindset or whether our preconceived notions of realism will keep us on the same old course, with the planet as collateral damage. Sorry, I have just returned from the wilderness where I have had too much time to think. You are not alone, Rogert366! But most of all, thanks again ChrisSU, Blythe and PhilippVH.



Hey Alex, you’re my kind of person! And you like proper hi fi. Don’t lose heart - there’s too much at stake.


I believe you mean AirPort Express :slight_smile:

Thanks Blythe.

And Roger! You got Folk Alley fixed. Can I PM you?


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