Atom driving B&W 805 speakers

Hi everyone, my first post here.
I’ve just returned to the NAIM fold since rashly selling my NAIT2 about 25 years ago. Three months ago I bought a new Uniti Atom which is currently driving an immaculate pair of 20 year old B&W 805 stand-mounters. While I’m not displeased with the sound, it does seem rather closed-in with little sense of ‘air’ between instruments. Any thoughts on this combination? TIA

I remember we had some 805s come into the factory briefly around 20 years ago. Personally I wasn’t so crazy for them and for sure they struggled on anything less than a CDX2, 282, HICAP and NAP250. To that end I’d say the Atom is likely a mismatch. If you want a one box front for them then I’d say that a Nova is probably the bare minimum, and even then it may not be the best match. So I think you’ll need to either re-think the speakers (what I would do) or prepare to spend a great deal on a much more capable source and amp, with the caveat that in the end the 805s just may not be your cup of tea.

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As Richard says above, you have a mismatch. The Atom is nowhere near enough for those speakers or, looked at the other way, the speakers are far too much for the Atom. Unless you want to go for something like a 222/250 for £11,000, getting a more compatible pair of speakers is the way forward.

Many years ago, I’ve used the Naim Uniti Atom with a pair of Neat Motive SX2 speakers … really a match made in heaven!

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Thank you. I’ve lived happily with the 805s for 20 years but powered by a much more powerful amplifier which I decided (possibly wrongly) was beyond economic repair. You’ve confirmed my suspicions about the mis-match.

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If you really like the speakers, a relatively cheap way forward could be to get a used NAP 250DR. Either connect it to the Atom, which will work but isn’t ideal, or swap the Atom for an Atom HE. Alternatively, a swap of Atom for Nova might work, though I’ve found speaker matching with the Nova is particularly important.

I am inclined to go with Richard on this one. As an owner of the Atom and a couple of pairs of B&W speakers (not the 805s), I think the weak link is the speakers not the Atom. I don’t think the 805 was a high point for B&W. I think the Atom in your set up is probably quite capable of driving the speakers (and exposing their weaknesses), unless you are listening very loud and in a large space, in which case it could be running out of steam in some passages.

I would suggest looking at modern stand mounts such as Sonus Faber, KEF, and many others. You should look for reasonable sensitivity (87 dB +), a nominal impedance of 8 Ohms, and a flat FR. Can your dealer let you hear them with an Atom? You could also try borrowing a much more powerful (100 Wpc or more) amp and seeing if that makes any difference at home.

Thank you. My previous amplifier driving the 805s was a 100 wpc Primare dual mono design and I loved that combination for about 20 years. I have a speaker demo booked at my local dealer’s for later this week.

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Might be helpful. I have a Nova and an Atom and 3 pairs of 805 speakers, 1 805s and 2 805 D3s. The Atom will work with each pair but the Nova makes them sing. Don’t wind the Atom up too high or the sound will be strained and weak. I would suggest swapping the Atom for a Nova or buying some ProAc Tablet 8s and 10s as they suit the Atom very well and have image, soundstage and clarity which amazes for their size.

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Can’t comment on an Atom or Nova with the 805s as I’ve not heard the combination.
Be careful in thinking a Nova would be better than the Atom - it’s just different - whilst the Nova is better in some ways - bass weight, it looses out to the Atom at times in other areas.

I’ve got a set of older 805 Maserati and I really really love them. However, everything up to the D4 needs careful positioning and plenty of juice.

With the beefy amplification I find them so transparent and accurate, but there is a reason I think they still use Mark Levinson No 33 in the design process (so I’m told)