Atom+Guru Q10: Now totally unsure about how entering the vinyl world

Dear Community,

first I hope you all had wonderful Christmas and you and four families are well.

This summer I became part if this friendly forum and I bought a Uniti Atom some weeks later. It was and is my goal to build a little and humble stereo system giving me a lively balanced sound in my tiny listening room. I decided to do everything step by step. My search for the perfect speakers at this point is now over. Thanks to this forum I am now proud owner of a pair GURU Q10 speakers. Within the next weeks I will add the GURU standpoints and a pair of Tellurium Q Black II cables. So far so good.

When I started my little HiFi project I always had in mind investing into a decent turntable at some point. I like the idea of physical and haptical interaction with the system and the record in addition to streaming with Tidal & Co. And of course I am looking for a rich, natural sound I am remembering.

After I entering this forum I learned very fast how much upgrade passes the naim world is offering. (Not particularly with the Atom but in general.) So I am now looking forward to a nice looking, easy to use and of course lively playing turntable for my system which is capable of driving a little bigger and better systems than an Arom in the future as well. So I have the idea to invest into a turntable which maybe seems to be a bit “oversized” for an Atom.

At the moment I have two turntables in mind:
Rega Planar 6 with Ania MC cartridge
Clearaudio Concept wood MC with Satisfy tonearm

Now my question: Would be totally stupid to invest in that kind of class an only partnering them with the Atom first. I read that the Uniti line is digitising all the analog signals coming in. Does this steal any kind of performance of a phono signal and making a turntable nonsense here?

Due to lack of experience with turntables so far, I would like to buy one of the offered complete packages with player, tonearm and cartridge and benefitting from plug and play and some discount as much as possible. Is that a bad idea? (One idea behind buying a turntable which is maybe one class over the Atom is that I am not experienced yet and I hope I will simply invest and install once and then having nothing to do for years on this topic and I can concentrate on updating other parts if the system. Would that totally stupid?) Should no turntable rookie like myself with such a system should buy on if those higher priced players? Would I waste a lot of potential (and money)?

Do you have any recommendations concerning phono stages partnering with an Atom and one of the named players/cartridges?

As you can see I am a completely unsure about this topic. I really hope you can understand my thoughts and maybe enlighten me a little or giving me some confidence.

I am appreciating every input and recommendation.

Thank you and have a nice evening.

Cheers
colormind

Assuming you bought your system from a dealer, he should be able to let you listen to some options. A Rega is always a good bet. Do you already own a collection of vinyl? At £20+ a pop a 100 album collection from scratch is going to set you back £2000+. Vinyl is my main source but I am unsure that I would advise starting without a collection.

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The Planar 6 and Ania would be great with your Atom. If you were to go for the Rega, their Fono MC would be perfect and is not expensive. As to your other option I’ve no experience of it so cannot comment.

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I have the Atom and ClearAudio Concept MC and very pleased with the results. But it’s a big investment if you don’t already have a vinyl collection. You really might not like the medium and all the effort that goes with it. If I was just starting out these days I would not be buying a turntable at all. Most of the new pressings and master’s really don’t work well for it I find been a very disappointed with most of the newer purchases I made and much prefer the digital releases. Where my older stuff I much prefer the older masters.

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Thank you very much for your answers so far. To be completely honest, the question about an (non) existing collection is definitely a huge part of my consideration - but maybe a different chapter.

You are totally right: I do not have a current self collected stack of records. On the other hand (without getting too personal) my dad who left us way too early had some nice records. Although we had no chance enjoying music together, it turned out, we have a common taste. So he had no huge collection but maybe that could be nice starting point. But yes, I have to admit that I do not see myself buying hundreds of records per year in the next decade (as I did with CDs until a few years ago). It is more kind of a esoteric and emotional thing.

But of course, I definitely could do other things first where I can benefit directly; building up a Roon server for example. That would be an alternative expansion of my system. :thinking:

So I would love to consider every “route” in advance and then I will decide which route is right for me next.

But I am definitely aware of the “missing record issue”. Thank you. And thanks for the advise with the new records. That is really new to me. :flushed:

Nevertheless I would love to learn more from your experiences with the different systems and products.

Thanks. :slight_smile:

The trouble is if you don’t spend a reasonable amount on a deck like the Planar 6 then you won’t get a sound better or even close to your Atom’s digital playback and therefore you won’t use it.
If you do and you are careful with the records you buy then you will be rewarded with the sound you remember many members on this site had little or no records when they first bought a record player again.
If your buying older records then Discogs is an excellent place to start anything VG+ condition and above will work and where possible buy first or second pressings a lot of newer pressings are inferior and will leave you frustrated.

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May I suggest you start much lower in hierarchy, something like a Rega P1+
With onboard phonostage all you might need is interconnect to line input on amp.
then use the vinyl available and try out if its viable for you.

Later on you can upgrade.

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I love my turntable and record collection: the medium beats everything else for visual and tactile appeal. But considered as a ‘new’ medium arriving now after a fully developed and refined digital technology, then it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Pound for pound digital delivers better sound than vinyl. Vinyl diehards have kept the medium alive long enough for the marketing folks to repackage and resell the same music to us yet again, as well as the dirt cheap starter turntables. Turntables, cartridges, et al are finicky and fussy. The record has limited dynamic range, is very expensive, and is very vulnerable, like the turntable itself, to environmental influences not to mention handling and accidents. Even new 180gm records (another marketing scam?) play with the odd pop and crackle. I’d think long and hard before getting into vinyl from scratch - and I choose the word advisedly.

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I think that is enough of a reason to buy a player. I might add that a Rega 3 might be good enough to just play your dads records, it really is very good. If you decide to grow your collection then go for the 6.

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Dear @colormind,

I think you have a great plan and excellent motivation.

To your point about the digitized analog input on the Atom, this is just an engineering decision on the part of Naim: they felt better able to use the fully digital preamp in the Uniti line than to add a separate analog path. Lots of folks, myself included, find it very satisfying and capable (even at much higher levels of phono than I use). I don’t think you should worry on that score. In no way does it let down the rest of the Atom.

As to the level you jump in at, I also think you have a good plan: starting higher will bring more immediate pleasure, plus keep you enjoying the LPs from your Dad’s collection, and any you purchase, for the much longer term. It’s always less expensive to buy once rather than twice. There is also enough reporting here in the forum that the new Uniti analog performance improves with better source components that you should not have any hesitation from technical grounds.

Lots of forum experience here for you, and good advice already re: the P6 and associated Rega phono stage already. ClearAudio has its fans too (I have a Concept Active, which has built-in phono pre, with the Satisfy arm and the MM cartridge, into a Nova), and @Matthegerman has a beautiful Concept Wood with, I believe, the MC cartridge - so you might get an insight on the phono pre from him. @CrystalGipsy didn’t mention which pre he uses, but I think fellow ClearAudio user @Ian2001 uses Graham Slee (which gets an awful lot of love both here and elsewhere) and a high performance MM.

I’m really enjoying the return to vinyl, and I have essentially zero LPs remaining from my youth. I’ve bought more new vinyl than I thought I would, but mainly because I’m having even more fun than I anticipated. I got the package deal on the turntable and MM, but already wonder how much more fun I’d have if I moved to an MC or high performance MM… I will wait a while, because I’m not at all “unhappy” with the Concept MM, but it’s clearly a situation where I can foresee an additional spend after only a (for me, at least) relatively short time.

Best wishes to you for continued enjoyment of your tiny perfect system. I doubt there is a wrong decision lying before you, only different flavours of amazing.

Regards alan

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I think @alan33 puts it absolutely right, digging for old vinyl ( in a real shop or online via e.g. Discogs) , listening to the discs you found and finding out, what‘s on them is so much fun. It is simply my thing and i may have spent a little to much money over the last years for vinyl :wink:. As for the TT i can only comment on the Clearaudio Concept (with Satisfy/MC Concept and Clearaudio Phono Pre Smart V2) which does it for me, soundwise and it looks just great. Today i would definitely choose the active version of the Concept, which means less boxes, less cables, just a leaner set up . No experience on my side with rega products but there are so many comments and pictures about Rega TTs on this forum, that I‘m sure, that you can not go wrong with a P3/6. I certainly think about getting one for my 2. system ( but wait, my very old Linn Axis would then need a 3. system, and this would mean i had to get another amp with a decent MM phono stage… :innocent:).
As for the digital in my Uniti Nova, i just can say LPs sound like LPs, the differences between my 2 TTs come out nicely, it is a detailed, powerful sound, if the vinyl allows it. If the vinyl is garbage then it will sound like garbage.

So i strongly encourage you to add a TT to your system, i can not imagine that you will regret it.

Best regards from Germany,
Mat

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Yes I forgot to mention my Phono Stage. I had a ClearAudio Nano originally but I managed to break it by changing the loading resistors a little too roughly and snapped off the fixing. It was too small and fiddly to try and fix myself and the cost to fix it was a little more than I was willing to pay. So I bought a 2nd hand Arcam rPhono which has been good. Likely will change back to a Clearaudio one at somepoint when money allows but I dont use the TT as much as I did so maybe not.

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Dear @stuart.ashen, @hungryhalibut, @CrystalGipsy, @Bobthebuilder, @PerF, @sparrow15, @alan33, @Matthegerman,

thank you so much for your nice replies and very helpful advises. I learned so much again and I am highly appreciating your input.

So will definitely take my time for this little project. I will try to get a feeling of the different product classes and the sound quality they are offering. Sounds like listening to vinyl sometimes is only a different experience but not in all cases a better one comparing to streaming or using CDs. But there is definitely a chance of enjoying nice sound and musical moments if decisions are made carefully and invests go into well build but not stupidly overpriced products.

As your answers show, it looks like I could be on the right route by considering Rega and Clearaudio, but I should widen that focus a little bit an have also a look at simpler Regas and active systems, too.

I learned that I should take care of phono stage selection, so I will give that point some extra attention. Thanks for the mentioned brands and devices here. This will help me.

And last but not least I will be aware of the different quality levels of records - even more than I do with other formats. I have to admit that I did not have this point very high on my list until today.
I am enjoying the convenience of streaming a lot but my goal is to give my hobby an additional perspective and my life here and there a little deceleration. So I guess vinyl will fit in my hobby and lifestyle quite a bit. But at the same time I will try to not have too much expectations and maybe it is a good idea to give other aspects of the hobby some attention and budget too and maybe I should not only put that into a turntable.

There is so much to discover in the music listening and hifi hobby. And hopefully listening to my dads records in an adequate way will give me some fun in a couple of month.

Thanks again and of course I am open for more and additional comments.

Regards
colormind

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Good luck on your vinyl journey and making a meaningful home for your dad’s old record collection.

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You will find different opinions of course and mine is that if you take the time and care and of course invest the right amount that a vinyl source will give you great reward and will sound better than any CD or digital stream of equal footing ever could especially if you have like a lot of us record collectors an emotional attachment to the media.

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coincidentally I’m thinking same: RP3, Clearaudio Concept or Technics SL1500C which seems to be quite capable after a Cartridge replacement! Thing is I downgraded recently from an expensive and full/of/cables/boxes system, and wanna keep it clean.

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