Atom HE beckons?

So I have recently tried a Linn Selekt with power module and really could not get on with the sound that it produced - very detailed but lacking emotional engagement. It actually made my head hurt (a numb headache). Maybe I have been spoilt for too many years and am institutionalised to the Naim sound.

I then went to an Atom which is a very clever small box of tricks (I have owned one before) which has great functionality and sound. All seemed great for a while. But something was missing still. The sound of my Chrome Bumper Nait 2.

I moved the UnitiQute 2 from the office and turned the amp section off and then fed it into the Nait 2. The smile returned to my face immediately. That wonderful sound was back.

The UQ2 is great but lacks some functionality that would be useful for other members of the family and DAC technology has moved on which leads me in the direction of the Atom HE. The streamer/DAC functions are what I’m after but I am only a light headphone listener.

Unless Naim have a shoebox streamer/DAC in the pipeline then I will be saving my pennies for an Atom HE in the future. (Looks like I might be buying some better headphones in the future as well…. )

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For a bit less than the cost of the Katalyst, how about an ND5XS2 and a Nait XS3? Or for a bit more, an NDX2 and Supernait 3?

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The Nait 2 is staying Nigel. It is all I need and want for amplifier wise. The small form factor of the Atom HE appeals as it will eventually be on a side unit later on.

Thanks for the suggestion though. Have no plans for Linn with Katalyst as the sound characteristics will be the same.

The issue with the Atom HE and Nait is that you end up with two preamps and I’m not sure if the former has a fixed volume line out. It’s not an ideal combination.

Not ideal but workable. It is working well with the UQ2 at the moment and it enables me to fix the UQ2 at 50% vol which gives me plenty of play in the Nait 2 volume knob :grinning:

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I have an ND5 XS2 arriving next week. Although the ND5 will not fit the unit (300mm width) I can rearrange other things and fit the ND5 under the Rega to the side.

I didn’t realise that the ND5 had a variable output control which will tame the Nait 2’s volume knob. :grinning:

Nigel, an NDX2/SN3 is not a bit more, it’s a lot more! (All relative I suppose).

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The variable output is digital and not ideal if you want best quality. It’s only there to meet third party licensing equipments. You could always get a Nait XS3 and use system automation. It’s not cute like the 2 but will drive the speakers far better. It’s the perfect partner for the ND5XS2.

I don’t think you will have an issue feeding the ND5XS2 into the Nait 2 as I do this myself in the kids play room, volume still has a nice travel on the Naits volume knob, great combo hope you enjoy it.

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Looking forward to reading how you get on with the ND5 XS 2 paired with the Nait 2.

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I have set the system up so the UQ2 can go head to head with the ND5 XS2.

Our systems are very similar YZ. I have Tellurium Q Ultra Blue speaker cable though. Does the Fono2 offer a lot more over the Nait’s phono stage? (not that I listen to a lot of vinyl these days)

Yes, very similar systems indeed, and that’s why I find any changes you make interesting! Certainly curious as to how the UQ2 compares to the 5XS 2 as a transport.

I personally find the Rega Fono2 offers a worthwhile improvement over the Nait2’s internal stage. In my system it seems to offer a more ‘rounded’ sound compared to the Nait’s MM stage, and calms down the occasionally forward sounding record or two. Although I have a feeling this is a combination of the links in the chain - neutral RP6, Ortofon 2M Black, Nait2 stage - all feeding period 80s budget speakers (crossovers not serviced). A warmer sounding early spec LP12 may well be a more forgiving / compatible source for the Nait’s stage in my rig. Plus, the Fono2 offers slightly more gain as well, so less volume twiddling between sources.

I’m planning on having a record cleaning session this afternoon, so may tinker again between the stages to compare and contrast - been a while since I experimented.

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Interested in how you get on. Less boxes is a good thing for me.

Atom HE is the best product Naim ever created.

That maybe so (Nait 2 gets my vote btw) but in my context there is a lot of redundancy.

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Are you the one selling these bumper stickers on the bay?

Glad you go this route. I believe you are going to enjoy the ND5xs2.

Had a play earlier this evening using an old copy of Abbey Road (medley). Overall, the Rega Fono just pips the internal MM Nait2 stage, but it’s not a clear cut victory. Each has pros and cons… The Nait’s phono stage sounds very cohesive and ‘together’ for want of a better word - more so than the Fono2, but it is a touch leaner. The Rega sounds a little fuller in the lower frequencies and has a slightly cleaner treble. Bizarrely, the Rega seems to draw a little more attention to surface noise, so I’m assuming more info is flowing through the Fono2. It would be good to try a slightly better Rega phono stage, (the Aria perhaps) to see if it shows up surface noise in the same way. Interesting.

As I already had the Fono on hand and the space to accommodate it, plus the improved gain, then it stays in use, but the advantages are minor and if I hadn’t already owned one, I’d stick with the internal stage - it’s pretty darned good.

Thanks for that YZ. I had a Fono2 going into an Atom just over a year ago (digitised the signal ADA) which sounded good but was something lost with the ADA? Happy with what the Nait 2 does with my vinyl and it is one box less to worry about.

I will get back in a few days with my thoughts on the UQ2 vs ND5 XS2. The Mini/Qutest was way ahead of the UQ2 so I’m expecting big things.

So……

Streamer/DAC that is in situ is the Bluesound Node (latest) feeding the Chord Qutest (have not tried the Node’s internal DAC).

The comparisons went like this:

UQ2 vs ND5XS2 - ND5XS2 all the way. Instruments were clearer, had more air and better bass present.

UQ2/Qutest vs ND5XS2 - this is where it gets interesting. The former was better in my opinion (I got my daughter to listen as well. Same opinion). The instruments had more space and the bass was deeper and tighter. But it was a tight call. I could have lived with either.

Aries Mini and Node vs ND5XS2 - same result as above. The Qutest (optical link) clearly has a lot to do with this. It is a stellar DAC in my opinion.

The Mini has gone as I need something that has easily accessible controls rather than a phone/tablet remote (for others in the house) and UQ2 is going as it is lacking some features (a colour display not being one of them) that I need (AirPlay etc).

The ND5XS2 is a fantastic unit which is very easy to set up and has all the features that you could want but too many eggs in the basket, streamer and DAC, which is where Naim are at the moment and I’m not sure that they will move from this but I am happy to be wrong (see the thread in Streaming section).

So @YetiZone I suggest that you get a Qutest (2nd hand) and hook it up to your UQ (still love it, what a talented shoebox) and have a listen.

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@badlyread That’s fabulous - many thanks for taking the time to experiment with the box swapping and post in such detail, very helpful indeed. I have to admit that I’ve never heard a Chord DAC so I’m not in any way familiar with their sound presentation, but from your experiments it looks like they could warrant further investigation.

I’m still very flexible and as to how my digital side of things will develop, and as I don’t need the latest streaming tech (only stream locally stored files) and only dip into Spotify for the phone and to listen to a potential album before buying, something like an ND5 XS2 would probably be wasted on my needs. I’ve been pondering on either a used NDX and stick with Nait2, or potentially go for a NAC272 / NAP, but no urgency as I’d rather upgrade my record player first, as that seems to be giving more pleasure at the moment. There is so much to consider on the digital side.