Atom + Neat Xplorer

I recently moved to a new apartment with a much bigger livingroom.

In my old 25 square meter room I used the following setup:

  • Uniti Atom
  • Neat Iota
  • NAC A5 speaker cables
  • BKelec P12-300SB subwoofer

I was very happy with the sound quality. Atom and Iota were a perfect match for the room size, and the subwoofer compensated what the Iota lacked in lower frequencies.

My new living room is much bigger (around 50 square meters!). The Iota are too small to handle a room of that size, even when supported by the sub. The sound isn’t room filling and I need to turn volume up higher than my usual listening level. I began to look for a bigger speaker with higher sensitivity to be easy to drive by the 40w power of the Atom.
I read many threads on Floorstander recommendations for the Atom. At some point I even wanted to buy a PMC 25.24 but realized that it may be too much to handle for the Atom. Finally, I turned back to Neat and decided to make an upgrade to the Iota Xplorer. Now this beauty arrived last week and I made a direct comparison between the Iota and the Iota Xplorer, expecting to be blown away be the difference in every aspect of the sound.

Maybe my hopes were set too high after reading all those enthusiastic reviews about the Xplorer. Maybe I was expecting to feel the same amazement when I first listened to the Atom/Iota combo in the smaller livingroom of my old apartment. Unfortunately that was not the case.
The Xplorer certainly sound more voluminous in comparison to the Iota+subwoofer, but the difference is not that dramatic to justify the 4x higher price imo. Also, the soundstage doesn’t sound much more “three-dimensional”. There is a clear difference in the bass management. The bass feels tighter and much better controlled, but it still lacks the power/volume of the subwoofer. So unlike some reviewers I’m not ready to dismiss the separate subwoofer.

To cut the long story short: I was expecting a bigger difference between the smallest Iota(+subwoofer) and the Xplorer. I think that they can’t play to their full potential for some reason.
I am aware that these speakers will need a 200hour-burn-in period, but will they sound that much better after 200 hours?
Could it be that the Atom is not powerful enough for them? (they have a 88db sensitivity and should be easy to drive with the 40w power of the Atom I thought…)

If lack of amp power should be the case, what options do I have? I think some people use the Atom as a pre-amp connected to a NAP 200. Would that make such a big difference?

The Atom and Iota is a perfectly matched combination, whereas the Atom and Explorer isn’t. It’s just too much speaker for the Atom. I’d suggest a Nova, or if you are feeling flush, an NDX2 and Supernait 3.

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You’re asking too much of an Atom in a room that large unless you go for extremely efficient speakers, in my opinion. Since you’ve already got the Explorers, that means upgrading your electronics. Personally I’d only look to adding a separate power amp to an Atom as a temporary solution en route to pre/power setup, so a Nova looks like the starting point. If you can home audition first, I’d do that to avoid another disappointment.

Roger

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I see. Thank you for the advice @PeakMan and @hungryhalibut .
Since my budget is exploited for the moment, I have to figure out what to do from here.

I’d consider some discontinued Neats perhaps.
Momentums and Motive are out-going speakers albeit very good.
They will fill a large room.
That could make room for a proper amplifier such as SuperNait or Separates.
Second hand sometime great things.
You could use Atom as source (or preamp) until next step.

Not disagreeing with any of the above.

FWIW I think the Iotas are fabulous speakers. I own both Iotas and Motive SX3s, the differences aren’t massive when swapping between both on my main system. I would also say the area they’re closest matched is in their imaging.

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