Atom / Nova home testing… hints?

Oho, don’t demotivate me. Do you mean, I should have tested several Atoms and chosen the best one? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


  • I changed yesterday evening von “40/50” to “20/100”, but did not notice any immediately discernible effect. But not playing with it, or considering myself very sensitive here. Not sure, maybe I take more time later on this.
  • I packed the Nova after lunch today and returned it to the shop after work.
  • I wanted to keep it (without doubt, if it were for free :wink: ).
  • When running the Atom again briefly during afternoon, it felt like “bass/drive” was differing between songs. Something had noticed earlier, that some songs were “right” and some were “flat”. With Nova, “everything seemed right”.
  • I’ll give it 2-3 days (in home office, while there’s no telcos; and in the evenings) so see, how much I miss it. (Currently I think: definitely. Let’s see.)

Well, I did not have to say much at the shop, just “I liked it”. They’ll make me an offer on a “swap” tomorrow; and then I’ll balance the different parameters and likely towards the end of the week my “stomach” will tell me, what to do.

BTW - there was a person today at the shop, which started putting out “other ideas for upgrades” and offering more demos. Including the “ND5 XS 2/Nait XS 3(or 2)” option mentioned above by PeakMan (with benefit of separating “IT”/streaming platform and analogue domain) or adding a power-amp (he mentioned NAP100) to the Atom (which is mentioned on Naim web page for Atom as add-on and likely less expensive than the Nova).
I’ll ponder that as well, but maybe I’ll skip further trials. Let’s see.

(Though I found these thoughts more useful, than the questions on Saturday, whether I wanted to take along good switches and better Ethernet cables as well… okay, yet another subjective matter, we don’t have to investigate here in this thread.)

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Ignorance is bliss if i hadn’t been through a rare experience i would never have known.
If it sounds good, end of, hit play and relax my friend :sunglasses:


After slight delay in delivery, the Nova has now replaced the Atom. (1:1 drop-in)

Sound out of the box very close to what I remember from the demo unit(i); which is good, I guess. :wink:
I’ll give it some time and listen and curious, how my ears will adapt over time.

I changed from Atom to Nova and very pleased. Just remember that Nova takes a long time to settle in. Even after 6 months it is still improving


The trouble with Hi-Fi is that there is always something that will sound better, usually at more expense and in the case of Naim, a room full of boxes as well. I bought my Nova because I didn’t want to go down the multiple box route and I knew that it would sound better than an Atom - given the price difference and the way Naim has a hierarchy in their upgrade path, it has to. I’ve never come across anyone who says the Atom sounds better than the Nova, although there may emerge some out of the woodwork after this post. So if you are into the 1 box path, get the Nova, if not I would suggest separates as have been mentioned in earlier posts.

Music taste can be very personal and we are used to what we like also. It also depends on the kind of music genre and even period we like. So I am not entirely surprised if someone might just really like the sound from the Atom. It is very musical and articulate. A little bit like wine, your favourite red may not be the most expensive bottle in the shop.


Indeed cheaper wine can taste better but usually only when it’s in a sale. The other thing I didn’t mention was form factor and for me, in that regard, the Atom wins so long as you go the one box route.

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I’ve carefully listen to the two models these last days. I own an Atom and I was wondering if it was worth to upgrade to the Nova and the answer is not so obvious. The answer to this question depends, according to me, on two factors : the speakers you paired with and the genre of music you listen to.

With some speakers, the difference between the two is not very important, while with others the Nova is miles away from the Atom. For exemple with the Faber Sonetto 2, sometimes I preferred the Nova while sometimes I preferred the Atom. The Atom provides more « violent » attacks, more nervous interpretation while the Nova was more rounded, more organique and more fluid. Some may prefer the Nova.
With the PMC25 23, the Atom was very weak while the Nova was clearly better.

The Nova brings more bass, a wider soundstage and, more important, a better instrumental separation. So when the tracks implies many instruments, like concerto music, the Nova provides a more readable proposition of complex segments.

I tend to prefer the Nova but I can’t say that it’s better than the Atom in all compartiments. I can totally imagine someone preferring the Atom with a specific speaker when listen some genres.


@anon56814208, well said about the differences between the two. If you are not immediately rushing to change your set up, may be have a read the other topic like “What are you listening…” and enjoy some music first. You have a fantastic streamer - Atom - anyway. :wink:

I am telling myself because there is a constant stream of suggestions and I can’t keep up! :smiley: Perhaps there is room for another system so you can get the Nova as well. I know I want to. :grimacing:


One of the great strengths of Naim is that matched with the right speaker in the right room, each option is excellent at its price point.


That is a great problem to have. The three ladies I mention are well worth investigating.

Enjoy the music, David.

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Totally @NigelB, thank you for starting that thread! Now I don’t have enough time in a day albeit the pandemic lockdown.

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It seems the NovA has a small window of performing at his best. There is a real danger if you set the maximum vo;ume at 100, it goes into clipping. Setting the max volume much lower ,it gives (although it might be ssubjective) a much more pleasing sound. There is on the Harbeth forum a huge discusion going on this subject. See this subject on the Harbeth speaker forum…’’ How loud?’ versus how far you turn the volume control’’.

Interesting topic; it seems Atom and Nova (in my system) behave differently along the volume levels.
I had/have them running with 50/100 max volume so far (see above for reasons).

The Atom was usually playing music at 30-40, maybe 20-25 in the morning when I started (when my ear was not yet accustomed to voice level noise, so to speak) only when I want some volume, I want to 50-60.
With the Nova, I have the feeling, I need to go faster to about 50. But maybe, because I enjoy the presentation more and thus get more drawn in. Haven’t tried out the “loud” settings yet the last days - had the Atom on 70-80 for “party mode trying to not annoy neighbors too much”. And like 20-25 is very silent still.
I’ll learn more the coming weeks… (with a week of vacation ahead, I can try some things during daytime :wink: ).

(Not talking other inputs; for TV I need different levels, even after input/gain adjust.)

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I recently bought other speakers. Changed my Harbeth ps3esr speakers to Harbeth m30.1 With my Naim Nova. I set the max volume to 100. I used to play moderate with the dial set around 40. with the p3. Now with the 30.1 I went down to around 30.
Seeing the discusion on the Harbeth User group, I lowered down the max volume on the Nova to 80. Having the volume up to around 45 on the Nova to roughly the same spl. . And yes…It makes to me a significant better sounding system.

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I can’t actually see why it would start clipping if max vol limit was set to 100, unless you were simply playing too loudly for the speakers - what source? Internal digital or analogue. If properly encoded/levelled digital files are clipping with a max vol of 100 (say at lower playback vol of 50-60) there could be a bug that Naim, should be aware of.

In the above harbeth user group mentioned, there is a lot of info to be found.

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