Atom on test - dissapointing

I have an Atom on evaluation and comparing it against my ancient Marantz CR510. I have Monitor Audio Bronze speakers.

My issue, on a blindfold test I can’t tell the difference, they both sound the same streaming Audio from Spotify.

I have a FLAC file of Tubular bells and that doesn’t sound any different from the streaming service version on Spotify.

I like it and I want it but at the price I couldn’t justify it

What am i missing ?

Spotify never sounds very good so is not a good test of the differences. Do you have a store of CD quality or HD music at home? If you do, try that, which should show the difference more clearly. If you still can’t hear a difference, keep the Marantz and save your money.


Can you get a Qobuz trial account? Streaming services puts the atoms in their strength.

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I’d still expect Spotify to sound rather good even though it’s not exactly HiFi quality. I’d suggest looking at speaker cables, connection(s), before doing anything else…

Which version do you have? I recall the bookshelf monitor audio bronze speakers are not very efficient. The Atom is a great all in one but doesn’t have a lot of power.

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Hi @Segovia. There’s all sorts of possible reasons for your experience, as mentioned above, but all the community can do is make suggestions for you to try.

Since you have the Atom at home for evaluation, I presume there’s a dealer involved. I think you should contact them and explain your findings. Perhaps they can lend you some more revealing speakers or possibly you could take your Marantz into their shop to try other options.



If you don’t think it’s better then it isn’t. Return it and try something else is my advise. If it doesn’t sound right it’s generally not. Your ears are the best judge.


Hi Segovia, I have an Atom myself and I’m not too surprised you don’t hear a difference to your Marantz. Your Marantz can’t be all that old surely? And it has similar power, perhaps slightly more than the Atom. I have not heard those speakers, but that is almost certainly the weak point in your system. If you spend the same money that the Atom costs and get some really good speakers (KEF LS50 Meta for example) with perhaps a subwoofer, then look at room placement. You will hear a major improvement, I am almost certain. THEN think about the electronics again (but I would shoot higher than the Atom for a significant improvement there).

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I agee the Monitor Audio may not do the Atom justice, I’ll try it in anoher room with my NAIM SBL Speakers. I’ll also try Tidal.

The FLAC file I used for the test was the highest quality format


I read Qobuz isn’t as good as Tidal ?

Marantz was 2015, the ony reason I started looking is the streaming radio has completly gone from the Marantz

Not sure, I’m a qobuz fan and it is a very significant step up from Spotify.

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Its only early yet, 24 hours into the testing period

I may give them a call next week

Depends on how you define “good”. Tidal has MQA, but that’s a questionable proposition, in particular on Naim where it does at best nothing and at worst gives you degraded CD quality. The Tidal catalog may be larger in some genres, but it depends.

Qobuz gives you real hi-res, which Tidal does not, and is fully supported on Naim streamers (as opposed to MQA)


For me they sound identical on the same 16/44.1 material. I found 24 bit stuff on Qobuz a little better, whereas MQA on Tidal was just a little bit weird.


Where did you read that? I don’t recall A consensus either way streaming the same 16/44 files. Qobuz also offers streaming oc genuine hi res, while my understanding is that Tidal only offers non bit-perfect compressed streaming of high res files called MQA.

However, if your highest quality flac version of Tubular Bells sounds the same as Spotify streaming then either your supposedly highest quality isn’t (what was the source?), or there’s something wrong with your system (speakers or connections if two different streamer/amps do likewise), or awful room effects, of you are lucky enough to have ears that don’t benefit from better audio systems.

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Can you clarify? I was looking at maybe getting Tidal or Qobuz as these are the two services I keep hearing about. Tidal is not a good match with Naim?

I have the Atom at the moment if that is relevant

It says here, h-res Tidal is better

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I tried Qobuz today, the user interface is awful compared with Tidal and Spotify

I tried Qobuz today and swapped beteen the Marantz and the Atom, again not very much in it. They both sound the same to my ears, quality is better with Qobuz but its better on both devices.