Atom or NAC-N 172 XS for SQ

Hi, I wonder if anyone could offer some insight please. I currently have an Atom as a pre into a 250DR. I’m happy to loose some of the Atoms functionality and I’m thinking of switching it for a 172 XS, purely in the interests of SQ. Does this compute?

With a 250DR you really should be looking at a NAC-N 272. It will sound significantly better than the Atom although, as you are aware, the functionality will be less.

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+1 to do justice to the NAP 250 DR …

Thanks guys, I’m pretty sure the pre amp side of it will be an upgrade. Re the streaming source, any thoughts on the Atom being a new gen streamer and outweighing the 272? Or is this just over think?

It depends what you want to do. If you want to stream Qobuz then a new platform streamer clearly wins. For local streaming and as a preamp the 272 will beat the Atom hands down. The same applies to the 172 of course.


I had a 272/250 and now have an Atom (not as a direct replacement, though). Whilst the Atom has excellent SQ for its price, the 272 setup is significantly better — a class above in realism, physicality and musicality. For local streaming there is minimal loss of functionality. But for streaming Qobuz, using Roon and perhaps Tidal streaming the Atom has the edge. If you want Atom functionality, 272 sound quality and have deep enough pockets, I’d wait six months to see if a 272.2 appears.



In the interests of closing the loop on this subject. I wanted to let you guys know that I have now moved the atom on and am happily listening to the 272 with a XPS. I’m clearly not as experienced as you all in the hobby, so won’t fumble over trying to explain the illuminating improvements in SQ. Something that really stands out for me though is my turntable has now fantastically come to life! Through the Atom, with the Shiit mani phono stage I was honestly preferring the streamed media to my LP’s. Now the LP’s are easily the most engaging medium for me now. So I’m now off down another rabbit hole looking into upgrading my TT! Thanks for all the help and advice on this subject. Cheers Matt

Excellent. The 272/XPS/250 is a great combination. I’ve just improved my TT and am really enjoying the difference. What do you have now?

Yep is great thanks, I really appreciate your help in the choice Mr Halibut! I have a Rega Planar 3 with the Exact cartridge at the moment. Its really impressive to my ears. We had a few people over last night and ended up cranking it up with some quality 80’s tunes. The upshot of this has been that the kids in the next room could not hear the TV, so they pushed the soundbar to failure. So a replacement of this will push back my plans for a new phone stage I’m afraid. Hey ho. May I ask what your TT is?

@Loafermattaeus I’m curious to hear your impressions of switching from the atom to 272 when streaming. I’m on a similar journey having started with the Atom and then recently adding a 250DR to drive my Harbeth 30.1 speakers. The external amp was a welcomed addition. I exclusively stream Qobuz via roon so enjoy the Atom’s out of the box roon readiness, but wouldn’t be opposed to seeking out a 272 if there are gains to be had for streaming. There also appears to be a workaround to have the 272 work with roon.

Hi Mash, I’d be happy to give you my impressions, though at the moment I can only give you a half answer because I’m using the 272 without Roon. I have an auralic aries mini which is going to fulfil this purpose but as yet its not hooked up. I have been streaming Tidal through the Naim app. In terms of SQ I feel you will be pleasantly surprised. The 272 with the XPS is much more refined in its presentation and I hear a lot more into the music. The Atom had a much more ballsey presentation to my ear with the mid range being accentuated, so it did take time to adjust. In terms of gains to be had from the streaming side it will only be SQ. User experience is much more clunky on the 272. Tracks take longer to load via the Naim app than they did via Roon. It is fairly frustrating, I have side loaded the Naim app onto a new Amazon fire HD and its quite a hit and miss experience. Though the Naim app on my iPhone isn’t much better to be honest. So I am keen to get Roon up and running. Over all the main gains I’m experiencing are with my TT and CD player where the pre-amp in the 272 is a big step up from the Atom. I don’t regret the change at all.

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