Atom or NAC172?

I am interested in returning to Naim (from Devaliet) and running either an Atom or NAC172 into a pair of Hypex NCore mono’s.

Does anyone have any insights or experiences about the practical differences in sound quality, performance and functionality that might help me choose? Roon would be nice but not essential. A used NAC172 will come in cheaper than either new or used Atom so it does appeal.

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You’d need a power amp with the 172, plus there are clear diferences in how they look. Forum members would say you need to demo each set up…slightly harder on the 172 I guess. I’ve heard the Atom and had a 172 but I couldn’t give you a clear choice of which I preferred, they were both good but different propositions and I’d go for both but much would depend on whether I wanted one box v many plus whether I would want a greater upgrade path.

The Hypex Ncores are power amps, so I guess we’re looking at an Atom as a streamer-pre… On sound quality I can’t comment, but in terms of features the Atom s a newer generation. As such is supports several features that the 172 doesn’t, Chromecast, Roon endpoint, Airplay 2 (soonish). SO the Atom offers greater flexibility on ways of accessing it.

Not knowing about Hypex I looked it up. It seems to be a very high power Class D DIY amplifier. It may be great, but the point I’d make is that if you say you are ‘returning to Naim’, you aren’t really if you are using these amplifiers. It may work well, or it may not, but it won’t be a Naim system. Why not just get a Nova instead of an Atom and a Hypex? The Unitis are designed as all in ones and you’d be wasting the power amp.

Thanks for the insights.

The Hypex amps are class-D and very transparent - they do exactly what I need for my speakers (Kudos X2) and I have no plans to change these. The NC400’s are a kit amp rather than DIY - the near equivalent NC500 OEM modules are used by a number of high end amplifier vendors in their products.

When I say I am interested in going back to Naim, it is actually mostly for the flexibility in functionality and remote control. It is remarkably hard to find a decent streaming pre-amp that has a good physical remote control and Android app! So I am interested in the functional differences and sound quality differences rather than a Naim specific sound.

The 172 is older and missing Roon would be a shame, but having the unused amp section of the Atom would seem like a waste.

I used to own an original Qute and loved it. Can anyone comment on the quality/ergonomics of the Atom’s remote control vs the older style remotes?

You might like the colour screen and Zigbee remote that the Atom has if you use a remote, but strangely, this does not control the UPnP/server input, only the app can do that.

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If you’re after a good remote control experience then the older naim remote is still a better option in my opinion. It has more features. I had the Atom for a week and it was partly to the remote usability that I ended up returning it and getting the older SuperUniti. Plus as others have stated you won’t have a redundant power amp if you go with the 172. Of course if you’ll be using the App most of the time or want Roon compatibility, then the Atom is the obvious choice.

I f you don’t need large amounts of power (whose quality is yet to be ascertained), and following part of HH’s usual no-frills reasoning, I’d go for the Atom: because I have heard all the three Unities at leisure and in my opinion the Atom is the one with the best voice, although not hugely powerful, but able to drive normal speakers into good music.

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When you download the Naim app from the App Store (if you belong to AppleWorld), you see it has two stars out of five. I don’t discuss its layout, but sometimes it seems to need to be closed and reopened to do its simple job, seeing an UPnP server and all the artwork. Two stars are not Champions League for a Naim product whatsoever. I too wish it was better. I dream that Naim tracks down the man who created the Squeezebox and has him design the informatics of their products.

The go for a NAC 172. It has a more than adequate sound for your needs, and its slightly warm and meaty voice, along with a more than good positioning on the instruments in the virtual space, should complement well the transparency of your monos.

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Just to put the other perspective, personally I have found the Nova to be far better than the Atom when I have heard them in a comparison. But the Atom is OK.

And the 172 is long discontinued by Naim. It was never their most successful product and that is why it is cheap to buy now.

I think a better alternative choice to consider would be a used 272 (which are quite low priced now) or an Atom if you want the extra streaming options and don’t mind it’s appearance.



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i woujld get the atom it would easily drive the kudos, I have tried ncore amps and the atom will give them a run for sure also running roon on it is great. then in reality you could sell the ncore’s and get a nova which would be even better

Well, good luck for me that my opinions weren’t addressed to you!:grinning:

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I have Atom with Kudos X2 and it is very engaging and a fine system. I like it a lot, and it is definitely an upgrade on the (v1) UnitiQute for both form and function. I also have Nova with Kudos S10 and, as with @davidhendon, I think it is much better than the Atom. It is better than the (v1) SuperUniti as well, which I also felt was better than the Qute. To be open, I tried both Atom and Nova into the S10’s but not the X2’s… but I can’t see that one is so much easier to drive than the other that the overall control advantage of the Nova would be due to the speaker… I’ve never tried external amps with any of the four iterations of the Uniti line I’ve had, so can’t comment on how your preference for such a setup would go; lots of Class D power is it’s own thing, and if that’s what you like then that’s definitely worth trying out. But my simple advice is to give the bare Atom a go with your X2’s as well, since it is very pleasing to others like me who run it that way.

Regards alan

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