Atom or Nova

I know the technical differences between the two and have read many owners descriptions of the sonic differences as well. Unfortunately, I do not have an opportunity to demo the difference myself since the local dealer doesn’t have them available to demo anymore. I also know that value is very subjective. Even still, I would like to get an opinion here:

I have an opportunity to get either a NIB Atom for $2900 or a NIB Nova for $4700. I will be pairing with B&W 705 S2. Is the Nova worth the extra $1800? Some may say use the $1800 and put that towards better speakers, but I don’t want to “upgrade” the speakers just yet.

Thanks for any input.

I use the Star with the 702s2. Great combination. I found the difference to the Nova quite small, much less than between the Atom to the Star.

If you can get a similar offer for the Star that would be my recommendation. Otherwise splurge on the Nova.

I had an Atom and it is a great bit of kit but moved to a Nova and never regretted it.

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I had an Atom with my 705s2s and upgraded earlier this year to a Nova (and I didn’t change the speakers). The Atom was brilliant: quick, crisp, dynamic. But to my ears, when I auditioned the Atom and the Nova back to back both with 702s2s at my dealer’s, the Nova was much better - more space, less effort, more solid and rounded sound.

Having said that - I’m quite enjoying the upgrade “journey” (sorry, awful cliche!). So if I’d been in your position on day one, I’m not sure what I’d have done!

I would also say that the speakers (in my room, with my ears) are very well matched to the Nova. I have heard them being driven by a 250DR (via a Nova) and they sounded even better. There are better speakers, of course, but for me, I’ll prob get a 250 before upgrading the speakers, but not for a while!

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Just looking at your options the Nova deal looks better value.
It must be frustrating not being able to demo to hear for yourself whether it’s worth it.
Plenty of owners of both on here but they will tend to recommend what they have as it quite rightly works for them.
This has been no help, sorry, but if you can afford it, I think, you’re less likely to suffer from buyers remorse if you go for Nova. Best.

Nova everytime.

Nova definitely, I bought one two years ago, they’re simply wonerful. I use mine with a pair of B and W CM 8 series 2 and the sound is superb, very controlled and very detailed.

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Are you the type of person who will wonder about the upgrade you could have had if you had gone for the nova? Also are you going to be reading this forum often as that may increase the likelihood of upgraditis. I enjoyed the atom but have now upgraded to an nd5xs2/sn3 combo which I absolutely love. I hope whatever you go for brings you joy.

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Is the only difference between the Atom and Star/Nova in the amplifier section or is the DAC and preamp better as well. I am in the process of setting up a system in a second home and was thinking about using an Atom with my recently purchased ProAc Tablette 10 Signatures in a small room

The streaming board is essentially the same, but there are differences in the DAC and preamp between models. The extra space inside the box no doubt makes component layout easier to optimise, which is something to which Naim pay a great deal of attention so I expect this is a big part of the improvement in the Nova in particular.

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You can see images of the internals on the website. Layout is pretty much identical between the Star and Nova. Difference will be in components used most likely. The Atom is of course very different layout wise.

True, but the Nova doesn’t gave a bloody great CD drive stuck in the middle of it taking up lots of space.


True, but based on the images it doesn’t seem to be affecting the layout of the rest. I guess it’s electronics could interfere in different ways. Although as I said above, even if the Nova was definitely better, the difference in sound wasn’t that big.

I tested Atom vs. Nova in my room at home (after 2 years with Atom; I originally did not consider spending more…) and at least with my speakers (B&W 683S2 at the time), the Nova was obviously ahead (to my untrained ears) and since then I upgraded speaker cables (to NAC A5) and currently would not know, why to upgrade further.

(Just curious: Has anybody ever picked the Nova due to the additional input options it has? Or the SD-card slot? I originally liked the idea of many inputs, but then again, many people choose it for the 1-box-approach to start with.)

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The Star has just the amount I need, but I would feel more comfortable with a spare input. Also, the Nova has an additional RCA input, so for nost people that could mean the advantage of less likely to need special/custom cables.

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I started off with 705s2 and atom. It is a rock solid combination- there is a great article by steve huff you can google. I was curious about how an older amp would sound with the combo and bought a 250dr and used the atom as pre streamer. I have heard a nova and i think it approaches that and allows you an upgrade path. However- my curiosity was further piqued with the improved HE pre and streamer. My dealer let me swap atom for HE. The HE pre and streamer, I know for sure that the preamp section is improved over the regular atom, its possible that the streamer is the same. Im not sure. The combo of HE with the 250 is better than a nova in my opinion. To take this a step or two further i bought a used 272 online and paired it with the 250dr, and my wife came into the room because she thought jackson brown was here. All of these variations are tried with the 705 s2. The basic atom is a fantastic way to go with 705s2. It is refined , musical and is certainly powerful enough, has a headphone amp and an hdmi arc along with optical and coax. The capability and refinemtnt is excellent, the nova is just a touch more complete.

I have an Atom as part of my second system and have always been impressed by it. Haven’t had the opportunity to listen to either a Star or Nova.

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No problem. I appreciate the feedback. Value was what I was wondering if the extra was really worth it. I think you are right about buyers remorse being less of an issue going with the Nova.


Do you have a sub and think it’s needed?

Thanks for the reply. Do you run a sub with the 705s2?