Atom + Shahinian Arcs?

Greetings, aspiring audiophile here (up till now I’ve only been playing with headphone gear).

I’ve inherited a wonderfully kept set of Shahinian Arcs. Sounded wonderful through a PS Audio PCA2/HCA2 given to me by a friend, but that didn’t last long as the HCA2 died after the first day of use (sent it in, but they say they can’t repair it as they no longer carry the parts.

As such I’ve been searching for how I want to outfit my living room to take advantage of the Arcs. Currently I’m only interested in streaming qobuz and tidal and the use of phono; the Atom, on paper, gives me everything from streamer though to amp and is just within reach of my overall system budget.

I’ve read dueling views that the Arcs are hard to drive and others saying they’re easy.

Does anyone here have any familiarity with the Arcs and as to whether the Atom would be sufficient to drive them? The room is approximately 390 sq. ft.

Thank you!

I would suggest you book a demo of the Atom at your local Naim dealer and take the Arcs with you, good dealers are happy for you to bring in some of your own equipment if they don’t stock it.

Whatever you do, make sure you demo the amp with the speakers at home in situ. For what it’s worth, i’ve owned and have a lot of experience with Obelisk, Arc and Compass. I’ve had success with all 3 using a Nait 5 and Nait 2, with a CDS3 upfront. Strangely the Obelisk, the hardest to drive, gave very mixed results with bigger Naim power amps. The room makes far more difference with Shahinian speakers than others, as they essentially use the room for part of the sound.


Luckily, I have been able to hear the speakers in the room already and it was breathtaking, unfortunately that’s right before the hca2 died.

I’m guessing to demo it in situ would mean to buy it and if I didn’t like it to just return the amp although I guess I’d have to research their return policy first.

The atom is 40w per channel at 8 ohm. The arcs are 6 ohm so my understanding is that this would effectively make the atom something akin to 55w equivalent at 6. (I’m new at this, so I’ll accept that I could be completely off base with that calculation)

Unfortunately the nearest dealer is a 5 hr drive away

An Atom will be ok, and i used a UnitiQute2 with with Arcs for a day or 2. The reality is however, the the Arc is much more capable than the Atom will get them sounding. It’s all relative, and although the Arc will never sound bad with the Atom, a better source and amp would move the game on. I did run the Arc with a set of freshly serviced 135s and a 282/SC2, and boy did they respond well. To this day, a Naim dealer friend of mine still comments how that was one of the moments in hifi reproduction he remembers above all.

A friend has the Obelisk mk2 and are much easier to drive than the originals he assure me. He drives his with a 160 and they sound fabulous. If I had several thousand pounds needing to be spent, I would be very tempted.

Are they Arc 1’s or 2’s? 2’s are much easier to drive. I have had both, now have a pair of 1’s as I think they sound sublime. I second the fact that 135’s drive them wonderfully and don’t struggle, whereas a 250 did struggle. Hope this helps.

Matts point is crucial. Mark 2’s might work ( I don’t know) but I doubt very much that you’d get the best out of mark 1’s with an Atom. I ran my old mark 1’s on a SuperUniti for a while and they really didn’t work at all well. When I added my old chrome bumper NAP 250 to the SU’s pre-out it all worked nicely again, but SU alone was very disappointing. Mark 1’s are a tough load and it’s about impedance handling rather than notional power rating.

Do you prefer mk 1 or 2 Matt?

The 1’s. I think RS got everything right first time around!

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How sure are you that these PS Audio amps can’t be repaired? Some manufacturers discontinue support for older products, perhaps because they can’t be bothered to keep stock of suitable components. You might find that a good independent repair shop can get them running again.
I’m guessing that you’re in the US, so I wouldn’t know who to recommend, but it would be a shame to send an amp that you liked to landfill.

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