Atom Uniti Headphones Edition

Hi there,

I am the happy owner of a Naim Uniti Atom HeadPhones Edition, which I use primarily with a Meze 109Pro. The Atom HE caught my interest because of the possibility to use it as a preamp for a speaker system, which then happened to be a pair of Focal Aria 926 and a Cyrus200 Power Amp.

I sometimes feel that the hifi system on the speakers lacks punch on some « older » records (50-70s, jazz, which is what I listen to most) and I really would like to know the upgrade path for the Atom HE.

My questions are the following:

  1. How good is the Atom HE as a preamp, i.e. is it wise to keep using it as a preamp, paired with a better amp (NAP 200 second-hand, NAP 300)? Or is it better for SQ to “start new” with e.g. a Nait XS 3 as a preamp (if possible using the Atom HE as a streamer to avoid a 3rd expensive box)?

  2. If the Atom HE preamp is the way to go, what amp would offer a real step-up for SQ, while staying reasonable and adequate for the Atom HE: a NAP 200 (second-hand as the case may be), a Nait XS 3, Supernait 3, a NAP-350?

  3. Ultimately, can the Atom HE still be used as a streamer with a NAC 332 and NAP 350 (as an end-game solution), or the NSS 333 would definitely increase SQ?

  4. How much can I cross product lines (e.g. Atom HE as a preamp with NAP 200/300, or Nait XS 3 with NAP 350 and Atom HE as a streamer etc.)? Or is it real better to stay only with one line of products (which would significantly reduce the Atom HE upgrade possibilities…) ?

In other words, what would be the “next box” with the highest impact on SQ?

Also, detail question: is it safe to leave the headphones plugged to the Atom HE when listening to the speakers, or is it best to unplug them? (the “headphone” button on the front seems to desactivate the headphones totally when using the speakers)

Many thanks for your input and ideas ! The upgrade path of the Atom HE is rather difficult to understand (especially when new to the Naim world) and I could not find much about it on the web or on this forum…

Atom He is far away from older records, probably as far as it get is the Naim world. I’ve one myself and it works brilliantly using Qobuz with Nap 200’s into Ovators. All modern stuff. I have an olive nac 72/hicap/nap 140 as well and that’s brilliant with old records even with my lowly Project turntable. Old Vinyl that is.

I’d recommend to go to a dealer and demo the Naits you mention ( they work great with the Focals you mention, I’ve heared the xs3 at my dealer with them ) but my first bet would be a Nait 50, that’s intended to be modern but also having compatability with old generation stuff.

Besides this there are more factors in the game. Eg, your tt maybe in for a service or you need to replace the element.

The search will show you lots of people using an Atom HE as a preamp with a variety of power amp and speaker options. A simple high quality setup would be with a used 250. Good prices just now with the new classic series launched.

The HE ‘upgade’ path is limited as it is designed to be a standalone product. A powerline seems to be popular choice though.

Your range of questions and queries suggests to me you need to sort out your budget and get to a good dealer to guide you through the maze. There are lots of workable combinations possible. You need a dealer to clarify what you want, where you are trying to ‘end up’ and offer you demos etc.


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Understand the need to get the biggest bang for buck but advice above is good - engage a good dealer and go from there. They often have ex demo. / trade in boxes so you can stumble across value still!

One consideration is active speakers to plug straight into the Atom, plenty of options depending on budget but have a listen to a view options in and around budget at a good dealers.


There’s no problem with using the Atom as a streamer and preamp into a higher, Classic level power amp, but I would start at the source, and get a 222 or 332/333 first, then choose a power amp to match. Then you’ll end up with a nicely balanced system. Either of these options include a headphone amp, similar in design to the one in the Atom HE but with the benefit of an improved streaming source.

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I agree with above, but that is not a cheap option route. What is your budget?

Indeed, these are not cheap options, but the OP mentioned 333, 332 and 350 amongst other things, so perhaps he has the budget.

You have the HE standing at home. Perhaps ask yourself if you like the sound through your headphones. Are you happy with that sound? Or does it suffer from the same complaint.

If you are perfectly happy with the headphone sound the HE as preamp will give an even better result combined with a solid power amp / speaker solution. The HE uses the headphone amp as final stage of the pre-amp as well.

I have an HE connected to a NAP 250 DR with Boenicke W5 SE + and the result is miles ahead of my Focal Clear MG headphones attached to the HE.

So in short, if you love the headphone sound and not getting that from your speakers, the power amp / speakers are the problem.

This is not saying the comments above about improving the source are wrong, the result will be much better, but getting a 222 alone will be 2-3 times what you can pick up a pre loved 250 DR these days. Then you will need a power amp and speakers to match that as anyway. And you’ll probably need to add an NPX 300 to get the full benefit.


The Atom HE with a power amp is a very good system. I had one with a Benchmark AHB2. A superb combination and superior to a 250 DR.

As always, where you can, audition at a dealer.


sorry what amp was better than 250 DR , then? thx

Thanks to everyone for your help and advice! Much appreciated.

I gather that the Atom HE with a NAP250 DR is a popular solution. It seems also “reasonable” (price-wise) - compared to a new system with 333 and 350 (which would be way more expensive and would not use the Atom HE any more, so it’s not really an “upgrade path” to it - although the quality would be much better of course…).

Now I wonder if a NAP250 would really be much of an improvement compared to the Cyrus 200 (which is not a bad power amp). I’ll try to make a test at a dealer’s shop. Maybe another explanation is that the Focal Aria 926 are a bit “cold” and not ideal for old jazz and I am looking for a different sound (since, indeed, I have no complaint about the sound of the Atom HE with the headphones)…

Thanks again for your help! =)

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New Classic systems include a headphone amp as well as a streamer and preamp, so you wouldn’t need to use the Atom HE. That applies to the 200 level system too, which is still not cheap, but it’s a lot cheaper than the 300 stuff. A 222 would be a big upgrade on the HE, and you could still use it with your existing amp, a 250DR, or pretty much any other power amp.

Just a thought, as you have highlighted it’s the speakers , what about an active pair ?

@garcon has run direct comparisons between HE and 222 at home. YMMV but perhaps this gives you some more information starting here:

Read the thread further down. Steve Sells also gives some info further down about the differences. But the take home here is that you will need to listen to both 222 and HE in the same setup and environment to know if the investment is worth it to your ears.

If you do go 222, this uses the same headphone technology as the HE and also uses it in the pre-amp path so no worries about headphone performance there. As for the 332 I do not know yet.

Again a disclaimer: I am not at all trying to suggest the Atom HE is as good as the new Classics. If I had the budget and space I would be taking delivery of a 300 system tomorrow. Its just about bang for your buck and not abandoning something that is pretty good too soon before you know its full potential and what you are getting rid off. The medical term for this being"upgraditus".


Just to avoid misunderstandings: a complete 300 system is 333+332+350. (Without any optional power supplies or other sources.)

Ive heared the focal aria’s a couple of times at my dealer with xs level amplification xs3 and nd5xs2 streamer, it wasn’t cold at all more towards b&w sound in my experience.

When I compared the HE with the 272 with 250.2 and Focal 1028be, the preamp of the 272 was much better, only the headphone output was worse.

Hang onto your Atom HE! It’s a lovely piece of kit that delivers all the Naim new classic sound in a beautiful small box.
I would try another power amp, probably the NAP250, instead of the Cyrus 200 with your speakers . I use my HE interchangeably with the 250NC, the Nait 50 and Nytech depending on speakers, room and for a change.


I had a discussion with a “Naim Representative” at the Bristol HIFI Show around the Nova PE and an Atom HE witn a power amp…. The advice was if you’re aiming for lifestyle then PE, if you’re aiming for sound then HE + Power. Perhaps too much was said…. :joy:


Again, thanks to everyone for the precious comments!

Based on what was said, I’m in favour of trying a different amp (since the lack of punch does not apply to the headphone set-up), probably a second-hand NAP 250 (best “bang for the buck”), to assess whether it brings a big change over the Cyrus 200 (which is a class D amp, and I’ve read that these are sometimes more difficult to pair correctly with speakers).

As to the headphone set-up, for those who use the Atom HE as a preamp with speakers too, do you leave the headphones permanently “plugged” into the HE (when the headphone button is “off”), or do you unplug the headphones?