Atom upgrade path

Hello everyone, although I am very happy with my Atom, I can’t help wondering what the most appropriate upgrade path would be in the future.
I am aware that a power amp can be added, but this is not very appealing to me as it would end up a very expensive upgrade path when partnered with an appropriate streamer and preamp.

This gets me to thinking that the best thing would be an integrated amp and streamer. Like the nait xs2 and nd5 xs (I hope I got those right). However, I assume that an integrated amp can’t be added to an atom but a nd5 xs could be, through the analogue input, but probably not worth doing due to the a>d>a conversion on the input.

Is this correct? Or can the volume control be disabled on the pre outs?

I know there is the nova but I think I would always wonder what the separates are like… what path have others chosen?

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Sounds like you’re heading to nd5xs2 and xs2 or 3…

A nova in one room and separates in another … :slight_smile:

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Your upgrade path looks like a sidestep to me.

If you really like to take it up a notch, it‘ll be something like a Supernait 3 and a NDX2, but that‘s a hefty price tag and surely satisfying.

Keep your Atom for now and save some money for the real step.


I have to admit I agree with the others. Having started with an older equivalent(?) - Unitiqute 2, I am now at ‘200’ + NDX (1st gen) which I’m at ‘end game’ (almost: ps for NDX still to come), after this things start to get extremely expensive.
I thought I’d be satisfied right at the beginning, but sadly no; “what does the next best thing do better?” can ‘get to you‘.
I would say: think what you’re ’end game’ system is & begin with the source, & then build the rest around it, unless you spot ‘absolute bargains’ for other parts of the system along the way :wink::blush:
Good luck in your journey & don’t forget to enjoy the music while you get there.


I went about my upgrade from an Atom to separates this way.

Atom and NAP 200
Atom, NAP 200 and NAC202
NDX2, NAP 200 and NAC 202
I then added a HICAP DR and NAPSC

Each step brought a significant SQ improvement, surprisingly the greatest improvement was adding the NAC202 and just using the Atom as a streamer, even with 2 volume controls, it sounded so much better than just the Atom, I would set the atom to around 50 and left it, then controlled the volume via the NAC202, this can be done the other way around as well. Everything apart from the Atom and NDX2 were purchased 2nd hand which was a huge cost saving.


I had a SuperUniti and swapped to a 272/250. You could always get a 200 or 250 then a used 272, noting that the 272 has reduced functionality in comparison with the Atom. However a revised 272 is likely to appear at some point, though it may cost more than you want to spend. The best thing to do is to try a ND5XS2 and Nait XS3 and decide if it’s a justifiable change. Then save up and swap the Atom for both at the same time. They are available ex dem for under £4,000 for the pair. You could get a used 272/250DR for a similar sum.

I though it is not possible to bypass the uniti preamp stage, i.e. i thought it is just possible to add a power amp to the Uniti series but no preamp. Maybe somebody can chime in :wink:

I was thinking to use my Star as a streamer / ripper and add a SN3 before replacing it with a ndx2.

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The Atom just becomes a streamer and the output from the Atom is fed to one of the NAC202’s inputs, instead of the NAP 200, the NAP 200 is now connected to the NAC 202. The only thing is you have two volume controls. It’s was my Hifi shop who suggested this approach to allow a slower upgrade process rather than take one larger financial hit.

Although it wouldn’t bypass the Atom preamp you could use the power out into another pre it would just act as a variable level ouput controlled by the Atom’s volume which you could fix.

I use my nova’s output into a NAC282 and am surprised how good it sounds.

This is all good feedback fellas (sorry i am assuming fellas). I think as jr007 said, the end game system plan is a realistically smart suggestion and might save money long term.

I just can’t get my head around my logic at the moment… Never have I purchased a piece of equipment that has sounded so good, and I have not been more satisfied with, but I have not been bitten by the upgrade bug so badly!!

Must say well done to Naim… by producing something that sounds so right, it makes you wonder what the next level sounds like…


Yeah it is really interesting that you can do this, I don’t think my OCD would like to, but good to know that it is an option. It is a real shame that Naim didn’t make a more versatile upgrade path by giving the Atom regular analogue outs. I think they lost opportunities there.

Hi @Mark84. It has always seemed to me that one of the “points” of the Atom is that it isn’t on any obvious upgrade path. Sure you can add a power amp on the way to a pre/power combo, but that rules out an integrated amp. I would recommend saving up for your next system and then either trading in the Atom, or even more fun, keeping it for a second system.

As for your future system, I’ve not heard a ND5XS2, but a CD5XS/NAIT XS was what got me into Naim and I’d be surprised if an XS setup didn’t comfortably outperform your Atom. To better the XSs you’ll probably need to go to NDX2/SN3. Undoubtedly superior sound, but a lot more money.



I agree with @PeakMan. I think the Atom is not really designed for it. You could try squeezing more performance out of it by using a Powerline cable. I have the feeling it gave my Star more authority in the low end and a slightly different overall presentation.

Yeah the Atom is going nowhere. The Atom will be a second system for sure. Yes the SN3 is definitely on the cards. Well it’s on my cards. My Mrs hasn’t seen the hand yet though… :joy: I have a few years of seed planting to do yet.

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Yeah I do think you’re right. Just appreciate the Atom for what it is. Make peace with purchasing a whole new system when the time comes. I have tried the road of squeezing performance out of things before and it can be a long and windy road and mostly gets you no further. I have recently been on a merry go round with 3 sets of speaker cables and ended up right where i started. One loan set was $1000+ and was barely any different to my current set (Ecosse ES 2.3) and that difference was just different not better. The proper upgrades cost $$$…

Ok here’s a question… if I had a NDX2 and a SN3, can I adjust volume via the app? Or does that have to be via SN3 remote?

Yes you can. I auditioned this combo about 3 weeks ago and it worked.

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Thought about the power line, but not sure if you can get one with an Aus plug…

If that may help: i compared the Star with the SN3/NDX2 combo and on some music the differences were really marginal to my ears. On some music it gave a less forward and more balanced presentation, and surely the additional power and bigger transformer are something worth to have.

I can absolutely say that going from an Uniti to something better and more expensive in the Naim line gets you right on track on the law of diminishing returns. Of course it also depends on the speaker you have and the differences between these devices can be more obvious on different speakers and different music. I like my speakers to be non fatiguing, slightly dark and not forward, so the SN3 would seem to be a nice pairing for this kind of presentation. For others these characteristics might be boring and dull, so it also really comes to your preference to define what suits you better.

I will also end up with a SN3/NDX2 but rationaly speaking it is not worth the big jump in money if you can get rid of upgraditis :slight_smile: