Atom vs Nova as a headphone amp


i noticed this question was asked a while ago by another user and it did not seem to gain any traction.

I am currently using the Atom and thinking of getting a Nova. I currently use it as mainly a headphone amp but from time to time plug it into the stereo. Love the atom with my LCD4’s.

My main question is, i know the Nova is a big upgrade from the Atom as in completely different internals (from what i have learned) will that / does that make a difference out of the headphone jack?

Thank you

If I where you, to make the Audeze of that caliber shine, I would invest in a dedicated amp. violectric is well regarded in the forum.

I would say that the headphone section in the Nova isn’t a upgrade over Atom



Interesting. Thanks for the comment. I have never heard of Violectric and i will look more into them.

I do like that the atom/nova has speaker outs, streamer and ( some ) HDMI as well. got the atom to replace the RME adi 2 fs which that replaced the McIntosh mha 150. Thanks again for the suggestion i will look into them.

I’m biased, ( fell in love for).

The Nova it’s a tremendous all in one.

Highly recommended.

But I see you have a sn3+nd5xs2 , so if you thinking specifically in headphones, I would search dedicated amps

1 Like

…do a search on the forum here using Violectric and you find some conversations, 50+


Will do, thank you.

if anyone has other thoughts on the difference between atom/nova HP jack. please let me know.

I have a Nova and happy with the headphone output. Can’t speak for the Atom in relative SQ terms, as I haven’t heard one. You have a strange user case though because I’d have thought the SN3 headphone output might be superior, although I can’t speak from experience. Let’s put it this way, it’s not going to be worse than an Atom.

1 Like

Whats odd is the SN3 heaphone out really did not sound that great. Felt a little flat and lost some of the musical meaty tone. I tried using it with the ND5 XS 2 (? freaking naim names) thinking it woulld be steller but was pretty sub par.

If others had a difference experience let me know.

I have a spot next to the tv where i take the atom and plug it in HDMI from the smart TV and use my speakers over the sound bar. Mainly for movies. I really enjoy this experience but 85% of the time i have optical in in the back from my PC and im using it while i work fro music.

Odd that you think the SN3 is worse. Unfortunately Naim don’t give much away in technical terms with their product info so one can’t explain it that way. I guess you need to audition a Nova because if the headphone output improves in proportion to the main speaker output, I would expect an upgrade in sound commensurate to the price increase. I am guessing though.

1 Like

Thats kinda what i would assume, i have heard that the nova is a big step up. But im not sure if that mattters with the headphone jack. I would assume so?

I’ve earlier had the Atom and now own a Nova. I like both of them very much. But I could not hear any difference between them with headphones. I use Grado SR 125 as headphones. Imo keep the Atom and buy a dedicated headphone amp.


This is great information, thank you.

Off topic question : You ever notice a “bzzzzzzzzztt” in the right of left channel from time to time?

1 Like

If it’s when you plug in your headphones I found setting the ground switch to floating sorted this out. If not, it may be firmware related and there is an imminent update, which you may find will sort this out, amongst other things. A mild pop 20-30 secs after shutdown is normal, apparently.

1 Like

Gotcha. This will be just listening to a podcast or music or on a zoom call etc… Short and precise bzzzzzt.

No I did’nt notice that from the Atom or the Nova.

1 Like

I think @Kryptos had a similar issue, so he may be able to answer better than me.


What I had is a bzzzt sound when plugging in headphones (or plugging out) after being connected to HDMI.

It never happened during playback without plugging headphones in it out.

I reported it to be fixed in next firmware.

1 Like

Thanks for taking the time to reply i really appreciate that.

Is there a location that states when firmwares are coming and intended fixes? i dug around on the site but could not find anything.

1 Like

Generally the firmwares are released when they are ready and tested.

There are signs that a new one is imminent though.

But no, there are no exact dates published.

1 Like

ok, thank you

1 Like