Best practice to connect laptop hardwired to my Atom

Hi, apologies if this has been answered or if it’s very amateurish question, but I’m new to this hifi game.

What is the best way to connect laptop to my Uniti Atom 2. It was suggested by richer sounds that a 3.5mm audio jack to RCA would work but doesn’t seem to.

My goal is to play streams of live gigs through the amp and speaker set up rather than the laptop itself. The streams will be on youtube as well as privately hosted streams. I have both headphone 3.5mm jack and USB-C connections on my laptop. If there is a better way to do this via airplay or hardwired all recommendations welcome.

Ah, this may be a bit more complex than first appears. If you want to watch the gig on a hi-def TV as well, using the computer as a hub?

You don’t say what computer you have, the new MacBook Airs don’t have a USB port out . My guess the best way would be a USB C to USB adapter or cable, something like this

Tim, what computer are you using and which OS?

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Perhaps not at all what you want to do if there is no television involved but mentioning it as an option. On my Star I do this with HDMI from computer to the television and then HDMI ARC from the TV to the Star.


This may not be relevant to your equipment but my experience is if I cast a YouTube signal to our smart TV, the sound from the headphone output (3.5mm to 2 RCA is muted).

I suspect that if you watch YouTube on your device then the audio output through the Naim will work OK.

Your Atom is bristling with inputs and options. As others have already said, you need to tell us what computer you have and the OS. For instance my old 2014 MacBookPro has Optical out, through what looks like a standard 3.5 jack. It is a combination jack socket. Later models do not have these. So it may be helpful to be specific about the exact model of laptop you have. It may make a difference.

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WOW! Thanks everyone for the useful comments.

I have a MacBook Air 2013 - so mini display port and standard HDMI port. Running Mojave OS 10.14.6. So no thunderbolt or USBC.

Screenshot 2021-02-25 at 10.44.15

One thing I have successfully done is got airplay working fromt he mac to the atom. How reliable is this? My preference would be a wired option if possible

Artist… no idea if the 3.5mm jack is a combination… but plugging the 3.5mm cable directly into the atom to the RCA ports delivers no sound from the speakers. The mac does think its playing music through the headphone socket though.

Just tested a hardwired HDMI straight from laptop to the back of the atom… Doesn’t seem to register anything… Playback is still through the laptop speakers themselves. Looking at the sound settings there is only the option for airplay OR onboard speakers.

No that wont work. The HDMI on the atom is an HDMI ARC socket. So it will only play an ARC stream.

Hi @Timwright

First of all, your screen image says its a ‘MacBook Pro’ not an air as you mentioned?
So, if you do have a late-2013 15inch MBP, then you are likely to have toslink / Optical out. You will need an adapter to enable you to use a digital, optical cable. I have included an image in this post, they are very cheap.

I am not sure how experienced you are with your mac laptop. You may need to enable the audio-out port to send the sound to an external device. You can easily do this by visiting your System Preferences / Sound / Output - then selecting the sound output you want. It maybe the reason you have had no luck with your sound so far.

3.5/Optical adapter


you might find this useful . . .


Don’t worry about that, what you need is a splitter that takes a 3.5 headphone jack output and then splits it in an RCA phono inputs

Not familiar with that MAC book but if it has a digital output try with the Atom

Hi, this is exactly what I have tried. 3.5 to RCA inputs. Then setting the atom to analog. But no sound plays through the speakers at all.

Any ideas why?

The MacBook doesn’t have a digital output as far as I know. Mini display port l, hdmi and USB are the available ports.

Maybe it is just a question of changing the output settings of your Macbook to the analogue output instead of the Macbook itself.

The 3.5mm headphone jack on your mid 2013 MacBook Pro Retina should support both analogue and s/pdif line out as well. When you have the jack plugged in check the Audio settings in System Preferences.

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Another option for you; meridian explorer usb dac, this has line level output so you would need a 3.5mm stereo jack plug on one end and 2xrca on the other. There are probably other similar dacs available eg audioquest dragonfly black.

If you can get the optical output working as Richard has suggested, then I guess this negates the need for any additional hardware. Mac optical out ~> optical input on the atom.

@toscana @Richard.Dane YES! A set of old bluetooth headphones seems to be the culprit. Plus conflicting volume controls on the mac and amp… but its working!! Thanks so much for bearing with me.

Happy listening!


You should be able to set it on the MacBook to line out (so no having to fiddle with volume), or preferably connect via optical digital to the Atom.

So glad, I would definitely use a digital connection to the Atom, in order to use the superior internal Naim DAC rather than an inferior Apple DAC

Any suggestions on cabling for this @Ian2001 ?