Best way to connect Atom and Core?

Here’s a bone simple question. I am new to streaming audio, and have just got an Atom. (My first Naim product. It works wonderfully on my wifi network, and is also used with a CD player. I like the simplicity, ease of use and quality. I am thinking of getting a Core that would sooner or later replace the CD player. Now my router is in the kitchen and the atom is in the living room. So if I bought a core, should it be beside the router and connected to it by ethernet cable and to the atom by wifi, or should it be near the atom and connected by S/PDIF? Do both schemes work? And if so are there advantages to one over the other?

Hi, you can connect the Core to your Atom via SPDIF if you want, but it still needs an Ethernet connection to work, and will find the Atom over your network, so there’s no real need for the extra SPDIF cable.

I went backwards and forwards between eithernet and spdif for some time with the core and felt the spdif won by a small margin until I revised my internet switch and cabling…then the eithernet matched it

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Thanks. My confusion comes from some of the diagrams I have seen in the Naim data and some other reviews, which indicates that the Core can be hooked up in a ‘stand alone’ configuration – just connected to a DAC + amplifier, but then I suppose it is simply a source only. When connected via ethernet to the router, what extra functionality does it have? Can find metadata or cover art, and attache it to the audio files? That would be nice!

Looks like I will need to find a suitable place for the router and Core to co-habit comfortably.

Yes that’s what it does when you rip a CD. It doesn’t need to be near the router but you need an ethernet cable from wherever it is back to the router.




If you have a computer with a CD drive, it’s worth bearing in mind that you can rip CDs with it, save them to a £500 nas, and get something that sounds at least as good. You can put downloads on the nas, use a decent upnp server such as Asset and get much better functionality.

Or just save the cds to a external hdd and connect to the Atom usb.

I understand that that should be a less expensive option, but is it as easy to find files to play using the naim app, add/change metadata, and save downloads without having to hook up a computer? Just trying to get my head around all the possibilities here, so thanks for your input. Also, I want this to be as simple to use as possible – my wife needs to be able to work this – and that’s a big test!

If you want simple, Core is the way to go. And it will sound better than using a computer and NAS, as it has a larger and cleaner power supply with less noise and a lower noise floor. And I have two Macs, and still went with a Core for those reasons. Have fun.


The reason the Core needs an Ethernet connection is that this is how it connects to the Naim app, which is what you use to control it. Also, it requires an internet connection for retrieveng metadata to add to CD rips, for firmware updates, and other purposes.

If you have a Core you need to use a computer for downloads and to transfer them to the Core. To edit downloads you need to use a computer. I get 95% of my new music via downloads and hardly ever have to rip anything.

The Naim app sees only what the server tells it to see. If you use Asset there is far more flexibility than the very restricted Naim upnp software in the Core.

As to your wife, if she is anything like mine, she will be far more intelligent and capable than you. We have five Naim streamers in our house and we both use them just as well as each other.

Your wife may well be more intelligent and capable than me as well! So it could be that I am the test of the simplicity of the system!

When you use a streaming service (remember I’m new at this!) I take it you download files in order to make them easier to get, catalog, make into playlists, etc. rather than simply ‘re-streaming’ the file again. No? And you can’t do this directly using the Core and naim app, but need to use a computer. So the computer would need to see the NAS or the Core to allow the files to be stored. Am I making progress here?

Supplementary question: When I stream Apple Music, it goes via my iPad or Mac to the Atom via AirPlay. Presumably I’m paying a sound quality penalty for this. Do I need to use something like Tidal to get the Atom to access the music directly, such that I only use the iPad for control?

Thanks everyone for your patience over what must be very basic issues.

Cephas, it does sound harder then it is. I bought a NAS and used my Mac Desktop with a CD to rip my CD’s which was done over several months. I use dBpoweramp software on the Mac to rip the CD’s. I currently have around 2000 albums from CD’s or Downloads from the internet on the NAS. The NAS has an ethernet cable that runs to a switch. The switch is connected to the router with an ethernet cable. The switch also has a eternal cable running to the back of my streamer and another cable to the Mac Desktop.

I use a iPad with the Naim App on it and can easily connect to the NAS, Qobuz, and internet radio. It sounds a lot harder then it actually is to setup and use.

I have not used a CORE and chose not to since the cost savings of using a NAS heavily infuenced my decisions. Plenty of member here have used either one of the other and some both.

There are plenty of threads that you can find here and on the old forum and can use the search function to find lots of information.

Good luck with your decision.

I have to say that personally, I would not buy a Core to partner an Atom. I would use the extra cash to buy a Nova instead, and get a big boost in sound quality.
To rip CDs I would just use DBpoweramp on a computer, or if you prefer a dedicated box to rip, store and serve music files, get an Innuos Zen Mini for £900, which has a great deal more to offer than the Core in terms of functionality.

You are slightly muddling two things here.

If you want to rip your CDs, you get the computer Core to make a digital copy, which then lives in your nas or Core. If you buy a download, you acquire a digital copy that is yours to keep. That lives on your nas or Core as well.

The process of playing the music across your network is called streaming.

That’s where it gets a bit confusing. If you subscribe to Tidal, Qobuz or whatever, you ‘stream’ the music from the internet to your streamer - the Atom. You don’t own it and you don’t have a copy stored. You can use the Naim app to identify your favourites so you don’t have to hunt for them again. If the internet goes down, none of them is available.

Both Tidal and Qobuz offer streaming at at least CD quaility. Apple Music is compressed MP3 and does not sound as good.

If you plan to only listen via the internet then you don’t need local storage, such as a Core, at all. If you want to rip your CDs and buy downloads to keep, then you need storage. So have a think about how you plan to get hold of your music before deciding what to do.

The easiest way would be to px the Atom for a Star. CD player and ripper, streamer all in one box. Then just add a external Hdd for storage. 1 powerlead, 1 Ethernet connection. Done.
I’ve had mine 2 years and it sounds superb with my Neat Xplorers.

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There are a few reasons why people are reluctant to support your idea of adding the Core to your new Atom, but mainly it comes down to price, convenience, and functionality.

You most likely already have everything you need to start the process of moving from CD replay to building and playing your home library of digital music files: your Atom can stream them from a USB stick or a USB drive if you attach one.

@Proterra suggested this, but it may have gotten lost in the shuffle. The Atom has a built in UPnP server, and can “serve itself” if you give it the data on a drive. This functionality is equivalent to using the Core as a home networking server. Your wife and you will be able to use the Naim app to select and play your own local music in a way that has the same look and feel as you use it now with Tidal or internet radio. Zero learning curve.

What you can’t do with your Atom alone is convert your CDs to FLAC files for streaming. The Core does do this, but many report that the convenience of ripping (high: pop in disc and wait) is counterbalanced with lack of flexibility (hard or impossible to edit metadata, export for use elsewhere, etc.). But…

With your home pc (Win or Apple or whatever you have) and a CD-ROM (internal or external as appropriate), you can learn to make bit perfect lossless rips of your CDs, edit your metadata, add whatever album art you like, etc., all using one or two bits of readily available software. There are free ones (XLD for Mac is a nice ripper but some find it slightly obscure to get started) and paid ones (lots and lots of love for Asset, for Mac and Windows, on this forum).

In your shoes, I would install some ripping software (maybe Asset if ease of use is top of mind) and play around with a dozen or so of your CDs. Take your time. Choose defaults where you can (eg rip to FLAC format, use compression level 5, let the program choose the file naming convention, etc.) and pay attention to the automatic metadata it chooses for you (eg double check the band name, album and track names, Composer and conductor and whatever else is important to you if you are a classical lover…) and learn to edit those before you start the ripping process: a couple of minutes at the start is a great way to save on frustration or editing later (although you can certainly always go back and fix up whatever you like in the metadata editor). Let the files get stored locally on your computer.

Copy the dozen ripped discs from the directory on your computer onto a USB memory key, stick it in the Atom, enable UPnP Server mode on the Atom via the Naim App (in Settings), and give it a whirl. Select Servers (or Local Music… sorry I can’t recall) as the Source and press play… now you are doing local streaming, it really is that easy. If you like it, go buy a large enough external USB disc for your collection, and start ripping your CDs a few at a time to build up your local library. Job done.

Best wishes whatever you decide to do… my advice is start small and free (or almost free) and see how you get on. There are plenty of friendly people here on the forum who will help you gain experience, and once you’re up and running you will wonder why it sounds so much harder to do this than it turns out to be in real life!

Regards alan


Good reply alan33.
If the Atom is like the Star you have to configure the memory device as a store first I believe. This is done through the app under Manage music. Once done you can then add music to it. Create a folder for each artist and add to that.The Star does that automatically as you rip.
Hope that makes sense.

Thanks! That is a very helpful reply. I certainly want to be able to expand my listening which is why streaming is important to me (including internet radio). However I have an extensive collection of CDs many of which I am sure will not exist even with the “60 million songs” available from a commercial streaming service. I do own an Apple SuperDrive, which is Apple’s name for their CD reader/burner, and have used it to rip CDs for travel. Sometimes I even burn CDs using purchased downloaded files, so that I can put the CDs with the others in the living room, and not need to look for a computer when I want to hear the music on the hifi. (I’m going backwards!!) In a year or so, we plan to downsize our house and move into a condo (‘flat’ in Britspeak, as we are well into retirement) so I need to contain my CD collection and hi-fi system.

I really like the Atom: sounds great, easy to use, looks awesome, and is amazingly compact. Your suggestion to get my feet wet, by connecting it up an external drive and seeing how that works for me, sounds like the right way to go. I will try out some better ripping software (Asset seems recommended) and set up an SSD with the Atom. After that I can do some more research on the Core to see if it is what I really want and how it compares to an external drive. (The Core doesn’t seem to get much love!) My objective is to have the CDs stored away gathering dust, but not loose any convenience when I want to listen to their content.

Thanks again.

Great summary from Alan; that’s actually, what I do with my Atom.
(And even using my 1.5 decades old iTunes collection of ripped and downloaded music; just copied to an external SSD. I was lazy to re-rip things (except for moving to ALAC) or look for another software so far…)

Just a detail…

To my knowledge, the “UPnP Server mode” setting (switching it “on”) is only needed, if you want to be able to supply the music attached to the Atom to also other (UPnP) devices on your network (say: another Atom :wink: ); especially while the Atom itself is “sleeping”.
For purely “local” usage (Atom reading the disk/SSD and playing from it), this setting can be kept switched off.