Best way to connect MacBook Pro to Naim Uniti Atom

Calling all audiophiles,

I have recently set up a Naim Uniti Atom with KEF R3 speakers and I’m excited to test out their potential.

I would like to play high quality audio files from my laptop on these speakers, for example YouTube has high quality studio recordings which stream in FLAC quality. Can you please advise how to connect my MacBook Pro to the Naim Uniti Atom in order to preserve maximum audio quality and make use of the Atom’s powerful DAC component?

Here are my Mac specs

I read on a closed post that Apple no longer puts optical outputs in its 3.5mm jacks. What cable should I buy? How good is the quality of Airplay connection?

A related question is whether streaming Tidal or Spotify (albeit slightly lower 320kbp max quality) directly from in-built app in Atom will preserve maximum audio quality.

Thanks in advance!

AFIK your only options are to use Airplay 2, or to copy the files from the MacBook to a memory stick, and then plug the memory stick into the Atom. It would be nice if you could simply connect a cable from the USB port on the Apple to the front of the Atom, but such a feature is not supported. If there is such a way I hope someone will chip in and let us know.

(You should have no problems preserving audio quality streaming Tidal to the Atom (at any rate, I do not), but if you do it will not be down to the Atom or Tidal.)

You could also put upnp server software on your MacBook and stream across your network to your Atom.

But to try things out I agree that transferring some files to a USB drive and plugging that into the Atom is an easy and quick thing to do. You should go to servers in the Naim app and then select Local Music, rather than selecting the USB input in the app, as this will give artwork and a more logical layout rather than just a list of files in the USB input.

In terms of sound quality, you will probably find that Spotify doesn’t sound particularly good (although some users are happy with it). Tidal is a bit contentious in that they use a lossy high res format in Tidal Master. Naim units can’t decode the Tidal Master MQA files fully anyway. But some users like the sound they get for all that. Qobuz is the other streaming service that the Atom supports and which streams proper high res music to your Naim unit.

Anyway lots of things to try out. Have fun!

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Thanks for your replies! Some comments and one question re streaming services at the end.

AirPlay 2
Seems the most obvious solution. I was always led to believe that unless there’s a wire there will be quality loss. Apparently I was wrong [i can’t include a link to a digital trends article which says Airplay can stream CD quality and in some cases higher]

USB key
This is a great solution I’ll save for when I’m organised and want to sit down and listen to a full album, old school. Like Pink Floyd The Wall. Less convenient for on demand use or dynamic playlists.

I’ll look into this longer term

Am I right in thinking this is streamed directly to the Naim unit given the apps are built in, thereby bypassing the laptop/phone I use to select the song? Ie the only limit would be my WiFi speed.
Also, when will Naim release a software update to support decoding of Tidal compression codec?

I believe they never will. It has been discussed at great length on this forum in the past and it seems that Naim won’t invest in something they believe isn’t worthwhile. The jury appears to be out as to whether there is any increased quality using MQA.

Yes, that is correct. Use your phone to select the song or album and press play. You can then turn off your phone.

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