Harsh/edgy upper strings with Naim Atom and Proac d2r

I know that ProAc recommend a good amount of toe-in for their speakers, but have you tried reducing the amount of it?

While I was fine-tuning the position of my Tablette 10s I went from a tiny amount of toe-in to having the tweeter axes converge behind my head i.e. I could still see the insides of the cabinets. I was surprised that I didn’t get along so well with that. I felt the sound was noticeably brighter, and generally less well integrated. I went back to having maybe 20mm of toe-in, and I think it works better.

Before you go experimenting with cables, you might try some adjustments to both toe-in and to the distances to both the front and side walls (if that’s feasible). It may just be that your room requires some deviation from the manufacturer’s recommendations. These changes are easy to do, and may get you closer to the sound you’re looking for.


Very nice organ. My favourite, I had my lessons there back in the days. I’m unfortunately too far away to drop off a set of cables to test.

Like others have said play with positioning before spending any money. I have found cables make little difference on the Atom. I used to use NACa5 ditched it as it’s pain to use in restricted spaces and hide due to its inflexibility. New cables changes nothing sound wise but made a difference in being able to lay them where I wanted them. They don’t stipulate to use NACA5 for Uniti range like they do for their power amps so go with what you like.

I had similar issues with previous set of speakers with the Atom no amount of cable changes changed a thing. In the end it was a bad combo of Atom, Speaker and Room. I had exhausted all positioning my room could allow. So I tried more speakers to find ones that worked better in my Room and choose ProAc Tab 10 S. I am very happy now. Saying that I have found with the wrong position even these can be a little bright and will be room dependant. So try and experiment if no luck then they are the wrong combo for your room and I would look to decide which component to change to make it fit better.


@Suedkiez , I think you probably speak and read German language.
The VLS ultra ofc are German speakers cables. All is written in deutsche. Can’t find the specs.

I do, and I already tried to google the cable earlier, but all I found was some search results for seller ads on eBay Kleinanzeigen (the German eBay platform for classified ads), but when following the links the ads were already gone from eBay. And no specs anywhere or even images that I trust to show the correct cable :frowning:

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I guess just using some bell-wire will suffice then?

The Atom has an amp derived from the NAIT range.

I used to run a NAIT5 Si and i can tell you from my own experience that NAC A5 ‘made up properly’ with the correct plugs made a huge difference to the overall performance, as well as making it thermally stable at all operating parameters.

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I run my Atom into Tannoy Cheviots/MkI Linn Kans/Castle Knights as the mood takes me and I always use NAC A5 without any issues…

I have to say I experience exactly the same as you with exactly the same types of recordings. It started with a Nova and ATC SCM19s and persists with an SN3 and the same speakers. Both NACA5 and Witch Hat Phantom cables have been used. It is less apparent with the SN3 and the Witch Hat cables and does depend on the recording but can be pretty unbearable on some. Other types of music are no problem at all and sound tremendous. If your problem is the same, I don’t think a change of amp will make a significant difference although it may help a bit.

To rule out the speakers and/or room, can you try the Atom with some headphones?

I have been thinking about trying out some alternative speakers and I also thought the room may be to blame. However, I find similar, although less pronounced, problems with headphones so, for me at least, the principal culprit is probably deteriorating hearing. It also varies - some days recordings that I have found painful are not too bad - this also make me think it is my ears although it could be the power supply I suppose.


A painfull subject PW42 :weary: Really familiar experiences. I just jumped the big 6-o. Hope it isn’t so though. I ‘ll go and try the headphone test and possibly the naim cables before taking the proacs along on a time ( and money) consuming round trip to possible dealers for an arranged marriage with amp so and so. Although somewhat against my gut feeling that it isn’t about lost electrons waiting for their little brothers (or sisters for that matter) to catch up.

Sorry I’m UK based, and not heading your way until next year at least. I do, however, travel to Schipol so maybe I could sort something out when I know I’m coming over. I usually stay for at least a week which should be long enough to test.

Thanks Jono-13! I’ll try to get my hands on a set in the meantime ( being a bit inpatient). I will keep the progress posted!

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If this helps, and if it’s allowed, I copied this from the recent What HiFi review of these speakers:

“These ProAcs aren’t as unfussy about positioning as the standard D2. That ribbon tweeter has many positives but is more demanding about optimum set-up. Make sure you keep the speakers away from rear and sidewalls and get the toe-in angle towards the listening position right – it’s about getting the appropriate balance between stereo focus and image solidity. Finally, make sure your stands raise the speaker sufficiently to put your ears broadly in line with the tweeter.”

AFAIK, the more toed-in/angled towards the listener a speaker is positioned, the brighter the treble/upper midrange will be. Before spending any money, my first actions would be to ensure the speakers are away from side walls and to trial moving them away from the front wall to increase the perception of depth/smoothness. I would also try to reduce the toe-in as this should make the tonal balance less bright. I also noticed that the tweeters are mounted asymmetrically in these particular speakers - you could try swapping them over left and right to see whether the sound is smoother/less harsh with the tweeters the ‘inboard’ or ‘outboard’. I don’t know but I would guess that they might be smoother ‘outboard’, that is with the tweeters further away from each other.

Hope this helps.

I have ordered the Naca05 cables ( eta next week) and began reducing the toe in position and widening the distance between the speakers. I even changed l and r, that is I put the asymmetrical positioned tweeters outward ( not the standard recommendation by Proac!). It is late and I am tired but it looks like things are improving. More news coming weekend!


Nac cables just (finally)arrived. In the meantime experimenting with some real oldies I keep like the Quad 33/303 and (less old) Musical Fidelity A3.2 and even a Lavardin ISX reference** ( almost new and on loan) didn’t improve the harsh tweeter/treble issue. Ears are ok, I spend an hour listening to string favorites on esl63’s/ supernait 2 at a friend. Sheer heaven. Atom with headphone is also ok. Switching back to my Dynaudio 52 se’s sounds like a real relief. I ll do the nac cable experiment tomorrow but my hopes are quite low. More news tomorrow.
** trying out this much praised amp also showed how good the atom is in comparison!


Keep us posted. Will be interesting to hear the result. I will be quite surprised if the Atom was harsh sounding with a proac speaker if set up correctly.

I suspect the Proacs are merely revealing the Atom, I had a similar experience with an Atom and Spendor A4’s. It’s a lovely box but possibly not best paired with revealing speakers. Certainly trying other speaker cables is definitely worth a try.

Certainly not the case in my eyes. If something is still wrong then it will be purely a synergy mismatch, or a shortfall on the speaker design. I have been using the Atom for the past few years on my DIY Speakers. They use really high end drivers and very high quality crossover components. If anything would “reveal” the Atom’s shortfalls then this speaker surely would. There are only a few components in the crossover before the tweeter. It was as smooth as butter. The Atom is a great little device.

As the same problem occurs with the different amplifiers, and as it goes away with the other set of speakers, I wonder if the ProAcs are faulty. They are still under warranty, assuming you bought them new six months ago. I wonder if your dealer or distributor is able to get hold of another set and send them to you to try. That said, I’ve experienced a similar sound to that you describe on a few records in the past, largely with soprano voices, and always put it down to some sort of room resonance.

As a bit of an aside, using an Atom with D2Rs probably isn’t ideal, and the speakers would benefit from a better source and amplifier. But the first thing is to be absolutely sure that the speakers are not faulty.

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This is a bit of puzzle although a bit hard to diagnose from a distance. Like @hungryhalibut I wondered about a speaker fault but unless the edginess is just on one channel that would mean both speakers had the same fault, which seems unlikely. Though there might be a faulty batch I suppose.

I guess it could also be a speaker/amp matching issue, but even with other amps the problem doesn’t seem to go away. And I’d have though treble issues were not the most obvious consequence of using an Atom with overly demanding speakers.

I also have doubts about changing the speaker cable as a solution. I swapped the NACA5 I initially used with my Atom/Iotas for easier-to-manage Chord Sarsen and could not detect a difference in SQ. But trying NACA is a good idea if only to rule out a cable problem.

In the UK I reckon this would be the time to bring in my dealer. Not sure how feasible that is for the OP. I do wonder if it’s going to mean different speakers. The Atom is pretty portable so at least relatively easy to take it round to dealers to audition alternatives.

Best of luck to @Servaas in resolving this.


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I use my Atom as a Nait into Neat Iotas , with an external streamer/DAC (Chord 2Go/Hugo2), for my second system and it performs very well.

I have compared the Atom at home in the last two weeks against the new Chord Anni and against the Chord Ttoby - the “Nait-Atom” just provides a more balanced sound with good clarity - suitable for full-day background listening. The Anni is an excellent headphone amp .btw, and in a nice form factor compatible with the Qutest & Huei.

The “Nait-Atom” , to my ears, is better in this role than as an all-in-one. I have just bought a second pre-loved one to back up my assessment :grinning:

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