iPad to Atom question

I’m new here, but hoping for some advice. I recently switched my Superuniti for an Atom. I’d bought the Superuniti second hand a few years back. and was finding connectivity a bit clunky (plus some overheating issues). I felt the Airplay 2 on the Atom would better suit my needs also, as we’re a pretty Apple-heavy household. I’ve got it paired with some Focal Aria 926’s, which I’m hoping will pair well with the Atom (time will tell).

With Apple Lossless now available, I plan to setup a dedicated iPad to run my system. My question is maybe very basic. To get the best lossless (hi-res also ?) sound quality from iPad Pro to Atom, which connection method would be best ? I’m assuming that I don’t need a DAC in between, as the Atom has one internally ? Will a simple USB C to USB A be the best connection method ?

Reading a couple of other threads here, I see two relevant points:

The USB A input on the Atom isn’t suitable for this purpose.
I still need a DAC between iPad & Atom.

Seems illogical to me that 2 DAC’s are required in sequence, would be good if someone could explain. Is the USB A input on the Atom really not able to connect direct to iPad ? If not, how best to do it ?

No it can’t be used to connect to an iPad. It’s a basic usb for storage connection only. USB audio stages are different and the Atom or any current Naim product does not support USB audio.

If you want to jump through hoops to add Apple Music using an iPad to a device that does not support it due to Apples lack of interest in other eco systems then to use an external DAC or a USB audio to SPDIF converter are your only options outside of Airplay or Chromecast on Android and they bring their own limitations and sq issues.

You can buy a Topping d10s that will convert usb to Spdif for just over £100. Seems daft to me though to spend extra money on something to get it to save a few quid on subs. Which this will wipe out for a few years. Also having to have an iPad connected to it means it more or less a redundant piece of kit for anything else as well as highly impracticle.

Your choice obviously but I would wait and see if Apple decide to open up, highly unlikely but stranger things have happened.

Unclear to me why I need an external DAC, when the Atom has an internal DAC.

Another question: Apple sells USB C to HDMI cables. There’s a HDMI input on the Atom. Can I go through that route, and use the Atom DAC.

I explained this quite clearly above, not sure what else can be said on this.

It may or may not work, it will only go up to 48/24 if it does at all. And is entirely up to how Apple has designed it’s app. Your on your own to try it out.

But do come back and tell us what you discover please!



1 Like

Clear to you perhaps, but not clear to me I’m afraid. But I appreciate the fact you made the effort, so thank you.

The baffling point to me, is that the Atom has a range of inputs, that are designed to accept digital sources. It then has an internal DAC to process these digital sources. I want to send it a digital source from an iPad/iPhone. Why can a £100 external DAC process this digital signal into an appropriate form, but a £2k+ streamer with internal DAC cannot, such that I need an additional duplicate process ? Makes no logical sense to me, regardless of peoples feelings about Apple.

Anyway, I’ll figure it out somehow.

To get music out of the iPad you need to use a lightning to USB converter. This sends it out using USB audio protocol. This is not the same as using optical or coaxial digital inputs that send audio streams via SPDIF. The two are not compatible with each other. For any device to use USB audio it has to have
a specifc USB audio controller inbuilt to send data to the DAC. Naim for whatever reason do not support USB audio as an input as it does have its downsides and they feel SPDIF is superior. Not all DACs support USB audio althougg for higher than pcm 192/24 it is required. As a result of no USB audio class controller their devices cannot receive audio data via this method only via SPDIF interfaces or via network protocols such as UPnP, Roon, Airplay and Chromecast.

In regards to HDMI Apple does not mention it on their FAQ, so I doubt it would work. If it did they would have said so.


2 points: when you buy the device mentioned above, it has 2 functions: it contains both a digital output (which can connect to the Atom, SPDIF) and a DAC. Two in one.
You only need the former (don’t use the DAC with the Atom!), but it seems people on the forum consider it still a good device for just one of its two functions. (I don’t have it or anything similar; just from what I read, including the specs of it.)

Second: the HDMI adapter from Apple won’t help you. The Arom only accepts HDMI-ARC input, while the adapter is for connecting screens or TVs, hence used (only) standard HDMI.

Same physical connectors can support various protocols. Naim has selected hose „most usually used“ at the time the Unitis were designed. Adding more functions for niche cases need more HW and/or SW support and make the products more expensive for everybody. (Though looked for use cases change over time.)

Well, it gives a wired connection. :wink: So it might be working.
(HDMI (legacy) default ist stereo PCM bitstream.)

But you need a HDMI to HDMI-ARC converter (like a TV, maybe some soundbars can do this as well?) to get the stream from Apple-device to a Uniti.

Tbh, I’ve no issue adding an external DAC, as I quite like buying gadgets, albeit I’m clearly off the pace with understanding the various input/output protocols. Just don’t want to add one needlessly if there had been a way of connecting directly … but if there isn’t, there isn’t.

1 Like

I would have thought AirPlay would have been perfectly fine. Why clutter things up and buy extra stuff you don’t need.

1 Like

Can’t get the hi-res lossless via Airplay. Whilst the regular lossless will undoubtedly be fine 90% of the time, knowing the hi-res is there, and not being able to access it, would be frustrating, so it’s a point of principle.

I see your point but honestly I doubt you’ll hear the difference.

You are correct of course, but you know how it is. We are all here with this kit because we care somewhat about that detail.

What you want instead of a DAC, is a device which plugs via USB into iPad (or iPhone, Mac, …) via USB and offers a digital SPDIF output. (Optical or coaxial cables.)
Then you can connect that to one of the digital-in inputs of the Atom.

(If you use a DAC, there will be multiple conversions digital-analogue-digital-analogue, due to the way the Atom handles the analogue input.)

So you would happily listen to aac all the time? That’s what you get via Airplay 2 and Apple Music.