Music file storage with Atom

I’ve just purchased a used Uniti Atom as my first HiFi unit in over 35 years. I love it.

I’ve been streaming ALAC files stored on my macbookpro via AirPlay2 but this means they’re going through the Apple DAC and I have yo keep my laptop open all the time. Has anybody found a good way to store music files for their Atom (and if so, what’s the setup). I’m stumped!

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The simplest way is to put the music on SD storage connected to the back of the Atom. The problem is that you need to remove it and connect to the computer each time you want to add new material to it.

More elegant is to use a NAS (network attached storage). If you use a Synology or Qnap you can then install upnp server software such as Asset. The Atom will find this and be able to play the music.

There are lots of dedicated ripper and server options at a price, including Naim’s Core.

I use a Qnap NAS and it works very well. It lives in a separate room to the stereo, wakes up when I play music, and doesn’t need the Mac to be running. I can download or rip music to the Mac, copy over the network to the Qnap and then delete from the Mac. It does need to be hard wired, so that’s something to think about. A lot will depend on how many albums you have. It’s it’s not a lot, the first option may well be all you need.


Wow, thank you so much for your reply.

I only have 175GB of files at present so plugging into the back seems to be the way to go. I was worried that even at 4W the power draw may be an issue. Do you think so?

If I may be so bold as to ask, how might I organise the files? At present iTunes does this for me so I thought just using the same might be good.

Lots of people plug into the back without a hitch, and Naim have designed the Atom to do this very thing. I don’t do it, so am not sure of which drive to choose, but a forum search may help.

So long as the metadata is all correct, it’s less important how you organise the files, at least on a NAS. The standard way is to have a folder for each artist, with folders holding the files for each album nested beneath.

As I don’t have experience of using a drive in the back, I’d feel more comfortable if someone who does comes along to confirm or modify what I’ve said. It’s best to get it right from the off.

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Thanks. I’ll wait and let’s see if someone who does that chimes in. Otherwise it’s a NAS I guess. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out!

I think HH’s suggestion is a good idea. A USB drive attached to the Atom works fine. You should go to the Server Input and look in Local Music where you will be able to browse the files by tag (album, artist, album artwork etc.) rather than the basic folder view you get in the USB input.

For a relatively small music collection this is easy to manage. Just a cheap USB memory stick may be all you need, although the Atom will happily power a larger HDD if required.

You may find a small improvement in sound quality compared to Airplay from a Mac, especially with any HiRes music files, and you won’t have to worry about having a reliable network connection.

Note that Airplay sends a digital stream to the Atom, bypassing the DAC in your Mac, so the sound quality of your current setup may not be as compromised as you think.

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The Samsung Tn (where n = number) external ssd drives are recommended.
I think it’s currently a T7 model. (Replacing t6 and t5).

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For me, I just copy my iTunes (=Apple Music, these days) folder to an external SSD and plug it in.
Works fine, though a NAS offers more convenience if multiple people are using the setup or you anyway already have a NAS or you are doing frequent changes to your library.
(I once plugged the drive to my router with limited NAS functionality; but it wasn’t working well at that time.)

You will geht higher power consumption somehwere : either your PC/Mac running, the NAS (usually running 24/7), or the Atom in network-connected-standby with a drive attached.
(Only options to avoid the latter: send the Atom into deep sleep or unplug the drive. Essentially balancing power usage and convenience.)

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Here, I think iTunes can really help. If you have your metadata well organized and you have the “keep my iTunes library organized” box checked in your settings, your iTunes library will be logically contained in by folders and sub-folders with the structure of Alpha by Artist - Alpha by Album - Track Number. Then, you simply copy and paste your iTunes library onto your SSD or Flash device that you then connect to the back USB port of your Atom. You can use the “USB” or “Server” tabs in the Naim app to access the folders and files. The “Server” tab will show you album art in the app, although either will cause the album art to show up on the Atom’s screen.

Then, when you want to add new music to your Atom’s drive, just add the music to iTunes, reattach the SSD or Flash drive to your computer and re-copy the folder structure to the SD or flash drive (I like to do a fresh, complete re-install of the whole library now and then, but you don’t have to do it that way if you just want to have it ignore duplicate files)

I do this with about 22,000 tracks, and while the organizational process and metadata has taken years to perfect in iTunes (I listen to a lot of classical music, which is tricky to organize), it works seamlessly on my Nova, and you don’t have to worry about other hardware or cables (besides the SSD or flash drive and USB cable), upscaling or downscaling, etc.

I have a 2 week old Atom and am loving it, I use a 1TB Samsung T7 SSD as a test and so far have been very happy. I have started ripping my CDs using dBpoweramp cd ripper at highest quality Flac and have been very impressed so far. I have to admit to being a little confused though as most tracks are playing back at 16bit 44.1khz and I dont know if that is my ripping or the CDs I have repped (mostly 90s EDN at the moment).

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16/44 is CD resolution, so that’s what you’ll get. The is no benefit to ripping with no compression. The standard level 5 sounds exactly the same, yet takes up less space.

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As per Robert’s recommendation, the Samsung T series of solid state drives are excellent.

I found that SDD worked better than HDD with regard to long playlists etc. No idea why.

If you are still copying a lot of CDs or downloading music then, as HH says, a NAS could be better as you don’t have to keep unplugging from the Atom. I’ve barely bought a CD in 3 years, so don’t mind this so much.

If you are getting a SSD instead of a NAS drive, then it’s worth getting an extra connecting cable for the link between the Atom and the SSD. That way you just have to disconnect the drive from the cable (and leave the cable plugged into the Atom) when disconnecting to burn new CDs. That way you don’t have to faff around the back of the Atom trying to locate the correct socket.

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I plug in to back via external disk and no problems.
Be careful with some file formats as Atom doesn’t recognise i.e. non standard characters - had to change all &'s to " and".
Also, if storing covers as part of file then keep size down. I convert to 400kb but think others use 1mb without issue.

Wow. So many kind responses. Thank you all. I’ve learned heaps!

I shall get a USB extension cable and a Samsung SSD as a starting point. Not sure about using Apple Music still but will consider that a bit more and possibly even try both setups to decide what works best for me. Thanks Chris for the tip on streaming quality … I was mistaken there.

I had previously ripped via iTunes but already decided upon dBpoweramp for re-ripping to FLAC and setting equalised output etc so I’m glad that was a good choice. Keeping cover art small is a great tip!

I really appreciate all the help and suggestions. Onward and upward as they say!

It’s of course up to you but an even easier (and cheaper) way to do this is to buy a tiny 250Gb thumb drive (you mention your library is about 170Gb) which is £25 or less, copy your library to it and stick that in the back of the Atom. You won’t know it’s there and you can easily remove it and stick it in a computer to add more music. Better still buy a pack of 2 and you can rotate them between Atom and computer. I did this for my Father and it worked a treat.

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That’s a great idea. I can test out using Apple Music on it as opposed to on my MacBook.

I think this was fixed in a firmware release a while back, however I do think it’s good practice to avoid all these types of characters. Best done straight after ripping a CD. I tend to also take out quotes, and accented characters and brackets

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