My Experience with an Atom + Nap 200

I got a nap 200 a few months ago and popped it on to the atom and thought I heard immediate improvements all round so I kept it hooked up. Sounds a little more powerful, a little more dynamic perhaps. A few days ago I thought I’d go back to just the Atom on its own to assess as something has just been sounding off. Hmmm straight away I noticed clearer highs and what sounded like a more cohesive soundstage. Swapping back and forth for over the last few days has been really interesting. I much prefer the Atom on its own. Even through my big speakers. I have separate bass units with built in amps so I still get fantastic bass with the Atom but the rest of the sound seems clearer but also more musical and cohesive. Interesting. I would have assumed that it would be a definite improvement.

The Nap 200 is a 2018 model so I assume it doesn’t need servicing.

Has anyone else experienced this?

Is there a difference in the sound signature of the amps? It sounds good just not as fun and clear as the Atom.

For now, the Atom is staying on alone.

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Yes, exactly what you’ve expressed. I have an Atom in my office and experimented with a 200. I much preferred the Atom on its own. The 200 just muddies the sound.

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Looks like the Atom is not the best companion for 200. I’d suppose that Atom is a bit weak as a preamp.

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Over the years a lot of people have added a power amp to various Unitis, old and new, and while it can allow you to drive more demanding speakers there are a significant number of people who preferred the sound without, as you have found. I’m tempted to say a majority found this, but of course I don’t have any statistics to show it.
I once added a 200DR to my Superuniti and felt much the same. It did improve the sound in some areas, but it certainly wasn’t a worthwhile upgrade for the £2k cost. However, it was the first stage in a planned upgrade to a Naim separates system which sounded great, so if this is part of an upgrade path for you too I would think twice before you part with the 200.

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Yes I had the same experience adding a new 250DR to a Uniti Star, minimal difference. The uniti’s are excellent but best left as a one box unit.

I can say upgrading to the Nova from a star was a much better improvement and at a fraction of the cost

Yes it is part of a plan. Well it was. I might just abandon the plan and get a nova. The Unity’s just have such a nice sound. I won’t sell it. I’ll pack it away and start a collection.

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I would now have to agree with you on that. It’s funny how it immediately sounded like an upgrade but just seemed to steal the synergy.

No personal experience of adding power amps to the Unitis. But perhaps best just to leave a one box system as it is unless really demanding speakers. Will be interesting to see what Naim do next, 272 replacement or Supernova, what power amps etc?

Regards,

Lindsay

When I moved from a 282/HicapDR/200 to 250DR I lent my 200 to a colleague who had a Uniti. He didn’t like the 200 on it and stayed bare too so this isn’t unusual.

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Fingers crossed on the 272 replacement.

Interesting.

I have an ancient (but serviced) NAP 250 on my Atom, and on the first gen 'Qute that preceded it. The speakers are SBLs.

I have tried with and without and have no hesitation in saying the system is better all round with the power amp. The uplift was more marked on the 'Qute but then the baseline performance of that vs the Atom was much lower.

So maybe the performance of a 200 is the ‘issue’ here?

Bruce

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For me it seems to be a matter of synergy rather than outright quality of one vs another. I can completely understand how on a different system it might give a preferable result. For me the addition of the 200 seems to give a little extra power but take some musicality and smoothness in return.

I too have the Atom hooked up to a NAP200, but I am driving The KEF R3 stand mount speakers which to me seem to benefit from the extra power the 200 gives.
On the other hand as headphone listener as well I am not that enamoured with the Atoms performance in that area, I then saw fit to invest in a separate Headphone system ( RME ADI-DAC fs + Bluesound Node 2i driving Sennheiser 800s ).
Three months later ,Atom HE arrives on the scene and lo and behold ,due to its upgraded preamp and obviously headphone performance I have read ( somewhere on this forum )that this would benefit being coupled with the 200.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing !!! ,as I moved away from my little Naim system to basically a one box system only to find I am back to two systems albeit both of good quality.
I just wish Naim had been six months earlier with the launch of the HE version,all I would have needed would be a longer headphone cable !!!.
Forgot to mention the obvious but probably will bite the proverbial bullet in the new year , sell headphone system and Atom to consolidate back to just an Atom HE together with the 200.

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From what I’ve read (between the lines) here, the Uniti’s work really well with extremely neutral power amps that let the Uniti’s own sound shine through. Much less so with power amps that have a sound of their own. Which I guess, includes Naim’s.

@afgverhart and I think one or two others have successfully used class D amps like the Purifi but I’m sure there are others using more traditional amp classes.

Ones I would like to try at some point are the Benchmark AHB2 and/or Boxem 4215/E2.

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I’m sure a Nova would be a nice step up if that’s as far as you intend to go. Always good to know what your endgame system is when you start the upgrade process if you want to avoid expensive mistakes :wink:

I plan to try another Naim power amp in the future, as I would welcome a bit more emphasis on the mid range (e.g. voices) which is not really the case with Purifi Class D. It is neutral and it sounds very good, but a little bit more Naim signature to the sound could be nice.

Yeah I don’t regret buying the Nap 200 it will be great to have around and can always be sold on if need be. It will be great to have 1 part of a separate system if I decide to go that way. It really just makes me assess everything when I consider how much I enjoy listening to the Atom. Synergy is sometimes more important.

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I wish I were closer I’d lend you my nap 200 seen as it’s now boxed up and under the bed.

I actually don’t think that Naim power amps have a “sound”. Anyone is welcome to correct me if I’m wrong but with my multiple comparisons of my hypex vs Atom vs nap 200, I feel the pre/streamer is what gives the “naim sound” not the power amp. I feel that the power amp just amplifies signal and attempts to add as little noise as possible.

I haven’t heard one out of the context of a full Naim system, so can’t comment on which component did what with the sound. But didn’t you above wrote that the 200 changed the sound a little bit vs the Atom’s?

That would indicate at least one of them has a sound, but I guess could be the Atom’s inbuilt one.