I’m new to higher end audio and need some help. I’m streaming from a Uniti Atom (which I love) to B&W 600 series bookshelf speakers. Basically, the speakers sound great (streaming lossless music through Tidal) until pushed beyond 60% volume level and then begin to distort heavily. The speakers are rated up to 120w. The Atom puts out a max of 40w. Is it too simple to conclude that the distortion must be coming from the Atom, e.g. the sound gets dirtier as the amp gets pushed harder? Interestingly, I play vinyl though a phono preamp to the analogue input and get much cleaner sound at higher volumes than the streaming side. Help!
Perhaps someone can comment, on whether these speakers are power hungry or inefficient.
That might explain your reports…
Is your Atom connected to the net with WiFi or wired? I use a wired connection to my
Atom and my speakers are Focal Aria 926 and I have no distortion even when pushed quite hard streaming 75, 80% of volume with no distortion
You are probably pushing the Atom too hard, and it’s clipping. More speakers are destroyed by underpowered amplifiers being driven too hard than by powerful amplifiers working within their comfort zone.
What are these speakers stood on ?
Thx for responding. It’s connected directly to my router.
Thx for responding. They are directly on a non adjustable bookshelf. It’s a very stable built-in and probably not prone to resonate but easy to test.
Thx for responding. That was my first thought, but I’m wondering why I get better results via my phono pre-amp and analog input?
They really need to be on proper stands. This may well be your problem.
Have you only streamed from Tidal if so then perhaps see what happens with Spotify (which is not to CD level, but at least you can try stuff for free)? I haven’t tried Tidal myself as I consider its pricing of High Def as a rip-off; so I cannot compare myself.
Have you tried playing a music file from a USB or a NAS (if you have one) to see if it does the same?
I have B&W 602 speakers (I don’t know how similar they are to yours) and I have not noticed a problem with distortion at higher volume.
It is strange that the analogue signal works OK (from what I understand the Naim converts analogue input into digital anyway).
I hope you find a solution.
The speakers are recommended for amps from 30 to 120 W, so you are certainly more toward the lower end. They are also not terribly efficient at 88 dB. Despite the speakers having a benign 8 Ohms, at 60% I wouldn’t be surprised if the Atom was clipping, but I have no explanation, either, for why it would differ with phono
Maybe the phono preamp has a higher output and therefore the Atom needs to work less hard to get a given volume? I’m clutching at straws here. You appear to have a few options: swap the Atom for a Nova, swap the speakers for some that are an easier load for the Atom, or don’t play the music so loudly.
Uniti atom being pushed too hard
Upgrade to a nova
Or a Star, but agree the Nova is better .
I’d love to put them on stands, but have constraints - a wife. They’re pesky that way.
Thx Dave. Good suggestion.
Really, it is plenty loud enough at 60%, and sounds great beneath those levels. It’s probably difficult to engineer more clean power in a small package like the Atom, but I wish it could blast like my Naim Mu-so does, which based on it’s output (75w for each speaker driver) might suggest that clipping is occurring?
Hi Doug, can I ask what size is the room your system is in? You may be asking too much of an Atom if your room is on the large size. On the other hand, I have an Atom in my office which I use with little Neat Iota speakers. These are a fair bit less efficient than yours, but I don’t experience the distortion you mention. That’s in my small office, but I can whack the volume up to house-filling levels without the issues you’re encountering.
One other thought occurs to me. Perhaps the distortion is in the digital source you’re using and is disguised when played back at low volume but becomes more apparent when you turn the wick up. Could just account for the difference with vinyl, but I realise I’m clutching at straws here.
Thx Roger. The room is 15x15. I ran a CD player through one of the digital inputs on the Uniti Atom and have the same dirty results above 60% as with streaming. I recently read a review from a guy that claims sublime results streaming to bookshelf B&W 705s powered by an Atom. Although a much better speaker than my old 685s, I wouldn’t think they’re too much different in terms of power to drive? I’ve been out of town, and return tomorrow to begin troubleshooting. Best, -Doug