Naim Uniti Atom (newbie)

Hi,

Firstly, I want to apologize, my English is not fluent and I hope my question will sound intelligible.

I listen to lot of music : concertos / lyrical / jazz / vocals but I don’t have any qualification in the audiophile field. I bought my first system, entry-level one I guess, in mid-2000’s (Cambridge 640A and Quad speakers). As I tend to listen lot of Hi-res streaming music (Qobuz), I bought a Naim Uniti Atom last week and I have some questions because, I feel that my actual Quad speaker doesn’t always make justice to the Naim. A plenty of questions emerged then, so :

1- Is it worth upgrading the Uniti Atom (40 w) to be able to drive more interessant speakers reference ?

2- If so would it be more wise to return the Atom and pick a Star (the Nova is out of my budget), or to pick a power amp (?) Nap 200 ? (The second option is more expensive). Is it even possible to plug (?) the Naim in my actual Cambridge 640A and get the Naim sound with the power of the Cambridge 640A (65w) ? The power, beyond the number of watts implied, has it incidence on musicality (I mean, a Naim Uniti Atom plugged on 65w Cambridge / Rotel power amp will it sound the same if it’s plugged, let’s imagine on a 65w Naim power amp ?)

The online reviews seems to point that the Uniti Atom is able to drive speakers known to be hard to drive, but I am not sure if this assertion is right. I want frankly to believe so, because I enjoy the musicality of the Atom and I don’t want to spend more on the amp / power section if the sound quality improvement is marginal.

3- For my music style, that I listen in 22 m2 room, with impossibility to push the speakers more than few cm from the wall, which speaker do you advice ?

Ps. There are some shops in my town, but they don’t always have the reference in demo.

Best regards

The Atom is a very capable device and I do not think you should be rushing to change it. I suspect that your speakers are the problem. With the type of music that you prefer and the need to have the speaker close to the wall, top of your list to audition should be a pair of Proac Tablette 10’s. I had an Atom and the Proac’s and they are a fantastic match

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Hi @Lutece, welkome to this forum!

I am in a very similar situation: Atom driving Dynaudio Contour S 3.4 LE floorstanders. From the beginning I felt something was missing and I have invested in a NAP200. That worked really well, it sounded powerful, but I also felt the sound was less organic. So after 1.5 years I removed the NAP200 and played for two weeks without it. This sounded more organic and ‘complete’. It is hard to describe. Putting the NAP200 back in did not make me happy, also not after a few days where it had warmed up (this was a 2016 device that was on 24/7 in my setup). I decided that I preferred the integrated Atom sound, even though it has its flaws if you listen very critically.

When I tested some power conditioning in my setup recently (an AudioQuest Niagara 1200), that is where I got surprised. I now enjoy the musical and organic presentation of the Atom with added power and dynamics (that is how it sounds to me at least).

In the past I have owned multiple high-end setups, including Classé, Chord, Esoteric and Marantz. And the Atom now beats them all.

So don’t get rid of the Atom too quickly as you might get disappointed. I am very happy with the Atom driving my Dynaudio speakers. You might want to try the Special 40 or Contour models from them as I think these are a perfect match.

BR,
Richard

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@crispyduck @afgverhart

Thank your very much. I was a little bit concerned by the idea that Uniti Atom could be short to drive some speakers. I guess, I have to find a good pair of speakers and enjoy music.

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It’s a matter of balance - with the right speakers the Atom is a great piece of kit for the money. Good luck

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Yes, I guess the synergy between the speakers and the amp is a key element.

It’s difficult for me to translate verbally my expectations but I want a combination that brings both transparency, spatialisation, energy and precision when it’s required (concerto music) and intimacy, detail and “meaty” in other scenarios (vocal jazz and acoustic music).

I want to avoid harsh and thin sound, as I want to stay far from a limp, artificially over-rounded sound. I think that for a listener music should stay both an intellectual approach, requiring details and precision, and also a spontaneous pleasure (feeling emotions).

I’ve heard some years ago a McIntosh amp (I don’t have the reference) paired with a B&W PM1 and it was wonderful and emotional for vocal jazz (I didn’t try it for classical music). Ideally, it would be like this.

For speakers, I’ve listen to the Dynaudio special 40 and B&W 705 s2 with the Naim Uniti Atom and I found them different : the Special 40’s seems to have a more projected and center focused scene, a better bass restitution and something engaging and joyful for jazz.

The B&W 705 s2 were more back-focused, had less bass but they were way more transparent and the soundstage seemed horizontally huge compared the the Special 40. I was wondering if the 40w could be an issue with the B&W 705 S2 and if they would sound more “full” when paired with a more power amp ?

I know that the personnel listening is the most important, but I tend to think that your audiophile experience is also important because listening to speakers in a store for 1 hour and getting the gears at home for several months is different. The Special 40’s seems more emotional, more suited for Jazz / Vocal Jazz then the B&W 705 S2 and the B&W really shined when concerto music was involved (the only time I preferred these speakers was with Rimski-Korsakov’s Scheherazade that was so much engaging and airy through the B&W then it was through the Special 40’s).

I am afraid to pick the Special 40’s (that costs about 30% more then the B&W 705 S2 in France) and being tired of the resonance of the “bass” and an impoverishment of the musical experience after few months due to the centre-focused soundstage; as I am afraid to pick the B&W 705 S2 and experiencing the same tiredness for, this time, the harshness and the brillance these speakers seems to present.

On Naim’s website, they recommend the Focal 900’s Aria series for the Uniti Atom, while some resellers recommended me the Sonus Faber Sonetto II. Some website’s evokes positively the PMC Twenty 5. I’ve never heard any of these speaker, does someone has an experience with them ?

Ps. The Naim’s Uniti Atom raised the restitution quality of the Quad’s and the Cambridge 640C cd player to a level I didn’t excepted them to be able to raise. I was reluctant to listen to my CD’s for a long time, but when I plugged the CD player on the Uniti Atom and started to listen to Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, Maurice Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte I was amazed by the straight energy I discovered. Is it possible to plug the CD player on a digital input to get the RCA available for a turnable ?

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I used to have an Atom/Proac Tab 10’s but now have a Nova/PMC twenty5.21 set up which is very good. I am not sure that an Atom would drive the PMC’s that well. However, I would urge you if at all possible to audition the Tab 10’s with the Atom. It is a special combination and as I said I think it would work so well with the type of music you listen to

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Don’t underestimate the Atom. It can drive my speakers really well with 2 x 12” drivers, and put out some amazing dynamics. They are 88/89 dB sensitivity so if you get something larger just aim for higher sensitivity and the atom will be great! They will obviously do even better with more power but for the time being I am very pleased with the Atom. Great device.

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Thank you Mark.
I am now convinced that the Atom is fully capable and has enough sonic quality for my ears. I have to focus now in a speakers that can match it.
Does anyone tried the Dynaudio contour 3 or the Focal 926/ 948 (serie) with the Atom ?

Best regards

I am not sure what exact Dynaudio Contour model you refer to, but I am extremely happy with our Atom driving a pair of Dynaudio Contour S 3.4 LE loudspeakers. As these are basically a newer version of the loudspeakers I think you are referring to, that should work well I assume.

To put things in perspective:

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Thank you very much. I was afraid that the Atom was anemic to drive these speakers (to 300W).

Definitely do not get fooled by the 40W output of the Atom, it is capable of driving floor standing speakers even ones that aren’t very sensitive. Also remember that 80W whilst 2x as powerful as 40W on paper. It’s only 3db louder, which is noticeable, but definitely not doubling the perceived loudness! Many tube amps only have 20-30W of power. In fact, in triode mode, my little tube amp only has 15W and I drive a pair of ProAc 1sc with it. The volume knob doesn’t even go pass 10 o’clock most days.

In terms of bang for the buck, Atom is awesome. And it is a very lovely piece of equipment!

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No problem at all. Yes, putting a stronger amp will provide you with more ‘grip’ on the loudspeakers, but the Atom is doing an excellent and very musical job already.

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Thank you very much guys. Just another question that may seem silly : when I read on the sheet spec of a speaker reference « 4 ohms », does this mean that it can’t be driven by an Atom ?

Ps. « Can’t be driven » is a correct sentence ?

That’s a correct sentence. :slight_smile: It means that you need to match it with the 4ohm power output of the Atom. Most important here is the stability and power of the power supply. Naim has a history of underrating the power that their amps deliver. The Atom has a very stable power supply and my loudspeakers also have a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. I have no issues whatsoever to play them (loud).

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Had a quick skim through the Uniti Atom manual and it is not mentioned if 4 ohms impedance is too low or not. Impedance afaik does fluctuate hence may go down to 2 ohms and allow too much current back into the amp overloading it hence is usually not recommended unless manufacturer says it can handle it. May be reach out to Naim support to get a definitive answer.

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Also don’t forget that the Atom needs about 200 playing hours to run in and sound it’s best.
So don’t be too hasty to change anything at present.

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I really love my Special Forty driven by a NAC-N 272 and NAP250DR, but hey; every loudpeaker performs better when the quality of the amplification improves, isn’t it? :wink:

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Absolutely, as afgverhart said, stronger amp produces better grip! I didn’t understand this until I went to Naim.

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I’m pretty sure that Naim would say in the manual if driving 4 ohm speakers would damage your amp. There are many 4 ohm speakers in market, and all that usually does is increase the power output of the amp by 50% or more. Takes my SN2 from 80 wpc, to 135 wpc.
I’ve driven my 4 ohm Kefs with a variety of large, and very small amps, to loud sustianed volumes and never have any issues.

But you may as well ask them anyway, they’d be happy to assist.

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