Nait 5si and Node vs Atom

Hi all - I’ve lusted after an Atom for ages but have been put off somewhat by the 40wpc and the eye watering £2.5k price tag new. As a compromise I’ve got a 5si paired with the latest Bluesound Node - they cost me around £1k 2nd hand/ex demo. I must say this combo sounds fantastic and drives my Harbeth HL5’s beautifully in a medium sized room. My question is has anyone ever compared this combo to an Atom and If so how did they measure up?


To me, in your case the Node worth money if you’re interested in their software, connectivity and price. If not, I’d tell Atom will do much better.
Say, you can take WXAD10 and believe me this small brick will perform not worse for less less money.
However, with Node you can throw in a DAC using the coax cable(not toslink!) and might get very close to the Atom performance. Though, don’t think there is an inexpensive DAC that outruns Atom one.
I was testing the Node option and decided to raise bets. At the moment I’m riding nd5xs2 + 5si.

Sorry I can’t help you with a more insightful response.
Looking at your set up pound for pound and sonically not sure you could better it.
Aesthetically the Atom probably wins.
I’d like to think I wouldn’t be tempted but sometimes heart rules the head.
Understand dilemma.

I think you might be right - the only significant improvement will be aesthetically

I’d tell the internal DAC of the Node is mediocre. I was comparing it against different contenders.
The preloved Atom will outrun Node for sure.
Naimisch 40wpc are enough to drive many floorstanders, even if they a bit tough.

You really need to hear an Atom driving the Harbeth HL5’s. You may think the 5si drives them beautifully, but it’s no where near getting the best out of them, and neither will the Atom.

Electrically speaking the Harbeth speakers are a benign load and won’t cause a problem for either power amp, but neither the 5si nor the Atom have the capability to power those speakers properly, particularly in terms of fast acting current capability. This doesn’t mean that you won’t get a respectable sound, or a sound that you like; but better amplification will more than return the investment by providing a very substantial uplift in the sound.

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I have tried some much more powerful amps with my Harbeths and although they work better in a large room the Nait grips them beautifully in a small room where volume and watts don’t matter so much. I’m looking for a comparison of the Atom vs 5si/Node….

Only you can tell what is good for you ears. 5si can’t improve the outcome of the mediocre DAC. I’d suggest you to try an audition of Node with the same amplifier but with different connections.
I was auditioning Node by connecting it to several integrated amplifiers using the RCA, optical and coaxial cables.
The coaxial always gave significantly better sound quality - transparency, details, stage.
The amplifiers were Arcam sa20, Musical Fidelity 6si, NAD 368.
I do think the Atom has much better DAC than these guys.
So, if you you connected Node directly to 5si, you are definitely listening to the mediocre DAC.

Exactly! This is where Atom will shine. However, I’m pretty sure it will drive well on much bigger volume.

I’m not entirely convinced by the “watts don’t matter in a small room” argument. My listening room is modestly sized so when I got my ATCs with over 240wpc active amp packs, my first thought was that they would be way over the top for the space. But not a bit of it. Rather, they brought music to life in a way I’d not experienced before. For example, the piano, which after all is a percussion instrument with a large dynamic range, just sounded so much more realistic.

I’d be looking to jump past an Atom to significantly improve on the your current streamer/amp into the Harbeths. And I speak as a user of an Atom myself (in my second system).



I had an Atom. I now have an NDX2+Nait 5si. I actually think that the Atom was a better amp than the 5si. I think it’s in the pre. The 5si has a passive pre. I think the Atom has a better pre-amp stage. As long as the Atom can drive the speakers well it can’t be beaten easily for value. Especially at used price. Not the ridiculously inflated new price.


Ok thanks for the insight - I might have a punt with the new Mojo (I had the original and loved it)

That’s interesting and glad I’ve got the pov of an owner of both

Exactly that…

There are big slow amps that just play louder, not better.

There are small amps that play better, but show their limitations in dynamics even at moderate volumes and loose out further when driving complex crossovers.

Then there are middle power rated amps that focus on speed, amps that will give increasing insight and dynamics well beyond that which is suggested by their nominal power rating - this is how Naim amps are designed.


What would be middle power rated amps in this context? Nova / 200 / 250?

@Xanthe - I do enjoy reading your posts even if I struggle to understand them (the failing is on my part only!).
Whilst having a demo should enable the OP to opine on whether sound is an improvement on what they’ve currently got you appear to approach the compatibility from a more scientific angle.
Impedance and watts seem to be only measurements consistently provided by OEMs to consumer but as you helpfully point out there is a bit more to it than that.
Without being a pain what do you look for to understand compatibility?

Nait XS - 60W / 70W
SN - 70W
SU - 80W
200 - 70W
250 - 80W
300 - 90W
All mid power in terms of ‘headline’ spec, all designed to have high slew rate outputs (particularly current slew rate); however the capability of the power supplies to the amps increase in order in each range.


Oh dear, that question doesn’t have a practical answer: unfortunately it depends on a lot of parameters that neither amp manufacturers nor speaker manufacturers publish.

If from people’s / manufacturer’s descriptions, I can get an idea of the priorities of a power amp design and then compare that to the components used in a speaker (including looking at a picture of the crossover), I can sometimes get some clues that can be used to GUESS at suitability.
I certainly never have access to enough information to understand compatibility!

The true test is still listening to how the power amps works with several different speaker designs, comparing by swapping either the amp or the speaker (but not both at the same time! :upside_down_face:).

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Thanks for the response Xanthe - appreciate you taking the time.
I think the hi-fi industry does hold back some technical information that would be helpful to understand system synergy and leave it open to interpretation and/or a subjective view.
Although practically not sure there is a better alternative than trusting your listening skills so brings me full circle in two sentences!

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Yes, good summary!
:grinning: :+1: