New System built around a Naim Atom, Need Guidance!

Hello to everyone! I am working on a new 2-channel system built around my new Atom, and I am seeking some advice…

As the floorplan shows (yes, I’m that guy, it’s mostly to scale) I have several components already in place. The size of the open space is obviously top of mind, as are all the hard surfaces. I would put a rug down, but I have three beagles, and they tend to make a mess of anything that I can’t wipe down easily.

Given that I’m using the Atom and its 40w output, I am trying to determine if I should aim for:

  • Bookshelf speakers with a sub
  • Floorstanding speakers that pair nicely with the Atom

I would also love some suggestions for a phono preamp that pairs nicely with the Clearaudio, the Atom and whatever speakers I end up with. Ideally, they would all complement each other, based on our musical tastes and listening habits.

The budget for the speakers is around 2k (US), and the phono preamp is around 500, plus/minus a little room in case of something that really fits the bill. Unfortunately, I’m forced into buying some of this without hearing it, as I am undergoing cancer treatment, which I know is far from ideal. So, while it’s going very well, I can’t take the risk of catching anything, much less covid-19. That said, I am a musician who’s played for over 30 years - so I am looking for something that gives me a soundstage similar to what I would expect from a live configuration.

As far as music, we listen to rock, pop, indie, jazz, rap, r&b, and on and on. We have both 12” 33 and 45s, along with a massive lossless collection on a NAS which is managed by Roon.

As far as how we listen to music, we don’t want to blow the roof away, we tend to listen at volumes that allow for comfortable listening – and discussion if it’s new music. We don’t really throw parties, we’re homebodies who both love music and want to be able to sit on the couch and enjoy the music without making my tinnitus worse.


Welcome to the forum. Sorry to hear about the dam C word, our family is doing that dance to! I hope it ends well.

You have a large room, so are you looking to just have a listening zone around the lounge suite?

It’s quite hard to answer your question about speakers, as you really need to demo them to know if the character is to your liking, then ideally try them at home. FWIIW, I have Totem floor standers from Canada, the Hawks I had with my UnitiCute2 (the predecessor to the Atom) and now have a Nova with them.

Anyway, you are starting the journey, which is such an exciting place to be, and the joy will help focus on the good side of life. Hav fun and good luck.

P.S. you can search “Atom” in the search bar and find lots of discussions about it that way.

Positioned correctly they could have a similar effect :slight_smile:

It’s hard without listening, so I’d go for things with haven proven to at least measure well, or otherwise have good pedigree. So for the phono preamp I’d consider the Cambridge Audio Duo (under budget) for your phono stage, or look at the MoFi products (designed by Ear Yoshino’s Tim de Paravicini).

Regarding speakers, with that room, I’d definitely go for floorstanders if you wish to have (background) music in the kitchen area as well. If you only listen from the listening area/position, you can probably get away with smaller floorstanders or bookshelfs.

As for specific speakers, that’s hard as they’re the most personal thing IMO. Is there anything you have heard that you liked? Or something you’ve owned of which you liked the sound? That would at least provide some direction?

Your taste is music is quite broad, so you’ll need alrounders. And again, if you can’t audition, don’t go for something too exotic, so perhaps consider the B&W 603. But especially with the speakers I would recommend going out of your way to be able to audition anything before you buy. If you can’t go, perhaps you can make a shortlist and your partner can audition to make a final decision?

You have a large room, so are you looking to just have a listening zone around the lounge suite?

In general, yes. I may get a wireless speaker in the future to enable us to listen where we might be doing something as well as listening, but the primary location will be the living room.

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Hi James, firstly hope all goes well with the treatment (Goes without saying)

I won’t comment on the speakers as that is such a personal matter of taste.

In terms of phono stage as you have Clearaudio - what about their Nano phono stage. Here in the UK about £350 so should be around your $500 budget

It’s a good question. I like speakers that are balanced and natural, even-handed I guess you could say.

I like B&Ws for sure, I’ve heard the 606s but not the 603s. I think the 606 would need a sub. I’ve heard the higher end lines as well, and while amazing, the cost is steep!

KEFs are up there too, and they’re as well rounded for all types of music as the B&Ws. But same as the B&Ws, where is the sweet spot of price and performance?

I agree that the sound of the speakers is a highly subjective area, so I guess we can really focus on whether the living space and goals point more towards bookshelf or floorstanding.

Thanks to you all, I really appreciate the honesty of your input.

I have the Atom and a ClearAudio TT. I did use their Nano V2 which is ok but I ended up breaking it trying out different loading resistors. I now use an Arcam rPhono and very pleased with it, has variable loading but uses a much easier method to do it. Speakers will be a very personal and room choice, at that price you have a lot to choose from.

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Beware of the B&W’s, I would not bring them in given your indication of hard surfaces.

That’s hard to say, law of diminishing returns and all. I guess the cheapest as they, at modest cost, will be infinitely better than no speakers at all :wink:

For me generally it’s at the top of any line. It’ll be incrementally more than lower in the same range, but (usually) a lot cheaper than the next line up.

I think the rPhono has been discontinued

When I used to have the Atom, I was very fond of the Neat Motive SX2 loudspeakers which paired beautifully …

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Could you stretch to $2500 for these beauties? Dynaudio/Naim pairing never fails.

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All the reason to pick one up cheap. I did :slight_smile:

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Love the Special 40’s but never heard them at the end of the Uniti Atom …

Whilst I wouldn’t dream of recommending a speaker, given that you have mentioned US dollars I would mention that Neat speakers are very much tuned with Naim equipment in mind .

And after some digging into some old purchases, I think that I can say the following is certain:

I certainly prefer soft horn tweeters

I prefer those that don’t overemphasize high or low frequencies

I really want to hear the recording come through, so outstanding mid range

My advice would be to not get hung up on the technology, it’s a means to an end.

Even though many different people prefer different speakers, I don’t think many would disagree with the above… It’s all subjective.

Taking you request literal (caveat above) look at brands/speakers used in professional studio’s like B&W, PMC etc.

The Uniti Star and Evoke 50 pairing did, but that’s my only experience of the combination. And, to repeat the ‘speaker are personal’ mantra, my experience. I must admit that it actually wasn’t horrible, it just wasn’t great either, okayish.

Then again, I don’t recall much mention of the Evoke 50 on this forum, so perhaps it’s the lemon of the brand. But it’s al so personal I don’t see how you will end up with a good choice without listening or pure luck. If there’s anyone that knows your system and shares your tastes in sound and music, perhaps they could audition as the next best thing?

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I chose the Evoke 50 for my Nova after considerable testing (at dealers and then the shortlist at home). I love the result.

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