Recommendations for Uniti Atom components

Hi, I’m new to HiFi but want an amazing listening experience both with speakers and with headphones.

Do I need a dedicated headphone amp for my Atom? If so would the Sennheiser HDVD 800 be a good choice? What headphones and speakers pair well with the Atom? I’m looking at:

Sennheiser HD800d

Focal Utopia

Meze empyrean

I’m using Martin Logan 4’s- wondering if there is a better choice for this system?

Anyone out there who can help with a recommendation on these?

I tried Sennheiser HD 800 S and loved them - for headphones. But yes it needs a headphone amp, the Violectric V380 was a fabulous fit to my ears. Probably a bit too expensive for an Atom though.

But that’s the thing, headphones are so personal. Not just sound, but fit as well! E.g. I thought some Audezes that cost twice as much as the Sennheiser were just awful. Others love them.

Most very good headphones need an amp as they are difficult to drive, such as 300 Ohm for the HD 800S, some even 600. But there are some (and increasingly many) that are more oriented towards mobile devices, e.g. the Hifiman Ananda with 25 Ohm, and the Atom should have no problem with them. Whether you like the sound of a particular model, nobody can say

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There is no way to connect an external Head amp to the Atom as it has no line level outputs only preouts which do not mute the power amp stage at all so it will output to both and you will have two volumes to control with one on the Atom one on the Head amp and sound from speakers at same time. So you need to use the internal headphone stage in the unit or have a completely seperate headphone system from the Atom.

I would not go for any of those headphones woth an Atom its headphone stage is not great and your really wasting money on anything that good as it wont be able to drive them. Meze 99 Classics are a good match for the Atoms headphone amp.

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For headphones with the Atom I would recommend the Meze Classic 99’s as they are easy to drive and work well with Atom. They are also reasonably priced. You don’t say what size room you have but when I had an Atom I used Proac Tablette 10’s and they are a brilliant combination together

Thanks Crispy. It’s a very small room- about 12ft x 12ft. So, did I buy the wrong amp? I really want high quality sound from my vinyl and FLAC streams. Should i return and upgrade the Atom??

Thank you Crystal. That’s disappointing. I want a high quality headphone and want to fully hear all of the nuances in my music. Is Atom not a great unit? It wasn’t cheap.

Not at all. The Atom is very capable and in a relatively small space I found it an absolute delight with the Proacs. However, in the end it depends on what you really want.

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The Atom is great for what it is - an all-in-one unit (streamer, amp, dac, headphone amp) in a small box, with proper hifi performance for a relatively affordable price. The headphone amp is good, for what it is, but no it is not as good as a top end separate headphone amp, especially when trying to drive higher impedance phones like the HD800s - if you wish to go down that route then prepare to spend much, much more on the whole system. However, choose the headphones carefully (i.e. an impedance that’s more suited to the amp) and you’ll be delighted. It’s the same with speakers; there’s no point hanging speakers on the end of the Atom that cost 2, 4, 10 times the cost of the Atom itself. The Atom will no doubt drive them valiantly (it’s remarkably capable) but ultimately its not a wise way to spend your money. Better to up the ante all round, consider separates or maybe a Nova if one-box is still the main desire.

The best option here is to have a idea of the kind of money you are comfortable spending on achieving your amazing listening experience, and then have a chat with your Naim dealer. The current covid situation does make demos tricky, but many dealers are getting innovative in how they can provide service to their customers, and it all starts with that chat. about what you want to achieve…

Thank you Richard. Got to find a Naim dealer here in Southern California then.

Far from it, it just cant be the master of all things. Its budget in the Naim hiearchy.You will find most systems dont have the best headphone stages and struggle with high impedance ones, this is why there is a market for seperate Head amps with lots of power for these type of things. The Atom drives speakers incredibly well it just doesnt have the oomph in the headphone dept. You will be surprise what you will get out of it though paired with the right headphones. The ones you quoted are top flight headphones it would be like paring the Atom with top flight speakers it might work ok but neither will be at its best as their are limitations of what it can do.

Got it. what should I buy for phones then? What should i be looking for in terms of impedence to match up to the Naim? So, for sure a separate headphone amp like the Sennheiser 800 wouldn’t work?

Hi Richard, your comments would seem to imply the headphone output on the Nova is a significant step up from the Atom, as it is through speakers.

I would expect the Nova to be a step up on the Atom on headphones, but apart from a quick listen to each before a show using a pair of Focal headphones, I haven’t properly compared, so couldn’t say for sure.

Around 20-50 Ohm is a good start like I said. Meze 99 Classic as others mentioned, or Hifiman Sundara, Audeze LCD-1, Denon AH-D5200, Hifiman Ananda if you want to spend

They are all different in technology, sound, build, and feel

There are some. Are you aware of the search on the website? https://www.naimaudio.com/find-a-retailer

Thanks. Naim like to keep things close to their chest from a technical standpoint and the info just suggests the Nova’s headphone has been upgraded for a better bass response. It would be useful if there was more information on the impedance recommendations for the headphone section of Naim gear, which would allow people to make an informed guess about what headphones may be a match. I know that auditioning is the ideal way but in these times an informed punt is sometimes the only way.

Used to use Quad ERA-1 headphones with my Nova and Atom but recently changed to the Grado RS1e’s which I really like - I think that they sound great!

Okay, so if I were willing to spend $15k-$20K and wanted a good amp/streamer, bookshelf speakers and headphones what would be some options within that budget? Or am I shooting too low? Priorities are: Great headphone experience, small package (I don’t have a rack, have limited space), ease of use (I’m not a ‘techie’ and don’t like complicated setups).

Well, with that kind of budget then a Nova would definitely be the one-box solution you would want to look at. But you might also want to listen to the NDX2 and Supernait. Two boxes, more money, but you also get better performance and a lot more flexibility. As for speakers and headphones, there’s plenty of options and this is where your dealer is important, both to narrow down choices according to situation, and for the all-important auditioning.

Today, I went to a shop and I tried the HD800s with Atom’s Uniti Headphone in and a dedicated amp (the Sony one). I can say that the Atom could at 100% of the volume but it sound thin and wasn’t good at all compared to a dedicated amp/dac.