Steve Huff magazine : Atom review

Interesting review of the Atom, with some old speakers. The reviewer tried to be honest. There are pro and coins.

The PROS of the Atom:

  1. Ease of use means you will be set up within minutes.
  2. Beauty of design. This is gorgeous in design and style. Looks amazing no matter where I put it.
  3. Build quality. The build is in the higher end realm. Nothing about it feels cheap or lacking.
  4. Sound quality. This is unique to the Atom as it brings the Naim sound which is so musical and involving.
  5. DAC is wonderful. I have heard pricey DAC’s that didn’t sound as good as the one here, included inside the Atom.
  6. Analog inputs. Hook up some vinyl if you have a phono stage.
  7. Huge volume dial is gorgeous, weighted and adds a touch of luxury to this piece. Naim didn’t have to add this to the starter piece but they did. BTW, this doesn’t sound or look like any “starter” piece… yet it is.
  8. Lighted remote is nice to have in the dark.
  9. It just WORKS!
  10. Price for what you get means it is a DEAL. Truly a rarity in HIFi.
  11. Beautiful large Display is so nice. Artwork is displayed crisp and clear as well as menu options.

The CONS of the Atom:

Not all is perfect here. There are cons but for me, they are minuscule compared to the good here.

  1. There is a slight hiss with my Cornwall IV speakers when idle (no music playing but Atom on). So high sensitivity speakers will bring this hiss when you are not listening to music and when the Atom is powered on. Many amps do this, and you have to spend A LOT to get dead quite at idle with a speaker like this. It doesn’t bother me at all as it is slight. I mentioned it because my Vinnie Rossi L2i SE has zero hiss and is silent.
  2. It may not do well with large harder to drive speakers. I see this as a great solution for Klipsch or small bookshelf sized speakers. It would probably suffer if trying to power large multiple driver speakers. It does only have a 40 WPC class A/B amp. So not a ton of watts but with it’s transformer it does have some current which is why it does so well as is.
  3. The remote is a fingerprint magnet. After a day you will want to wipe it down. Wish it was a more matte black.
  4. The speaker inputs are tiny and not very far apart which means your big fancy cables may not fit. They will take banana type only.
  5. Can’t turn off the light that illuminates the Naim logo, only dim it.
  6. I had one issue of the screen freezing on the Atom. I had to unplug it and after that it was fine. Not sure what that was all about but it happened once.
  7. It does have a “lighter” presentation yet is also punchy. Hard to describe but this is not going to bring you a big thick sound. Rather, it’s lighter and more nimble and fast. More musical and fluid. Toe tapping with great detail and kick. It’s punchy yet not warm. It’s detailed yet never cool. I guess this is the Naim sound so while I love it, some of you may not.

He is essentially a photographer, but like hifi too. He reviews both.

I agree with the pros. In fact the Atom does surprisingly well considering he chose to build a mullet setup in order to review the Atom.


Explain why mullet ? Because of the large speakers. These are Klipsh Cornwell speakers, very easy to drive. @Mark84 should have an opinion here.

He also wrote a glowing review of the Nova last year…

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Because £7.3k speakers with £2.4k all-in-one makes at least a prima facie case for a mullet. I also don’t regard sensitivity as a perfect measure of how easy speakers are to drive. I admit I’ve not heard any Klipsch speakers, but still suspect some of the cons are system dependent, especially the hiss.


FR - if you read other reviews of these speakers, there seems to be a theme that they enjoy more current than an Atom can deliver. This does look like a mullet/mis-matched system.

The efficiency of speakers isn’t an indicator for how they play in the real world. The bigger Focals (courtesy of the Be tweeters) are relatively ‘efficient’ but when the woofers come in to play the current demand needed to run them properly elevates markedly.

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if money signified anything other than capitalist added value

That was a long one, Adam, and in it’s entirety. I don’t suppose this review got you in a huff, did it? :scream: :roll_eyes:

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I have given up on giving my opinions on speakers @frenchrooster

There are some views on the forum that are so engrained it is not worth arguing with.

I’d love to hear the Atom with some 100db speakers I bet is has some real punch!

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I know Steve Huff reviews since a long time now, as I am (was ?) a Leica enthusiast. He is not a professional reviewer, he only reviews products he really enjoys with personal assumed orientation (Klipsch lover). It’s a healthy approach, but it has certain flaws: he is often passionate about a product and is dithyrambic about it before discovering another product and expressing the same enthusiasm about it. The problem is that we no longer really know how to situate the products in relation to each other: in a few months, he went from Naim integrated to Pass Labs mono-blocks via integrated products from the same brand, decreeing each time that it was an end-game.

Same things about speakers : Dynaudio S40, B&W 705 S2, Dynaudio Heritage & all the Klipsch are quoted to be end-games speakers…before the next discovery.


I’d love to hear the Atom with some 100db speakers I bet is has some real punch!

Some have reviewed the Atom with high efficiency speakers and the result wasn’t very good because the Atom seems to present some background noise (the review of La Scala by Andrew Robinson).

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I half agree. Agree because with 10k you can have a more balanced system, and better.
But as a one box and speakers system, it can be interesting. Specially if the speakers are very easy to drive.

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The Vinnie Rossi Brama integrated is gorgeous. I will investigate more that brand now. It incorporates a high quality phono as option too. One box . But 38 k dollars…

Ah, good point. I didn’t knew that the Vinnie costs so much. So effectively, the comparison can’t be done.

The Klipch Cornwell are 102 db speakers, very efficient. Nothing in common with Focal.

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