Streamer-pre amp change

I mainly stream Tidal on a hard-wired Ethernet connection on the much-maligned 172 into a 250.2 driving Concept 40s.

One of the downsides of using a previous generation Naim streamer is the well documented drop-out problem that exists with the Virgin Superhub 3. As far as I am aware this problem does not happen with the latest generation streamers. Another upside is that they have access to more hi-res streaming options than just Tidal, so a change would make sense and I will also be able to use my Virgin connection to its’ full potential.

Having read lots about the Atom I wondered how it would compare and was fortunate enough to be able to borrow the one that Signals has for sale whilst the guys are having their well-deserved break. To be fair to the guys they said not to expect miracles because it probably wouldn’t sound as good. I wasn’t expecting “better” but I thought if it wasn’t far off then I could probably live with it, plus the benefits of the next-gen streamer would go a long way to compensate.

Please bear in mind that my comments are intended as a direct comparison with my existing system in my room, they are not intended as a review of the Atom per se. I also accept that larger floorstanders like my Concept 40s might not be the first choice with the Atom. Finally, I really struggle to put what I’m hearing into words, so some of the things I’m trying to say might not make perfect sense.


Set-up was very straightforward and all I had to do was move the network and speaker cables and let it warm up on a Tidal playlist. During the set-up process I noticed that there is a slight delay in the volume control when using the app compared to the 172…not a huge problem but it did feel odd.

After a few hours I sat down for a proper listen and immediately felt the sound was much looser then with the 172/250.2. An upside to this was the extra space around the instruments in the higher frequencies but the mids seemed to have lost focus in the soundstage, very obvious with vocals, and the bass was somewhat flabby.

Another problem for me was there was a sheen or hard edge to the sound in the upper frequencies, somthing I have never had with the 172/250. I have left the Atom on for a couple of days but nothing has changed.

If I want to update my internet connection the 272 is unfortunately not an option and I accept that a Star or Nova would be a better change but both are more than I want to spend. I started thinking of other options and wondered what the system would sound like with the Atom driving the 250 in place of the 172. Well it will cost me about £36 to find out as I’ve ordered a cable from Flashback…fingers crossed.

It’s not possible to use a different home router???

Are you 100% certain that it’s the router (I’ve not followed the Virgin Superhub issues; you may well be correct), and that nothing can be corrected?

Certainly many use that generation of Naim streamer without issue.

Try configuring your virgin hub as Modem Mode then connect it to a router of your choice. Virgin routers are mainly cheap Netgear clones.

I think the Signals guys were pretty fair, in the right context the Atom can be a great combi streamer and amp. I think your next step is worth trying, i did it on a Nova and it did tighten up the bass with a 250. As you say fingers crossed, still have my old crusty virgin superhub 2…fingers crossed😬

@Bart @Neilb1906
I drove myself mad trying to use the Superhub3 with 300mbit connection and I’ve since found out that the problem wasn’t just with Naim gear.

I’ll try to find out if putting it in modem mode will cure the problem.

Interesting that the 250 worked well with the Nova, I may be lucky with the Atom.

As for Virgin, I may well do nothing until they bring out the SH4…

If you can figure out / find out just what aspect of the hub is causing the problem, you might find a work-around. Such as another router downstream of it. Eg. my home modem/router is just fine, but I’ve gone to Google Nest WiFi at home and the Google Nest hub must act as a router, so I let it.

They do have a SH4 out on release for their gigabit rollout available in a few locations, Southampton Leeds etc…not in Colchester where i live yet.

Thanks for the info. I suspect they’ve been holding off releasing the SH4 until the gigabit service was ready in which case I may well stick with what I’ve got rather than trying to get something that works with the SH3.

We have a Virgin hub in modern mode, with Airport Express as router, and it works with my legacy platform Naim stuff without problem.

Is that a Superhub 2 or 3 HH and what connection speed?

The “Naim Style 2 x Phono/RCA Plugs - 3 Pin Male XLR Performance Cable” arrived this morning which was great service from Flashback. I had left the Atom powered up so plugged the cable in and left a Tidal playlist running for a few hours before listening properly.

I’m going to state again that my comments are intended as a direct comparison with my existing system in my room, they are not intended as a review of the Atom per se.

I didn’t expect to be blown away but given how poorly regarded the 172 is by some people I was hoping a next-gen streamer/pre-amp might just be an improvement.

There’s no doubt that the Atom/250 is significantly better than the Atom by itself, the bass has tightened up, as has the soundstage but compared to the 172/250 it still seems a bit less focused and the hard edge to the upper frequencies gets worse as you increase the volume.

I’ve only listened for a couple of hours so I’ll leave the system playing internet radio overnight and try again tomorrow. The great thing is that A/B comparisons are really easy as it’s just a case of switching the cable.

It’s a 2 I believe. We only have the 100mb internet but it’s fine for our needs.

A Superhub 2 has always worked fine Nigel and if you wanted to you could upgrade it to the 200mb Virgin service without any problems which is what I currently have.

However, if you wanted the 300mb service then Virgin would need to change the 2 to a 3 and that’s where my problems started so I had to revert.

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