Uniti Atom - not enough punch. Is it my Harbeths?

I may be crazy but I just can’t get settled with the combination of Harbeth 30.1s and my Uniti Atom. There’s just not enough punch - i.e. dynamics and bass definition. Just for fun I connected the Atom as a preamp to my 1979 Marantz receiver (30 watts) and there was the punch I’d been missing. Not particularly refined punch, but punch nonetheless.

So chicken or egg? Are the Harbeths too polite for the music I like (Classic Rock, Soul, 50s Jazz)? Do they need more power than the Atom can provide? Or is this just a bad sonic pairing? I’m not sure if I need to look for better suited speakers or a higher-powered amp/streamer combo.

I should also mention that I’m in a small condominium but the speakers shoot the length of the unit, not the width. My listening chair is about 3 metres (10 feet) from the speakers, but I have another 4 or 5 metres behind me. Ceiling is 2.7 metres (9 feet) and the width of the room is 3.4 metres (12 feet).

Help!

I have used both 30.1 and 30.2 and they like power to really come alive, something like a 250DR. And your room is larger than mine. They sound good with less power but I wouldn’t describe it as punchy.

Your room is so much different than mine I can’t really recommend anything, I suggest talking to the dealer and try som demo-speakers at home. I have an Atom in my bedroom and dont find it lacking - but that is in a much smaller room and with long discontinued small Naim nSat speakers.

A user here (Slamdam) upgraded the 250DR to 300DR on the Harbeth SHL5+ and informed that the 300DR is the minimum requirement for the Harbeth. It’s another way of saying the speakers sounded poor with the 250DR.

The M30.1 / 30.2 are known to be even more difficult to drive than the SHL5+. If the Atom is less capable than the 250DR I would be inclined to think that the Atom is the culprit to the lacklustre sound you are getting from the Harbeth.

I think that the Harberts are not the easiest speakers to drive. They just need power to reveal their quality. The Naim Atom isn’t the right amp for them. A bigger Naim would be a better combination. I.m.h.o.

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You answered your own question really.
The punch was there when you added the Marantz receiver so that shows there’s a mismatch with the Atom.

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There might be two factors that come into play here:

  1. Sitting in the middle of the room, more or less, typically reduces bass response at the listening position
  2. If your speakers are power hungry, the Atom might not be capable enough to provide enough current

In my case (and in most cases for rectangular rooms) having your listening position at 38% from the front or back wall will provide the best listening position as most room nodes are cancelled.

With my Atom driving my Dynaudio loudspeakers I experienced the same as you described: a very nice coherent sound, but not the tightest bass delivery. I first added a NAP200 power amplifier. This did improve things, but not to the level I wanted. I then tried a Purifi based power amplifier from a friend and in my case that worked perfectly. Especially for bass punch and definition it was a quantum leap. So I decided to build my own Purifi power amp and I am very happy with my setup now. The ease of use and nice looks of the Atom combined with a really powerful and capable power amplifier (hidden in a cabinet).

Well for starters Harbeths are not punchy speakers per se, I think you’ve also got a classic system mismatch thing going on with the Atom and the Harbs, my thoughts would be to change speakers to something with better synergy or considerably upgrade your source and amplification

The Atom is an EXCELLENT source. The power amplifier might be the limiting factor here.

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