I knew my speakers (B&W CM1) were the weak part of my system, and after using the Atom for 2-3 years I finally did an upgrade. I auditioned the JBL L100, Totem Forrest Signature, and at my dealers suggestion, the just released B&W 702 S3. They were all a big improvement over what I had, but the 702 S3 won the day. That these are a major improvement will be of no surprise, as I basically replaced 15 year old entry-level book shelf speakers with just introduced floor standing speakers. My Atom seems to be driving them fine as they are a good deal more sensitive than the old ones (90dB vs 81dB), but I am wondering what improvement might be gained from the system now?
My room is about 26ft by 15ft with 9ft ceilings. Any suggestions?
If you are happy with speakers and Atom, the most logical thing is to look at speaker cable or a power line.
I upgraded my Nova with a Naim power line and Witch Hat Phantom speaker cable and I am very happy with both .
AFAIK there is no North American (I am in Canada) version of the power line. Not sure what implications to draw from that . I did get new speaker cables just a few days back from the dealer.
Replace Atom with NDX2/SN3? I don’t know those particular B&Ws but that looks like a heck of a lot of speaker to hang off a little Atom and I do wonder if you’re hearing what they’re really capable of. Just a thought and ignoring budget, of course.
A know a guy in Minneapolis with a few Naim boxes who has PowerLines bought as pre-used that he’s removed the UK 13A end plug & fitted high end US Type-B (3 blade)
The PowerLine’s IEC C13 plug (socket) does have some nice features which should add SQ gains over the standard moulded type, plus the 4mm/2 (12AWG) cable should add something.
A powerline if you don’t have
A good isolation shelf for your Atom
A quality audio powerblock with a good power cable to the wall
An audiophile switch
There’s no doubt that you will get more out of those speakers with more power to grip them. If you want to stay with a single box then you could listen to a Nova. If you don’t mind more boxes and/or want to go down separates route then an NDX2/SN3 route would be worth an audition
I wouldn’t rush to change anything immediately if you’ve found a nice improvement by changing speakers, however the speakers assuming the prices I’ve just looked at mean they are at least double the cost of the Atom which may not be getting the best out of them even if it sounds better.
I was going to suggest a Powerline too but had not realised you were in Canada.
Your budget will be important too, if your dealer has one for home demo I think you might be surprised how much more the Nova brings to the table vs Atom. You could also consider adding a beefier Naim poweramp to the Atom or consider separate pre/power combos. Another reason not to rush is to see what Naim are potentially releasing in the New Year.
Having only just made that change, what makes you feel it is less than ideal for you? If you simply have spare money, you could use it to buy some music, or for another hobby, or save it, or give to charity…or you could change the speakers for better ones (there are lots to choose from… and your dealer would probably take yours back at no loss to you in exchange for something better), or you could change the Atom for a Nova or Star. Or you could add a power amp.
I also own an Atom and would recommend the same path @frenchrooster suggested with some modifications from my experience. The Uniti Atom has a high potential and a comparison with the Nova brought an improvement, but it was rather small for the extra price in my opinion. With Supernait 3 + NDX2 many here on the forum have had very good experiences, but the set is in a different price range. If you have a limited budget, I would recommend:
- Powercord: Vovox Excelus NEMA version (neutral and dynamic). Massive, instantly audible sound improvement compared with the „poor“ standard powercord ot the Atom. It is half the price of the rather expensive Naim Powerline.
- Isolation Shelf: there is no offer from Naim for the Uniti line. I built mine myself following Xanthe’s instructions here on the forum (Link: Click here). Again, the sound improvement was massive (this was also experienced by others on the forum).
- Audio Power Block: I use Furutech e-TP60E NCF, which I bought used. It is good, but there are also good alternatives here.
- Audiophile Switch: I did not believe it for a long time, but network optimization is very important. I use Silent Angel Bonn N8 switch with success. Others use English Electric (Chord) switch or Upton EtherRegen switch with good results.
The Uniti Atom sounds now very much better compared to the beginning (out of the box). Everything has paid off. The Atom thanks an optimized environment with a massive sound increase. If you like, you may have a look (Click here). Enjoy the music and your system.
Thanks for the comments. I am now at the point that the Atom is one of the least expensive parts of my system: even my phones (Dan Clark Stealth) cost more. And in fact the Atom is not really able to drive the Stealths, so I use a Topping amp for that, but that makes streaming a bit of an issue from my Core. All of which is making me consider the Atom HE with a separate amp as the possible next step. I will probably sit tight for a bit and see what develops. I am certainly well pleased with the sound I am hearing, so I can just put up with the streaming for a bit I may well find the solution (streaming preamp + DAC?).
What a superb and authoritative response