Upgrading to separates - is this really an upgrade?

I’m currently enjoying my Unity Atom. After having visited a friend who has a “proper” Naim setup (all separates) and hearing the sound quality difference, I was just blown away.

So naturally I’ve taken to the web to see what my options are to upgrade without my wife murdering me in my sleep. And I’ve come across a second-hand set that looks interesting:
A NAC-102 (Olive) with a NAPSC, a HICAP (also Olive, to use instead of the NAPSC?) and a NAP 200. I’m thinking to connect the Atom to the NAC as streamer and my phono stage (a Schiit Mani) as well.

Is this really an upgrade compared to the Atom? Can the Atom play nice with the NAC? Do I need the HICAP when there’s the NAPSC?

Staying with the single box route you could always upgrade to maybe NAIM Uniti STAR/NOVA.
I’ve got no experience on how these single box systems compare to separates, however.
Good luck…


with Naim, everything is … “not cheap.”
(although i think you get what you 'll pay for.)

Above Atom, the only worthy upgrade, maintaining the single box approach, is Nova.


A route forward might be the NAP200 as a first step. Then a second hand 272 or the replacement if and when it arrives.


Above Atom, the only worthy upgrade, maintaining the single box approach, is Nova.

If I upgrade, I’d rather step away from the single-box solution to be honest. Though I’ve heard the Nova with a set of Sonus Faber Sonetto 5 floorstanders and that was pretty awesome.

At least your vinyl replay would actually be analogue in that proposed setup. :wink:

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Just go full statemenet, it will be worth it :sweat_smile:

Don’t know how long you auditioned those, but I extensively did with a Star (was sure I’d walk out with them beforehand, but glad I did audition). While extremely impressive with some pieces of music (instrumental, classical, jazz), there was an issue with the top end, mainly affecting voices, making anything but the lowest male voices sound incredibly dull.


How much do you want to spend?

If you get the olive separates, include the cost of servicing them.


Why? Are you planning upgrade further?
You see, I too like the idea of. But then comes the variables: are your room good enough to receive a high end system ?
( talking about configurations/ compromises)

You need to buy in face of your needs not your ideals. ( not saying you shouldn’t buy separates)


Indeed very good points! I can tell you, we’ve moved house 2 years ago. The previous house was a boombox. I’d never in a million years consider upgrading there. So when we looked for a new home, one of the criteria on my list was that it would be acoustically acceptable. I think we did pretty good - the best result is to build a brand new home to your own specs, but that’s a totally different budget :slight_smile:

So yes, I do believe my home can do justice to a high end system. Having separates will allow me the flexibility to upgrade gradually.

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Maybe consider getting your network sorted, switch, proper spec ethernet cables, adding powerlines, etc, to your current set up rather than going with old olive separates. But If you’re going down the path of s/h olive I’d go 72/hc/250 instead. And make sure they’ve been serviced recently or plan on adding that cost to your outlay.

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Also good points, and yes I’ve done so :slight_smile:

well… good luck !
(hope you won’t die.)


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What do you reckon the cost for servicing would be?

Ask Darren at Class A. There might even be a price list on his website.

Depends on the item but I got my nap 140 and hicap serviced for gbp 200 each at Class A Audio.

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My own idea is Naim / Focal are doing well at giving the customer proper sounding kit.
I fear the the same effort at improving their serious staff isn’t quite up with other makes.
I were to buy Naim nowadays I wouldn’t ,though I reckon their recent NDX2 /555dr was quite something but at a cost (too much).
I still rate their 2010’s kit highly and recommend them with no reserve.
Having said that, get the best used black boxes you can , no going back really, as per their up to notch customer service.

Would you reckon with the olive gear I’ve listed, I’d hear an improvement to what my Atom can produce? Or would I need to aim higher?

The 102/200 is part olive and part black. It will work but won’t match visually. If going for a pre/power the Atom isn’t really up to the job. An NDX2 with 82/Hicap/250 would work well. You could keep it simple with a streamer and an integrated amplifier - ND5XS2/Nait XS3 or NDX2/Supernait 3. Note that you can’t integrate the olive amps with system automation.

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You lost me :slight_smile: Can you explain what you mean?