Thinking of getting a Naim Uniti Atom

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L.O.S

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Oct 29, 2019
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I currently have a Denon Ceol N9 with Kef Q150 speakers, and had this type of system for the last six years and am very happy with it
However I have luckily come into a little bit of money and am thinking of upgrading keeping the same speakers to the Naim Unity Atom
Is it really going to be a significant jump in sound quality, and is not having tone controls an issue and what are your views on the Atom ?
I had a Denon Ceol and have had the Atom since it was launched. Its lovely. The Denon sounds great, the Atom sounds great. The real difference is in how much you just want to keep listening to the Atom. You will not be disappointed.
 
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Snooker

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Many people may disagree with me, but in my opinion the difference in sound quality between the two systems is not that large to warrant an extra £2000 spend, yes the Naim Atom sounds slightly more open, detailed and realistic sounding, but the Denon Ceol sounds warmer

Amazing really as my Denon was only £400 and the full cost for the Naim Atom is £2399, This just confirms my belief that there is a lot of hype associated with hi fi sound

I have since read that in blind tests people have not been able to distinguish between two systems at the sort of price points as the two systems I have tested
 

DougK

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Dec 8, 2013
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Many people may disagree with me, but in my opinion the difference in sound quality between the two systems is not that large to warrant an extra £2000 spend, yes the Naim Atom sounds slightly more open, detailed and realistic sounding, but the Denon Ceol sounds warmer

Amazing really as my Denon was only £400 and the full cost for the Naim Atom is £2399, This just confirms my belief that there is a lot of hype associated with hi fi sound

I have since read that in blind tests people have not been able to distinguish between two systems at the sort of price points as the two systems I have tested
Think you may have stumbled across the law of diminishing returns. Been there done that, but now I couldn't go back.

I started off with an entry level system with a RRP of £700, moved onto a system with a RRP of nearly 3x that and felt totally underwhelmed in the same way as you have found. I then moved onto a system with a RRP of over 10x the entry level system. Is it more than 10x better, no! Does it sound better, absolutely! Is there hype in hi-fi? A resounding Yes!

I would point out that I only paid full RRP for the first system, the other two were bought at a much reduced price as I tend to purchase products when they are on run-out.
 

Stuart.W.D

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Sep 29, 2013
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Many people may disagree with me, but in my opinion the difference in sound quality between the two systems is not that large to warrant an extra £2000 spend.
I was never convinced for the price difference you would be happy with the difference in audio performance . At least you can return and save yourself a lot money. You got to do some testing, so no harm done.
 
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rainsoothe

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Apr 30, 2012
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I had a Denon Ceol and have had the Atom since it was launched. Its lovely. The Denon sounds great, the Atom sounds great. The real difference is in how much you just want to keep listening to the Atom. You will not be disappointed.
I also found that the difference maker is that subtle bit of a system making you want to listen to more music. A couple of years ago I tried to downgrade, because I started thinking my system was obscenely expensive for my flat and income (even if I got it ex-dem and therefore heavily discounted). What I had on home demo was ok, but a bit depressing in comparison. Stuck to what I have. That little extra magic is (almost) everything, imo.
 
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webb204

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Feb 20, 2008
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Ive had my Atom since Monday ,and while I agree with @Snooker that the difference isn't night and day (I,m coming from a Marantz MCR612 ) the Atom is definitely a step up in every department .

Im 100% keeping mine ,as the way I look at it ,the price I paid initially was £1800 for a brand new sealed unit , I then sold my Marantz for £415 ,so in reality it stands me @£1375 , it really was an opportunity I couldn't miss as i,ve always wanted one but the RRP has put me off .
Also I,m certain the Atom will sound even better when I get round to upgrading my current speakers sometime next year.

The Marantz MCR612 really is a brilliant piece of kit at the price I paid for it , and if I hadn't been as impressed with the Atom as I am , I would have happily bought another .
 

shadders

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Nov 19, 2009
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Amazing really as my Denon was only £400 and the full cost for the Naim Atom is £2399, This just confirms my belief that there is a lot of hype associated with hi fi sound
Hi,
The Denon unit uses a class D amplifier. The latest Texas Instruments IC's are low THD where they are very small and efficient, and the equivalent power as per the Denon CEOL is £4.73 for a single stereo IC.

Naim equipment is expensive for what you get, and the differences will exist between the Denon and Naim, but the price difference is no indication of performance, or that the costlier equipment has to be better.

You really do have to use your ears and let them decide, but the issue is usually, that the one that costs so much more, must be so much better ?

It is not better, but it is different. There will be people who will pick holes in the Denon based on what it costs. I have seen people make a claim that their cheap system is just as good as a very expensive system, and they get ripped apart on forums, and all manner of myths come out on why the cheap system is significantly inferior. When people have invested £000's in their equipment, they don't want to hear that there is something just as good for significantly less money.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

webb204

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2008
13
5
18,525
Many people may disagree with me, but in my opinion the difference in sound quality between the two systems is not that large to warrant an extra £2000 spend, yes the Naim Atom sounds slightly more open, detailed and realistic sounding, but the Denon Ceol sounds warmer

Amazing really as my Denon was only £400 and the full cost for the Naim Atom is £2399, This just confirms my belief that there is a lot of hype associated with hi fi sound

I have since read that in blind tests people have not been able to distinguish between two systems at the sort of price points as the two systems I have tested
Can I ask how long you ran the Naim for ?
 

Snooker

Well-known member
Aug 5, 2011
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Can I ask how long you ran the Naim for ?
Well I must admit my friend came round today and we put it at a high volume and it sounded stunning, its too late now but I am going to try the Denon Ceol tomorrow at a similar volume to finally make my mind up if I am going to return it, the Atom seems to play at high volume possibly much better than the Denon Ceol, will see after I test tomorrow
 
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rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
758
340
19,270
Hi,
The Denon unit uses a class D amplifier. The latest Texas Instruments IC's are low THD where they are very small and efficient, and the equivalent power as per the Denon CEOL is £4.73 for a single stereo IC.

Naim equipment is expensive for what you get, and the differences will exist between the Denon and Naim, but the price difference is no indication of performance, or that the costlier equipment has to be better.

You really do have to use your ears and let them decide, but the issue is usually, that the one that costs so much more, must be so much better ?

It is not better, but it is different. There will be people who will pick holes in the Denon based on what it costs. I have seen people make a claim that their cheap system is just as good as a very expensive system, and they get ripped apart on forums, and all manner of myths come out on why the cheap system is significantly inferior. When people have invested £000's in their equipment, they don't want to hear that there is something just as good for significantly less money.

Regards,
Shadders.
Sorry, but I smell some bias here, against the big bad owners of expensive systems, stepping on the budget crowd. I mean I've also seen claims about Yamaha amps being the bees knees, but I would rather live with Naim Nait 5si than Yamaha's AS3200 or 3000 or whatever incarnation of their amplifiers has ever existed. How is Naim "expensive for what you get" in this situation? I've tried 2 times to get out of the Naim game because I hate their upgrade treadmill and some other minor niggles (like the fact that the display on my streamer died - a known defect - and servicing it costs a ton of money (yes, you get full service but still) and time). However, I've yet to find something that I would live with long-term, from a sound quality (and preference) perspective. How is it "expensive for what you get", if I still haven't found the cheaper gear to replace it, nor the more expensive stuff either, for that matter?

The only stuff that sort of came close was Linn Selekt DSM, which retails for more than my Naim seprates at their original retail price, (and my stuff still times better) and a Densen integrated which had a relay volume control and would wake up my daughter if I had to change volume whilst playing music to help her to bed when she was a newborn. Not to speak of the inconvenience of having no volume integration with the player, which I do get with my streaming pre + power amp, from any room I'm in via a phone app.

No, IMO Naim is like most other things - you (USUALLY) get what you pay for. It's not cheap, it's not expensive, it just costs what it costs. All these are luxury products anyway, everything is expensive for what you get.
 
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L.O.S

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2019
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You'll find the most immediate difference is an apparent looseness in the bass with the Atom.
That's the most obvious thing that stood out for me. I now realize it was the Denon that had the bass all wrong, as when I listen to it now (it's used in my garden room) it has more of a single note muddy bass. The Atom most definitely plays louder with no harshness. Everything just plays cleaner. I dont know how but it makes tracks snap along as if they are being played slightly faster, it's hard to describe. I think you'll find the usability of it over the Ceol will be the deciding factor anyway. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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Sorry, but I smell some bias here, against the big bad owners of expensive systems, stepping on the budget crowd. I mean I've also seen claims about Yamaha amps being the bees knees, but I would rather live with Naim Nait 5si than Yamaha's AS3200 or 3000 or whatever incarnation of their amplifiers has ever existed. How is Naim "expensive for what you get" in this situation? I've tried 2 times to get out of the Naim game because I hate their upgrade treadmill and some other minor niggles (like the fact that the display on my streamer died - a known defect - and servicing it costs a ton of money (yes, you get full service but still) and time). However, I've yet to find something that I would live with long-term, from a sound quality (and preference) perspective. How is it "expensive for what you get", if I still haven't found the cheaper gear to replace it, nor the more expensive stuff either, for that matter?

The only stuff that sort of came close was Linn Selekt DSM, which retails for more than my Naim seprates at their original retail price, (and my stuff still times better) and a Densen integrated which had a relay volume control and would wake up my daughter if I had to change volume whilst playing music to help her to bed when she was a newborn. Not to speak of the inconvenience of having no volume integration with the player, which I do get with my streaming pre + power amp.

No, IMO Naim is like most other things - you (USUALLY) get what you pay for. It's not cheap, it's not expensive, it just costs what it costs. All these are luxury products anyway, everything is expensive for what you get.
Hi,
No bias, just reported what i have seen on hifi forums.

People like what sound they like, but when you see how the equipment is constructed, or the circuit diagrams (available on the internet for some), you realise that the claimed high end, special designs, for the price paid are not that very select.

Regards,
Shadders.
 
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rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
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340
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You'll find the most immediate difference is an apparent looseness in the bass with the Atom.
That's the most obvious thing that stood out for me. I now realize it was the Denon that had the bass all wrong, as when I listen to it now (it's used in my garden room) it has more of a single note muddy bass. The Atom most definitely plays louder with no harshness. Everything just plays cleaner. I dont know how but it makes tracks snap along as if they are being played slightly faster, it's hard to describe. I think you'll find the usability of it over the Ceol will be the deciding factor anyway. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
I was just about to make a reply with one sentence: "listen to the bass when you'll do the comparing" :))
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
758
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Hi,
No bias, just reported what i have seen on hifi forums.

People like what sound they like, but when you see how the equipment is constructed, or the circuit diagrams (available on the internet for some), you realise that the claimed high end, special designs, for the price paid are not that very select.

Regards,
Shadders.
Well I mean if anyone can build me stuff that souds like this for pocket change, I'd gladly switch. Also, isn't R&D worth anything?

And of course people are gonna get bashed on forums for saying Skodas are better than Bentleys.
 

webb204

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2008
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Well I must admit my friend came round today and we put it at a high volume and it sounded stunning, its too late now but I am going to try the Denon Ceol tomorrow at a similar volume to finally make my mind up if I am going to return it, the Atom seems to play at high volume possibly much better than the Denon Ceol, will see after I test tomorrow
I must admit I haven’t had mine above 35 yet !, I cannot wait to give it a proper work out.
Have you tried out the internet radio yet , there’s some High Res stations that sound stunning
 

shadders

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Nov 19, 2009
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Well I mean if anyone can build me stuff that souds like this for pocket change, I'd gladly switch. Also, isn't R&D worth anything?
Hi,
Were you aware that the Naim amplifier designs were based on an RCA manual from the 1970's ?

Or that one of their power supplies is just a transformer, reservoir capacitors, bridge rectifier, and a few linear regulators ?. (most of the box is empty).

Their designs are available as a DIY build on pinkfish, or DIY Audio - clones. When you see what they don't implement in the circuit such as transistor based current mirror, or single transistor VAS, or less than linear output transistors (these have now changed), to get their house sound, then you realise that there is ore hype to high end hifi than actual reality.

The budget or low end equipment if mass produced is just as good as some of the high end.

Regards,
Shadders.
 
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rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
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Hi,
Were you aware that the Naim amplifier designs were based on an RCA manual from the 1970's ?

Or that one of their power supplies is just a transformer, reservoir capacitors, bridge rectifier, and a few linear regulators ?. (most of the box is empty).

Their designs are available as a DIY build on pinkfish, or DIY Audio - clones. When you see what they don't implement in the circuit such as transistor based current mirror, or single transistor VAS, or less than linear output transistors (these have now changed), to get their house sound, then you realise that there is ore hype to high end hifi than actual reality.

The budget or low end equipment if mass produced is just as good as some of the high end.

Regards,
Shadders.
I can't DIM, nor do I have the technical knowledge to understand this, or skills to build one. And I really do not care how they achieve the sound they do, as not as they're not hurting baby seals or anthing.

If you do and want to stick it to the man, tell me how much it would cost me for you to build me something that sounds just like a NDX 2 (software included) + 282 + 200dr + Supercap equivalent (parts + man hours + warranty) and looks half decent, and if I can afford it and it's significantly less expensive even than SH (because it would have zero resale value and after-market serviceability), I'll ditch my Naim stuff, honest to God.

P.S.:
1- "When you see what they don't implement in the circuit such as transistor based current mirror, or single transistor VAS, or less than linear output transistors (these have now changed), to get their house sound, then you realise that there is ore hype to high end hifi than actual reality." - THIS makes absolutely no sense to me. What does it mean "more hype"? Hype about what? The only hype, at least in Naim's case, is about how they sound. And if you like that type of sound, it's warranted. Which can be said about absolutely ANY product,, at ANY budget, be it a SMSL dac-amp or a Jeff Rowland mono-block setup.

2- "The budget or low end equipment if mass produced is just as good as some of the high end." This is only saying that some good cheap stuff can be as good as bad expensive stuff. Which is a meaningless context, imo. Again, show me a sub 500 euro anything that sounds identical to Naim pre-power, and I swear I'll switch. Or let me put it another way, how much do you think my desired Naim system should cost? (NDX2/282/200dr)?
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
258
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I can't DIM, nor do I have the technical knowledge to understand this, or skills to build one. And I really do not care how they achieve the sound they do, as not as they're not hurting baby seals or anthing.

If you do and want to stick it to the man, tell me how much it would cost me for you to build me something that sounds just like a NDX 2 (software included) + 282 + 200dr + Supercap equivalent (parts + man hours + warranty) and looks half decent, and if I can afford it and it's significantly less expensive even than SH (because it would have zero resale value and after-market serviceability), I'll ditch my Naim stuff, honest to God.
Hi,
The point was, that the Naim amplifiers designs are sub-optimal, use the same components as any other amplifier (except their output transistors currently). If you want to know the cost then try pinkfishmedia.net in the DIY section for how much it costs to build a clone.

When you compare the Denon CEOL to the Naim and price paid, the Denon is much better value for money by quite a margin.

You may like the Naim sound, others don't, so in the end the value from a component basis the Naim is low value, but from a subjective view, then you assign the value you want.

P.S.:
1- "When you see what they don't implement in the circuit such as transistor based current mirror, or single transistor VAS, or less than linear output transistors (these have now changed), to get their house sound, then you realise that there is ore hype to high end hifi than actual reality." - THIS makes absolutely no sense to me. What does it mean "more hype"? Hype about what? The only hype, at least in Naim's case, is about how they sound. And if you like that type of sound, it's warranted. Which can be said about absolutely ANY product,, at ANY budget, be it a SMSL dac-amp or a Jeff Rowland mono-block setup.

2- "The budget or low end equipment if mass produced is just as good as some of the high end." This is only saying that some good cheap stuff can be as good as bad expensive stuff. Which is a meaningless context, imo. Again, show me a sub 500 euro anything that sounds identical to Naim pre-power, and I swear I'll switch. Or let me put it another way, how much do you think my desired Naim system should cost? (NDX2/282/200dr)?
The hype is that a sub-optimal circuit costs so much money.

You can obtain a Naim sound if you build the clone amplifiers, which will be at a much reduced cost.

My initial point was that the Denon system is just as good as the Naim, as the sound preferred is subjective.

The problem is people claiming their equipment is better than the Denon just because it costs a lot of money or has a reputation. In looking at the Naim designs where available, and an amplifier such as Audiolab 8000A (circuit is available on the internet), then the Audiolab circuit is far superior, for much less money.

If you are happy with the Naim, then great for you. It just is not better than other equipment costing significantly less. The Denon CEOL is liked by the original poster, but they want to upgrade. There are other options out there costing much less than Naim.

Regards,
Shadders.
 
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skinnypuppy71

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Aug 10, 2021
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Hey Rainsoothe........you maybe should reinvestigate the price of getting your Naim streamer screen repaired...I was under the impression that it was the same price as the standard service (around £360) My Naim superuniti screen faded away to almost nothing...I called loud and clear Glasgow and found out that they can just repair the screen, I'm actually taking it up to them today as they have received the returns authorisation from Salisbury.....the cost £140 plus carriage another £40.....it's took a month or so to get to this point obviously due to the present circumstances. I know that the screens fading on these units is some real poor quality control, but I need it fixed and apparently the new screens are of superior quality.
 
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Snooker

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Aug 5, 2011
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I must admit I haven’t had mine above 35 yet !, I cannot wait to give it a proper work out.
Have you tried out the internet radio yet , there’s some High Res stations that sound stunning
I had my friend round he grabbed the remote and went to 44 this was too loud so I went back to 40 but the sound at this volume was stunning yes significantly better than the Denon Ceol but the Ceol still does well enough for me not to warrant the extra money for the Atom, so I am sending it back today for a full refund

I can assure you that if you are looking for new speakers the KEF Q150's sound amazing with the Atom especially when the volume is around 40-44, you can even feel the sound
 
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webb204

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Feb 20, 2008
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I had my friend round he grabbed the remote and went to 44 this was too loud so I went back to 40 but the sound at this volume was stunning yes significantly better than the Denon Ceol but the Ceol still does well enough for me not to warrant the extra money for the Atom, so I am sending it back today for a full refund

I can assure you that if you are looking for new speakers the KEF Q150's sound amazing with the Atom especially when the volume is around 40-44, you can even feel the sound
I have to say that I,m enjoying the Atom more and more as the days go by, its difficult to put a finger on it , but everything just sounds cleaner /tighter/punchier than the Marantz , plus i,m finding the little things like the Naim app and the internet radio so much more usable .
 

Snooker

Well-known member
Aug 5, 2011
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I have to say that I,m enjoying the Atom more and more as the days go by, its difficult to put a finger on it , but everything just sounds cleaner /tighter/punchier than the Marantz , plus i,m finding the little things like the Naim app and the internet radio so much more usable .
Yes I totally agree with you, and in my opinion it mainly sounds significantly better when around 40-44, I may have kept it but there is an issue which you might want to know

When you connect a usb stick to play a track, you go from the home screen and select usb, then you select the next single option, then you have a list of your music folders, then if you select a folder you get a list of its tracks, you then select your chosen track, track starts to play, all fine up to know

If I now press the back button next to the home button after a few seconds of playing the track on the included remote it will display a list of the tracks playing which is what you expect from a back button, however if you decide to press the back button say after 2-3 minutes instead of going to the list of tracks as before it goes back to the home page and you then have to go through all the menus again to get to your music folders and then tracks
 

webb204

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2008
13
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Yes I totally agree with you, and in my opinion it mainly sounds significantly better when around 40-44, I may have kept it but there is an issue which you might want to know

When you connect a usb stick to play a track, you go from the home screen and select usb, then you select the next single option, then you have a list of your music folders, then if you select a folder you get a list of its tracks, you then select your chosen track, track starts to play, all fine up to know

If I now press the back button next to the home button after a few seconds of playing the track on the included remote it will display a list of the tracks playing which is what you expect from a back button, however if you decide to press the back button say after 2-3 minutes instead of going to the list of tracks as before it goes back to the home page and you then have to go through all the menus again to get to your music folders and then tracks
Cheers for that , I doubt i,ll ever be using a usb stick with it though , will all be done via Spotify/Tidal/internet radio or Airplay
 
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Snooker

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Aug 5, 2011
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Cheers for that , I doubt i,ll ever be using a usb stick with it though , will all be done via Spotify/Tidal/internet radio or Airplay
I am glad you like your Atom and I can understand why, again I would like to recommend the Kef Q150's they are not bright at all but detailed and warm and the bass is perfect with the Atom and they only cost £400 new

Yes at higher volumes the Atom is significantly better sounding than the Denon Ceol N9 it sounds stunning, but as the Denon Ceol is still really an excellent sounding system and because there is an issue regarding using a usb stick for quick navigation as explained in an earlier post I sent the Atom back for a full refund, and am happy to stay with the Denon Ceol, if the Atom issue is resolved in the future I may reconsider the Atom again
 

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