Thinking of getting a Naim Uniti Atom

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Tinman1952

Well-known member
May 19, 2021
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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.
Well said…
I‘ve owned Naim equipment in the past and used to read ‘fanatical’posts on the Naim forum…… reminded me of the Emperor’s new clothes……!
They are very basic designs with annoying quirks like:
- thump through speakers on power on
- oversensitive inputs..which mean you are always right down on the potentiometer where channel tracking can be off
- ground loops because signal ground is usually separate from safety ground
The prices they charge for separate power supplies are a joke……

rant over…. 🙂
 
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webb204

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2008
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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
You have done the right thing sending it back if you had the usb issue ,I would do the same if it were an issue for me .
I consider myself fortunate in getting mine for £1800 ,there was no way I was going to pay RRP ,and like you I was happy with my Marantz ,but I just couldn’t resist at that price after seeing the price second hand ones are going for !
I’ll bare the Kef speakers in mind if I upgrade ,however as everyday passes I’m not convinced I need to change my 3020i,s anytime soon as they sound damn good .
 
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rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
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Hi,
1. 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.

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

3. 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.


4. The hype is that a sub-optimal circuit costs so much money.

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


6. The problem is people claiming their equipment is better than the Denon just because it costs a lot of money or has a reputation.

7. 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.

8. 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.
Edited your post with numbers so I can adress each point individually.
1. Out of principle, I probably wouldn't opt for a clone, since I think the designers, who invested time and money into creating a product should be rewarded for their gamble. It's easy to reverse engineer stuff, come after and say "yes, well, of course, this is simple". Well, if it was, how come the "cloners" are not the ones sitting on a pile of cash in their hi-fi company director's office?

2. I wasn't discussing VFM. And you weren't either. You're saying that regardless of cost, they're just as good.

3. Exactly. It's about listening to music, subjectivity is all there is to it. If it was about monitoring recordings or a competition of measurements, then objectivity should've indeed weighed more. But it's about personal taste.

4. How is it sub-optimal if I prefer it to every other brand I heard, even at higher prices? I would say that it's ABOVE-optimal!

5. You might say that about the Denon as well. How do you know it's parts don't cost 10 pennies? :p Also, there's other factors involved, like probably different business models.

6. I agree with you here. People saying that something sounds better JUST BECAUSE it costs more should get no credit. However, I find that statement to be a generalisation and a strawman agrument, as it's usually not the case. Usually, people talk about obvious stuff, like bass detail, texture and weight, which is something you can easily hear when it gets better.

7. I heard Audiolab 8000, and to my ears the "better" design sounds clinical and soulless. Again, this "better" relates (probably) only to measurements, which means nothing to me, since my purpose is not to monitor a studio mix, but to dance around the house with my family, or feel joyous.

8. There are other options out there that cost MORE than Naim, what's your point?

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.
Thanks for your help. Unfortunately, I'm not UK based, and last time I asked my dealer, they weren't authorised to carry out this kind of repair. But maybe something has changed in the meantime.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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Edited your post with numbers so I can adress each point individually.
1. Out of principle, I probably wouldn't opt for a clone, since I think the designers, who invested time and money into creating a product should be rewarded for their gamble. It's easy to reverse engineer stuff, come after and say "yes, well, of course, this is simple". Well, if it was, how come the "cloners" are not the ones sitting on a pile of cash in their hi-fi company director's office?
Hi,
You should be thanking RCA, as the Naim design is a clone of that.

2. I wasn't discussing VFM. And you weren't either. You're saying that regardless of cost, they're just as good.
Yes, the cheap stuff is as good as Naim. The reason it is cheap is due to economies of scale.

4. How is it sub-optimal if I prefer it to every other brand I heard, even at higher prices? I would say that it's ABOVE-optimal!
It is sub optimal since it omits linearisation techniques which would cost a few pence to implement. They also use output transistors with high beta droop compared to existing output transistors. Although, some of their new designs use different output transistors.

7. I heard Audiolab 8000, and to my ears the "better" design sounds clinical and soulless. Again, this "better" relates (probably) only to measurements, which means nothing to me, since my purpose is not to monitor a studio mix, but to dance around the house with my family, or feel joyous.
The point is, the sub-optimal design of Naim is liked since it introduces distortions which people like.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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Would these be inaudible distortions Shadders?
Hi,
The distortion profile of the amplifier is what people prefer. Bob Carver proved this, as he took a cheap high performance amplifier, modified the distortion to that of an expensive high end amplifier, and the stereophile reviewers could not determine the difference between the two :


See Amplifier Modelling section.

This is what people prefer, the resultant distortions of the equipment.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Dom

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2011
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FYI I don't hear any distortion through my M2 amplifier, I'm interested in what band this distortion resides?
When I read reviews and general information about hifi its all about removing the distortion.
Regards.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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FYI I don't hear any distortion through my M2 amplifier, I'm interested in what band this distortion resides?
When I read reviews and general information about hifi its all about removing the distortion.
Regards.
Hi,
The distortion is across the audio band. The distortion, in general, will rise with frequency, but the signal levels at the higher frequencies is low, and so this mitigates it to a high degree.

As an engineer, you will want to make the system as linear as possible (lower distortion). Yet, some companies will allow distortion to be inherent in their designs to give it a "house" sound.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

12th Monkey

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Aug 31, 2015
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I have no idea whether the argument holds water, but something done in two instances the best part of forty years ago doesn't feel rigorous enough to describe as absolute proof of a point in all instances now.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
258
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19,070
I have no idea whether the argument holds water, but something done in two instances the best part of forty years ago doesn't feel rigorous enough to describe as absolute proof of a point in all instances now.
Hi,
The differences in equipment sound is purely a deviation from the the perfect signal that "should" reach your ears. Each combination of equipment has different distortion profile, that is all.

There is no magic, mysticism or unknown theories regarding electronics and the system measurements taken, for hifi. People seem to confuse measurements with the theory that they are telling you how something will sound.

Measurements will never tell you how something will sound, as one person like and interpretation, is different to another persons.

Regards,
Shadders.
 
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Dom

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2011
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I was talking to my brother, he was interested in the output wave form. He said that you should be able to get a pure sine wave from the amplifier out of the speakers.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
258
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I was talking to my brother, he was interested in the output wave form. He said that you should be able to get a pure sine wave from the amplifier out of the speakers.
Hi,
Yes, a sine wave will look very good on an oscilloscope, but the distortions are there. You would need to take a spectral plot of the sine wave (fft - fast fourier transform) to see the distortion plotted as other frequency components.

If you look at Hifi News, they provide THD plots for an amplifier at various load levels (8ohms, 4ohms, 2ohms) and you will see the distortion varying based on power output and load.

If you look at a class D sine wave output on an oscilloscope, the line will look fuzzy. The fuzziness is the high frequency noise that the ear cannot hear.

Regards,
Shadders.
 
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