Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition reviewNaim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition review
Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition review

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition review: Strive for success

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition review
Naim Uniti Atom
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Today, the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition is under review – an updated version of the Naim Uniti Atom (which at the time of writing the review has just turned 6 years old), which has already become legendary thanks to a set of high-quality solutions and competent implementation.

Like its predecessor, the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition offers maximum functionality, elegant beauty, and uncompromising sound.

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The only difference is that this device is primarily designed for interaction with headphones, which is a kind of experiment for Naim , a company that has been manufacturing electronics for high-end speaker systems for decades.

The experiment is not cheap. And immediately with a claim to the status of Top of the League.

Let’s see what happened.

Set, design, structure, functionality

The device comes in a fairly simple set, which is typical of stationary devices in general:

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  • Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition
  • Accompanying documentation
  • Napkin
  • Remote control
  • 4 AAA batteries (for the remote control)
  • 2 network cables (UK and EU standards)

Design

The device is implemented in a case identical to its predecessor – Naim Uniti Atom, with a pleasant, close to the “correct” square shape. Despite the fact that the device is not monotonous in all respects, the overall presentation, integrity and organic design are pleasantly impressive.

The color of the device is black, the surface of the front panel is glossy, the physical control elements in the form of buttons have white LED illumination. The Naim inscription on the lower left edge of the front panel is decorated with the same illumination.

 

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In the center of the front panel there is a five-inch display of exemplary quality. It is the display that shows that this is an objectively modern high-class device, and not some niche audiophile box of not quite understandable quality.

 

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The display occupies a dominant position on the front panel due to its quality characteristics and the uniform placement of all other elements of user interaction around the display. Pleasant size, decent PPI, cool brightness, saturated warm colors guarantee aesthetic satisfaction.

The upper face is made in a beautiful style with a fairly rough satin finish of the metal with a light cast in graphite color. In the center is a variation of the already traditional manufacturer’s large volume control wheel, which is used in the models of the Naim Mu-so line and in the Unity line and in the flagship Statement. It has an unobtrusive white backlight under the base of the wheel, a glossy surface matching the front panel and volume indication along the contour of the wheel. This design element always actively attracts attention.

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The side faces are decorated with textured matte ribs of the radiator. The device heats up noticeably and their presence is actually justified (especially for the mode of operation as a pre-amplifier for a speaker system), but still does not leave the feeling that this is primarily a stylish design solution to give the device a solid and impressive appearance.

 

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Physical dimensions – 95 mm x 245 mm x 265 mm. The sure and pleasant weight of the device is about 7 kg.

The light glossy complete remote control is made of plastic, has an elongated shape and proper functionality. The buttons light up for a few seconds when the contact with the surfaces changes. It has all the necessary functionality – changing inputs, navigating the menu, adjusting the backlight (there is an option to adjust the brightness in three modes), Multiroom control, adding to favorites, working with the played music and playlist.

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By the way, when changing the volume, the indication, similar to the one located in the control wheel on the case, also works in a circle around the buttons in the center of the remote control. Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition perfectly interacts with the remote at any angle. That is, there is no need to direct the remote control to any specific points relative to the device.

 

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Location of control elements

 

Front panel:

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  • USB input (for drives)
  • 6.3 mm headphone jack
  • 4.4 mm balanced headphone jack
  • headphone input switching button (front panel – 6.3 mm and
  • 4.4 mm or rear panel – XLR)
  • 5-inch display
  • on/off button
  • play/pause button
  • login selection button
  • “favorite” button

 

Back panel:

  • network input
  • balanced XLR headphone jack
  • USB input (for drives)
  • network (LAN) port
  • RCA output connectors
  • digital inputs: optical S/PDIF (x2) and coaxial
  • RCA analog input connectors
  • preamplifier outputs (RCA and XLR)
  • ground switch (Ground and Floating positions)

 

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The function of ground matching is common in high-end stationary systems with several devices in the setup. Problems with proper grounding can be a source of noise and distortion. In cases where two devices connected together do not have the same ground potential, ground matching is required to eliminate audio problems. Thus, the “ground” switch implemented in the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition allows you to carefully and accurately match the potentials of the devices.

The Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition was tested with five mains cables of varying quality and found a noticeable change in sound when changing the mains cable. Such subtleties indicate to us that the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition is a device of a sufficient level to distinguish the characteristics of such seemingly secondary or even insignificant for many components such as network cables.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition supports numerous scenarios of streaming and playback of audio material. Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz are integrated into the Naim system. During the test, I used the Qobuz service. The results are excellent. The Qobuz interface is full-fledged, not truncated, organically adapted to the Naim shell. The sound quality is excellent. Still, I would like to emphasize the fact that native support for the streaming service is very important, because working with streaming via UPnP (Universal Plug ‘n’ Play) is not always a competent and comfortable solution and is rather forced than desired. By the way, UPnP support is also on board for expanding functionality. In addition, the Roon Ready device supports AirPlay 2 and Chromecast.

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Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition also supports a collection of audiophile Internet radio in high quality and a platform with podcasts. I liked the radio station of the brand – Naim Radio HD, which offers excellent music in high quality. With regard to work with external storage devices – I did not find the declared amount of support (it is indicated that up to 20,000 tracks), but it worked perfectly with a 4 TB HDD.

Digital and analog inputs allow you to connect other devices to the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, such as a streamer, CD transport , console, PC, DAC or vinyl player .

Support for working with Bluetooth protocols (aptX HD) allows you to add even more scenarios of wireless use.

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All popular audio formats are supported: WAV, FLAC, DSD, Apple Lossless, AIFF, AAC, Ogg, MP3 and Windows Media-formatted files. I confirm the versatility of working with formats. Personally, I didn’t find any recordings that the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition had any difficulty with.

For those who care about numbers:

  • WAV, FLAC and AIFF – up to 24bit/384kHz;
  • ALAC (Apple Lossless) – up to 24bit/384kHz;
  • MP3 – up to 48kHz, 320kbit (16 bit);
  • AAC – up to 48kHz, 320kbit (16bit);
  • OGG and WMA – up to 48kHz (16bit);
  • DSD 64 and 128Fs;
  • Bluetooth — aptX HD, SBC, AAC.

 

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The system is updated via Wi-Fi. Fast and convenient.

 

I wrote about my positive impressions of the Focal & Naim app used to work with the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition in a review of Focal Bathys . The minimalist black-white-gray design, simplicity, comfort, functionality and absolute stability of work evoke a sense of satisfaction.

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The application has an informative interface – nice fonts, icons, correct sizes. Supports swipes, adjusting the volume of the device is possible not only from the remote control or from the control wheel, but also from the application control device. It is possible to change the background style (numerous options are available).

Strengthening

The Headphone Edition version of the Naim Uniti Atom is not just designed with the addition of headphone jacks. The makers claim that the said revision has been completely engineered using improved discrete headphone amplification, inheriting the technologies introduced in the flagship Statement line of amplifiers.

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The internal structure of the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition is based on a completely new circuit on discrete transistors with a new transformer design that provides power to the amplification stages.

The manufacturer declares the output power of the device from 4.4 mm, XLR and
6.3 mm connectors at 1.5 W RMS per channel at 16 Ohms.

Sound

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition offers quite interesting sound. Expected quality and class. No excess weight added to the range. The balance of frequencies is close to equal, without blockages in any part of the range.

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The sound is fast, expressive, clear, transparent, moderately bright and sonorous.

Resolution, precision and technicality, stage dimensions and positioning at the highest level.

It played perfectly with all tested headphones, revealing their potential and strengths, whether aggressive and fast headphones with a technical bias or calm headphones with a melodic bias.

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During testing, I did not find any incompatibility parameters of the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition with good headphones.

 

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Low frequencies

LF are precise and technical. They are well positioned and do not interfere with the middle frequencies. High technical characteristics and development allow low frequencies to play very confidently without adding excess mass. Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition does not stand out with its emphasis on the maximum weight and depth of the low-frequency range and their general dominance. This is how the device will be able to maintain a cool balance of speed and impact.

Medium frequencies

SC are beautiful, technical, moderately bright. Good for speed, timbral saturation and variability. Lower middle frequencies are not too heavy, quite light and singing. The upper middle frequencies sound open, but without peaks and discomfort.

The vocals are detailed, full of timbres. He sings beautifully, he is slightly highlighted in space, but he does not have the most emotional presentation. Cool presence, exquisite design.

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Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition has a natural, detailed and rich reproduction of decays and reverberations.

The echeloning of the middle to the depth feels very smooth and relaxed, but its implementation is qualitatively impressive.

High frequencies

HF is bright, sweeping and spectacular. They have good speed and are generally very attractive. A good balance of micro and macro feeds.

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Their length, separation and positioning in space attract attention, and their naturalness brings pleasure when listening.

Detail at an excellent level – integrity of images and fades, playback of high frequencies of the background – everything is in place and at the highest level without the need for artificial saturation, but with a cool feeling of space and air.

 

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Focal Utopia 2022

Focal acquired Naim Audio in 2011. According to the Focal representative, the driving force behind the combination of ideas and production forces was the similar philosophy of both companies. 95-98 percent of both brands’ components are hand-assembled (not assembly-line), and after all, Naim electronics and Focal radiators are believed to work well in tandem. In recent years, of course, this trend has only gained significant development.

Of all the connection options tested with the Focal Utopia 2022, the combination with the Uniti Atom is the most synergistic, in fact, the reference in relation to all other tested scenarios. Synergy and mutual disclosure at an excellent level. Control of low frequencies, impact, depth of scene and development of images, timbral variability, saturation and purity of sound, accuracy and scale. Dynamics and performance of damping. Beautiful selection of vocals and expressive sparkle of high frequencies. Among the most pleasant nuances, I will single out the smoothness of the middle frequencies, the construction of the layers of the scene and instruments in depth. Work with space and volume in general.

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By the way, the Focal Utopia 2022 test with a single 6.3 mm connection and balanced XLR did not provide any noticeable differences in sound.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition provides Focal Utopia 2022 with a foundation in the form of tonally even, neatly saturated, moderately bright sound with cool technical characteristics. The slightly warm and mellow Focal Utopia 2022 are perfectly balanced in the right way by the fast and bright sound of the Uniti Atom, forming an excellent synergy of sound and a fantastic connection in terms of convenience and functionality, in which the high level of each component is obvious and beyond any doubt.

Sennheiser HD 800

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition is able to reveal the HD 800’s potential in a cool way  primarily in matters of stage, space, positioning, sizes of instruments and images, as well as aristocratic restrained neutrality.

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Beautiful timbres, high frequencies and vocals give peace, comfort and pleasure. High-quality non-fatiguing connection, pleasant for long-term listening. Sennheiser HD 800 with a resistance of 300 Ohms are comfortably rocking from the unbalanced connector of the device from Naim.

Fostex TH-909

 With very picky sources, the Fostex TH-909 ‘s balanced 4.4mm jack Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition produced the best sound I’ve ever heard with these headphones. And I had to hear a lot.

Very fast, clear, transparent and rich sound. Excellent high frequencies, excellent expressiveness and control of mid-range frequencies. Fast, defined, technical low frequencies. The sound is very bright and cheerful, but it may not suit everyone who is sensitive to upper midrange frequencies.

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Hifiman Arya Stealth Magnet

Listened from a 4.4 mm balanced connector. Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition revealed the strengths of planar headphones – depth, power, technicality and impact of low frequencies, as well as natural sound (not every quality source succeeds in the latter). Demonstrated excellent transparency, echeloning and dimensions of images and instruments in depth, technicality and a cool dynamic range of sound.

All this without any obstructions in the range and with a nice separation of low and medium frequencies in space (simpler sources without the proper dimensions of the stage and resolution can produce a slightly lumpy sound picture, where the powerful low frequencies of the Arya Stealth Magnet encroach on the mid frequencies ) .

Audio-Technica AD2000X

The Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition has mastered the overtly vocal-oriented Asian headphone tuning. The neat, soft and precise underpinning of the bass is well controlled, while the light treble with plenty of air creates an excellent background for vocals in the AD2000X. Upper mids are well controlled, vocals and mids sound nice and comfortable.

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Headphones get the necessary freedom, space, control and beauty. Excellent relaxing sound.

Conclusion

Everything is simple and direct in the conclusions. The Naim Unity Atom Headphone Edition is truly the ultimate solution of fantastic quality. Refined modern design with features of its own individuality. Management and interaction are maximally optimized and pleasant. Impressive functionality for all occasions. The sound has no weak points. Plays all genres with its own signature and beauty. Excellent compatibility with emitters – sounds great with all capricious headphones. Power is sufficient for all adequate scenarios. The possibility of full operation in the preamplifier mode and many other things that can be broken down into small things and listed for a very long time.

And we can simply state that the Naim Unity Atom Headphone Edition is a very solid unit that is incredibly difficult to beat or bypass.

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Excellent work!

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