The Naim Atom Review. This HiFi “All in One” challenged my Belief system.

The Naim Atom Review. This HiFi All in One challenged my Belief system. 

By Steve Huff

UPDATE: I tested the Atom and Nova with a set of B&W 705 S2’s. Read it HERE. 

I have raved about many a product on these pages over the last 13 years, but only when I really loved said product. There are many products I have not reviewed here, simply because for me, they fell flat, were overhyped or failed to bring a smile to my face. For me, that smile is important. I want my moneys worth out of a product just as much as you do. But today with so many working as “influencers” (where people earn money by “selling you” on a product) it’s hard to tell what is hype and what is really special wether we are talking about audio or photography products. We live in the age of constant consumer hype. We must buy this and that to be happy, at least that seems to be the message.

I do not know about you, but frankly I am tired of all of it. I guess I am what you can call an influencer. I have been doing this for 13 years. Writing reviews and yes, even making an income on what YOU buy from my pages at Amazon or B&H Photo. But with audio reviews like this,  I do not make any money. Not from ad revenue (I have no audio advertisers) nor from affiliate sales. I do these reviews because of the love I have for music and I hope that someone out there finds what I write here valuable to them.

I am an audio nut. A lover of HiFi gear and of course, listening to 2 channel high quality music day in and out. My system is on at least 8 hours a day either as background music or for serious listening. I take music very seriously because for me music saved my life about 11 years ago, literally. I de-stress with music. I am taken to other worlds when listening and at times, when I do those late night 1am listening sessions (which are always the best) I sometimes feel as if the artist is in my room with an up close and personal intimate performance. With some systems, the realism can be scary at times.

When I discovered this “magic” in certain systems many many years ago, I went on a search for my own system that could deliver this magic while remaining within a budget. I’m not a wealthy guy. Not even close. I just have different priorities than some. I’m not a fan of boats, watches, fancy cars, fancy homes or big RV’s. Instead, I live a simple life of happiness, low stress and love. I live in a basic small “starter” home and have for the last ten years. We have one car and are in no way extravagant. I also like to save money, and have been doing that for my entire life. With that said, my spending “weakness” is all within audio and photography!

Over the last 20 years I have been buying and upgrading my audio system to get to where I wanted. I finally got there last year when I purchased what I believe to be the finest integrated amp/dac/phono combo one can acquire today. It took me 20 years to reach this point. The Vinnie Rossi L2i SE (review here) has brought me to Audio Nirvana, and no matter what speakers I hook up to it that piece has delivered loads of magic every time. But my L2i SE needed to visit Vinnie “in the shop” for an update and since it would be gone for 2-4 weeks, I decided to hook up something entirely different in my listening room(s) while the heart of my system was away.

The little Naim Atom All in One is a Serious Piece of HiFi.

I sent an email over to Dan at Dedicated Audio (local to me) after reading some reviews on the Naim Atom “All in One” system. Coming in at $23k less than my Vinnie Rossi integrated I assumed it would be a huge step down, but I was intrigued and attracted to the atom for what it offered. All in one..as in..amp, pre amp, streamer, DAC and huge 5″ display. Add in the weighted huge volume dial and the amazing design and you have a slick looking, very well built little piece of tech. I am a sucker for big weighted volume dials and this is the nicest one I have seen in an integrated, regardless of cost.

At only 40WPC I assumed it would sound anemic on most speakers like the little PS Audio Sprout. Maybe a tad thin, bright or with a lack of that “magic” I spoke of earlier. I brought these things up with Dan and he told me to buy it, and if I didn’t like it I could return it. He does have a return policy, so I figured…why not?!?!? I planned to use the Atom with Klipsch Cornwall IV speakers in a second room in my home (apart from my main reference setup) and my only worry was that it would be thin or bright.

I ordered online at their website HERE. I then drove by to pick it up and since here in AZ we are seeing rising Covid 19 numbers as of June 10th, our highest daily numbers yet, Dan is not open for the public. I went by, had my mask on and he popped his hand out of the door, with mask on, and handed me the Atom ; ) Perfect. Quick. Easy.

So how does this $3300 all in one do against my maxed out $26k retail L2i SE? Hahaha. Well…I may do a side by side later but one can not expect to get the richness of sound, the layering and magic in a product that costs $26,000 USD in an all in one $3300 product. Even so, how close can it get and can it even get close? I will say that with most speakers and those that are not an easy drive, the Vinnie is in another league but get this…after an hour with the Atom and the Conrwall’s I forgot how beautiful my Rossi was as I was seduced by the little Atoms stunning capabilities. I mean, I was shocked at what I heard when I hooked up this Atom to a pair of Klipsch Cornwall IV speakers! 

I will say this….the little Naim is just about a perfect match to the Klipsch Heritage line, as in they make these speakers sound better than I have heard them with other amps. For more challenging loads, the Atom can still do great things but this is when amps like the Vinnie Rossi show their value and power.

So for this review, I had the Atom hooked up to the big Cornwall’s. I did try it with the Qln prestige III as well but the Rossi is a perfect synergistic match for the Qln so the Atom couldn’t compete with the L2i SE in that area. While the Atom drove the QLN speakers well, it did not drive them like my L2i SE did.  BUT… with the Klipsch? Wow. This is simply perfect and does deliver magic, moreso than any amp I have tried with Klipsch heritage. This means I prefer the Atom with these speakers over ANY other amp I have tried, regardless of price. Wow!

Get yourself a set of Heresy IV’s and an Atom along with some $25 cables and you are set with a true high end system for under $6500. I mean, a killer high end sounding system with real audio magic. BTW, I am using cheap $25 speaker cables this time on my Cornwall IV’s and with those and the Atom they are shockingly beautiful with such a flowing effortless musical grace. In fact, if this is the “Naim Sound” I am in love as I have never owned a Naim piece and this piece is GORGEOUS while being in their lower tier of pricing. It feels, looks, and sounds much more expensive than it is. 

I always heard of this Naim sound, but now that I have experienced it I am listening to so much music, so I would call this sound simply… “MUSICAL”. If I can stress one thing it is that these Klipsch speakers took a leap up in Sound quality, clarity and expansiveness with the Atom over other more expensive integrated amps. As if it was made for them. I will do my best to describe the sound I hear from this combo but I will say that the Atom is worth every penny of its full retail (even more imo) even in June of 2020, a long while after it was launched. This is a true HIGH END product and if it were made by a company like McIntosh it would most likely cost $7,500- $10,000.

Remember, all you need is the atom, an internet connection (wired or WiFi), speaker cables and speakers. You set it up with the very easy to use Naim app. It can be used as a Roon endpoint or to stream Spotify, Qobuz or Tidal direct from the Naim App or their native apps. You can add a server. I was up and running in 5 minutes out of the box and streaming Tidal and Spotify to my speakers. It has digital inputs, analog inputs and is ready to rock and roll soon as you power it up and do the short setup. Mine needed a firmware update but it did it all automatically, and took just minutes.

The huge display shows the album art of whatever you are playing. The remote is backlit and motion activated so it lights up when you lift it up. It’s motion activated! The remote doesn’t have to be pointed at the Atom to work either. Everything here is super high quality. The amp is NOT a class D as the NAD M10 uses (I wasn’t a fan of the M10 sound) a class D amp. The Naim Atom uses a class A/B amp and you can easily tell this as the sound is rich, full, fluid, even handed, clear and clean, detailed, big and oh so so sweet. It has body yet also has a presence of life that I have never quite heard from other integrated amps like this. Not bright or harsh, in fact there is none of that here at all. In some ways you think it sounds crisp and detailed yet there is a weight and punch to the music which his usually absent when you have this kind of detail. It’s a different sound but if I can be honest, it sounds more like “music” that many HiFi Pieces that try to be king of one thing. This is a superbly musical integrated amp/streamer.

The way the Atom presents music through these Klipsch heritage speakers is with an ease, a grace, and emotion. Almost as if the sound is “complete” and nothing is lacking. Rather than sit and listen to the “magic” and only playing well recorded pieces, I am engrossed in the music instead and it is so soulful, no matter what I listen to. It’s also, somehow seemingly takes away all traces of slight coloration in the Klipsch heritage speakers. Not sure how, but it must be the synergy at play here. I mean, this Atom sounds better with these Cornwall’s than even a full on tube amp does, something like a prima luna, (which sounds gorgeous with Klipsch heritage BTW). But I will argue that the Atom is a better solution as it has all you need in one high quality box. Speakers like the Heresy IV, Cornwall IV or Forte III (though the forte may be a tad brighter) will sound phenomenal with the little Atom though with their high sensitivity you will hear a slight hiss from the tweeters, and I mean slight, but the music that comes from the speakers with this Atom is special and for very little money in comparison to other integrated amps.

This Naim is high quality in every way. From the toroidal transformer inside, to the way the volume dial feels (I could see this on a $20k piece but somehow never do) when you turn it to even the remote which is more useful than most. It has analog inputs so if you have a turntable with a phono stage you can attach and listen. I hooked up my Michel Tecnodeck and it sounded wonderful. Rich, big, and again, with soul and emotion and that was with a cheap $150 phono stage. I mean, it was very very very good. The bass performance is unreal, and the Atom added some meat to the bones on the Klipsch all while keeping it clean and clear without bloat. Makes it bigger, fuller and with more 3 dimensionality yet it doesn’t have a mid bass hump nor does it sound dark or muddied. It’s the opposite as it sounds clean, detailed, smooth, big, and has some serous rhythm going on. Many call it PRAT and I will just say yes, it does that very well.

UPDATE: I tested the Atom and Nova with the B&W 705 S2. The Atom blew me away again. 

After just a few days with the Atom I struggle to understand how this is ONLY $3300. Yes, $3300 is a lot of money but not for what you are getting here. Some spend this much and more on just a DAC alone, yet here we get a killer class A/B amp, a streamer, a Burr Brown DAC, high quality build and a quality remote as well as ease of use. It doesn’t sound like something “less than” an audiophile product as it is truly a high end piece.

You can add a USB drive and play direct from the drive. High Res? No problem for the Atom. 

The value here is extraordinary and the best I have ever seen in my 30 years of HiFi. No lie, remember I make no money if you use my link and buy one of these. I speak from my excitement for the Atom. 

The atom will power speakers such as the Dynaudio Special 40’s with ease. Even with a rated 40 WPC, it feels almost as powerful as my Vinnie Rossi which is rated to 100WPC. Not sure how or why, but I use the same volume on the Atom as the Rossi when running the Cornwall’s which are insanely efficient speakers. Around 28 on the volume dial for both amps and I get the same volume, size, scale and amazing-ness but each breathes a different life into the big Klipsch. The Vinnie Rossi brings a tad more fullness, richness, weight, layering and some of that 300B tube presence and beauty from the DHT Preamp. The vocals with the Vinnie Rossi are bigger/throatier but with the Atom they are sweeter, cleaner and more present. I would say these two pieces are different rather than one being better than the other. They both offer DAC’s but the Rossi doesn’t have a streamer, so one is needed externally. This can cost thousands. The Vinnie Rossi uses 300B tubes in the preamp which inject that beautiful flavor to the sound that is intimate yet also intense at times, and a good set will run you around $1500 over the stock tubes. The Atom has a lighter presentation (in a way but not fully) but with the Cornwall’s this is welcome and again, while the Atom is lighter in sound than the $23k more expensive L2i SE it doesn’t sound light. Hard to describe really. But it’s good. Very good.

The Rossi will bring a richer presentation, a larger soundstage, and a more defined separation of instruments. It will sound more refined and special. BUT with the Atom, vocals are silky, beautiful and full. Strings are never strident nor are cymbals. Again, the flow and ease and such beautiful sound is a result of some kind of synergy going on, which is hard to find in HiFi. Wether I listen to jazz, classical, bluegrass or metal this Atom delivers and never seems to run out of steam (with the Cornwall’s). Even some of my older vinyl sounds good on the Atom. Records I gave up on and haven’t listened to in years now sound pretty darn good here.

It’s also nice to use Spotify and Tidal just casting to the Atom with a touch of my smartphone.

Before I jumped into the Atom I heard others say that Klipsch and Naim are a bad pairing, and will be bright and thin. Well, that is 100% not true with the Atom, at all. It’s the opposite. Theres no brightness or thin-ness to be had. Just big, full, silky and beautifully presented music with instruments placed within a soundstage though not as defined as some high end offerings. The Atom does the soundstage thing but imaging is not its strong point. Again, this can be good as it makes you listen to the music rather than the sounds, or special effects some HiFi brings. It does image but the instruments are not cut out and defined in space as they are with the Rossi, but this is to be expected.

THIS IS MUSIC, nothing more or less. It’s not for tweakers or those who like to change things out regularly like dacs, preamps, tubes, etc. It’s a simple one box solution that you turn on and forget. It’s there ready at a moments notice to just stream music for you and not only look amazing while doing it, but sounding truly high end for a not so high end price. The good news is that it will sound just as good in 10 years as it does today.

This Atom is a rarity in the world of High end audio. In fact, in all of my HiFi years the Atom would be the first product I would say should win a “product of the decade” award. Not just for its sound quality, but for what it brings to the table for so little in this crazy HiFi world of insanely priced products. Some of these HiFi products cam cost more than my house did when I bought it. Crazy, and not needed to enjoy music. 

A large 5″ display that beautifully displays the album art or info you need. The huge weighted volume dial that adds a touch of luxury to the Atom. The heavy build and small square footprint is gorgeous. Add in the fantastic built in DAC and streamer. The high quality backlit remote, compatibility with almost any way you want to play music along with the ease of setup and use and you have a world class audio product that I believe EVERYONE should have in their home if you are a lover of music. Oh, it does play high res and even DSD files. ; )

Anyone can have this up and running in 5-10 minutes, and it also saves you a ton on cables. No interconnects needed. No special power cords needed (I tried with a blue heaven cord and it did make some improvements but not huge) and it sounds amazing right out of the box. The DAC included is fantastic and sounds so musical and smoother than most uber detailed DACS today.

I just plugged in my ethernet cable from my router and was all set up after adding in some cheap $25 speaker cables. When I did put in some much more pricey silver cables the sound became WORSE for me, and I felt this little guy did best with good old copper cable.

So I am very excited about this piece and am so happy I purchased it. When my L2I SE comes back from Vinnie I will move the Atom in to my other room with some Dynaudio Emit 10’s or Heresy IV’s and will enjoy it for years to come. The Rossi will split duty between the Cornwall’s and other speakers I have in house that are even higher end and where the L2i SE excels.

I even considered jumping to the Naim NOVA for its even better sound and higher power amp but believe it or not, I feel the Atom is so good I do not need the Nova with the Klipsch Cornwall IV or the other speakers I may use it with. At least with Klipsch speakers, or small bookshelf speakers nothing more may be needed. Wanted? Maybe. Needed? No. 

UPDATE. I ended up with the Nova after all so I can drive tougher loads later on if need be. 

The Naim Atom is a HUGE winner and I’d say this is the best overall HiFi product I have come across in 20 years*. My “product of the last 20 years” if you will.  *The Atom is not be the “best” all out audio product out there but for the money it damn sure is. You can not find anything like this for the kind of money that this costs. Nothing for this price will offer what the Atom does. Yes, NAD has the M10 which is similar in style and looks but it’s not built as well and uses a class D amp, which sounds a bit flatter and less involving than the Naim. Class D has come a long way but the M10 does not get close to the Atom IMO in sound quality, at least IMO. It’s a few hundred dollars cheaper and has a cooler display but believe me, the extra outlay for the Naim is worth it in this case.

This is the future of Audio, and yes we have had products that do what the Atom does and many are better than the Atom but extremely more expensive. Think Devialet, but honestly? The Naim has more charm IMO. For me, the Atom is a winner as it does everything right from design, to build quality, to size, to packaging, to ease of use to including everything we needed in an audio product in one small box. The bonus is the sound quality which exceeded all of my expectations. If you have smaller bookshelf speakers that are not a crazy hard to drive load, or efficient speaker like Klipsch the little Naim Atom is worth a serious look or auction.

You can buy the Atom at dedicated audio HERE. It’s where I bought mine and so glad I did. Naim makes it easy, and today that is what we need in audio so more can appreciate what a great two channel system can bring to their lives.

Yes you can get better or course, but do you need better? What is better exactly? I mean, if it makes you smile, makes you move or makes you want to listen deep into the night is it not already quite amazing? The Atom has done all three for me.

My advice? IF YOU LOVE MUSIC buy one of these now while you can. It will be a classic, and a piece that I think will be talked about for years to come. That sometimes happens in HiFi, and then when the product is replaced or gone, many search of that older piece because it just did everything so well. Who knows, maybe Naim will cripple the next version as not too much separates it from the higher up Nova that sells for $6000. My recommended Naim Atom system is below. Ill put up some options that would be amazing:

UNDER $10,000

Naim Atom – $3300

Klipsch Cornwall IV – $5995

Speaker Cables  – $19

—-

UNDER $6500

Naim Atom – $3300

Klipsch Heresy IV – $2995

Speaker Cables – $19

BETWEEN $4200-$6300

Naim Atom – $3300

Dynaudio Special 40’s – $3000

or Emit 10’s for $799. 

Speaker Cables

The PROS of the Atom:

  1. Ease of use means you will be set up within minutes.
  2. Beauty of design. This is gorgeous in design and style. Looks amazing no matter where I put it.
  3. Build quality. The build is in the higher end realm. Nothing about it feels cheap or lacking.
  4. Sound quality. This is unique to the Atom as it brings the Naim sound which is so musical and involving. I found myself actually enjoying music more than before as I wasn’t listening to the “details” but the soul of the music.
  5. DAC is wonderful. I have heard $2000 DAC’s that didn’t sound as good as the one here, included inside the Atom.
  6. Analog inputs. Hook up some vinyl if you have a phono stage.
  7. Huge volume dial is gorgeous, weighted and adds a touch of luxury to this piece. Naim didn’t have to add this to the starter piece but they did. BTW, this doesn’t sound or look like any “starter” piece… yet it is.
  8. Lighted remote is nice to have in the dark.
  9. It just WORKS!
  10. Price for what you get means it is a DEAL. Truly a rarity in HIFi.
  11. Beautiful large Display is so nice. Artwork is displayed crisp and clear as well as menu options.

The CONS of the Atom:

Not all is perfect here. There are cons but for me, they are minuscule compared to the good here.

  1. There is a slight hiss with my Cornwall IV speakers when idle (no music playing but Atom on). So high sensitivity speakers will bring this hiss when you are not listening to music and when the Atom is powered on. Many amps do this, and you have to spend A LOT to get dead quite at idle with a speaker like this. It doesn’t bother me at all as it is slight. I mentioned it because my Vinnie Rossi L2i SE has zero hiss and is silent.
  2. It may not do well with large harder to drive speakers. I see this as a great solution for Klipsch or small bookshelf sized speakers. It would probably suffer if trying to power large multiple driver speakers. It does only have a 40 WPC class A/B amp. So not a ton of watts but with it’s transformer it does have some current which is why it does so well as is.
  3. The remote is a fingerprint magnet. After a day you will want to wipe it down. Wish it was a more matte black.
  4. The speaker inputs are tiny and not very far apart which means your big fancy cables may not fit. They will take banana type only.
  5. Can’t turn off the light that illuminates the Naim logo, only dim it.
  6. I had one issue of the screen freezing on the Atom. I had to unplug it and after that it was fine. Not sure what that was all about but it happened once.
  7. It does have a “lighter” presentation yet is also punchy. Hard to describe but this is not going to bring you a big thick sound. Rather, it’s lighter and more nimble and fast. More musical and fluid. Toe tapping with great detail and kick. It’s punchy yet not warm. It’s detailed yet never cool. I guess this is the Naim sound so while I love it, some of you may not.

For me the pros far outweigh these cons. The Atom is a special piece that rarely comes along in HiFi and yes, there are tons of rave reviews out on this piece as its not new. I’m just late to the game. The beauty is there is no need for expensive interconnects, power cables or speaker cables. Just use basics and this piece will bring a smile to your face with minimal investment. It’s a true high end piece, not just a wanna be.

As to how it challenged my belief system? Over all of these years I’ve never seen an all in one (at this price or less) offer so much for so little, while being true high end in build, sound and execution. The Atom exceeded every expectation that I had going in, and that’s why I had to tell you about it.

The Naim Atom gets my absolute highest recommendation. 

42 Comments

  1. The Atom can also be used as a stand alone streamer DAC hooked up to an external amp, even an integrated amp. It is in this way that I have actually heard best results from the Atom combined with a Nait 3. I am sure the Nova will easily best the Atom, but as a preamp configuration it’s quite versatile. Alone I think the Atom lacks a bit of grunt plus Naim sound is certainly an acquired taste. It’s a little bit like a nice Merlot vs a really great Cab Sav. It’s a bit dryer and leaner from my perspective. Steve I would be curious to see how the Atom sounds as a streamer connected to say a Luxman class A integrated. That would be an interesting pairing. High dB low ohm speakers would obviously respond nicely to Atom. The Moon ace and Special 40s sound great together.

  2. Hi Steve – thanks for this review – it gave me the confidence to finally pull the trigger on the Atom – your enthusiasm was infectious! Very happy so far. I’m hoping you’ll entertain a noob’s question on matching speakers to the Atom. I don’t quite have the wallet for the Dynaudio Special 40s you highlighted, but I’m considering the Evoke 20s, which bear a strong family resemblance to the 40s. I’m hesitating because of the Atom’s 40wpc, but I was encouraged by your comments on the 40s paired with low-wattage amps. Other factors aside, is there any reason to worry the Atom wouldn’t pair equally well with the Evoke 20s? I have a small listening room (11×11) and generally listen at family-friendly volumes, so not looking to flog these. Just looking for a nudge either way. Thanks for any advice!

    • Congrats!!! You will LOVE the atom. I am listening to mine right now! As for power, this is a lovely match to the Special 40’s and should do as well with Evoke. I have my Atom hooked up to B&W 707 s2 and 705 S2 now and evaluating them. Powers them with EASE and they are not an easy drive. Those are also a wonderful match. The 707 s2 for small spaces of course, and both of those have tremendous bass quality and airy highs. Other speakers? Wharfedale denton 85th would bring a nice big warm sound with detail but not overly done, and those are under $1000. KEF LS50’s for $1299 will bring a bold big sound, lots of detail and snap but not as fleshed out as the others. Good luck!

  3. Interesting piece of kit for modern age. 40 watts is massive overkill for a Cornwall. Interestingly I derided one of your reviews a few years back and you have come around to something more in line with my own journey. I started with pair of Klipsch Heresy speakers and a 300b amp, and continue on now with a Cornwallish homebrew made of 2-way TAD drivers driving a 15″ woofer and a large wood horn and drive all with an actively crossed over 2A3 tube amp. One day I expect to add a better digital interface than the Sonos it is hooked up to now, but want to have a component that will allow me to run all through my existing system.

    • Steve, my mistake. I am actually running a bi-amped system. A few watts through the Cornwall-like horns, but about 100 solid-state watts through the woofers. So 40 watts is not overkill unless you go to something like Klipsch Cornerhorns.

  4. Nice review of the Naim Atom, Steve.

    The Atom is a great idea for an integrated amplifier in the internet age.

    All the best,

    Jeff

  5. The Nova is a major upgrade in performance. I owned the Atom and was really impressed, so I got curious about the Nova. In short, both are exceptional and hard to say if double the price = double the listening pleasure. That’s for you to decide. Their is no question that the Nova is the elite athlete in this Uniti line up. That’s said, I decided to explore another Huff recommendation and finally settled on an Octave V70, Chord Qutest Dac, and Dynaudio Special 40’s…mic drop…I’m done

  6. Great review, thank you sir.

    I was recently in the market for a good Integrated for my KEF LS50’s. I really liked the Naim product, but it doesn’t have the power I need for the relatively non-efficient KEF’s. After reading your article, I’m thinking I should re-think my premise, and get the Naim, and a pair of highly-efficient speakers to go with it.

  7. Hi Steve, nice review! Have you ever tried or heard of Kii Three Audio active speakers? They are supposedly very good.

    I was deciding between a Naim Uniti setup and B&W Formation Duo speakers. I chose the B&W Formation Duo for simplicity, however, they do lack a wide and detailed soundstage, imo. Prior to that I had the Devialet Gold, which were much better in that respect, but they sounded a little too harsh.

    So I am thinking of switching from the Formation Duo to either a Naim setup or to the Kii Three….

    Cheers and keep on reviewing ✌️

    • I’ve seen and heard the Ki Three. Not in my room though. They were nice but I did not have much time at all with them. They didn’t take me say “wow” or anything but were very nice. The Naim Atom is spectacular. After I reviewed it here I started to look at other reviews. One guy said it was the best audio product he has ever reviewed. What HIFi named the Atom their product of the year, three years in a row for the over $1000 category. That says A LOT. ; ) I agree though. I never realized how good this little guy is. My Nova should be here next week, so will do a review on that soon to compare. Those who have had both the Atom and Nova all say the Nova is nice step up, so we will see. If I had to start all over from scratch or was setting up a new room I’d go for one of these Naim pieces and check out speakers from Zu, Klipsch, Dynaudio or Focal. Something like a Sopra 1 would shine with this piece. Those are some lovely speakers.

    • I tested three here with the Naim:

      Shiit Mani
      ProJect Tube BOX S
      Parks Puffin

      I kept the Project as it offered the most well balanced sound for me. Sure, you can go as low or high end as you like with a Phono stage. Many high end stages run several thousand dollars. With the Project I am very happy with the sound. If I had a higher end table and cart I would spend more on a phono stage but vinyl is maybe 5% of my listening. Also, I have a killer phono stage in my Vinnie Rossi L2i SE, and that is going nowhere : )

  8. “I live a simple life of happiness, low stress and love. I live in a basic small “starter” home and have for the last ten years.”

    Music to my ears Stevie.

    Warren Buffet said if you aint got love your billions aint worth a dime.

  9. Or how about a power set with a sub (if needed) and avoid the central amp/dac piece altogether. Say Dynaudio Xeo or Kef LXS with sub or Kef LS50W with sub or Klipsch Sixes/Fives with sub, etc. Even lower cost and perhaps 80-90% there…

    • None of those get even 60% to what this setup gives you. Not even close really, not even the LS50 Powered with sub. The fives, maybe will get you 30% there. This Atom is the best HiFi product (for the money) I have ever reviewed. It’s astonishing what it can do with speakers like the Cornwall or Heresy IV. An Atom and H4 would blow the options you mention away, in all ways. My highest recommendation for a HiFi piece.

      • Have you heard the Dynaudio Xeo 30? There are many other options and combinations that eliminate the center box altogether. Before trend was “more boxes=better sound” not trend is reversed and seems wireless speakers alone can do the trick (Kii for example). Or as an alternative try NAD M10 or M32 or M33 (with Dirac) or if lower cost is needed the older C390DD – they all had the trend right plus room correction.

        • I have and wasn’t a huge fan. Sounds nothing like this setup, nor could it. It’s physically impossible. The all in one speakers like the Dynaudio and even KEF are nice, but they cannot match what the Atom brings. The NAD M10 to me sounded lifeless, and uses a class D amp rather than an A/B. I wasn’t a fan of the M10, and yes, had it here for a couple of weeks a while back. Wasn’t even inspired to review it as I could not get on with the sound quality in my room and with my gear. Some may love it though, as it depends on speakers and room really. For me, this Atom…nothing like it for this kind of money.

  10. Very nice read Steve, thanks for sharing your pasion for music and this beautiful piece of high end audio. I much enjoyed reading your article.

  11. Loved reading this Steve! I am hankering after an Atom and definitely see one in my future! I recently bought the Muso 2 as was downsizing from a pair of large B&W floorstanders driven by a Lyngdorf 2175, in turn fed by a streamer and Tube DAC. It was a hard hitting, punchy, clear, musical system. To say I don’t miss it is the best recommendation I can give for the Muso. Other than stereo separation which it simply can’t compare with, the tonal quality, texture, weight and outright sound levels are on a par with that much larger more expensive system. I love it. Naim have some fantastic products!

  12. Hi Steve
    I certainly enjoy your website for the photography content and (probably like many others) share your love for 2 channel proper hi-fidelity audio. I have never really auditioned Naim but have certainly read good things about it on many occasions. I just wanted to put my two pence worth in for another well established British brand – ATC. Apparently many Naim users have also ended up with speakers from them. If you are talking hi-end value I think you owe it to yourself to hear some of their products. For the stunning sound of their loudspeakers they have some relatively affordable models. Try to listen to the active models if you can. I have a pair of their “domestic” 19 litre passive stand mounters and also the equivalent active pro versions bought second hand from a producer who has worked with Beyonce amongst others. ATC monitors are used in many of the worlds most famous recording and mastering studios. You can absolutely see and feel (they are literally massive for all the right engineering reasons) where your money has been spent.

    I hasten to add that I have no personal connection with ATC. I did an engineering degree and now teach high school Physics – a second career following years in technical sales and marketing. Having found audio nirvana with these speakers I just feel the need to spread the gospel with the zeal of the converted! Thanks again for the entertaining website. Stay safe in these weird times.

    Lionel Coleman

  13. Steve, great piece. I’ve used the same Naim integrated amp + CD player for at least 20 years…paired with a 34 year old LinnLP12 turntable and rebuilt Snell speakers. The Atom sounds like a great upgrade…when and if the current electronics ever die (as is common in tropical Bermuda, where I live). I’ve been following you for several years (as a Leica M nut). I simply wanted to say I enjoy your work very much …you’re clearly a really nice, “together” guy…super cute wife too! You deserve each other! Many thanks, Brian

  14. Hi Steve,
    I like your love of music and I must tel you I share the same passion, only not so passionate price wise.
    I understand that you are at a way higher level about Audio equipment then where I am, please don’t get me wrong.
    Like you mentioned you like listening to good music and that brings a bit of a price tag, believe me if I had the means I would do and buy the same kind of goodies you have, but I am just a very simple Dutch guy, who just like you like to listen to music, and very much indeed every day. I read lots of reviews and see lots of equipment, Amps, and turntables, speakers Etc. who are indeed way higher priced then what you show here and then I wonder. Is it really worth paying so much for a turntable in the thousands and amplifier or speakers, will you really hear that big/huge difference?
    Again don’t get me wrong more kudos to you if you like doing this, you are not even on the highest level compared to what I read and see sometimes, I have clients who are really going outrages with their audio hobby. We Dutch are known for cheapskates well not all Dutch and I am not really a cheapskate but I only buy something withing what I can afford and my budget, meaning that if I have to buy a second hand Stereo receiver for the time being Philips FR 968 paid only $50 bucks, to save up for my dream Stereo receiver the MARANTZ NR 1200 only $599.00 then so be it. By the way I would love to see you give a review on that Marantz NR1200 goodie.
    ********************************************************************************************************************************
    So hear is where I am, I do enjoy my Bose 301 speakers, paid only $75 bucks for the pair, and my sub woofer,Proficient S 10,only 50 bucks, plus my Sony-PSX55S turntable, $ 190.00, and a new philips dvd/cd player for 99.00 bucks, well my total is then $514.00 for now they will do just fine for me, till I have my new receiver. Like I mentioned earlier, If I do miss some tones because of my equipment well so be it, but I still enjoy my Pink Floyd albums, Fleetwood Mac and Dire Straits,,, cd’s or albums. And don’t get me wrong if I had the budget I would have the same toys like you have, I am working on that one.
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    Thanks for your expertise, I always enjoy it.
    Sincerely Frank Grootenboer, say Hi to Deb.

    • Hey Frank! Good to hear from you. I hav found with turntables, it’s more of a hassle and a HUGE expense to get sound that betters good digital. I am happy with my $1200 USD used Michel Tecnodec. It bests all others I have had here, no matter the cost. Second time owning this classic and when I sold it years ago I missed it for 8 years. Found one used with cart and with the Atom it sounds amazing. I do not subscribe to the idea that one must spend $10,000 on an analog setup. When I have, I was always let down. This Atom also surpassed all expectations that I had and bested some integrated ampsI have had up to $10k. But in the end, I always say listen to what speaks to your heart and soul. Whatever makes you feel that emotion and enjoy music is all one needs. That could be in the form of a bluetooth speaker or a $100k system. I argue that something like an Atom and Klipsch Heresy IV speakers is all anyone ever needs, not cheap at $6500 or so but a long term investment in happiness is always good ; )

  15. Hey! Welcome to the Naim party! What took you so long!

    Wait until you try a Nait 2. That will really mess you up.

  16. As someone who does photography, you must have some dark film or foil lying around, which you could discretely tape over the light?

  17. Hi Steve, I wrote this because I have been playing hifi for 20+ years and too went through thinking I’d spend on an ‘end game’ setup. I ended up with a >$50k combo of EMMLabs and Chord, big system with too many boxes, but able to drive almost any speaker and where I could upgrade to the latest spec. This worked well as hifi tended to move in incremental steps then.

    However, I now view that we are seeing greater acceleration in sonic improvement particularly in the digital front end and how it interfaces. A little bit like how camera sensors have now exceeded lens. The first time I experienced this was with a $4k DAC+headphone combination that rivaled the expressions from my >$100k hifi setup. To be fair, I think part of why we can appreciate this is because higher end gear tends to help deal with a lot of other ancillary issues by giving more control (e.g. humidity, power, room treatment, etc), and generally we manage those other elements better as we go further in the journey.

    Fast forward, I moved to a simpler <$10k dac+pre/monoblock system that is the size of just one piece of my old gear (all 3 literally on one platform, not stacked, and it's Class AB). It was better in some aspects but not others; but 1-2 years later, I managed to gain in all aspects after some more adjustments. It was only at this point I sold off the big setup.

    My point is that as long as you keep open, we are going to keep getting surprised by new technologies as they come out. You can imagine what a $10k version of the Naim would sound like, or how the next version will be. Even on things like room treatment, new materials are coming out that improve the sound rather than just how it measures.

    The journey is not yet ended, nor will there be a 'end game'. 🙂 Enjoy and keep writing.

  18. Steve
    After your previous review, I bought the PS Audio Sprout, Bluesound and B&W 707 speaker. I am wondering should I buy the Raven Osprey MKIII or the Niam Atom?

    • Ahh congrats! The Naim will be perfect for that setup. In fact, you will be blown away by the improvement. I would recommend the Naim as it has all you need in one box and the DAC and Streamer and AMP are special. This is a special piece that will long be remembered.

  19. Sorry If this is a newbie question, but looks that the speakers connections are with P2 TRS plugs, am I right?

  20. If you like that direction as much, try DNM, any, even entry level will blow you away.

  21. Wow, Steve!!!! Quite the review for the little Atom!

    “The Naim Atom is a HUGE winner and I’d say this is the best HiFi product I have come across in 20 year”!!!!!!!

    You sure it is not the Covid-19 virus affecting your thought process? Kidding of course.

    Stay safe and thanks for this,

    Zwingli

    • Best product overall, yes indeed. You get so much for the money. If other higher end companies made this, they would charge $10k. That’s how good it is with speakers like Klipsch or easier to drive speakers. It does very well with Dynaudio as well as others but there is nothing for this price you can buy that does what this does and bests this in sound quality and usability, period.

  22. Great review. Any chance on reviewing the Naim Unity Star (witch cd drive) and Naim Unity Nova (top of the unity range)? Would love to know how they compare.

  23. Steve, if you think the Atom sounds good with inexpensive speaker cable try Naim’s NACA5 speaker cable. Naim engineers their amps using their speaker cable and the results are outstanding. You will get the full Naim “PRaT” experience.

    • I tried it with $25 cable and then $8000 cable. The $8000 cable sounded awful with the Atom. I will pick up some of the Naim cable to try but some have told me it darkens up the sound and loses detail. Guess I will have to find out!

  24. Please try Naim Powerline power cable. I heard maybe not quantum but noticable improvement in lower register and structure of each song I played. Congratulation on your choice of Atom!

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