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Naim Uniti Atom Review: “Excellent” Sound Quality for Multi-Room Audio Setups

The Naim Uniti Atom brings elegance to the multi-room audio market and includes streaming support for AirPlay, Chromecast, Roon Ready, Tidal, and Spotify.


Naim Uniti Atom Review: “Excellent” Sound Quality for Multi-Room Audio Setups
The Naim Uniti Atom is a product that provides dealers interested in offering a modular, high-performance whole-house audio solution to clients a viable option.

Photos & Slideshow

Robert Archer · February 14, 2018

Audiophiles tend to dismiss the category of whole-house audio as lo-fi, background music solutions. Thankfully Naim Audio doesn’t think like audiophiles.

Addressing critical listening 2-channel applications, as well as whole-house audio, the British company Naim Audio’s Uniti line of products provides homeowners and integrators with a complete selection of audio products that deliver elegance and quality audio.

Available to American dealers through its North American distributor, Audio Plus Services, Naim Audio, specifically targets specialty A/V and custom installation professionals with the Uniti line, as well as its other products.

Sending me the small footprint, all-in-one Uniti Atom, I was quickly able to try Naim Audio out in my own listening environment with a variety of sources to sample its ability to serve as a foundational piece in a modern, lifestyle-oriented system, without having to sacrifice sound quality and aesthetics.  

Naim Audio Uniti Atom Features and Setup

The small footprint Naim Uniti Atom fits most anywhere—in furniture, racks and tabletops without taking up much space.

Unpacking the unit I found it to weigh much more than what I was expecting. It is not a plastic, cheap product—its robust build quality is typified by its weight. Its industrial design is elegant, and through the combination of its construction quality and contemporary good looks, Naim reinforces the Uniti’s market position as an elegant, high performance, lifestyle A/V product. 

Upon my first look at the Uniti Atom, I noticed the front-panel LED interface screen and the top-mounted volume knob.

Features

  • Built in amplifier delivers 40 watts per channel of power
  • Multiroom audio with UPnP
  • Analog and digital audio inputs
  • Ethernet and wireless network connectivity
  • Supports WAV files up to 32-bit/384kHz, and FLAC and AIFF files up to 24-bit/384kHz
  • Works with USB storage devices
  • Companion app on iOS and Android platforms

Starting from the ground up as an all-in-one solution, the Uniti Atom features a Class A/B amplifier that’s rated to produce 40 watts per channel. The product also incorporates a toroidal transformer and separate digital and analog sections.

Related: Bob Archer's 2017 Products of the Year

Some of the other features built into the Uniti Atom include an Ethernet port, USB connectivity, a choice of optical and coaxial digital inputs, a pair of RCA inputs, a preamp output, speaker connections, high-resolution audio support, UPnP, AirPlay, built-in Chromecast, Roon Ready options, Tidal and Spotify. 

Harnessing all of these new audio era audio options is a companion app that’s available on the iOS and Android platforms.

The setup didn’t take much at all, as the Uniti Atom is pretty much turnkey.

Hooking the all-in-one unit up in my home, I ran a pair of 10-foot speaker cables terminated with banana plugs to a pair of Monitor Audio PL-100 loudspeakers. I followed that up by connecting a Cat-6 cable from an Araknis network switch to the back of the Uniti Atom.

After plugging the power cable into a Torus power conditioner, I turned on the Uniti. The message on the front-panel interface instructed me to pair the companion remote control. The instructions said to hold the remote near the Uniti and press and hold a remote button. Holding the button for about 30 seconds, the Naim product didn’t communicate a successful pairing, but I moved onto the app. After downloading the app onto an iPhone 8, I finished the install by naming the Uniti Atom.

Finishing the installation, I paired my phone’s Bluetooth options to the Uniti Atom, which only took a minute or two. 

Naim Audio Uniti Atom Performance & Conclusions 

My first listening with the Uniti Atom was with Bluetooth content from my phone. Ripped CDs and Apple Music also provided me with lots of content choices that included Bruno Mars and the new Foo Fighters’ record Concrete and Gold.

My first impressions were that I was quite surprised by how good the system sounded, especially with the Foo Fighters record, which sonically doesn’t offer much. 

The amp section of the Uniti Atom easily drove the Monitor speakers, which presented the all-in-one with a 4-ohm impedance level and 88dB sensitivity rating levels.

Having the option of the app, the remote control, and the volume knob provides lots of control options. The feel of the volume knob in particular just oozes with quality, and users will love the tactile feel of this control if they ever choose to get up to turn the Uniti Atom up or down. 

Checking out some of the products’ built-in streaming options, I found the Uniti Atom to deliver streaming performance on par with any “high end” audio product that’s currently on the market, but its streaming choices were limited in terms of service providers.

Trying some different source variations out, I tried using my MacBook Air via the Uniti’s analog inputs via a Meridian Direct DAC, and I used the MacBook Air with a USB cable directly into the Uniti Atom.

Pulling content from my network, I listened to albums like Extreme’s 3 Sides to Every Story record, which to me is an underrated rock recording that really showcases the songwriting, guitar playing, and production talents of Nuno Bettencourt.  

I loved the space and authority the Uniti Atom created on tracks like "Am I Ever Going to Change" to allow delay trails to reverberate in a large soundstage wall of guitars.

On audio standards like Back in Black, the combination of the Uniti and Monitor speakers allowed the groove of the song to breathe, which made Angus Young’s guitar solos stand out nicely from the rest of the band. 

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As you can tell, my experience with the Uniti Atom found that it is a real step up from most products that are typically associated with whole-house audio. While I say that, I think at this point in time people are comfortable with the “a la carte” approach many of today’s whole-house systems use, which allow for customers to invest in a single device early on, and later devices over time to build a complete whole-house system. 

The Uniti line also allows for an “a la carte” approach if a homeowner chooses that route in building a whole-house system, but unlike the vast majority of those products, the Uniti Atom can also serve homeowners just as well as a stand-alone solution that delivers high levels of sound quality. 

Exploring its use as a single-zone product, I think that because of its sound quality, the Uniti Atom could easily install into a home as the centerpiece of a music lover’s A/V system. Connecting sources, including cable/satellite boxes, Apple TVs, Roku boxes, gaming systems, Ultra Blu-ray Disc players or whatever a person wants, the Uniti Atom can be used for just about any modern application a professional integrator will encounter without sacrificing performance, functionality, or even looks.

Moreover, because of its Bluetooth options, users can use their phones, tablets, or computers to easily stream whatever they choose, including content that’s stored on their devices.

This makes it a nice solution for millennials that want a true high-performance component and don't want the additional cost and complexity of a full home theater. 

The only drawback to the Uniti, and this really isn’t a negative, is that it is priced higher than the majority of these “a la carte” products that populate the wireless whole-house audio market. 

So, the Uniti Atom won’t be for everyone, but for the people that do want to step into a high performance, elegant looking central piece for their A/V and/or whole-house audio systems, they won’t have to look any further than Naim Audio. 

Check out the slideshow to see more pictures of the Nami Uniti Atom. 

 

CE Pro Verdict

Pros:

Small footprint and stunning industrial design
Capable of serving as central component in a 2-channel or whole-house audio system
Delivers excellent sound quality, and it is easy to use

Cons:

A greater selection of streaming services would make Uniti Atom more attractive
As cool as the top-mounted placement of the volume knob may limit its placement in some pieces of furniture



  About the Author

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at rarcher@ehpub.com

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  Article Topics


Speakers · Amplifiers · Audio/Video · Distributed Audio · News · Distributed Audio · All Topics
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