Montage of Naim Unitii images

Inspired by their unfaltering passion for music and enabled by 40 years’ tireless innovation in engineering, we are proud to introduce Uniti by Naim – their most advanced all-in-one music streaming platform. Combining seamless digital technology with a rich analogue soul, you can play, rip and store your entire music collections. Uniti allows you to command all your music in one place and play with a deep, immersive sound.

Uniti Family

The new Uniti family consists of three all-in-one players: the reference audiophile Uniti Nova, the multi-functional CD operating Uniti Star and the compact yet powerful Uniti Atom. The Uniti Core reference music server completes the range, allowing you to store and stream thousands of albums and back up all of your music in one place. With each player working independently (or together), simply add speakers to unleash your music in any room of the house.

Advanced Engineering

Uniti has been developed with a completely new and extremely powerful streaming platform: its digital processor could count every second that has elapsed since the beginning of time. In addition to its phenomenally accurate digital brain, Uniti wireless sound systems also feature state-of-the-art 2.4 and 5 gig Wi-Fi, and a premium Burr Brown digital-to-analogue processor and Class A/B amplification developed from their iconic NAIT integrated amplifier, to deliver the signature Naim sound.

Just how clever is the new Naim Uniti Range?

Jason Kennedy takes a look and a listen

When the Uniti Atom arrived for review I was very much taken with the fit and finish as well as the large, clear display, but it took a while to realise just how different this was to the UnitiQute that it ostensibly replaced. The power rating had gone up a bit to 40 Watts but not so much that I suspected the appearance of a Class D amplifier. It turns out I was wrong, there is a switch mode amp onboard but only for the purpose of keeping the Atom warm in standby mode, when the music’s playing you get a full fat Class A/B output stage of the sort that Naim are famous for. This is a cunning ruse that means that no polar bears suffer as a result of it being left ticking over 24/7.

Naim Uniti Atom

The Uniti Atom along with the Star, Nova and Unitiserve replacement the Core are dramatically more capable pieces of kit than the devices they replaced. Instead of refining and revamping the existing Uniti products Naim went back to the drawing board to produce a clean sheet design that incorporates the key facilities that the modern music lover needs now and in the future. You can see that they took a completely new approach to casework, the extruded aluminium sleeves have been replaced with immaculately put together composite cases that have integral heatsinking and sharp, clean lines.

At the heart of the range is a new streaming platform that’s designed to work with today’s key streaming services and music formats, so in addition to UPnP network streaming from your music library Uniti can access the Tidal and Spotify Connect services as well as internet radio. It is also bang up to date with regard to portable devices with Apple Airplay, Bluetooth at the highest aptX-HD standard, not forgetting Chromecast. The latter is perhaps the most radical of the three as it allows high resolution streaming at up to 24-bit/96kHz from a wide range of Apps, which in practise means you can connect HD streaming services such as Qobuz without compromise.

Roon on top

Uniti is the first Naim range to be Roon Ready, meaning that instead of controlling it with Naim’s own App you can use Roon’s impressive software to collect all your music in one place. In practice this means that as long as Roon is running on a computer on the network you can use Roon Remote on your tablet or phone to access local libraries whether they are on a NAS drive, the control device or a computer alongside the Tidal streaming service if you're a subscriber. This latter element really does give you a sense of having everything at your finger tips, when you search for an artist Roon not only shows you songs and albums from your own library but everything that’s on Tidal too. You have to pay for the privilege of using this software, £119/year or £499 for a lifetime membership, but it does provide a very informative interface that many swear by and a few swear at, but mainly during the set up process! I got it up and running on a laptop without too much cursing and have to say that the way it integrates everything is very nicely done Information about artists and individual albums gives it an edge over Tidal alone and the corralling of many libraries in one place is pretty swift.

On the physical connectivity front the Atom can hook up digital sources via optical, coax (both RCA and BNC) and for the first time on a Naim, HDMI, meaning that the TV can at last join the party (hopefully it’s sitting between the speakers and not in the kitchen). Analogue inputs in RCA and DIN varieties are available and there are USB sockets on front and rear, the former for a wired connection to your iOS device. While purists can put their music on SD card and slot that in those looking for an easier life can hook up with Ethernet cable or wirelessly (with no little aerials to ruin the view) and access their music with the Naim App. Speaker cable connections are via the usual banana sockets and the presence of a preamp output means there is the option to add a separate amp should the urge for power get too strong. Headphone users can plug into the minijack socket and get away from it all.

In practice

Using the Uniti Atom is greatly eased by the bi-directional remote which gives you visual feedback of volume level at a touch, it’s movement sensor lights up the handset and a ring of lights reflects that on the Atom itself. It is perhaps a little too sensitive to movement but that’s quite useful when you want to change something in low light. While most of the control is achieved with the App it’s nice to have a handset for quick pauses or track skips, certainly quicker than turning on a tablet and less likely to wander off.

The new display is a boon too, it’s not touch sensitive but very clear and large enough to read at a distance, album artwork is particularly well presented too. Using the Uniti Atom with a pair of Rega RX3 loudspeakers proved a happy partnership, the timing that both brands are renowned for was immediately apparent, which meant that whatever I played was engaging and interesting. The Atom has a cleaner, more open and detailed character than the Qute had, in fact it has less character because it’s more neutral and transparent which means more music at the end of the day; a good thing in anyone’s book. It’s still only a 40 Watt amplifier so there’s a limit to how hard you can drive it with real world speakers, but it’s no wimp, with the RX3 as well as PMC twenty.21 standmounts you get plenty of low end. And not just fat bass but tuneful, tight bass that handles anything the music can throw at it. I had a lot of fun with both heavily contorted bass from Deadmau5 and clean, subtle double bass from Stanley Clarke.

It has that key Naim quality of delivering the immediacy of the music, a factor that makes it feel alive in the room. These results were achieved with the streamer playing music from a local drive, I also used it quite extensively with Tidal and got very similar results. The streaming service isn’t quite as open and effortless but it’s easily good enough for all but the most demanding material, and some stuff sounds nothing short of righteous. I speak here about the blues genius that is Billy Gibbons and the solo album he made in 2015 with the BFGs, if you like heavy blues rock this is a quite a blast. More subtle stuff is also very persuasive, Melanied d Biasio’s latest release Lilies worked a treat as did Micah P Hinson’s gothic Americana. The latter inspired me to purchase a lossless download in a quest for more, and I got it, but not a huge amount more in truth. The Atom’s line input is also very capable indeed, with this hooked up to a Rega RP10 and Aries phono stage it’s very easy to appreciate just why vinyl is the format that will not die.

There is a lot to like about the Atom and the Uniti range as a whole, in all important respects Uniti sets the bar for streaming systems of whatever stripe thanks to bang up to date features, superb interface and most importantly, deeply engaging sound quality. That a relatively small British manufacturer can do this much is very impressive indeed, that it does it in such beautiful form is the icing on the cake.

Read many more Naim Audio Reviews in our Hi Fi Critic Naim Audio Review Archive

 

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