Naim Uniti Atom review
Luxury cars can almost drive themselves, films stream into high-end home theaters at 4K resolution, and yet when we really want to play something with high-fidelity through amazing speakers, we often have to plug in a wire, put in a disc, or drop a needle. As the Digital Trends A/V staff have become increasingly entrenched in the solid fidelity and superb convenience of music streaming services, we’ve come to realize that there are actually very few stereo amplifiers aimed at the discerning streaming enthusiast.
Enter Naim’s Uniti Atom. With a gorgeous and compact design, built-in support for every streaming service worth subscribing to, AptX HD Bluetooth, 32-bit lossless audio playback, and even Chromecast built-in, this elegant British amp is the Tesla of contemporary audio. Connect it to your network and press play, and you’ll understand why it’s become our go-to piece of testing gear for all things streaming.
Out of the Box
Like the vast majority of modern amplifiers, the Uniti Atom comes with very little apart from the unit itself. Inside a white cardboard box, you’ll find the amp, a power cable, and a remote (plus four AAA batteries) all protected by custom molded foam. The amp also comes with a cleaning cloth and two speaker plugs, should your current wires not have them already installed.
Features and Design
The first thing you’ll notice when pulling the Uniti Atom from its box is just how hefty this thing is. Though it’s only about four inches high, 10 inches wide, and a touch over 10 inches deep, this little black box checks in at over 15 pounds, due in large part to audiophile-grade components like a massive power transformer inside and mondo-sized heat sinks.
The Uniti Atom’s design demands a prime location in your room that shows this baby off. The sleek, brushed-aluminum topside gives way to a massive backlit volume knob on the top, while details like the 5-inch LED display and backlit Naim logo on the front make it clear this stereo hub isn’t meant to be hidden away in a gear closet or behind the glass of a TV cupboard. Even before you ever press play, the Uniti Atom will impress all who enter your listening space.
The front is coated with a clear glass finish, and alongside the massive color display in the middle are four round buttons stacked from top to bottom on the right. The uppermost button is for power, while a play/pause button, input selection button, and favorites button rest below it. On the bottom left, there’s a USB Type A input and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
Because the Uniti Atom is primarily designed for streaming and digital audio, it has fewer analog inputs on the back than other stereo amps in its price class. There are five digital inputs in all — two optical audio, one USB type A, one coaxial (though we increasingly struggle to understand why), and one HDMI ARC port (ours didn’t have one for some reason) — but just one analog RCA input and output. These days that’s probably all you need, as it’s primarily used for a turntable (or tape player), but if you’ve got a bunch of analog outboard gear you’ll want to consider this limitation. We also would have loved a built-in phono preamp, but again, the Uniti is first and foremost about streaming.
You won’t have a problem playing anything digital though, as virtually every CD/DVD/Blu-ray player has an optical audio output, and any other form of digital audio (Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Internet Radio, Airplay, Chromecast, and virtually any digital audio codec from MP3 to WAV) will just stream straight to the box. The player has an Ethernet port for wired internet, which we always recommend, but it also has wireless internet (both 2.4GHz and 5GHz) built-in for convenience.
The included remote closely matches the Uniti Atom’s fit and finish. The brushed aluminum rectangle has a glass-covered top and backlit buttons for input selection, play/pause for streaming content, and settings adjustments. The coolest thing about the remote is the circular LED ring around the navigation arrows that mirrors the LEDs on the main unit’s massive volume knob, indicating volume level at a single glance. The Uniti Atom also has a very intuitive app for iOS and Android that can be used to control everything from afar.
One of our favorite “extras” is how apps are able to use the display. Play your favorite record on Spotify, for example, and it will quickly show you the album art as it streams through the amp. It gets even cooler: Walk up to the amp when it’s in standby mode, and a proximity sensor will even wake up the screen. Whoa.
Setting up the amp is as simple as connecting your power, wiring up a pair of speakers, and either connecting to Ethernet or typing in the password to your home network as prompted. You’ll also need to wire up any external sources you want connected, as well. If it’s on the same network as your laptop or cell phone, you should immediately be able to use the Uniti Atom as a Google Cast, Airplay, or Spotify Connect device. You can also pair to the Unity Atom via Bluetooth by simply calling up the input and connecting to the amp in your source device’s settings. Easy.
A gorgeous 40-watt-per-channel class A/B amplifier and Burr Brown digital-to-analog converter chip are at the core of the Unity Atom, combining to bring elegant clarity to virtually anything you push through it.
Along with sourcing songs from Spotify, Tidal, CD (via an optical input), and Chromecast streaming, we also tested the plucky little Brit with a wide variety of speakers, from towers made by Bowers and Wilkins and Klipsch to stalwart bookshelf options like the ELAC Uni-Fi UB5. In all cases, we were consistently impressed across the board.
Where you might expect a small, futuristic little amp like this to sound as lean as it looks — especially through larger speakers — every note we heard through the Uniti Atom as reproduced with impeccable timing and dynamic response. Whether blasting the latest pop country from Kacey Musgraves or listening to the gruff indie rock like King Tuff, the Uniti Atom revealed every musical layer, from meaty kick drums to airy acoustic guitars.
Subtle acoustic music like Ahmad Jamal’s At The Pershing sounded even more open than we were used to from similarly priced integrated amplifiers like the Yamaha S2100 we have on extended loan, offering sound so intimate we felt like we were in the room with the original trio — glass clinks and all. Tracks with stereo imaging were equally as impressive, with the shaky left-right panning on Vulfpeck’s Tee Time routinely impressing guests in our listening room.
Even setting aside the streaming capabilities, the amp inside the Unity Atom easily ranks among the finest solid state units we’ve tested. Add in the connectivity and ease of use that surround it, and you’ll understand why we’ve each been sweating over our checking account balances for months.
But perhaps the highest compliment we can pay the Uniti Atom is how little we thought about futzing with it. We’d walk in the room to test one set of speakers or another, select it from the list of available playback devices in Spotify or Tidal, and the amp would burst to life in full-color — no cable swapping, no selecting an input, no fuss. Heck, half the time we’d just leave the remote on top of a coffee table. The Naim Uniti Atom single handedly brought our listening room into the 21st century, and we never want to go back.
Naim offers a two-year warranty for defective workmanship or materials, and also offers a three-year extended warranty for purchase.
With gorgeous design, superb performance, and effortless ease of use, The Naim Uniti Atom is the perfect digital audio centerpiece.
Is there a better alternative?
While there are other excellent solid state amps in the $3,000 price range — we’ve got a Yamaha S2100and a Peachtree Nova 200SE that we also love — there’s nothing we can think of that offers the same vast assortment of streaming inputs, great looks, and outstanding sound.
That said, for those eyeing even simpler “all-in-one” design, we’d point to the KEF LS50 Wireless bookshelf speakers, which don’t have as many intuitive streaming options, but offer stunning performance and total autonomy (speakers and amp included) for just $2,200.
How long will it last?
With continuous software updates, and just about every mainstream digital audio service and playback engine baked it, the Uniti Atom should last even first adopters a very long time.
Should you buy it?
Yes. If you are looking for a high-end stereo amp and you love digital music, there is nothing else we’d spring for.