The Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition is the newest member to the all-in-one product line from the British amp maker. If there is one thing we learned from our review of the Naim Uniti Star, is that the media server bones and software backend make for a really good source, especially when the signal is still so precarious. The handling of digital ones and zero’s from Naim’s hardware is a special kind of hifi sauce, helped along graciously by decent UI in the control app and even free high resolution streaming channels.
Why bring this all up now? Well, it should be exceptionally footnoted that the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone edition is much more than just your basic high-end headphone amplifier. It also includes all the previously mention goodness holding down the fort as a source and signal protector earlier in the chain. With both balanced outputs and single ended RCAs, the bonuses to your living space start to form a good narrative for the product that will set you back roughly $3,290 in the US – surprisingly the same price as the stand alone Atom music server.
On the feature side of things, the new Naim Uniti Atom Headphone edition offers a new transformer design to provide juice directly to the 1/4 inch headphone jack on the front panel, 4-pin balanced on the back and the previously mentioned pre outs that provide either fixed or variable output for speakers amplifiers.
Like the rest of the series, digital connectivity allows for external USB connection (plus two optical and one coaxial) but also streaming options like Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast Built-in, UPnPTM, Spotify® Connect, TIDAL, Roon Ready, Bluetooth, Internet Radio, and Qobuz.
There is also a handy Q&A for the launch, for those who are looking for more technical elaboration:
Q: Does Uniti Atom Headphone Edition use the same streaming system as the Uniti Atom?
A: Yes, it does. Uniti Atom Headphone Edition uses the same Naim streaming platform that runs from the Mu-so 2nd Generation family, through the Uniti range right up to our flagship ND 555 player. That gives you Spotify Connect, TIDAL, Qobuz, plus Chromecast built-in giving access to other services, including Deezer; Apple AirPlay 2 support (including Apple Music streaming) and Roon Ready status. The Naim streaming platform is also designed to be updated as new technologies and services arise – for example, TIDAL Connect support will be added in a few months’ time.
Q: How does the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition amplification differ from that in Uniti Atom?
A: Uniti Atom Headphone Edition uses an all-new amp implementation, designed especially for this product, so it delivers both the best headphone amp experience, but also exceptional streaming pre-amp performance into an external power amp or active speaker. We’ve drawn on a range of technologies – including elements originally used in our flagship Statement amplifier – to create this all-new design.
Q: What kind of amplification does Uniti Atom Headphone Edition use?
A: It is a class-A amplifier that runs into class-AB when the going gets exciting. When it’s being used as a line output amplifier it is pure class-A. When driving, say 600Ω at full volume the headphone amplifier will remain in class-A too. 300Ω at full volume the headphone amplifier will remain in class-A for all except the last few dB. As the impedance of the headphones drops then the point at which it slides out of class-A gets lower. Dropping to 32Ω it will be pure class-A until approximately 3.2mW and then seamlessly and transparently glide into class-AB for the remaining top 25dB. Remember, music is generally recorded around -20dB so for all the musical nuances it can be still considered class-A.
Q: What’s the power output, and is it the same on all headphone connections?
A: 1.5W per channel into 16 Ω. And yes, the same on all headphone outputs: Uniti Atom Headphone Edition’s stereo headphone amplifier connects to all outputs simultaneously.
Q: What’s the output impedance?
A: The output impedance is 4.7Ω on all outputs
Q: Tell us more about the Headphone symbol button at the front top left of the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition.
A: When using the front-facing 6.3mm and Pentaconn headphone outputs, the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition will automatically mute the pre-amp outputs and turn on the headphone sockets – the Headphone button’s symbol illuminates to show they are live.
To activate the rear-panel 4-pin XLR output, simply press and illuminate the Headphone button; 4-pin XLR connection do not have an insertion-sense switch, so this process cannot be automated. To switch to using the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition as a streaming pre-amp, simply toggle the headphone button off (the Headphone symbol will no longer be illuminated). You can keep any set of headphones plugged in – great for convenience, but also saving unnecessary wear and tear on the headphone jacks.
The Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition is available through the Naim dealer network for $3,290 in the US.
More info: Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition