Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

When the Uniti Atom first appeared, I noticed that it had a headphone output - and the test result showed that with a simple load, this output can be used for its intended purpose without suffering from insufficient sound quality.

But if you approach listening to music in headphones thoroughly, of course, you won’t be able to manage with a low-power built-in amplifier. Here you need a more better solution - with high output power, balanced connection and other things, without which a true lover of personal audio cannot exist.

And now, finally, a component specially created for working with headphones has appeared in the Uniti line. It turned out to be the same Uniti Atom, but with the Headphone Edition prefix.

Differences and similarities Naim Uniti Atom

All the differences in the Headphone Edition largely come down to one simple fact: the good old Atom has a new balanced headphone amplifier instead of an acoustic amplifier. At the same time, the ability to connect acoustics has been preserved, but it should not be passive, but active.

What is especially nice, there are both balanced and unbalanced outputs, so you can connect any active acoustics, including studio monitors. When using a device with acoustics, the headphones can be turned off by pressing a button on the front panel so as not to pull out the cable every time.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

Speaking of switching and usage scenarios, the Naim Uniti Atom can work with third-party external sources such as a DAC, preamplifier or headphone amplifier. The signal can be applied to an analog unbalanced input or digital SPDIF (there are both optics and coaxial).

There is also a Bluetooth module with aptX HD, which allows you to play music from your smartphone with decent sound quality. There is no USB-B input - only two connectors for connecting flash drives or hard drives. This is quite logical, because the Naim Uniti Atom handles the function of a digital player on its own, and better than any computer. It is also Roon Ready certified, supports AirPlay 2, is compatible with Spotify Connect technology, has a Chromecast player, and is recognized on the network as a standard UPNP player.

In a word, there are plenty of alternative connection scenarios. If you want, connect a vinyl or a game console, or if you want, play music from your smartphone in any convenient way. But Naim developers have tried so hard to make their own application simple and convenient that it would be disrespectful to bypass this topic.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

Tidal and Qobuz services are integrated into the Naim Uniti firmware: once logged in, you can use them without any restrictions. And when you click on the Spotify icon, the user is automatically redirected to the appropriate application installed on the smartphone or tablet. The only thing that was not enough for complete happiness was Deezer integration.

The Naim smartphone app has a very clear and intuitive architecture with an informative playback window showing, among other things, the quality of the audio stream. Of the features, it should be noted the possibility of individual configuration of inputs and outputs for the implementation of various scenarios for integrating Atom into a home system.

For example, you can equalize all inputs in terms of volume and set the maximum signal levels at the output so that even at the maximum volume control, the sound pressure is not traumatic. Far from a useless feature, given that the main purpose of the device is to listen to music on headphones.


About the main element of the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition - headphone amplifier - information from the manufacturer is not published as much as we would like. It is clear that it is balanced, and it is quite possible to assume that the device is made entirely in the traditions of the company - in class AB or A (AB in Naim is used for full-size amplifiers, and A - for headphones, built-in preamps and integrated circuits), on separate components, in compliance with the principles of minimization of signal paths.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

From the dry facts confirmed by the manufacturer, we have an output power of 1.5W RMS into a 16 ohm load. Firstly, this indicates the ability of the amplifier to work with a low-resistance load, which can only be provided by a low output impedance.

And secondly, we can calculate how much power will go to headphones with a higher impedance. Based on the declared figures, a voltage of about 4.9 V is provided at the output of the amplifier, which means that at a typical load of 32 ohms the amplifier will output 750 mW, and at 250 ohms we will get only 96 mW.

The last figure is not particularly impressive, but it must be admitted that most headphone amplifiers, incl. solid and expensive, they rarely even reach such values. Not to mention the High End portable, where a couple of hundred mW into 32 ohms is already an excellent result.

Thus, for most headphones, the capabilities of the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition will be enough. And you can even talk about a good power reserve, which will help the amplifier not go into distortion at high volume.

The set of outputs for connecting headphones was pleasantly pleased at first. In addition to the program at least in the form of a large 6.3 mm TRS for unbalanced models and a balanced 4-pin XLR, there is another balanced output on the Pentaconn 4.4 mm connector. We would add a regular 3.5 mm jack here - and the headphone switching could be considered ideal.

If not for one but. Looking a little more closely at the design of the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, you can see one oddity: the balanced headphone output is hidden on the rear switching pad. Probably, the designers decided that a large XLR on the front panel is ugly. Or maybe there simply wasn’t enough space for him inside. But from the point of view of ergonomics, this solution does not stand up to criticism.

Connecting headphones to the back is like driving a car through the passenger seat. In principle, it is real, but terribly inconvenient. With constant use of the system, when the cable is connected once and is not disconnected anymore, the only problem will be the inconvenient location of the cable and the loss of three to four dozen centimeters of its effective length - with the standard 1.2 meters, you will have to sit closer to the device.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

During testing, I had to not only sit closer, but also repeatedly switch the headphones. As you can imagine, the Naim developers have been mentioned repeatedly - and not at all in a positive way. But, as it turned out, the strangeness is just beginning.


I have repeatedly spoken about the convenience of managing Naim Uniti family devices and extremely positively. The application is objectively one of the best on the market both in terms of interface development and in terms of stability. The screen is large enough to display covers and all the necessary information. The volume knob is a masterpiece. Comfortable, beautiful, solid.

And could I have thought that I would be disappointed with Uniti Atom Headphone Edition? But what to do. The user interface of the device is focused on the operation of a system equipped with acoustics, when the user most of the time is not near the device, but sits somewhere on the couch with a tablet in his hands.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

When using headphones, the whole situation turns inside out: remote control tools are no longer the main ones, and it is convenient to interact with the device directly, without intermediaries in the form of a smartphone, tablet or remote control.

In the case of the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, you can turn the volume knob with pleasure, as well as pause the track, select the input or launch your favorites, which is not the most convenient way - using the buttons. This is where the control options end.

The display is not touch-sensitive, but it would be very logical to use it to select music, switch and rewind a track, search for the necessary information and other routine actions. As a result, the player is right in front of me, and I can actually control it only from an external device. And it's frankly confusing.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

And most of all, it is puzzling that in the updated Mu-so devices, a touch control panel is already integrated into the volume knob, on which all the necessary functions are conveniently located, including switching tracks.

Let's hope that the developers will get a lot of similar feedback and they will make the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition as convenient for the lover of personal audio as the regular Uniti Atom is convenient for those who use acoustics. For now, let's listen.

three to one

To listen to the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, I chose three headphone models. The first is Focal Clear MG , which we can see as part of the kit in branded promo photos. The second is an eternal classic in the face of the Beyerdynamic T1. And the third ones are low-impedance, but no less voracious Audeze LCD-4z .

According to the classics

Headphones Clear MG are in some way relatives of the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, because Focal and Naim have been cooperating for many years and support each other technologically in every possible way. So, for example, the speakers in the new Mu-so were finalized together with French engineers. In my opinion, the result of combining two signature sounds in a pair of amplifier-headphones turned out to be quite specific.

The sound from the Focal Clear MG turned out to be very tight, dense, the sounds in the bulk are concentrated in the head - only the upper frequencies go a little beyond. The main emphasis, as expected, falls on the upper mids and upper frequencies, which is combined with a dark, slightly indistinct lower mids and a well-read bass.

Rock and metal in this situation is not the best material for listening, it turns out too loud and bright. And jazz, classical and, say, French chanson sound just great. Personally, I listened to the Hi-Res recordings of Ella Fitzgerald and DSD Christie Winn. Long familiar content, but how they sang this time!

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

Dance electronics also sounded good. For example, Calvin Harris & Alesso feat. Hurts "Under Control" - expressive embossed vocals, soft synthetic effects and... such a neat, sometimes even delicate beat with a good sense of scale. However, I liked the vocals more than the beat.

And the easiest way to appreciate the advantages of the Focal + Naim bundle is to turn on Naim Radio. This radio station is displayed in the Naim app in the first rows. And let it not broadcast in Hi-Res, but the music is so harmoniously combined with the nature of the system that literally from the first notes it draws you into listening.

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On the technical side, the Focal Clear MG's impedance is 55 ohms, which means they draw just under 0.5 watts of power from the amplifier. It is enough to work confidently at any volume. The comfortable level turned out to be around 40% of the possible 100%.

Professionals work

The next candidate, the third-generation Beyerdynamic T1 headphones, has a reference impedance value of 32 ohms, as in the textbook. Accordingly, the power reserve here turns out to be one and a half times higher, and for a comfortable volume, again, a large and beautiful knob did not have to be twisted further than 40%.

The nature of the sound of the German-English connection turned out to be somewhat different. At the suggestion of the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, and partly on its own initiative, Beyerdynamic T1 give out a lot of high frequencies, so quite sharp sibilants appeared on Sia's recordings. This part of the range is very similar in character to the sound of professional studio headphones.

Raising the 5-7 kHz region gives more detail and allows you to better "see" the sound picture. In general, the tonal balance is felt more even than that of the branded kit. The middle sounds denser, clearer and richer, and in the low-frequency region, the elastic rocker midbass especially manifests itself.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

With these headphones, you can safely listen to those tracks that were skipped when testing with Focal Clear MG - unlike the French, the Germans sound very cheerful and energetic. As a result, the furious metal thrillers from Halestorm do not allow you to sit quietly in your chair, Queen is more uplifting and fresh than ever, and a couple of AC / DC tracks completely replace a double espresso.

However, this does not mean that classical or jazz are drowsy or boring. Not at all. We put on the Jacques Loussier Trio - great! Unless you change drinks - and you can continue listening. And then, with great pleasure, you can move on to Daft Punk, in order to once again be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the mix, the width of the stage and the accuracy of the sound picture.

Naim for Bently

The combination of Beyerdynamic T1 with the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition turned out to be interesting in that, having tangible accents and a groovy character, it turned out to be quite universal.

Maximum possibilities

The Audeze LCD-4z headphones have an impedance of 15 ohms, which is 1 ohm below the limit set by the Naim developers, but they would surely forgive us for taking such liberties. The thing is that it is desirable for LCD series headphones to provide 1 W of power or more, and in this case this is only possible with a low-impedance model. If there was no LCD-4z at hand, I would look for LCD-X or LCD-MX - their 20 ohms would also be quite suitable.

It was with planars that I tried two connection options: unbalanced and balanced. Apparently, in the second case, the amplifier produces more power: the volume had to be lowered from 60% to 50%, and the sound became more detailed, focused and transparent, with a better rendering of the sound stage.

In general, the technological advantage of planars, as well as a significantly higher price category, is felt from the first sounds. The two previous models of headphones are not cheap and play very worthy for their price, but as it turned out, in order to unlock the potential of the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, you need headphones that cost one and a half times more than itself. The result is a fantastic sound, very large, precise and natural.

Having sufficient experience with the products of both brands, one can easily determine the merit of each. Here the stars converged in just the perfect way: all LCD headphones from the main license line are more or less inclined to form a dark sound picture, and Naim equipment sounds light and accentuates just in the frequency range that Audeze does not particularly highlight.

Naim Mu-so 

As a result, one harmoniously complements the other. Plus, the Naim sound is very noble, thoroughbred and rich in small details, and the planars have exceptional resolution and transparency, allowing you to feel it all.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

At times when listening I wanted to “add bottoms”, but even if the device had a big red Bass Boost button, I don’t think I would press it. The fact is that the Audeze frequency response in the midrange / bass region is almost perfectly linear, and most dynamic headphones, by design, highlight one or another bass area, developing in us the corresponding (not the most healthy) habit that music in headphones should " thump" and beat on the ears.

At the same time, practice shows that any twisting of the bass on even headphones destroys the harmony and sophistication of the sound, and planars turn from an elite model of the High End class into quite ordinary ears. The validity of this was confirmed by the exceptional intelligibility and clarity of the low frequencies, which the Audeze-Naim pairing gave out when listening to absolutely any music.

Whether it's a voluminous and booming electronic beat, an overtone-rich double bass or a fast metal rhythm section, there is absolutely no loss of information or distortion of the sound picture. And most importantly: if necessary, this bundle is able to play really deep bass as confidently as the 80-100 Hz available to everyone.

The ability of this kit to extract maximum detail from the recording was clearly visible not only on audiophile content, but also on heavy guitar sound. For example, the Ray Wilson & Stiltskin album “She” is usually perceived as a flat wall of sound, in which it is extremely problematic to hear individual details and elements.

Audeze and Naim pulled out a lot of new information from the recording, and the flat wall began to feel three-dimensional, with a well-defined relief. The melody and mood of the composition began to be perceived in a completely different way, more deeply and involvingly.


Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition turned out to be an extremely multifunctional device. It will fit perfectly into the system as a player, pre-amplifier, DAC, or all of the above combined.

At the same time, the device has a fairly powerful headphone amplifier, which is quite capable of satisfying even the most demanding connoisseur of personal audio. But when using the device with headphones, you will have to get used to the ergonomic features.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Review

A pair with Focal Clear MG headphones can be recommended first of all to connoisseurs of the signature sound - both Focal and Naim's. Both will hear familiar accents in the sound. In addition, such a set will certainly be appreciated by lovers of classics and jazz.

The combination with the Beyerdynamic T1 turned out to be more versatile and ideally suited to rock, metal and other dynamic music. In addition, such a set is extremely attractive for the price.

From the same economic point of view, pairing with the Audeze LCD-4z is pure adventure, but the result turned out to be so pleasant that it would be extremely difficult to deny yourself the pleasure of listening to music in this way.


High power, balanced path, high-quality streamer, good customization and integration into a Hi-Fi system



Naim Audio 

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition

Naim Uniti Atom Specs

Network protocols: Airplay 2, Google Cast (Chromecast Built-in), Roon ready, Spotify Connect, UPnP

Embedded Apps: Qobuz, Tidal

Headphone Amplifier: 1500 mW into 16 ohms

Headphone outputs: TRS 6.3mm, XLR 4-pin, Pentaconn 4.4mm

Preouts: Balanced XLR, Unbalanced RCA

Inputs: analog RCA, 2x optical, coaxial

Additional interfaces: 2x USB-A, Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth aptX HD

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