Atom plus speakers - my experiences to date. What are others using ?

I've had an Atom now for 4 months or so and pairing it with some Neat Iotas. First of all, despite some market griping about functionality, software etc I must say mine has been performing flawlessly from day one - no glitches or hitches and does exactly what I want it to do -  this said, my set-up is very simple and I can imagine there will be users who demand more and who also are infinitely more tech savvy than me and have other requirements . My room is about 30X12 feet and the speakers are placed near the rear wall and fire across - hence I sit probably around 9-10 feet from speakers. 

But, this is not about functionality but speaker pairing -  When I bought the Atom I listened to a handful of speakers:

Elac 310 - was in a large room and the tiny speakers struggled a bit to fill the space - this said, superb tweeter and high frequency extension and may well have worked better in a smaller room

Neat Motive 2 and 3 - liked the 3 better than the 2s (better definition, slightly crisper and easier to follow individual instruments) but in both cases the sound came across as a bit warm and muffled and didn't really engage me

Neat Iota - bough these; very quick, crisp and engaging sound but ultimately, and obviously given the size of the speaker, rather limited in bass extension. When cranking up the volume they do come alive and give a pretty good facsimile of much bigger speakers. But they do need some welly to get there

Sf Chameleon B - non-descript, pleasant, slightly warm, not particularly detailed or engaging

ATC SC7 - wonderful in many ways but require current and whilst the result was quite decent with the Atom, a Nova would probably deliver the current that these speakers need.

Proac Tablette 10s - I really wanted to like these; I have owned the original Tabs, the 1 SCs, the Response 1.5s etc in the past and always a proac fan. however, I must confess to being somewhat disappointed in the result; could have been the room and probably many other factors but I found the result a bit shut in, imaging strictly between the speakers with restricted soundstage, lack of immediacy and presence - all opposite of what many think the Tab 10s do well... maybe I have simply mislaid my hearing faculties...but end result was that they didn't grab me and I didn't buy

Hence, I have the Iotas but wonder what else is worth listening to - I like the ribbon tweeter and the out of the box sound and disappearing act and last but not least, ability to place close to a rear wall - but sometimes wish for more bottom end, more presence and weight at lower sound levels.

I am keen, but not necessairly dead set, to stick with monitor speakers rather than bulky floorstanders, my budget is very flexible, don't really mind if more expensive than the Atom (mullet approach), say even up to £3k or so, just want to get it right -

What have other Atom owners ended up with ? What else is worth exploring for me ?

 

 

 

 

Original Post

You could try the Kudos X2 or even X3. I have the former and they sounded very good paired with the Atom. Mine are about 25-30cm from the rear wall, and they have a very decent bottom end. In fact for a 4mx5m room it's almost too much. But that will depend on your taste, obviously. Yes these are floor standers, but are very compact, compared to many others.

Cato,

Interesting write up. I too was impressed with the Neat Iota when I first heard them. If you like what the Iota are capable of then perhaps the bigger Iota Alpha would be worth auditioning - or the yet to be launched Alpha Explorer (which I'm very much looking forward to hearing). That is if you want floorstanders in the long term?

Many thanks for all the suggestions above. Agree that an upgrade to a Nova kind of makes sense but very happy with the little atom and its small and discreet footprint etc. Rather investigate easier to drive speakers at first at least and stay clear of the ATCs of this world for now -

Also, although my budget could be up to 3K, I'm not dead set of spending that..so if a good suggestion around 1K comes up and sounds good then all the better - synergy and balance as always are key - part of the thinking behind getting the Atom was simplicity and reduce box count. I have previously owned a huge amount of what would be considered high-end kit such as ARC, BAT, Rowland, Verity, Cary, ML etc etc and got bored with the merry go round and found other uses for the money...

I know someone with 30 years of high-end box swapping behind him who uses the Atom with the smallest Raidhos at 6k... too rich for me... but did set me thinking...and will def look at the Kudos range

 

 

Very nice thread and subject. The guys pretty Much covered all basis 

the alpha worth exploring if you like iota. Never heard about the explorer but will check 

i invite you to try adding a sub to the iota...this combination may be all you need without blowing the budget. Like you, I love the iota and was disappointed by the alpha when I heard them with old uniti..but not with atom so this comment to be taken into context...

My first experience of the Atom was at a show where they were driving a pair of budget Dynaudio speakers, I think they were called M20s. It was a really fun, engaging sound, and made the Nova driving a pair of Focal floorstanders sound dull, flat and lifeless. 

@crabby - yes agree that a sub, or even two smaller ones, is definitely worth exploring

@chrissu - that is the essence of my thinking and interesting re the small Dyns. Many of the Dyns were, historically at least, quite hard to drive and wanted current but I have been told the more recent offerings offer a more benign load. After all, the Atom does have some drive to it and I can see it punching well above its weight with the right load. Also, agree that simply buying a Nova is no guarantee of a more satisfying experience, just more money and bulk

A few I listemend to - Totem Sky, Rega RX1, KEF LS50 and PMC Twenty5.21 and 22 as well as the Dynaudio M20.

I liked the PMCs very much (bought the .21 as they fitted my domestic requirements better than the 22. 22 is more detailed with a bit more bass extension, but I found the 21s more 'fun'.  The Skys were again very good, but different to the PMC - very much an "alive" sound.  KEFs were as expected, though a bit "rougher" than the PMCs and Totem.  I found the Regas disapointing, but they weren't run in so I discounted them.

ChrisSU posted:

My first experience of the Atom was at a show where they were driving a pair of budget Dynaudio speakers, I think they were called M20s. It was a really fun, engaging sound, and made the Nova driving a pair of Focal floorstanders sound dull, flat and lifeless. 

Chris - Good call. I'd forgotten about the Dynaudio Emit M20. I heard them at the Chester Acoustica show with the Atom. That system presented one of the best sounding rooms I heard that day. Crazily good for the money. But, the only problem (for my needs) being they need space around them. I asked the Dynaudio rep room if they were willing to experiment with speaker position, who kindly placed them near-ish the back wall and they then boomed somewhat, and the soundstage closed in. But, if space is no issue, they are well worth an audition - or perhaps other Dynaudio boxes higher up the food chain.

Cato. May be of interest - in this weeks Hi-Fi+ email bulletin there was a link to a (very) favourable Iota Alpha review by Alan Sircom. May be worth a google!

 

Try Neat Iota Alphas. I have a similar sized room but went for the Uniti  Star rather than the Atom to add the cd and ripping function. I auditioned several floor mount speakers including SX2. I thought the Alphas were clearer and more precise and suit the room. They also achieved the wife’s approval being discrete and floor mounted. Combination works with all types of music. I am delighted with the system.

Thaanks for replying to my question gazza. Could you please elaborate a little on your answer.

The CM6s are just all I have right now . I am just starting to build a new system piece-by-piece and intend on using the Nova as its core. So maybe in a year or 2  I will maybe think about  upgrading speakers if I can find the right match, maybe sooner if I found a good deal. Do you have any suggestions on the right speaker fit for with the Nova ?

I listen to a wide variety of musics, so it would have to able to handle rock the same way it would be able to handle acoustic, classical, jazz etc. Thanks again

O K I was starting from scratch, I bought a Muso, after retiring, and  got the Naim bug again. I bought the Core to handle my cd collection, it’s now a fine product for me, still has issues for those with classical collections. Various things happened withneighbours of my age dying, so I decided to build a new hifi system. Spend the money while alive.

I heard the Nova several times with different speakers, and decided it was a great one box streamer, and it really is. I have heard it with Russell k 120, 150,s,  Kudos Super 20, Focal Sopra N1, and PMC 25.26. I bought the PMC speakers. But speakers are very personal and needcareful auditioning,they all had their good points....butPMC for me? 

My preference is rock, folk etc not classical .

Not in reference to the Nova above but heard the Graham/Chartwell ls3/5 with the Atom at a dealer’s today. Sounded pretty damn good to my ears anyway - wonderful vocals, a surprisingly solid and meaty sound even if clearly limited in the lower octaves. Disappeared completely as one would expect, just leaving a big and airy soundstage.

Definitely the best I’ve heard the Atom sound to date and high on my list

 

 

Gazza, I see you have the basically close to the system I am starting with the Nova & Core. Also, you listen to similar music Rock & Folk. So, I was wondering with the core did you have any problems with importing your rock & folk cds & the metadata, or any other problems with the core  that you can share ?

Ii have read some of the problems people were having and it made me a little hesitant to make the jump af first, but I know I have to get one. Thanks

 

 

 

Cato posted:

Audiovector in Denmark used to distribute Naim and seemingly work very well too; but difficult to get an audition as few dealers

The new q3 could be a very interesting match for the Unitie range. You get the AMT tweeter in a speaker costing much less than you have to pay in the s3 series, and you cannot upgrade the q3, unlike the 3 and 6 series speakers, so a nice system it is almost impossible to upgrade if this is what you are after.

Claus  

Gazza posted:

Interesting question, the Nova will have no problem in driving your speakers. Assuming you like them already, it should be OK, however if you are buying to get more pace, rythmn and timing....... they may be the problem.

Hi Gazza, The other day you mentioned in your response to my question that with the B&W CM6 S2s that with the Nova if I was buying  hopeing to get more pace, rhythm and timing out of the 6s they may be the problem ? Would you elaborate on that a little more for me please I'm a bit new to this, so I am just trying to learn. Thank you

Your speakers are excellent, particularly for their portrayal of high and mid range and soundstage. You just sounded like you may be looking for more dynamics and low end performance, which is where a compact floorstander might better your speakers. Try the Nova with your speakers in a demo, if happy, then it’s your music and ears which is fine. If you think you are still missing something from the performance, ask your dealer to try something with a bit more low end dynamics.

Freedomsounds posted:

I have read on this site that with Naim amps music performance is not enhanced when speakers are run bi-wired ? Is there any truth to this ? Or if it is true, why is it ? And has anyone here run there speakers bi-wired though a Nova ? or any other Naim amp ?  Thanks 

I once tried biwiring with an older Naim power amp. It seemed to run a little hotter, and it certainly didn’t sound any better, so I followed Naim’s advice and changed to single wire. 

Freedomsounds, Naim don’t recommend Bi-wiring with their amps. One of the best ways to improve most bi-wirable speakers is to remove what are often cheap and nasty metal links and replace with either cable or have your speaker cables wired with flying leads or F connector style. 

Then again, one member recently reported preferring the supplied links on their Proacs, so worth experimenting I reckon..

Gazza posted:

Your speakers are excellent, particularly for their portrayal of high and mid range and soundstage. You just sounded like you may be looking for more dynamics and low end performance, which is where a compact floorstander might better your speakers. Try the Nova with your speakers in a demo, if happy, then it’s your music and ears which is fine. If you think you are still missing something from the performance, ask your dealer to try something with a bit more low end dynamics.

 

Thank you gazza for your well defined reply. If I were to ask your opinion, what do you think for a single wired speaker cable would be a great fit for these two combinations (nova-cm6) ? 

And are you a proponent of using a sub with compact speakers & do you think that would be a viable option ?

To be honest, I have really been getting the itch for a pair of really good medium size floorstanders lately but, that's farther up the road & im not sure what to look for.  Thanks you have been a big help.

I am still putting my system together, so I have gone with the speaker cable recommended by Naim and my dealer for Nova which is Naim NACA5. It’s a great cable, yes there are better ones at much higher cost but their true potential needs much better front end and amp than the Nova actually can deliver. As for subs, I have never used or heard one, there are people on the forum such as @Huge who have that experience to guide you on that question.

thatsmynaim posted:

I'm using my atom with B&W CM8's, the detail is lovely but just occasionally i find a little more weight is needed, i then fire up my sub which makes all the difference

Useful info.

do you mind clarifying which sub you have or recommend? How you plug it with atom ? (Been told several ways so I better ask you) 

cheers 

Crabby posted:
thatsmynaim posted:

I'm using my atom with B&W CM8's, the detail is lovely but just occasionally i find a little more weight is needed, i then fire up my sub which makes all the difference

Useful info.

do you mind clarifying which sub you have or recommend? How you plug it with atom ? (Been told several ways so I better ask you) 

cheers 

I'm using a Velodyne SPL1000Ultra  which has both low and high level inputs, my atom is in my cinema so i use the sub for both, with the atom connected to the high level inputs and my av receiver connected to the low level LFE connection.   I also have a Rel T9i still in it's box which i have yet to try, i've read the Rel integrates better for music but doesn't have as much impact for movies so as yet i'm undecided as i mainly use the Velodyne for movies and only occasionally with the atom.  

The velodyne does have built in room eq and a 4 way setting once it's done it's measurements, it's very impressive.

I have audioquest Rocket 44 bi-wire cables for the CM6s now and really did not want to scrape those to go with another cable now, but who knows, maybe it might end up being a blessing in disguise, anyway,  any help in the cable department fellows would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Freedomsounds posted:

I have audioquest Rocket 44 bi-wire cables for the CM6s now and really did not want to scrape those to go with another cable now, but who knows, maybe it might end up being a blessing in disguise, anyway,  any help in the cable department fellows would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

My suggestion would be to ask your dealer if you can borrow a demo set of Naim's NACA5 cable. (I don't know how obliging US dealers are, but in the UK, this would not be considered an unreasonable request.) With this cable, you can be sure that the amp in the Nova is performing as Naim intended, and that gives you a benchmark against which to compare other cables. 

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