Atom to Nova upgrade

The Atom is a great sounding player at the price point but when I did an A/B test the Nova had a lot more detail and it seemed to control the speakers better - I suspect I would have gone for the Nova initially had it been in stock at the time, but it wasn't and I'd only heard the Atom.

The big problem I think is that if you feel you'll want to upgrade frequently the Nova has few options - a decent ethernet cable for a modest sum brings significant improvement, I'd like to try a Powerline on mine too.  I've already hooked up an old NAP 250 to it.  Not many more tweaks I can do really (excluding speakers and cable)  apart from better support than a cheap coffee table - I lie it's currently on a bag of heat logs!  Moved it at Xmas and still to move it back.

Another member here had issues with a Nova and got  a good deal on an NDX and SuperNAIT 2.  I'm starting to wonder about an NDX now!

I auditioned both an Atom and a Nova back in September (notes on the link below). In summary, I loved the Atom, but felt the Nova offered greater control leading to better separation of musical threads, more drive and a better presentation of female vocals, and Bought the Nova. I don’t regret it, the Nova/PMC 25.23 system has given me a lot of enjoyable listening already.

As I’ve said elsewhere on the forum,  I do prefer my NDX/olives/B&W 804s system for sound quality, but I get great pleasure listening to music on both systems. 

I heard both Atom and the Nova at the factory just over a year ago. They were both played loud, as per Naim's preference, into some Focal speakers. The Atom sounded impressive, coping with the demands being made on it. But the Nova was in another league, relaxed, more real and able to separate everything that was going on into discrete elements. If you can afford the Nova then I wouldn't hesitate buying it over the Atom.

best

David

I started with the Atom, bought and used at home for 2 weeks (So not a shop demo), at the time it was £1750 and a great bit of kit, I was well settled in.

Before I move onto the Nova I would say if I did not upgrade to the Nova (I didn't even demo it) I would have been very happy with the Atom - aside the disastrous app UI and many power cyces.

But Richard Dane summed it up as special and that's what describes it - yeah it was £4100, but the grip, control and touch of realism it brought the Atom was left far behind.

That all said - I would seriously consider a network fibre bridge with ifi power supplies and Cisco switch (seqrch network tweaks) - that all blew away the Atom to Nova upgrade. 

The latter cost circa £300 all In, the Atom to Nova £2350.

Alley Cat - I was looking at a Powerline nearly bought one but thought Silly move as cost more than my speakers, but I like them.

Any one tried a Powerline with Atom or Nova, if I recall most refer to a lowering of the noise floor similar to the fibre Bridge.

Obsydian posted:

Alley Cat - I was looking at a Powerline nearly bought one but thought Silly move as cost more than my speakers, but I like them.

Any one tried a Powerline with Atom or Nova, if I recall most refer to a lowering of the noise floor similar to the fibre Bridge.

See Pev's post here:

http://forums.naimaudio.com/to...ti-core-to-better-sq

My other consideration is that the Powerline should benefit any other components in a Naim system should you upgrade and would probably have excellent resale value too.

Having spoken to my dealer they claim the Atom & Nova pre-amp / DAC etc is the same between the Atom & Nova aside from some additional connections. This means you're basically paying for a better power amp stage in the Nova so adding one externally to an Atom is probably a better bet. A NAP 200 is a better power amp than the Nova internals by all accounts and comes in cheaper as an upgrade from an Atom.

 

DiscoVolante posted:

Having spoken to my dealer they claim the Atom & Nova pre-amp / DAC etc is the same between the Atom & Nova aside from some additional connections. This means you're basically paying for a better power amp stage in the Nova so adding one externally to an Atom is probably a better bet. A NAP 200 is a better power amp than the Nova internals by all accounts and comes in cheaper as an upgrade from an Atom.

 

They may be correct but I'm not certain that is actually so or indeed the whole story.

I perhaps regret not competing Atom with my NAP 250 vs Nova alone and Nova+250.

I would try to do an Atom vs Nova vs Atom and power amp demo if you can as I don't think we really know what's best.

I strongly suspect that the Nova has better power stages than the Atom so even if pre-amp and DAC section are identical (and they may not be), that alone may be a significant factor if we can't add an external PSU.

As always many many permutations and still too few 'in the wild' user tests to know the answer.

DiscoVolante posted:

Having spoken to my dealer they claim the Atom & Nova pre-amp / DAC etc is the same between the Atom & Nova aside from some additional connections. This means you're basically paying for a better power amp stage in the Nova so adding one externally to an Atom is probably a better bet. A NAP 200 is a better power amp than the Nova internals by all accounts and comes in cheaper as an upgrade from an Atom.

 

I'm not convinced by your dealers argument here. Even if the hardware components are identical in the two preamps and DACs, implementation is everything, and squeezing the same components into a half-sized box must be a performance compromise. In addition to that, as Alley Cat mentions above, the PSU in the Nova is more than likely superior to the one in the Atom.  

There was a thread last year about this, which included feedback from Naim that was completely different from what Discovolante's dealer said. The thread is here

http://forums.naimaudio.com/to...echnical-differences

The email from Naim quoted there said:

 "The two are actually completely different designs, different amplifiers, different preamps and different DACs ... the simplest answer I can give is to go audition the two back-to-back and decide whether the difference in performance justifies the difference in price to you."

best

David

If you're not using the PSU for the power amp then I can't see it will make a great deal of difference compared to the power amp upgrade. Possibly if you're obsessed by every little detail you could be concerned but given the Uniti is a one box solution I would hazard a guess owners aren't in that camp - I know I'm not. What they're saying is that a 200 / 250 power amp upgrade to an Atom will sound better than an upgrade from an Atom to a Nova. You can, of course, then upgrade the Atom to a Nova if so inclined but at that point it probably makes sense to move to streaming separates.

My dilemma is that I like the one box solution - I don't want a Fraim with countless boxes and cables - so the Nova upgrade is tempting as it keeps it so.

Is there one for the Nova?

Finally got a reply from Naim:

The Atom and Nova do not share the same preamp or "DAC".
 
As the units step up then the power supplies in the units are improved with more individually regulated supplies, additional separate transformer windings etc, the preamps are also improved as you step up through the range with greater use of through hole rather than surface mount components which inmproves performance. Also, even if they used the same "DAC" then that does not mean that they would sound the same - in fact the DAC chip is probably the thing that least influences how a DAC 'sounds' and instead is determined far more by the surrounding supporting circuitry and power supply.
 
Ultimately - no - they are very different.
 
Best Regards
 
Phil Harris
 
I think I'll sell the Atom and buy a new Nova - then in a year I might add a 250DR if need be.
DiscoVolante posted:

Is there one for the Nova?

Finally got a reply from Naim:

The Atom and Nova do not share the same preamp or "DAC".
 
As the units step up then the power supplies in the units are improved with more individually regulated supplies, additional separate transformer windings etc, the preamps are also improved as you step up through the range with greater use of through hole rather than surface mount components which inmproves performance. Also, even if they used the same "DAC" then that does not mean that they would sound the same - in fact the DAC chip is probably the thing that least influences how a DAC 'sounds' and instead is determined far more by the surrounding supporting circuitry and power supply.
 
Ultimately - no - they are very different.
 
Best Regards
 
Phil Harris
 
I think I'll sell the Atom and buy a new Nova - then in a year I might add a 250DR if need be.

Have you listened to the two side-by-side? I've read several reports that some people actually preferred the sound of the atom, so the nova won't necessarily sound better, just different. Unless you've got a huge room or speakers to drive of course, then it probably makes more sense. 

It'll be interesting to hear your thoughts if you do get chance to trial the nova side-by-side.

I've listened to the Atom and Nova side by side and in my opinion, the Nova is much preferable in every regard and personally I would buy that rather than an Atom.

The only reason I haven't done so is that I already have a SuperUniti and a 272/XPS-DR/250DR and so I don't need to. 

Best

David

I had A6Rs before and they open up even more detail.  They're better all round for my ear with the same system and look amazing in Spendor Dark gloss finish.  They were almost twice the price of the A6Rs - I'm not sure they're twice as good but then is anything at this level?

A6Rs were perfect for the Atom but it was always a stretch given the size of the room. The Atom worked well with the D7s but the volume range that they sounded 'in control' had narrowed.  I've just ordered a Nova so hopefully that will keep me happy for the foreseeable future.

Best get the Atom on eBay and hope the wife doesn't notice!

I think the Atom and Nova compare to each other in much the same way as their predecessors, the Unitiqute and Superuniti, do. Someone once described the Unitiqute as a 'bouncy puppy' compared to the more refined and mature Superuniti. I would say the Atom can also be a bouncy puppy, not the most refined sound, with less detail, less bass extension, and less control than the Nova, but still a lot of fun to listen to, with the right speakers. 

Nova arrived Friday and was quite amazed at the difference in SQ over the Atom. Maybe the Atom was struggling a bit with the D7s but with the Nova the separation and detail is remarkable. Well worth the difference in price in my opinion.

Saying that the Atom and A6Rs were also a great pairing and half the price so had I not upgraded the speakers I would have been perfectly happy given the outlay.

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