New Naim Uniti Range
Naim ran a closed-door demo of their new Uniti range, co-hosted by their partner Focal. Jason Gould from Naim introduced the range from top to bottom: Uniti Nova, Uniti Star, Uniti Atom and Uniti Core. On show was a Uniti Nova hooked up to a pair of £10,000 Focal Sopra No.2 floor standing speakers. Gould explained that they wouldn’t normally pair the Uniti range with these speakers. Floor standing speakers were needed to fill the large demo room with sound, hence the Sopra No. 2. Smaller speakers would be “lost” in such a large space.
The Uniti Nova is an all-in-one box which essentially combines preamplifier, power amplifier, network streamer and DAC. Naim use extensive shielding within the Nova in order to protect the sensitive preamplifier and digital sections from interference from the power amplifier section. The Uniti Nova effectively has all the analogue components on one side and the digital components on the other. The inherent “conflict” between digital and analogue is the reason behind this design.
The Nova puts out 80W of amplification into 8 ohms. Gould described the 80W as “Salisbury watts”, a reference to the fact that Naim do not overstate the power of their products like some other manufacturers do. For “Salisbury watts” read “realistic watts”!
There is tons of clever engineering in the Uniti Nova. For example, the left hand side of the case doubles up as both a heat sink and a wifi antenna. The top of the case has the Statement-style large volume control knob which also doubles up as the Bluetooth antenna. Very clever!
The Uniti Nova effectively replaces the outgoing SuperUniti (which I own and love) and will retail for £4100. Streaming and internet radio is controlled using the existing Naim app for iOS and Android. There are a number of digital and analogue inputs around the back which further adds to the flexibility of the Nova.
Naim played five songs from different genres of music. Some amazing sound came from the Naim/Focal combo. The Sopra really are amazing sounding speakers (read more below) but full credit to the Nova for being a good quality source. This was one of the best sounding rooms on the day. I am now looking at my SuperUniti and wondering “hmmmmm…..”
The Uniti Star packs even more features into the box than the Nova by adding a CD player and SD card slot (round the back). CDs can be ripped onto the SD card or to an attached external USB hard drive. The Uniti Star also acts as a UPnP server, so you can stream from it to other devices at home. This really is a magic box of tricks and removes the reliance on having to do “I.T. stuff” (e.g. NAS drives) when you want to set up a streaming system at home.
Inside the Uniti Star is 70W of amplification, providing plenty of power to drive the majority of speakers. Round the back is a HDMI socket which means the Star can be the centre of sophisticated 2 channel TV-based system.
The Uniti Star effectively replaces the outgoing Uniti 2, but is so much more than that. Well done to Naim for pushing the envelope here. The Star combines great sound and features with ease of use.
The baby of the new Uniti range is the Atom. Roughly half the size of the Nova, the Atom provides 40W of amplification. The UnitiQute steps aside for the Atom and will cost £1500.
The Uniti Core is a CD ripper and storage device which complements the rest of the range. Stick a CD into the drive and the Core will rip it to the internal drive ensuring a perfect rip every time. The Uniti Core stores music in a high quality format which mirrors exactly the original information on the source disc. There is also the option of ripping to MP3 format such for instances where a large file size is not necessary, e.g. with audiobooks.
Uniti power technology
All of the Uniti range share the same clever approach to power supplies. In the case, the Uniti range have both a linear transformer and switch mode power supply.
Why have two power supplies? The linear transformer provides a high quality supply when the Uniti is in use which aids sound quality. When the Uniti goes into standby, the linear transformer turns off and the switch mode power supply turns on. The switch mode supply keeps the Uniti warm while it sleeps but uses very little energy.
Bring the Uniti back out of sleep and the switch mode power supply turns off and engages the linear transformer once more. Using this approach, Naim provide the best of both worlds – good sound quality from a linear power supply and energy efficiency from the switch mode. Again, very clever!
Focal Sopra No. 2
Raphael Tromphie from Focal presented the Sopra No. 2. The Sopra range are a level down from Focal’s prestigious Utopia range. Residing in a decompressed chamber, a Beryllium tweeter provides the high frequencies. The tweeter is just 25 microns thin; Tromphie explained that human hair is between 50 and 100 microns thick. So what we have here is some precision engineering.
All of the drivers, the cabinet and other components are designed & built in France. The Sopra range is intended to provide a certain level of sophistication for the living room. This is in contrast to the Utopia which are much less living room friendly.
The combination of Naim Uniti Nova and Focal Sopra No. 2 was really rather good. So it should be for £14,000! Its unlikely that many people will have this combination in the real world but it does underline the growing synergy between Naim and Focal.
The new Naim Uniti range look great and sound better. I suspect eBay is going to be flooded with second hand UnitiQutes, Uniti and SuperUnitis before long!