One of the best parts about being the Editor here is you get to review amazing gear. Naim Audio was kind enough to send me their Naim Uniti Atom HE (Headphone Edition). Naim has been making stunning audiophile gear for 50 years. Naim makes gear that is affordable and ultra high end with nearly stratospheric price ranges that match their absurdly stratospheric performances. The Uniti Atom falls into the more affordable range (although high in that range at around $3,300) and that really excites me. Most of us can't afford their Statement separates but we sure would like to get as much of that performance as we can and the Uniti achieves that.

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The Uniti Atom HE is a beautiful piece of tech in my opinion. It looks like a well built expensive piece of gear in a box that looks like a big black cube cut in half, and a stunning display in the front. It is small but hefty at around fifteen pounds.

Like all the new streamers from Naim, this Uniti Atom is easy to use and get right into enjoying. However I will go over the basics on the unit: outputs include a 1/4-inch unbalanced and 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced on the front of the unit and a 4-pin XLR balanced on the back. All 3 outputs can be used at once.

Inputs in the front and back consist of a USB-A 2.0 input. The back of the unit includes two optical digital-audio inputs and one coax digital-audio input as well as a stereo pair of RCA analog-audio inputs. In addition, the rear consists of a pair of balanced and unbalanced pre-amp outputs. Finally the rear panel has a ground lift switch and ethernet port.

Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n/ac) with BlueTooth, Chromecast and AirPlay 2 round out the connections.

I will be honest. I haven't really had the ability to sit down and listen to headphones in a long time. So this has been my first time to use real headphones (besides iPods or Beats) in years. For this review I used Focal Clear MG headphones (review upcoming). The combination was audiophile nirvana.

Last review I used Tidal because I prefer the UI, but it caused way too much headache in comments, so I decided to use Qobuz. If you use the USB input the Uniti accepts just about every sound file format on the planet except for MQA (which should make those same people happy that were upset about my use of Tidal). The lack of MQA to me is not a negative or positive. If it included MQA support I would say the same thing. I bring it up for those that care either way.

The UI is imho simple and easy. The screen on the front is easy to read and responsive to touch. The display of course is extremely useful by displaying play lists, album covers and basic controls on it. While the large volume knob on the top of the Uniti is extremely convenient and easy to use.

So now that we have a lot of the basics out of the way, lets get into performance! However, lets talk about my one and only real complaint with this piece of gear: while easy to use the app doesn't allow you to search for songs or create playlists. You have to have pre-existing play lists to play anything. Ugh. Annoying.

I started off listening to some Led Zeppelin with the III album. The Immigrant Song is one of my faves and most of us old guys know it by heart. The Uniti was able to play this with authority. I also noticed how clear everything sounded and made me think how nicely named the headphones were. Vocals were extremely natural sounding and the bass was definitely there. My initial impressions were "these are sweet" and my impressions only got better.

Check out Led Zeppelin III here:


How well Bonham's drums sounded led me to wanting to hear some Daft Punk. So I jumped into one of my favorite demos to listen to which is the song from Tron Legacy: Light Cycle Battle. I was not disappointed.

The bass was deep but toneful. It was incredibly strong clean well defined bass through out the whole track. I was VERY impressed. Finding bass that sounds so musical is hard to do. So when you find it, you want to just be enveloped by the music and this little streaming amp did just that. It made me want to hear some live music. This led me to The Eagles and Hell Freezes Over, another popular demo for us old audiophiles.

Check out Daft Punk's Tron Legacy Soundtrack here:


The opening track is Hotel California and on this track one of the strengths of this unit really shined through: you could discern individual instruments (including the multiple guitars) extremely well. Every detail was well balanced and sounded RIGHT. Vocals continued to impress me with how accurate they were portrayed. The soundstage was large and easy to place objects and where the sound was coming from in the image. As more acoustical bass was played the more I realized just how clear deep and rich the bass was.

Conclusion

Perhaps it was the Clear MG headphones but if there is one word to describe the sound from this Uniti it is CLEAR. I was able to connect some HiFiman Arya for another listening experience and was equally impressed. The Naim Uniti Atom HE is a statement of its own. This is an audiophile quality streaming amp that is worthy of a Top Choice Award. I would gladly recommend this to anyone looking for a headphone streaming amp within the price range of the Atom HE. If you're looking for audio nirvana buying a Naim Uniti Atom HE will help get you there.