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naim UNITI – Integruotas Stereo Stiprintuvas su CD, Tinklo Grotuvu, USB DAC, FM Tiuneriu.

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Naim Uniti CD player/receiver

In an industry whose newest products are often as discouragingly unaffordable as they are short of the sonic mark, the Naim Audio Uniti ($3795) stands out. In a single reasonably sized box, the Uniti combines the guts of Naim’s Nait 5i integrated amplifier and CD5i CD player with various additional sources: an FM/DAB tuner, and interfaces for an iPod, a USB memory stick, an iRadio, and a UPnP-compatible connected computer or server—all for the price of a very good television set.

One could argue that, with the Uniti, this veteran audio manufacturer has set its sights on someone other than the veteran audio consumer. (For their part, companies such as Peachtree, Carat, and Shanling, who also offer perfectionist versions of such new and digitally savvy source-amp combos, are themselves just that: new.) So the question before us isn’t merely How good is the Naim Uniti?, but rather How close have they come to hitting their target?

At the heart of the Naim Uniti is a line-level preamplifier and a relatively low-power amplifier, designed for optimal performance with each other and with certain source components and loudspeakers. Naim Audio has been rather good at this sort of thing since the days of their first Nait integrated amplifier—but whereas the Naim buyer of 30 years ago could virtually be counted on to use a Linn or Rega phonograph as a source, and to choose from a limited range of English boxes as loudspeakers, the integrated amp of 2010 must be considerably more catholic.

Naim has also established a newer reputation, for their more generally popular CD players. Yet it’s fair to say that Naim’s digital players have also been among the least compromising in the perfectionist market, with their reliance on older, more conservative chipsets and their resolutely manual approach to disc loading.

Thus, a combined integrated amplifier and CD player from Naim seems natural, if not inevitable. In the Uniti, the former takes shape as a 50Wpc amp with five line-level inputs of the analog sort (three with phono sockets, one with a DIN socket (footnote 1), and one with a 3.5mm mini-jack) and five of the digital sort (two with phono sockets, two with TosLink sockets, and one with a 3.5mm mini-TosLink). The CD-playing part of the equation will be familiar to anyone who’s visited a Naim Audio dealer within the past 10 years: The Uniti’s disc transport is built into one of Naim’s swing-out, sickle-shaped drawers, created with both acoustic isolation and the elimination of needless electronic junk in mind, while the details of its various functions are relayed to the user on a smallish screen at the other end of the front panel. All of the control buttons one might expect to find, and a few that one might not, appear on both that front panel and on the nicely laid-out remote handset.

But the Uniti has a great many more good tricks. The first of these is its built-in radio, capable of playing any and all FM or DAB broadcasts to which the user’s antenna can respond. (Said antenna—not included—plugs into an F-style connector on the Uniti’s rear panel.) Of course, DAB broadcasts, the likes of which have been available for years in most developed nations, are not available to those of us who live in the US (footnote 2). But I hesitate to complain, for fear of giving the impression that I hate our freedom.

Uniti owners can also avail themselves of iRadio broadcasts, which the Uniti can receive either through its Ethernet input socket or by means of a removable wireless network antenna (included). That same interface can also be used to play music data streamed from sources compatible with the Universal Plug-n-Play (UPnP) protocol, such as a Roku Soundbridge, a Philips Streamium, or a PC or Mac running such digital-media-player software as Allegro or EyeConnect.

Up next is the Uniti’s memory-stick interface, addressed by means of a front-mounted USB (Type A) jack. This feature works only with Windows-formatted memory devices, and supports MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, FLAC, WMA, and Ogg Vorbis files, but not Apple’s AIF format.

Finally, the Uniti has a rear-panel iPod socket, the use of which requires an accessory Naim n-Link cable—not included, although Naim kindly sent along a sample of the n-Link with my Uniti review sample. As with most such products, the Uniti’s socket provides the appropriate voltage for charging an iPod during playback.

The Uniti was that rare review sample that I did not pry apart for a look inside. Naim electronics in general have become more and more difficult for the consumer to dissect—one can no longer tell for sure which chassis bolt fastens the lid, and which secures a 3-lb transformer whose unmooring might prove a nuisance during shipping. The Uniti was in keeping with that trend. The casing was Naim’s usual aluminum extrusion, painted with their usual textured black paint. Beyond that I haven’t a clue, and can only wait to read what John Atkinson’s lab tests reveal.

Installation and setup
One might expect so comprehensive a product to require more than the usual degree of involvement from the user, both during and after installation. So it goes here—and thus a review of the product itself can’t be complete without a review of its user manual.

As it turned out, the Naim Uniti wasn’t supplied with a user’s manual per se, but rather with a curiously big booklet that provides, in a great many different languages, the most basic and presumably legally mandated information: Don’t dispose of this product with the rest of the trash. Don’t bring this product into the bathtub with you. Don’t put to any foolish or evil use this product’s laser light. A great amount of paper has been devoted to the unlikely, the unfathomable, and the impossible, though that’s hardly Naim’s fault.

The booklet does, however, contain one indispensable directive: To get hold of the real manual, one must download it in PDF form from the Naim website and, if desired, print it out oneself. I have no choice but to approach this from the perspective of the irritable middle-aged man that I am: If I were a newcomer to perfectionist audio, and if someone told me that my first purchase in that field, to which I’ve just applied a not-inconsiderable $4000, cannot be enjoyed until I download a manual for it and I print it out, I’d be mildly peeved. If there’s a good reason for not including a printed manual with the Uniti, Naim might at least cook up a nice, simple “For Those in a Hurry” sheet, just to get newcomers up and running. Again: For whom is this product intended?

That said, the real manual was fine: dry but conspicuously thorough, and very well organized.

Much more to the point, the Uniti’s built-in setup and control software was superb: clean, unambiguous, helpful, and, insofar as I could tell, glitch-free. Once I’d acquainted myself with the setup program’s conventions, I found it surprisingly easy to: name the various analog and digital inputs; trim the gain of those inputs, relative to each other, for equal loudness at a given volume-control setting; limit the maximum allowable loudness level (a real boon for people who don’t want their Quad ESL panels—or their hearing—damaged by volume-control accidents, offspring, or dumb guests); adjust the dimming of the Uniti’s front-panel lights; and myriad other tasks.

Of course, there were at least as many setup functions that I didn’t use, but that others may find equally useful: tailoring the frequency response—coarsely but usefully—of the amplifier output to the main loudspeakers in systems that include subwoofers; trimming the signal level on the (mono) outputs that feed those subwoofers; configuring the manner in which the Uniti connects with local networks; and so forth. Throughout all of the setup tasks I performed, the only software convention that seemed less than intuitive was the fact that, in order to adjust the left/right speaker balance, one uses not the left- or right-hand arrow buttons but the up (left) and down (right) buttons: kooky, but no big deal.

Physical setup was utterly without event. The Uniti performed well on a variety of tables (it led a nomadic existence in my home, being tried out in many different rooms), and although it became distinctly warmer in use than Naim gear of Christmases Past, that warmth was never excessive. Neurotic high-enders will doubtless observe that the Uniti’s extruded aluminum sleeve, like those of so many other Naim components, does indeed ring when rapped with a knuckle; also like other Naims, the sound of the Uniti was never improved by additional isolation or damping tweaks. Just leave it alone: It sounds fine. (And be thankful that, for music lovers if not for reviewers, knuckle-rapping is not a normal part of listening.)

Finally, a few words about speaker-cable alerts: There aren’t any. Naim Audio, which once warned users to use only Naim cables—or else—now writes, reasonably, “A range of speaker cable types may be used without risk of damage to the amplifier.” We’ve turned a corner. That said, both Auditorium 23 stranded copper and Naim NACA5 stranded copper worked well. But by a slight margin, the latter sounded better.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I did most of my listening using the Uniti’s CD player as the source. Given my rural home’s lack of a high-speed Internet connection, iRadio was not an option. Also, my lack of an iPod prevented me from trying that, but I’ll report back soon: I’m giving my daughter an iPod Touch for Christmas—two weeks away as I write this—though she doesn’t yet know that. I think.

Nor did I use the Uniti’s UPnP interface. Computer-based music sources have become a regular part of my listening during the past two years: My Sony SCD-777ES SACD/CD player has been banished to background-music duty in the living room (footnote 3), and my Apple iMac is now the primary digital source in my listening room, with iTunes as my digital music server, streaming to various different USB D/A converters. I admit that I expected that the Naim Uniti would itself be able to stream iTunes music files from my computer’s USB bus—a function that, among serious audio hobbyists, almost certainly has more appeal than memory-stick playback—and was surprised and disappointed that the Uniti can stream iTunes files only for the Mac user who has purchased and installed such UPnP digital media software as Allegro ($50) or EyeConnect ($40). Even then, the Uniti can’t be used at all with the popular AIFF music-file format.

That said, I did use and enjoy the Uniti’s memory-stick interface. My bandmates and I have grown into the habit of passing among ourselves a Maxell USB stick, to which we all contribute WAV files of old and new bluegrass songs, for enjoyment as much as for our repertoire. The Uniti played these with very good clarity and color, and with a surprising lack of smearing or obvious signs of compression. The software component of this function was sensible and clear: The Uniti’s USB function was easy to learn and easy to use.

For its part, the Uniti’s FM tuner was also a pleasure to use. I drove it with the six-element RadioShack FM antenna (ca $25) I purchased years ago for my Tivoli radio, and which resides in the attic space above my listening room. Sensitivity and selectivity seemed about average, and sound quality was fine, given a good enough signal—itself a rare beast in upstate New York. I would expect the Uniti’s FM tuner to make urban users very happy indeed.

As for the main event: After being run in for about a week (before which it sounded flat and thin), the Uniti was astonishingly good: tight, tuneful, and very explicit, yet also capable of almost breathtaking musical beauty. Playing a recording of the Streich Quartet performing Mendelssohn’s String Quartet 1, Op.12, engineered by Wilson Audio’s Peter McGrath, the Uniti exhibited Naim Audio’s traditional musical strengths: almost peerlessly good timing and pitch relationships, and excellent momentum. Yet the combination’s sheer sonic prettiness was notable. The strings had almost as much texture and glow as through my beloved Quad II mono amps, and the Uniti further surprised with its good sense of hall “sound” and the spatial relationships among the players. Sure, I’ve heard still more texture and tone from my Shindo tube amps. And although it never sounded small or fussy, the Uniti didn’t have more than an average sense of scale. But it was consistently satisfying—and consistently engaging.

Whether it was fate or mere coincidence that my copy of The Beatles in Mono (12 CDs, Apple 5099969945120) arrived soon after the Uniti, there’s no denying that the direct, present, and altogether chunky sound of which the latter was capable greatly enhanced the former. Throughout the selections on Rubber Soul, for example, the force and surprisingly meaty tone of Ringo’s snare drum came through convincingly. And the Uniti allowed the warmth and humanness of the voices—lost for so long, except to those who kept their LPs—to shine through as well. Perhaps needless to say, the Naim’s apparently enduring lack of timing distortion played a role in my enjoyment: On this combination of source and amplifier, Rubber Soul rocked as I hadn’t heard in quite some time.

Bass depth and control were excellent. While playing LPs with the help of a borrowed Ayre P-5x phono preamp, the Uniti gave full weight and color to Michael Rutherford’s bass pedals throughout Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (LP, Atco/Classic SD 2-401). And the Naim coaxed even greater thunder from the fine pipe-organ collection Pipes Rhode Island (CD, Riago CD101), the making of which drew on the combined musical and technical expertises of our own John Marks. The low C1 (32.70Hz) in John Cook’s Fanfare was satisfying, as was the even lower B pedal in Herbert Howells’s Master Tallis’s Testament. The Uniti’s reproduction of the latter was also notable for conveying, from before the first note, the unique sonic fingerprint of the church in which it was recorded: With this disc, the Naim left nothing to be desired.

A note about loudspeakers: Thanks to a lucky bit of timing, I got to use the Uniti with a greater-than-usual variety of loads, ranging from the expected (Audio Note’s stand-mounted Snell-alike, the AN-E/SPe HE) to the unexpected (Wilson Audio’s Sophia 2 and Sasha W/P). I neither expected nor heard any problems of incompatibility—but I was relieved and delighted at how well the Uniti performed with the notoriously difficult-to-drive Quad ESLs. The list of capable 50Wpc solid-state amplifiers has just grown by one.

I’ve been a Naim fan, and an occasional Naim owner, for more than 20 years. But the Naim Uniti’s punch, color, momentum, drama, unfussy sense of detail, and overall high level of pure, giddy musical involvement surprised even me. Once broken in, the Uniti never—and I mean never—failed to satisfy me, to an extent that seemed disproportionate to its price. In fact, I daresay the Uniti’s great strength isn’t that Naim has combined so many different digital sources and protocols in one box—that’s been done before, sometimes more cheaply, sometimes with greater flexibility, by other companies. The real news is that Naim has created such a product in an apparently durable, high-quality package—with real Naim sound.

And again, I’m still shocked at how much of their top-of-the-line musical performance Naim has built into this “budget” product. No, the amp isn’t a Naim NAP250 and the CD deck isn’t a Naim CD555. But through every loudspeaker with which I used it, the Uniti delivered every bit of the timing, tunefulness, and involvement of Naim’s early amps and earliest CD players, alloyed with a surprising amount of the chunkiness, color, texture, realistic detail, and juice with which Naim has imbued their more recent products. In other words, I don’t think you’ve ever heard a CD receiver do this before.

I’m disappointed that the Uniti doesn’t support the AIFF codec, and mildly astounded that the buyer is asked to jump through extra hoops just to stream music from a computer running iTunes—which, with several hundred million copies in use, would seem to be rather significant among music servers. On the other hand, literally hours after I shipped my review sample of the Uniti to John Atkinson, a Naim representative here in the US told me they have a new software enhancement for playing high-resolution music files. So perhaps those shortcomings will be addressed soon.

Even so, the Naim Uniti remains among the most intelligent, exciting, and altogether recommendable products that the perfectionist audio industry has produced in ages.

A few days ago I was browsing the Naim Audio website when I happened on their page of product histories. I smiled to see how many of their components I’d bought for myself over the years, but grew even more interested when I noticed the generally long spans between a product’s introduction and its retirement. On average, from the company’s founding until today, each Naim amplifier model has stayed on the market for almost 10 years—the NAP250 made it to age 27!—and their analog products have been even longer-lived. To the consumer who wants to stay current but insists on doing it right, that may be the best-sounding record of all.


Description: Solid-state integrated amplifier with built-in CD player, FM/DAB tuner, iPod interface, USB memory-stick interface, iRadio/UPnP interface. Line-level analog inputs: 5. S/PDIF digital inputs: 5. Digital formats supported: MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, MP3. CD formats supported: “Red Book,” CD-R. Output power: 50Wpc into 8 ohms (17dBW), 90Wpc into 4 ohms (16.5dBW). Frequency range: 20Hz–50kHz. Signal/noise: 80dB. Analog input overload: 27dBV. Preamp output impedance: 600 ohms (10k ohm minimum load recommended).
Dimensions: 16.8″ (432mm) W by 3.4″ (87mm) H by 12.2″ (314mm) D. Weight: 25 lbs (11.3kg).
Serial Number Of Unit Reviewed: 277191.
Price: $3795. Approximate number of dealers: 60.


I examined the Naim Uniti’s measured behavior using mainly Stereophile‘s loan sample of the top-of-the-line Audio Precision SYS2722 system (see the January 2008 “As We See It” and www.ap.com); for some tests, I also used my vintage Audio Precision System One Dual Domain. To test the digital playback performance, I played WAV files on an iPod Touch, the same files loaded onto a USB flash drive or burned to CD-R, or fed to one of the Uniti’s optical S/PDIF inputs from the RME soundcard in one of my test-lab PCs. All tests of the Uniti’s digital section were taken from its Line Out jacks, which come before the volume control. I didn’t have to worry, therefore, about blowing up the amplifier’s output stage with high-level signals, as I could keep the volume control set to zero.

Fed a 1kHz signal at 0dBFS from CD, the maximum level from the Line Out jacks was 1.965V. However, I could raise only 1.795V from the front-panel headphone jack without clipping. With a full-scale digital signal, that was equivalent to a volume-control setting of “82” rather than the maximum setting of “100.” While the headphone output preserved absolute polarity, the Line output inverted signal polarity. The source impedance was close to the specification, at a moderately high 555 ohms across the audioband from the Line Out jack, but a very low 1 ohm at high and middle frequencies from the headphone jack, and 4 ohms at 20Hz—still very low. The Uniti’s headphone output thus uses a true buffer stage rather than just tapping the amplifier’s main output stage via a series resistor. Error correction for the Uniti’s CD transport section was good rather than great, the player not muting its output until the gaps in the data spiral of the Pierre Verany test disc reached 0.7mm in length. The Naim’s digital input locked to data with sample rates ranging from 32 to 96kHz. The D/A frequency response (fig.1) basically followed the same overall shape regardless of sample rate: flat within the audioband, a gentle rolloff above 20kHz, and then a sharp cutoff just below half the incoming data’s sample rate. This behavior remained the same when WAV files were played back from a USB drive. Channel level-matching was excellent, and channel separation from the Line Out jacks was >100dB in both directions below 1kHz, this decreasing to an okay 70dB at 20kHz due to the usual capacitive coupling between the left and right circuits.

Fig.1 Naim Uniti, D/A frequency response at –12dBFS into 100k ohms with sample rate set to: 96kHz (left channel cyan, right magenta), 44.1kHz (left green, right gray), 32kHz (left blue, right red). (0.25dB/vertical div.)

Playing back a dithered 1kHz tone at –90dBFS from CD, the spectrum of the Uniti’s output featured a peak just kissing the –90dB line, as expected, and was free from harmonic- or power-supply–related spuriae (fig.2). However, switching to 24-bit data fed to the S/PDIF input dropped the noise floor by just 6dB at high frequencies and not at all at low frequencies, suggesting that the resolution of the Uniti’s D/A section is limited by self-noise to around 17 bits. The lowest trace in fig.2, which was taken with 24-bit data representing a dithered tone at –120dBFS, therefore barely resolves the tone. Fig.2 was taken with a swept bandpass filter; fig.3 repeats the measurements using an FFT technique—the result is the same, which will be fine for CD and iPod playback, of course. The background noise obscures to some extent the shape of an undithered tone at exactly –90.31dBFS (fig.4), though a 24-bit version of the data gave a relatively good sine waveform (fig.5).

Fig.2 Naim Uniti, 1/3-octave spectrum with noise and spuriae of dithered 1kHz tone at –90dBFS with 16-bit data (top) and 24-bit data (middle at 2kHz), and dithered 1kHz tone at –120dBFS with 24-bit data (bottom at 1kHz). (Right channel dashed.)

Fig.3 Naim Uniti, FFT-derived spectrum with noise and spuriae of dithered 1kHz tone at –90dBFS with 16-bit data (left channel cyan, right magenta) and 24-bit data (left channel blue, right red).

Fig.4 Naim Uniti, D/A waveform of undithered 1kHz sinewave at –90.31dBFS, 16-bit data (left channel blue, right red).

Fig.5 Naim Uniti, D/A waveform of undithered 1kHz sinewave at –90.31dBFS, 24-bit data (left channel blue, right red).

Harmonic and intermodulation distortion from the Uniti’s D/A section were both low. The second harmonic was the highest in level with a full-scale tone, but at –96dB (0.0015%) will not be bothering anyone. The 1kHz difference tone resulting from an equal mix of 19 and 20kHz tones, each at –6dBFS, lay at –100dB (0.001%). Any jitter-related spuriae with CD playback was below the threshold of the Miller Jitter Analyzer; however, I did measure 78 picoseconds peak–peak when the same J-Test signal was played back from a USB drive, this rising to 236ps p–p for iPod playback, and to 454ps p–p for an external TosLink datastream. Fig.6 shows the spectrum of the Uniti’s output when the signal was played back from an iPod Touch. While only a pair of jitter-related sidebands are visible either side of the 11.025kHz tone, the central peak representing that tone is broadened at the base, suggesting the presence of very-low-frequency noise-like jitter, this most likely stemming from the iPod itself.

Fig.6 Naim Uniti, high-resolution jitter spectrum of analog output signal, 11.025kHz at –6dBFS, sampled at 44.1kHz with LSB toggled at 229Hz, 16-bit data sourced from iPod Touch. Center frequency of trace, 11.025kHz; frequency range, ±3.5kHz (left channel blue, right red).

I then turned to the Uniti’s performance as an amplifier. Before I test an amplifier, I run it for 60 minutes at one-third its specified power into 8 ohms—thermally, this preconditioning is the worst case for an amplifier with a class-B or -AB output stage, and taxes the amplifier’s ability to dissipate waste heat. With the Naim driving 16Wpc into 8 ohms, the amplifier turned off after 25 minutes, with the chassis comfortably warm and the front-panel display telling me, “Too Hot: cooling down.” The amplifier turned itself on again 10 minutes later with no harm done.

Measured at the speaker terminals, the maximum gain for an analog input was 36.7dB into 8 ohms, and the amplifier preserved absolute polarity; ie, was non-inverting. The line-stage input impedance was a moderate 21k ohms at low and middle frequencies, dropping slightly but inconsequentially to 20k ohms at 20kHz.

The Uniti’s output impedance was higher than the norm for a solid-state design, at 0.27 ohm across most of the band, rising to 0.28 ohm at 20kHz. As a result, there was a modest modulation of the amplifier’s frequency response by ±0.2dB when it drove our standard simulated loudspeaker (fig.7, gray trace). Otherwise, the Naim offered a basically flat response up to 10kHz, with an increasing ultrasonic rolloff with decreasing load impedances. Into 8 ohms, the output was down 3dB at 53kHz, which correlates with the slowed-down leading edges of the Uniti’s reproduction of a 10kHz squarewave (fig.8); no overshoot or ringing is visible, however. Channel separation at the speaker terminals was good, at 77dB across the band, decreasing to 70dB above 20kHz. The wideband signal/noise ratio, taken with the input shorted and the volume control at its maximum, was a good 68.7dB ref. 1W/8 ohms, improving to 79.8dB when A-weighted.

Fig.7 Naim Uniti, frequency response at 2.83V into: simulated loudspeaker load (gray), 8 ohms (left channel blue, right red), 4 ohms (left cyan, right magenta), 2 ohms (green). (1dB/vertical div.)

Fig.8 Naim Uniti, small-signal 10kHz squarewave into 8 ohms.

Distortion products were buried under the amplifier’s noise floor up to actual waveform clipping, as indicated by the downward slopes of the traces in fig.9. This graph also shows that, at 1% THD+noise, the Uniti just exceeded its specified output power of 50W into 8 ohms (17.0dBW), delivering 55Wpc into that load (17.4dBW). However, the amplifier met its specified 4 ohm power of 90W (16.5dBW) at only 3% THD+N, rather than the usual 1%. I didn’t test the Uniti’s clipping power into 2 ohms because it quickly overheated and shut off before the output reached its maximum into this punishing load.

Fig.9 Naim Uniti, distortion (%) vs 1kHz continuous output power into (from bottom to top below 10W): 8, 4 ohms.

Fig.10 shows that the small-signal THD+N percentage doesn’t vary significantly with frequency, at least in the audioband. Though it does increase as the load impedance drops, this is not to anything alarming, even into 2 ohms (green trace). At low powers, the distortion itself seems predominantly third-harmonic in nature (fig.11), though at high powers the third is joined by the second harmonic, as well as by higher-order odd harmonics (fig.12), albeit at a low level. A spectral spike can be seen at 120Hz and –84dB (0.006%) in fig.12; I experimented with the grounding between the Naim and the Audio Precision test set, and also tried lifting the Uniti’s chassis ground with the rear-panel switch, but could not eliminate this supply-related component.

Fig.10 Naim Uniti, THD+N (%) vs frequency at 4V into: 8 ohms (left channel blue, right red), 4 ohms (left cyan, right magenta), 2 ohms (green).

Fig.11 Naim Uniti, 1kHz waveform at 4.4W into 4 ohms (top), 0.018% THD+N; distortion and noise waveform with fundamental notched out (bottom, not to scale).

Fig.12 Naim Uniti, spectrum of 50Hz sinewave, DC–10kHz, at 55W into 4 ohms (left channel blue, right red; linear frequency scale).

Finally, fig.13 shows the spectrum of the Naim Uniti’s output while it drove an equal mix of 19 and 20kHz tones into 8 ohms at a level a little below visible waveform clipping on the oscilloscope display. The highest-level intermodulation product is the difference tone at 1kHz, which lies at –74dB (0.02%). All the other tones are lower in level. The picture didn’t change significantly into 4 ohms.

Fig.13 Naim Uniti, HF intermodulation spectrum, DC–24kHz, 19+20kHz at 30W peak into 8 ohms (linear frequency scale).

Although the Naim Uniti didn’t excel in any way on the test bench, overall the balance of its measured performance impressed me. It was also delightfully intuitively easy to use, which is something I am not able to say as much as I would like. I also liked the fact that when an iPod was plugged into the Uniti’s dedicated input, the amplifier’s display showed its contents, sorted by Playlist, Genre, Artist, etc., with navigation of that content now provided by the Uniti’s remote.—John Atkinson





Naim Uniti review

It’s rare that we see a product as innovative as this – whatever your hi-fi needs, the NaimUniti does it all Tested at £2495

5 Star Rating

Our Verdict

Best streaming system £2000+ Awards 2011. Yes, there are rivals now challenging the NaimUniti, but it’s still a steal


  • Does a lot for the money, and does it very well
  • great sound and logical operation


  • Display could be clearer from a distance

We finally settled on ‘CD/Wi-Fi receiver’ to describe the NaimUniti – well, it seemed a bit neater than ‘CD receiver with DAC, iPod-connectivity, internet/DAB/FM radio and wireless music streamer thingy,’ which was our first rather clumsy stab.


Why? Well, the NaimUniti is a unique product, and it’s not hard to see why this system has already caught the imagination of buyers well beyond the usual Naim ‘family’: what we have here, in a single heavy-duty Naim enclosure, is a CD player derived from the company’s CD5i, and a 2x50W amplifier based on the Nait 5i.


To that’s added a DAC with five inputs – two optical and two electrical round the back, and one combined with a 3.5mm stereo analogue in on the front panel.

All manner of radio options
The radio section has DAB, FM and internet capabilities, with presets available transparently across all three formats – so preset 1 could be Radio 1 FM, the next one Radio Paradise off the internet and the next Radio 5 Live on DAB – and the same wireless internet capability also allows streaming of music from wi-fi’d computers or Network Attached Storage (NAS) units.

There’s a USB socket on the front to play music from pen-drives, a socket for USB drives or an iPod digital hook-up, line-ins for analogue sources, a powered DIN socket for a Naim phono stage, twin subwoofer preouts and even another DIN to add one of the company’s power amps.


And the operation of the unit(i) is highly customisable: you can adjust input gain, displays, and the way it responds to remote commands. There’s even a ‘unity gain’ option, so you can use the Naim in conjunction with an AV receiver or the company’s AV2 surround processor.

That last facility isn’t mentioned in the instruction manual, but it’s there on the ‘input’ menu all the same.

Captivating, whatever the source
Best of all, the NaimUniti sounds superb, whatever source you use. With CD the performance is not far off that of a CD5i/Nait 5i combination, maybe just lacking a little openness by comparison, and it’s revealing enough of low bitrate broadcasts and rips.

But feed it the real stuff – lossless or uncompressed music files, or high-bitrate rips or streams – and this is a system that’s both remarkably easy to listen to and massively rewarding.

The amplification has more than enough power to drive even demanding speakers, the sound is clean, open and gutsy, whether with mainstream music or high-quality classical downloads, and, aside from some faffage getting it to stream Apple Lossless from one of our Macs, set-up and operation is simple.

What’s more, the design is built to be upgraded, whether with the addition of a preamp or a Naim phono stage, or via firmware changes using the R232 connection on the rear panel.

This is the most innovative product Naim has ever made, and one of its finest: expect it to be a trendsetter


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