Naim SuperUniti All In One Player

Device Type: Integrated Amplifier/DAC/Tuner/Network Player
Input: 6 x S/PDIF (1 x coaxial BNC, 1 x coaxial RCA, 3 x optical TOSLINK, 1 x front panel mini-TOSLINK), 1 x 5-pin DIN, 2 x RCA pair, 1 x front panel 3.5mm jack (combined optical)
Output: Preamp out, Subwoofer out, digital coax out, 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 pair speaker banana terminals
Dimensions (H x W x D): 87 x 432 x 314mm
Weight: 12.8kg
Availability: through Authorized Dealers
Price: $6495.00
Website: www.naimaudio.com

Three For All In One
The Naim SuperUniti combines elements from three of Naim's stand alone components; the amp borrows its 80W per channel into 8Ω of power from the SUPERNAIT integrated amplifier, the UPnP network player portion comes courtesy of the NDX network player, and the DAC takes its "innovative data buffering jitter removal process" from the aptly named Naim DAC. There's also an AM/FM/DAB tuner and a headphone output in the SuperUniti making it one all around all-in-one player.

The dual DACs inside the SuperUniti are from Burr-Brown which can accept up to 24/192 data (24/96 via Toslink). Naim employs up to 16x overasmpling for incoming data, "...digital filtering is handled by a powerful SHARC DSP chip running unique Naim authored code to create an ultra high precision 40-bit floating point filter". Supported file formats include WAV, FLAC, Apple Lossless, AIFF, AAC, MP3, M4A, Windows Media-formatted files, LPCM and Ogg Vorbis and the SuperUniti supports gapless playback. As you can see from the list above, the SuperUniti sports a boatload of inputs including 6 S/PDIF, Ethernet, and analog RCAs. You can easily add a subwoofer via the subwoofer out and use the SuperUniti's preamp output if you need more power.

The volume is a digitally-driven analog control accesible from the front panel knob (my favorite way to adjust volume), the included remote, or the free Naim n-Stream app for iOS devices. The front panel also houses a number of push button controls which allow for basic playback functions as well as setup and configuration controls. I was able to attach to my Synology DS412+ NAS with the push of a few buttons and play back music in minutes without so much as a peak at the manual. Nice. For normal day-to-day use, I preferred the n-Stream app loaded on my iPad. There's also a front panel display that shows data related to the music being played including input source, volume level, and in the case of streaming music from the NAS track, album and artist info.

I found the n-Stream remote app all good in use but my favorite feature by far is the inclusion of metadata and more from the Rovi service. When listening to an album, you can tap on the "Info" tab which brings up the album's cover art which acts as a virtual booklet. Taping on the right or left side turns the booklet's pages, which includes full track listing and album details (album title, artist, artist bio, year, genre, styles, album review, album credits, and similar albums) where available. This relative wealth of information as compared to what we're used to with included metadata is a huge bonus, imo. Browsing through this information while listening is very reminiscent of reading album cover liner notes and goes a long way in providing context for our music.

n-Stream app screenshot

Playing music with the n-stream app was easy and intuitive. Again, I never had to refer to the manual and just tapped my way around. As with every other remote app, the n-Stream is based on the notion of Playlists. You can add a track or album to a playlist by tapping on it and selecting "Play" which plays the selection or "Add to...." which brings up the options to "Queue Next", "Queue Last", or "New Playlist". The app also shows you the associated file type, bit rate, and sample rate of the current selection. There are typical playback controls including play, pause, forward, back as well as a slider volume control. Changing inputs is simply a matter of tapping on the input at the bottom right of the screen.

I'm not going to go into all of the features and functions of the SuperUniti but if you'd like the full scoop, check out the manual. I mainly used the SuperUniti as a network player but I also dabbled with iRadio and played a few tracks from my iPhone. I also used the wired connection exclusively but WiFi is also available. I will also point out that the SuperUniti does not have a USB DAC input or a phono stage (I'd sure like to see the latter included as an option).

In terms of fit 'n finish I find the Naim to be first rate. The matte black surface is handsome and does not act a fingerprint magnet and the green lights and logo are subtle. This beast also weighs in at over 28 pounds largely due to the power amp's requirements. It's solid.

A Muscular Musical Player
The SuperUniti is one fit sounding player. It maintained a super tight control of my 91db DeVore Fidelity The Nines and its added power, as compared to my 30W Pass INT-30A, translated into a greater control and slam. There was also a very nice sense of delicacy which made extended listening hours pleasurable and engaging. Tone colors were painted with a broad enough palette although I've heard richer presentations from separates like the Auralic Vega DAC coupled with the Pass. There was also plenty of air and space in and around instruments which also made for relaxed and inviting listening.

I went through my typical litany of test tracks including selections from Don Cherry's Art Deco, Tom Wait's Alice, No More Shall We Part from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Angela Hewitt playing Bach, Mozart Piano Concertos, the varied voices of Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XX, Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabate's Kulanjan, all in CD-quality. I also listened to high res sources including Jimmy Scott's All The Way, Kind of Blue in mono, the stunning A Calm in the Fire of Dances from Deep Rumba, Satie & Compagnie, and many more.

In each case, the SuperUniti delivered a nice helping of what I've come to expect from this music. On "Bemsha Swing" from Don Cherry, the opening bass lines were nice and hefty and full where I've heard some DACs present a lighter weight sound as if the full body of Charlie Haden's bass was absent. Not so with the SuperUniti. When Don Cherry's pocket trumpet arrives it has a very sense of blurt and bite as it should and James Clay's tenor saxophone sounds rich and full, a very nice contrast to Cherry. Finally when Billy Higgins lets his sticks walk around the cymbal, you can hear him move from its inside to outside along with the associated gain in sustain. Nice.

a Rovi screenshot

In the opening of Tom Wait's "I'm Still Here" from Alice, there's a very subtle violin in the background which can sound like a bee buzzing around but not so with the SuperUniti which was able to capture more of the body and voice of the instrument. This may seem like some picky shit but it's not. Capturing even subtle details and fuller voices makes for a more emotionally charged listening experience and conveys more of the music's original intent.

If there was one area were I've heard the SuperUniti bettered is in terms of tone colors and timbral weight. The presentation is every slightly less full-bodied compared to what works out to be much more expensive separates in the Pass INT-30A/Auralic Vega combo which obviously doesn't deliver the networking features of the SuperUniti. So we're looking at a slight trade off in performance at what strikes me as a nice price for what it is you do get with the Naim. Nice. While I'm touching on perceived negatives, if you buy a SuperUniti don't expect much until it has a few hundred hours on it. More so than most gear that comes through here, the SuperUniti sounded uptight and rough around the edges when it first arrived. Time healed all wounds.

I also enjoy listening to the radio so I enjoyed my time with iRadio. DJ's can offer up the truly unexpected and I find listening to college radio stations like WPRB and WFMU to be particularly rewarding. While the sound quality is admittedly not great with Internet radio, I'm happy to trade it for the human DJ for a given amount of time. When I grow tired of lossy music, a few taps on the n-Stream app finds me back serving lossless music off of my NAS. Nice. The n-Stream app also remembers the station you last played so when you switch away from iRadio and then return, you are connected and playing within seconds without having to make a selection.

I connected my Rega P3/Denon103 > Auditorium 23 step up transformer > Leben RS30 EQ to one of the SuperUniti's analog inputs and the sound was in a word glorious. Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch on Blue Note was my first choice and a good one if I say so myself. Anyone who thinks vinyl is somehow fatally flawed is them self fatally flawed. In my opinion, of course. There's a harmonic richness and rightness to vinyl that digital has a difficult time matching, in my experience, making for an emotionally engaging experience.

Using the Resonessence Labs Concero as a USB - S/PDIF converter I played some music from my MacBook Pro running Audirvana Plus and compared this to the UPnP connection. And I'd have been hard pressed to pick which was which, the sound being very similar. While I can't see anyone actually connecting their PC to the SuperUniti, I thought it interesting that the network connection fared so well against the PC/USB - S/PDIF converter.

I also could have connected a CD/SACD/BluRay player, Apple TV, and more making for a very full featured device that could function as the centerpiece of a home hi-fi and home theater 2.0 setup. Of course you need to take into account your speakers demands and make sure that the Naim's 80Ws provide enough drive. With the relatively efficient DeVore's, there was power in reserve. While you can bypass the SuperUniti's internal amp by adding a more powerful one through its pre-out, I'm not so sure that makes a lot of sense. Why pay for an amp, and a very good sounding one to boot, you're not going to use?

another Rovi screenshot

I should also highlight the SuperUniti's performance with CD-quality recordings since it does an exceptional job with them. The custom filters employed appear to endow CD-quality recordings with a nice amount of depth and air and dimension, qualities I normally attribute to higher res recordings. This also applied to iRadio in that even lower bitrate streams sounded eminently listenable allowing for longer listening sessions. Nice.

I took the headphone output for a test drive with the newly acquired NAD Viso HP50 headphones and there was a welcome similarity to the presentation. Very nice control, great dynamic snap, and overall a smooth and relatively rich sound. Plugging your 'phones into the front panel's 3.5mm output automatically mutes the output to the speakers which is a nice feature imo.

I also sampled a bunch of new music including Lana Del Rey, Angel Olsen, Amen Dunes, Sharon Van Etten and more and there was nothing about the SuperUniti's way with music that stood in my way. While lessor quality recordings are conveyed warts and all, this didn't inform my musical choices. I would attribute this to the Naim's overall smooth character and lack of any perceptible harshness or unnatural brightness. There is, on the other hand, plenty of resolution and a ton of dynamic snap and wallop making music exciting and gripping.

A True All-In-One Player
The Naim SuperUniti packs a lot of features into one box. While this can lead to sonic compromise, I found myself enjoying the Naim's sonic strengths which are many and readily apparent. From a wonderful sense of control, to gobs of dynamic slam, to a lovely way with CD and better quality recordings, I can recommend the SuperUniti without reservation for anyone looking for a one box solution for their listening pleasure.



Associated Equipment

COMMENTS
tubefan9's picture

It would be interesting to know how wireless sounded vs wired. Also, what Ethernet cable were you using?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I used AudioQuest Diamond Ethernet cables from the Naim to a switch and from the switch to my NAS.
derneck's picture

You have such a good taste in music for a youngster.

branon's picture

I have been following audiostream now for some time and was beginning to wonder when Naim products would start getting reviewed. Hopefully you have a few more of their less expensive offerings lined up as well. Personally, I am hoping for a review of the Naim NAC-N 172 XS.
Thanks.

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