NaimUniti early review: Expensively incredible audio system
Two thousand pounds might sound a mindboggling amount of money to spend on an audio device, but when you tot up what goes into a NaimUniti, it starts to make a wee bit more sense. There's nothing quite like this on the market anywhere, at any price. First and foremost, the Uniti will take your audio, amplify it and pump it out of some speakers -- which you have to provide too.
It also grabs hold of radio from virtually any source, be it FM, DAB or even Internet radio stations. Radio stations that have a listen again feature, such as those from Absolute Radio and the BBC, can simply be selected from the audio menu, meaning you no longer have to actually hear shows live to enjoy them. While this isn't a brand-new feature, it's still fabulous to have access to all that content at any time and trust us -- it will change the way you use radio.
The NaimUniti also has a CD player, which is quite similar in its nuts and bolts to Naim's CD5i, which in itself costs £1,000. Merely loading a disc into the player is enough of an event to justify the price. Rather than a motorised tray, the Naim employs a manual drawer, which extends out from the player at a jaunty angle. This is supposed to improve audio quality and reduce noise during playback, as you'd expect frpm such a high-end system.
You can hook up an iPod, either using a 3.5mm jack at the front of the machine, or, for best quality, using the proprietary audio lead. The bad news is, to use the proper cable, you'll need to buy it separately, and that'll set you back £95. Rather irksome when you've just dropped two grand.
The Uniti can also accept digital audio inputs from as many as five sources. There are two optical and two coaxial digital inputs at the rear, and the 3.5mm jack at the front accepts digital audio too. Analogue gets three RCA-based stereo inputs and a single turntable DIN connector. There's a headphone output on the front too, as well as stereo jacks at the rear, a pre-amplifier output and, of course, stereo speaker jacks.
As with so many modern devices, this Uniti can also browse your home network, using UPnP, to find machines sharing their music libraries. This will almost certainly appeal to people with very large digital music collections on their home computers, or those using NAS devices to hold their home media.
Anyway, while that's all well and good, why not look at our photos, which will give you an idea of how awesome this machine is. We'll be performing a full review on this system too, so keep an eye on our reviews channel for our comprehensive thoughts.
In terms of pure style, we can't fault the Uniti at all. It looks superb, weighs a tonne and has the same approximate build quality as a tank -- and feels as though it could survive an attack from armour-piercing shells.
The front display is wonderfully clear too, which is a good thing, as this is how you'll interact with the unit during use.
Large, easy to press buttons on the front panel are fantastic to use and make selecting the correct input or adjusting the volume a piece of cake.
The CD tray awaits your digital discs, if you've still got any to feed it.
Inputs on the front include a USB socket for MP3 players that contain music in an unprotected format, or USB memory sticks. There's also a headphone socket, for personal listening, and a 3.5mm input, to pump out music from devices such as iPods or other MP3 players.
Networking can be achieved via either wired or wireless networks. Internet radio and home network streaming are possible once you're connected.
Speaker outputs are provided too, so all you need is some cable and decent stereo speakers to make use of them.
The iPod connector is all well and good, but does the cable really have to cost nearly £100?
Digital inputs are provided for all your digital audio needs. The question is, what are you going to hook up that it doesn't already have built-in?
The remote is fine, but it's not the same high build quality as the main unit.
When the Uniti ships, it has a locking bolt that prevents any damage to the CD tray. Don't be dim like us, just unscrew it and put it in a safe place until you next move house.
The CD tray is an unusual shape, which is both very cool and helpful in reducing distortion.
CDs aren't placed on a clip in this CD system, they're restrained by a small magnet...
...which you remove in order to put a disc in the tray.