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Naim Uniti Nova Power Edition

Seven years is a long time in hi-fi -land, that’s for sure, and I can understand the temptation to upgrade a product for no other reason than it was launched in 2017. But it’s a testament to just how squarely Naim struck the bull’s-eye with 2017’s Uniti Nova all-in-one system (as well as the Uniti Atom and Uniti Star alternatives it launched at the same time) that the changes it’s made to produce this Uniti Nova ‘PE’ are mostly to the technical specification and not at all to the aesthetic.

The original Uniti Nova has had to struggle along with ‘only’ 70 watts per channel of Class AB amplification. For the Power Edition, Naim has - hey! - upped the power rating to a significant degree and abandoned Class AB at the same time. The Uniti Nova PE is packing 150 watts of Class D power, and that figure rises to 250 watts into a 4ohm load. Which really should be adequate to drive even the most uncooperative loudspeakers.

Beyond this thoroughly addressed issue of power output, about the only changes to the ‘PE’ over its (suddenly quite affordable-looking) Uniti Nova sibling concern a) Bluetooth, which is now compatible with the aptX Adaptive codec, and b) DAB/FM radio reception, which has been deleted in favour of leaving everything to the integrated iRadio internet radio streamer. A DAB/FM module is a cost option for those who simply can’t bear to be without.

Otherwise, it’s thoroughly well-specified Naim Uniti Nova business as usual. Physical inputs include a couple of USB-A slots (one at the front, the other at the rear) along with two digital optical, two digital coaxial, a digital BNC input and an Ethernet socket, and there’s an HDMI ARC input so your TV’s sound can have a rocket put up it too. Analogue equipment is handled by two stereo RCA inputs and a couple of five-pin DIN sockets. As far as outputs are concerned, there’s a 3.5mm headphone socket at the front and a four-pin DIN plus a pair of stereo RCAs and binding for a single pair of speakers at the rear. 

As well as Bluetooth, there’s dual-band wi-fi ready to take care of wireless connectivity. The PE is Roon Ready, has Chromecast Built-In, features internet radio, and is compatible with Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and TIDAL Connect, Qobuz and UPnP. Every digital audio file type worth considering is catered for, to an (input-dependent) resolution of 32bit/384kHz and DSD128. Multiroom functionality is accessible via UPnP - the Uniti Nova PE can serve up to four network-attached players this way.

Sound quality

Anyone who’s familiar with any of Naim’s sterling work over the 50-odd years it’s been in business is unlikely to be startled by the broad strokes of what I’m going to say in this ‘sound quality’ section. For those who’ve somehow managed to avoid the work of the Salisbury Savant until now, though, it’s like this: the Uniti Nova PE is an extremely high-performance network streamer/amplifier. Is that a spoiler? Apologies if so.

There’s just no aspect of music-making at which the Naim doesn’t seem to excel. It’s carefully neutral in its tonality, it displays beautifully even frequency response from the top of the range to the bottom, and it has the sort of dynamic headroom that can put huge distance between the quietest and the loudest occurrences in a recording. It can play at oppressive volume if you like that sort of thing, but it maintains all of its grip and insight even if you play at sedate ‘background music’ levels. And perhaps most important (and most gratifying of all), is just how engaging and downright musical it sounds even as it’s showcasing its technical prowess.

The low frequencies it creates are deep, textured, loaded with detail and variation, and hit with the sort of implacable authority that keeps momentum high and rhythms naturalistic. The top of the frequency range is equally detailed and informative, equally substantial, and attacks with well-controlled determination. In between, the midrange is just as comprehensively detailed and communicates with real eloquence - so any vocalist, no matter their character or technical ability or attitude, will have their intentions translated in full.

The Uniti Nova PE can generate an impressively spacious, well-defined soundstage - and it can keep everything locked in position even if the recording is complicated or wilfully two-dimensional. It keeps competing elements of a piece of music at arm’s length, which is helpful when it comes to allowing each strand of a recording to express itself - but its presentation is always convincingly unified and ‘of a piece’. Some alternative designs can allow complex recordings to sound like a collection of individual occurrences, but that’s never the case with this Naim.

It’s not, perhaps, absolutely as tolerant of compressed, low-resolution content as it might be - naturally, the Uniti Nova PE does its best work when given the best stuff to work with. But I’m tempted to ask why you’re spending close to five figures on a streaming amplifier if you intend to listen to Spotify’s free tier through it…

But as part of an appropriate system (appropriate in terms of tonality, talent and almost certainly asking price), the Naim Uniti Nova PE is a muscular, informative and invigoratingly entertaining listen. And yes, it is more than powerful enough.

Living with

The Naim Uniti Nova PE is a bog-standard 116x432x265mm (HxWxD), so as long as you have a shelf capable of supporting its 15.1kg weight you shouldn’t have a problem positioning it. And once it’s connected to speakers and your local network (for starters), it’s no kind of pain to live with whatsoever.

To begin with, it’s actually quite decorative by prevailing standards. The brushed aluminium casework feels as good as it looks, and the illumination (of the company logo and of the big volume dial that’s such an established Naim design feature) is clean and quite understated. The whole thing looks expensive - which is just as well, really.

Controlling it is no hardship, either. As well as that big, smooth-scrolling volume control, there’s a full-function, backlit ‘ZigBee’ remote control handset that doesn’t need line-of-sight to control the PE. And the ‘Focal & Naim’ control app that’s free for Android and iOS has evolved into one of the better examples of its type - it’s generally stable, easy to navigate and far less squint-inducing than before. 

No matter how you choose to control it, the PE has a bright, crisp 5in LCD display on the fascia letting you know what it’s up to, what you’re listening to and what-have-you. Although if you choose to control volume by using the app or the remote control, please be aware that you’re missing out on a tactile pleasure.  


If you own a Naim Uniti Nova, I can’t in all conscience tell you to rush out and replace it with the Power Edition - not unless you’ve got big plans for new (and expensive) loudspeakers, anyway. But if you’re in the market for a new streaming amplifier, you’re fortunate enough to have the readies and are prepared to do the right thing where partnering equipment is concerned, the Naim Uniti Nova PE is a hefty, well made, simple-to-operate and great-sounding option that you absolutely have to hear. 

Listening notes

Dr. Alimantado Best Dressed Chicken in Town

The good doctor’s toasting over a rhythm track that’s as much about absences as presences will examine any system’s ability to convincingly describe a soundstage and give appropriate weighting to the spaces on it. The Naim is unequivocally good at it.

Gang of Four We Live as We Dream, Alone

Clattering percussion, lop-sided rhythms and that turn-of-the-80s white-boy funk attitude all present tests of control and authority to the Uniti Nova PE. All of which it passes without any apparent effort.

Young Fathers Holy Moly

The grittiness of both sound and attitude, the sense of imminent collapse, the attacking nature of the many voices involved… Young Fathers are on a mission here, as they constantly seem to be, to take you and your system out of your respective comfort zones. Fat chance. 

What the press say

Why you should buy it

This Uniti Nova with knobs on is pretty much as good as it gets. You get what you pay for and there’s just no aspect of music-making at which the Naim doesn’t seem to excel.

Video review

Pair it with

One of the joys of being able to afford a front end as capable and enjoyable as the Naim Uniti Nova PE is that you get to audition loads of different pairs of pricey speakers in order to do it justice. Obviously you’ll have a shortlist in mind already, but I can’t help thinking that the Monitor Audio Platinum 300 3G I reviewed a while back would suit the PE’s skill-set down to the ground. Their mastery of tonality, dynamics, rhythmic expression and detail retrieval (just for starters) make them almost purpose-built for Naim partnership. 

Alternatives to consider

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