Harnessing the Atom
Hi-Fi Choice|February 2021
A big speaker needs a commensurately big amp to properly run it, right? Not necessarily says Ed Selley
Ed Selley

COMPONENTS

NAIM UNITI ATOM £2,400

The smallest member of the Uniti family, the Atom is an exceptionally well-specified and implemented all-in-one with a 40W amp powering a UPnP board with AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Chromecast as well as a selection of digital and analogue inputs, all combined in a very handsome chassis.

FOCAL CHORA 826 £1,300

The largest member of the Chora family is a three-way design that uses the latest ‘Slatefiber’ technology for the midrange and bass drivers, partnered with an aluminum tweeter. These are placed in a carefully braced, front-ported cabinet available in a selection of finishes.

There is an old but not entirely inaccurate adage that states: “If it looks right it is right”, which basically means if something is sound this will be apparent even before you turn it on. While almost certainly valid, it does put this particular system at a slight disadvantage. The Focal Chora 826 is a pretty big loudspeaker and the Naim Uniti Atom in direct contrast is a fairly compact all-in-one. You’d be forgiven for wondering if this bijou system can really do the business when paired with those rather hefty towers.

I’m pleased to say these concerns prove groundless. This is a pair that not only works, but actively thrives. After nearly a decade of collaboration, Naim and Focal have clearly learned from one another and it means that whatever proportional incongruity there might be, this is a very effective system indeed.

Key to this is the fact that both companies have retained some of the characteristics that have long defined them. The Chora 826 is a big, three-way floorstander but thanks to Focal’s attention to detail and the use of its clever composite cones – now including recycled, non-woven carbon fibers to create the distinctive finish that Focal calls ‘Slatefi ber’ – they are highly sensitive. With the 826, it would appear, a little goes a long way.

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