After AVguide attended CEDIA Expo 2009, one of the products that most captured our imaginations was the Naim Audio Uniti—a category-defying component that combined the functions of a high-end CD player, integrated amplifier, tuner, Wi-Fi-enabled content streamer, and multi-input DAC, priced at $3750.
Internally, reactions to the product concept were very positive, though one wise staff member pointedly asked, “I wonder how many consumers will be prepared to pay for the Uniti’s Naim-grade CD player? That has to account for a big chunk of the Uniti’s price.” (Naim Audio has a reputation for never doing things halfway, so that the CD player portion of the Uniti might easily have contributed $1500 or more to its overall price). The general sense among AVguide/Playback staff members was that the Uniti was a very cool concept, but that it would be even cooler to see Naim create a streamlined version that came without the built-in CD player.
Well, it appears the folks at Naim Audio have been reading our minds, since at CES 2010 they announced the adorable (and aptly named) new UnitiQute—a Wi-Fi enabled integrated amplifier, FM/DAB/Internet Radio tuner, UPnP content streamer, and multi-input 24/96 DAC, priced at $1995. Naim envisions a portion of UnitiQute sales going to audiophiles who already own high-end “big rig” systems (possibly based on top-tier Naim components), but who are looking to set up convenient yet very high-quality secondary systems. In its product brochure, Naim point outs that the versatile UnitiQute “can not only deliver exceptional Naim music-making as a second system, but also play the role of gateway to all the new digital music delivery formats—from USB memory stick, UPnP streaming to internet radio.” Naim goes on to say that, “for the more casual listener, UnitiQute can take the place of both the old hi-fi system and the iPod dock, sound far better than either, and at the same time introduce new worlds of audio ripe for exploration.”
I/O Options Galore
The UnitiQute amplifier is said to use a slightly lower-powered, 30 Wpc variation on the circuit used in Naim’s award-winning Nait 5i integrated amplifier. Despite its compact size, the Unitiqute provides an astonishing array of inputs and outputs, including:
- 2 analog inputs (one 3.5mm jack, one RCA stereo input)
- 5 digital inputs (two coaxial SP/DIF, two optical, on 3.5 mm jack)
- 1 USB input via a front-panel socket
- 2 antenna inputs (Wi-Fi, plus 75 ohm connector for FM)
- 3 switch selectable tuner options (Internet Radio, FM or DAB)
- Connectivity for iPods and other MP3 players via the font-panel USB socket, complete with functions that allow the Unitiquite to read the player’s audio files and playlists and the show their contents on the Unitiqute’s front-panel display screen “for simple browsing, selection and playback.”
- Playback functions for UPnP streamed digital audio contents at resolution levels up to 96kHz/24-bits.
- Format compatibility: Internet Radio (Windows Media-formatted content, MP3 Streams, MMS), Playlists in M3U or PLS formats, MP3, AAC (up to 320kbps, CBR/VBR), Windows Media-formatted content-9 U (up to 320kbps), FLAC and WAV (up to 24-bit/96kHz via UPnP and USB only), and OGG Vorbis.
We suspect the UnitiQute may become one of the most sought-after powerplant/digital gateway devices yet devised for desktop/computer audio applications.
For more information, visit: www.naimusa.com