Core Blimey – Have naim produced the ultimate music server?
For most hi-fi listeners, digital audio will form the backbone of their home hi-fi setup. No longer is the Compact Disc the sole digital source for home listening; many listeners wish to integrate internet streaming, internet radio, Bluetooth devices, and digital files alongside traditional physical media.
Naim’s ‘uniti’ series of products, follow naim’s mantra of “Simpler hi-fi sounds better”. Effectively a 21st century answer to the 1970s Music Centre – It is possible to build an entire, fully functional digital hi-fi system around a single uniti component – just add Speakers! The component we’re looking at today, is the Naim Uniti Core. Designed to sit at the (you guessed it) core of the uniti range. It is, in essence, a no-frills, minimalist digital music server.
STORAGE AND RIPPING
The naim uniti core features an optical disc reader, allowing the user to rip their entire CD collection, directly. The optical disc reader is based around a high quality TEAC transport, coupled to a high quality ripping algorithm and a highly damped internal structure. This all adds up to ensure ‘bit perfect’ transfers from CD.
The uniti core, also integrates with Rovi’s extensive on-line music database, automatically cataloging the ripped music by artist, song, album genre etc.
The whole process takes just a minute or two. An integral hard drive caddy gives the user the option of using either a traditional HDD or SDD options – upto a whopping 8TB. Naim claim this should be good for 100,000 tracks. By this blogger’s rough calculations, that’s almost 8 months’ worth, continuous music playback. It’s safe to assume therefore, that music storage is not something the naim uniti core is lacking in!
FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
Comprising of a sleek, black, minimalist monolith crafted from beautifully machined aluminum, the core features no control panel as such. Simply a power switch, eject button and a USB A type socket. Around the back, the story is much the same. A single IEC type power socket, another USB A type socket and an S/PDIF digital audio output on BNC. One will also find the access panel for the HDD caddy.
Unlocking the uniti’s power as a music server then, is not obvious, but fear not – this is truly a dual function device. As a stand alone server, the uniti can be controlled via naim’s own app. This allows the unit to be controlled as a true digital audio hub, allowing playback of ripped files stored on uniti’s HDD, playback of files plugged in via the uniti’s USB ports, plus streaming of internet radio via the naim app. Simply add an external DAC and there’s no reason the naim core couldn’t be used as the centrepiece of a hi-fi system.
UNITI SYSTEM INTEGRATION
It’s as part of the wider uniti range, however, where the core really comes alive. Here the core forms the main server for the entire uniti range.
Music can be streamed from the naim uniti core to multiple uniti range components, allowing for true, multi-room music playback. With their high quality integrated amplifiers and beautiful, full colour displays, the Atom, Nova and Star really make the naim uniti core come alive as possibly the ultimate home music server system.
We’ll be adding the new, uniti components on permanent demo, as soon as they’re released.
For more background on the new uniti range, take a read of Peter’s blog article from October, describing the range in overview.