The Naim Audio Uniti Core Audiophile Servers arrived in store this week, after an incredible level of anticipation that was whipped up during our Naim Open Day before Christmas, and they are already making a big impression.
Upon opening our demo unit, we fitted a WD Red 2TB HDD (Naim have used Seagate Enterprise drives in the past, and we will be testing the HGST Enterprise drives later in the year as they are held in even higher regard) using the supplied caddy and screws.
Connected to our MusicWorks Reflex Lite mains block with a Naim Powerline Lite (the Powerline Lite is supplied with all new Uniti products), and a quality Cat6 cable to our network, the Uniti Core was booted up and recognised by the latest version of the iOS Naim app (Android version still in development) within a minute.
At this point the Core needs to be configured and the app makes this beautifully simple! It gave the option of creating the music library on the WD Red drive or the other NAS drives it had discovered on our network. Given that (like the majority of new customers) our existing NAS drives were distinctly "mainstream" low end devices, naturally the library was created on the WD Red after a speedy formatting and partitioning of the drive - all done seamlessly by the App and the Core themselves.
The App also prompts for ripping options to be set offering WAV or FLAC and, given that our Core will be run with Naim Streamers/Naim Uniti/Naim Mu-so products almost exclusively, we chose the superior WAV option*
As is the norm nowadays, the App then highlighted that there was a new firmware update available and compared to the older Unitiserve, the update was extremely fast and simple to implement.
We then started to rip a few select CDs as well as copying a couple of Hi-Res FLAC files to the Core from our other NAS drive (the core has a folder separate from the main library named Downloads for this purpose). The Core was then left on overnight along with a Naim NAC-N272 and NAP250DR so it would be getting in to the swing of things for the next morning.
Within minutes of opening though, we had our first booking for a demo!
For this we were asked to run it with the Naim DAC-V1, as the customer intended to utilise the BNC digital output on the Uniti Core, and as the NAP250DR was already in place it was chained on the end driving a pair of the brilliant little Russell K Red 50 loudspeakers.
Unlike the previous Unitiserve (where it's performance via the digital out was not a match for it's networked performance), the Uniti Core was superb in this configuration.
Not only was it a breeze to use (the old N-Serve app for the Unitserve was no way near as polished), it was wholly musical and quieter in operation than many CD players we've had brought in over the past few years.
Even more pleasing for the customer was that a couple of their scratched CDs they brought in (which had become almost unplayable on his existing CD transport) were successfully ripped by the Uniti Core and sounded superb!
So all in all, it's early days but the Uniti Core is already off to an impressive start!
*Although FLAC files are mathematically lossless, how they are decoded further down the chain can incur some very, very subtle losses. For setups where non-Naim streamers are used the benefits of FLAC's standardised implementation of Artwork and track info will likely be more important.