Monday, 03 August 2015 17:51

REVIEW: Naim UnitiQute 2 - the little giant

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Naim was one of the first brands launching smart solutions for integrated streamers. UnitiQute 2 the smallest of them, and I've been fiddling around with it in a thorough test round.


Naim`s products have a very long time aroused a special interest in me. Maybe it's because this manufacturer from Salisbury west of London is regarded as a kind sound philosophical cousin to Linn, a manufacturer I`ve had represented in one of my separate setup for ten years. They are both considered as part of the Flat-earth direction, which gives priority to sound like more emphasizes that the listener will experience why the musicians on stage, than where they stand on stage. Or maybe it's because Naim has always gone their very own ways both in terms of design, and product solutions. Notions of external power supplies and DIN connectors are examples of it.

When Isak at Multiroom had a seance at Musik-Magazinet in Bergen this spring with demo of the completely fresh HighEnd streamer and preamplifier NAC N-272 , the sound was that was served was so interesting that I took the opportunity to make arrangements for loans of test sample which becomes available late this summer. But it was also interesting to check out what the less expensive models in the range of Naim Uniti products could perform, and Isak sent sympathetic the smallest UnitiQute 2 for a test period.


UnitiQute 2

Uniti is Naim's collective term for integrated amplifiers with streaming. Naim UnitiQute 2 came a couple of years ago, and was an upgrade of the original UnitiQute which came in 2010. UnitiQute is a complete solution in a box - that is complete if you belong to the growing multitude of hi-fi and music enthusiasts who have qiut spinning silver disks. This is a combined integrated amplifier, DAC and streamer - all in a very compact box.



It is natural that the thougths headed toward Naim's original integrated amplifier NAIT, the compact amplifier designed by Julian Vereker, and that had proportions that close to match UnitiQute 2. The legendary NAIT and its sequel NAIT 2 in its Olive box had an effect on 2x13 watts and have gotten a little legendary status among Naim enthusiasts.

UnitiQute has a far greater effect, although even 2x30 watts of course is modest affairs. But experience has taught me that an amplifier with moderate effect can play great, at least if it does not get too big challenges for loads, volume and size of rooms.

The analog portion of the preamplifier is digitally controlled, giving large user benefits, and almost a prerequisite for a product in this category. For in addition to the role of conventional analog integrated amplifier it must be safeguarded streaming functions, DAC and a user interface including may be via an APP for iOS or Android.

The analog connections are limited. There is only one set of analog RCA inputs, and it causes the mini-jack input on the front that is primarily intended for sporadic connections, easily can get a permanent use. At least this was the case during the test period, where I had both an analog connection to the CD player in addition to the digital, and an external RIAA. On the other hand, this is probably a very atypical situation for most owners of UnitiQute 2. Many may use it without other sources than the UnitiQute 2 can contribute to, via Wired network, WiFi or aptX. Or via the digital inputs or USB. Analog inputs are a dying breed, especially on a product that after all has such a high LifeStyle factor as UnitiQute.

It is also worth noting that UnitiQute 2, like all other Uniti products have a configurable HT bypass. This has been standard for Naim very long time, and assumes that you are in the setup menu for the inputs can configure the analog RCA input to have fixed gain. This time Naim call it AV Fixed Volume.


Advanced setup for use with subwoofer.

Pre-out in place, and it is a very flexible variant. Inside a very comprehensive and advanced setup menu you can select the built-in amplifier configured to play full-range, or you can activate a High Pass Filtering. The latter is relevant if you choose to connect a subwoofer. The filter then away signals under 100 Hz if you select this menu. A very useful feature, especially of an amplifier with limited effect in this case. It allows the power amplifier have to be charged with the lowest bass output when you have connected sub. Personally I think nevertheless that this cut-off frequency is set slightly on the high side. I had preferred 80Hz, or preferably a configurable crossover frequency.

In the test period I was playing a lot both with- and without a subwoofer in different speaker setups. With Sonus Faber's totally fresh Chameleon B that I had in for a review in the same period, I preferred to play full range of these, even when the subwoofer was connected. But this should not be mistaken that it is always best - it's natural to assume that it is dependent on both the connected speaker, and how loud it is played.




An important aspect with UnitiQute 2 is that it is a network player. It is equipped with both wired network input and with WiFI - the latter via a dedicated antenna that is mounted on the opposite side of where you can turn on the Bluetooth antenna.

Despite UnitiQute 2 during the test period was assigned a location in the house where there is a little weak WiFi signals, it had very good stability on the network. The connection is also very simple, and should have gone in a flash, had it not been for my intricate network passwords created some bugs. I have been so indiscreet that I have brought network password contain a hyphen. This is tackled gallant by UnitiQute - the problem is just that there are so many characters available in the unit's vocabulary, there are 5 or 6 characters on the display may be mistaken by ordinary hyphen. While password inspectors tend to be little jovial and forgiving when it comes to spelling precision. Hyphen-alake does not cut it - so I had some trial and error.



So when the network is up and running, you can choose between pouring own files via UPnP, or you can use Spotify Connect. Streaming via UPnP has the ability of streaming files up to 24bit / 192kHz, and can handle MP3, M4A, ALAC, AAC, LPCM16 / 24, FLAC, WMA, WAV, AIFF and Ogg Vorbis.

The other possibility is Spotify Connect, and here are notoriously resolution limited to 320kbps. But equally important is the fact that the solution with Spotify Connect provides direct streaming to the device, with the benefits this has for logistics and for the sound. As I will elaborate later UnitiQute 2 gives an excellent result also via Spotify Connect.

Of course you may wish that Naim additionally will support an integrated solution with TIDAL, or what later will be available in lossless formats. Not to mention HighRes. In this issue one should remember that it would be very surprising if this does not become available within reasonable time. The advantage of sitting on a product that has the ability for software update, is that innovations keep arriving periodically. I myself have been the owner of a Linn DS Akurate for 7-8 years, and it is a completely different product and concept today than when I bought it.


Management of UnitiQute2

As previously mentioned, it provided an APP for iOS and Android. During this test I used the version for iOS, both on iPhone and iPad Mini. And although it is of course more comfortable and straightforward to use an iPad, it's always good to make it available on the cellphone as well. And the app is very good. Logically and clearly built up, where you can make the very most of the settings in the setup.

It also included a physical remote. Remote control is always indispensable, even if you've never so good apps. There is nothing that can replace a quick grip on the remote control to take an adjustment of volume, or switch the input. And remote control belonging to UnitiQute2 is an appealing product. Not overly lavish, but comfortable to hold in your hand, and with decent quality feel. And perhaps the most important - it has good signal strength, or the IR-receiver inside UnitiQute 2 has good sensitivity. Unlike some other remotes it has no problem with taking control of the amplifier, although in some challenging angles and distances.







We listen to music. Test setup.

Before we get started with listening impressions we take a little tour of the equipment alternately used along with Naim UnitiQute 2 during the test period:


  • Turntable 1: Rega RP1 - RB101 - Ortofon 2M Bronze
  • Turntable 2: Thorens TD160B Mk2 - Hadcock gh-228 - Sonus Blue Gold / Ortofon 2M Bronze
  • CD player: Denon DCD-2000AE

Power Amplifier:

  • Linn Chakra 6100


  • Linn Ninka
  • Linn Katan
  • Sonus Faber Chameleon B
  • B & W 601 S2
  • Harbeth P3ESR ​​SE


UnitiQ ute2 with Linn Katan

In the first part of the test period Linn Katan was connected as speakers. These are stand speakers at around 10k (NOK) which has followed me for ten years, and that I therefore know very well. They have their main role as surround speakers in my primary setup, but are occasionally borrowed to other setups in my house. They are speakers I thrive on, are a bit cautious in the top and bottom, but has a great midrange that gives nerve to the music.


We warmed up with some rounds on Spotify, that in the form of Spotify Connect are streamed directly to Naim, without spoilage intermediaries that can ruin your timing.


Kari Bremnes` perhaps best album Månestein exhibited a fantastic holography, and high transparency. "Naked" I have noted that comments for the track "Englevaktsted". And remember - this is lossy Spotify! Arild Andersen's Kristin Lavransdatter confirming a reproduction with lots of air and perspective.

Steve Reich is a contemporary composer who should have the potential to engage a bit wide, and the fascinating album WTC 9/11 recorded by Kronos Quartet was rendered with a presence that reinforces the grim backdrop of music. At the moment I listen to this music through my cottage equipment Yamaha RX-V661 and Dali Zensor 1, and it is a formidable distance to the performance UnitiQute2 can set up with Katan.


During the period with Katan I played a lot of vinyl, and then for the most part with a Thorens TD160B with Hadcock gh-228 arm and Ortofon 2M Bronze pickup. This is a great combination, and has quite a different character than the pick-up Sonus Blue Gold, which was put on the TD160 a little later in the testing period, with other speakers. 2M Bronze is a great pickup, being characterized by openness and dynamism. But that also sometimes can be a bit too eager in the upper frequency ranges.

It was very much 70s folk / pop / rock / jazz, which is my favorite meal on the LP. We start with what has gradually become one of my main reference-LPs - Ken Lyon in Concert . Should you come across this LP, you should drop what ever you have in your hands, and give the owner "an offer he can`t refuse." Folk singer Ken Lyon from Newport is far from a well known artist, and there was a slump that I stumbled across this album in the first half of the 70s for almost no money at all. It is a live recording, and through this test setup we are located on the front row in an intimate club concert. A reproduction with a bursting nerve and nude presence. Dynamics and perspective in high grade. I have noted "brilliant guitar sound at Homeward Bound , and a spooky rhythmic drive on his own compositions VolksWagen Blues that is brilliant.

Miles Davis was also visited and notes from You`re Under Arrest is "dynamic" and "great trumpet sound", while test setup impresses with a very nice midrange on Sketches of Spain .

Eric Clapton's album 461 Ocean Boulevard rendered dynamically and organically, while Paul Simon 's album of the same name gets a great rendition of PS's voice.

My favorite album of Joan Armatrading is from her best period, the second half of the 70s. Stepping Out ​​is a live album, and has a wonderful nerve and dynamics. I remember the way the Danish High Fidelity commented to this album when it was released, which suggests that Joan Armatrading is one of very few rock-artists that delivers HiFi also on stage. From listening session I have listed "good rhytmic drive" and outstanding reproduction of You Rope You Tie Me You .


A sort of summary of the combination UnitiQUte2 and Katan is that this is a good match. Naim does not change the balance located in Katan, but playing well as a team with these midrange loudspeakers. I experienced a hunch more transparency than with the aging combo Linn Kolektor / LK100, which Katan often play with in my secondary setups. This set had in their time about the same price tag as UnitiQute2, but the latter can do so much more than to control and amplify the sound.


UnitiQute2 meetings Sonus Faber Chameleon B

A week into the test period a review set of the completely fresh Sonus Faber Chameleon B arrived. We published a news account of these around Easter, and a thorough review will be published soon.

After a quick round of climatisation with Kolektor / LK100 to get an impression of those with known electronics, they are connected to UnitiQute2. Chameleon B are very exciting speakers, which of course will be more thoroughly described in the separate review. But already now I can reveal that this is speakers that are characterized by a rather enormous dynamics. There is also an imbalance in timbre characteristic, where upper midrange and treble are emphasized. Let`s spins discs.

Again there is Spotify first. And Kari Bremnes - the artist we audiophiles love to hate and love. Månestein is reproduced with an explosive dynamics. Meanwhile treble is a tad hard, and especially this is obvious on Englevaktsted . I have otherwise noted "spooky transparency" on the opening of I Mai.

Norwegian Moods is an album that fits even better to the speakers than Månestein. Lover in Berlin is renderede with a good overall timbre, combined with great sound and very precise rendering of open and detailed reproduction. At Coastal Trip I forget everything and listen to music. This is really one of the best testimonies a setup can get, but eventually I wake up, noting that the layout is very sensitive for dynamic contrasts. Montreal gets an amazing rendition of the musette. while we get incredibly close to the vocal. And Birds also have here a wonderful Micro Dynamics.

Lynni Treekrem must also into the ring, and on her absolutely best album Haugtussa, Lynni is taken on the pulse at the opening track Til Deg Du Hei Og Bleike Myr . And the album Storm gets the brilliant cover version of Jealous Guy - Sjalu Type rendered completely raw and naked. This is otherwise an interpretation that is outrageously different, yet on a par with Brian Ferry's wonderful interpretation of the same song.

In the review of Chameleon B you may read more detailed descriptions of listening impressions with this speaker, also in combination with UnitiQute on Spotify. And they will underpin the impression that Spotify Connect on UnitQute2 is player HiFi with good margins, despite the fact that there is even a little more to be gained with lossless reproduction. It was confirmed when some of the discs was playing on my reference CD player - Denon DCD-2000AE. There is also a clear impression that UnitiQute`s  neutral character does not mask the character Chameleon B. Nor is this what to ask from electronics. The Sonus Faber speakers`s  almost extreme dynamics are well catered for, and perhaps even worshiped by UnitiQute 2. And this also means that if you wish to mute the somewhat bright and slightly offensive reproduction of the upper register, is not this a task Naim device can undertake. It is in a way one of the consequences of a neutral reproduction.

On the vinyl sector, there has been an interesting renewal in my setup after Sonus Faber was connected. I got hold of an old favorite from the late 70s, Sonus Blue Gold. This is a rather extremely soft pickup, thereby also thrives with similar extremely light arms with low effective mass. Like my current Hadcock tonearm, and also Mayware Formula 4 that my first copy worked with from 1978 until it was exhausted in 1985. 2M Bronze was moved over to my Rega RP1, thus I alternately played vinyl on both these setups with UnitiQute2 and Sonus Faber.

I take a small sample of the listening impressions of these combinations, although it later will be far more under test discussion of Sonus Faber Chameleon B.

Ken Lyon in Concert will again be played, here with Rega / Ortofon. There is an enormous transparency, but it is missing some of the heat that was present during playback with Katan. VolksWagen Blues have hardly been more energetic, and the Girl From The North Country is the real tight guitar and a great sound balance.

Inner Worlds is perhaps my favorite album of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra. Played on Rega / Ortofon I have noted that the drums in the intro are exploding against me, while it is a tad hard in the top range. Miles Out is very rhythmic and a little hard. Gita is more sparkling than ever.

My favorite album by 10cc - Detective Bend joined TD160 / Sonus Blue Gold of played homogeneous yet with good resolution, precise and rhythmic.


It was the elapsed dozens LPs in this block, and although impressions were partly very varied, there were a few common denominators appearing. 2M Bronze is the most dynamic of the two pickups, and while it is sometimes a little too eager in the top. Sonus Blue Gold has an airy top, yet more restrained. Sophisticated is probably the right characteristics. Some audiophile colleagues who stopped and got some snapshots, believe that Sonus Blue Gold is clearly better than 2M Bronze, but I'm not uncoditionally agreed. They are charitable different and has their different strengths and limitations. In other words, a mutual good match as a complementary duo.

The relevance of these detailed descriptions in a review of Naim UnitiQute 2 has to do with matching. For while TD160 / Hadcock-226 / Sonus Blue Gold almost never triggered Chameleon B`s anxious tendencies in the top, the Orofofon 2M Bronze did this quite often. We have, in other words a small mismatch between 2M Bronze and Chameleon B, and Naim was not able to do anything. This is basically not Naim`s problem, The UnitiQute`s task is to render neutral what it gets served. And it does it with panache, and with impressive resolution and perspective.

It must be mentioned that in the end of the test period with Sonus Faber, I received a Quad QII-Integrated, a classically inspired tube amp at around 50k (NOK). This is a clue restrained in the top, and tame to a certain extent the timbral mismachen that exists between said PU and speakers. Which in other configurations can provide similar challenges with opposite sign, but which can also provide wonderful synergies. More on that in test of Quad Q2-Integrated.



Naim UnitiQute 2 has in other words done an incredibly good job so far, but we have a couple of exercises left. As previously mentioned, Denon DCD-2000AE is connected for playback of CD and SACD.

And we start with Linn Records` brand new recording where Trevor Pinnock conducts the Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble in a recording of Mahler's 4th symphony. This is a stereo / MC recording on SACD, here played in stereo. The recording has very good dynamics, and interpretation of the 1st movement is somewhat slow, but dynamic. Soft, but temperamental. And it is very good amience, although this will be even better rendered by playback in multichannel. The test setup renders all this brilliant. In 2nd movement it becomes obviously much ambience. Single Instruments are great forward in the soundstage, where there occasionally is a large crew in action. The pizzicato ca. 9. minutes into the track literally explodes out of the soundstage, from UnitiQute2 and Sonus Faber Chameleon B. Third rate has a very soft and melancholy opening. Would it be nice with a tad more body, as it could get from other speakers than SF Chameleon B?

Also Månestein need to pers once more. I have noted that it is rendered totally naked. More air and clearer detail than on Sportify. Also, where there certain places was a hint of hardness in the top of Kari's voice on Spotify, this is perceived well played on the CD. I tried otherwise both analog and digital inputs from DCD2000AE. I preferred the use of analog inputs - with DA-conversion performed in the Denon player. But both gave an excellent result.

On Norwegian Moods the start of Lover in Berlin has never exploded at me the same way as in this setup. SF has definitively the main directing here, but very well supported up by Naim. Otherwise it was interesting to note that on this CD, the perceived DA conversion in DCD2000AE and UnitiQute 2 was pretty equal. A little hard to tell the cause of the difference compoared to Månestein.


UnitiQute2 meeting Linn Chakra 6100 and Ninka.

Here Unitiqute 2 is meeting my front speakers in the main layout. This is a 10 years old set of Linn Ninka, which are run by activele crossover in triamping - a highly beneficial concept that makes these speakers to grow abdominal classes compared to when they are driven with passive crossover and single amping.

The power amp Linn Chakra 6100 is a 6-channel power amplifier, and 3 channels are allocated to each speaker, each with a specially designed (for Ninka) Active Crossover in front of each power stage.

Naim UnitiQute 2 was connected directly to the power amplifier via pre-out, and was used both as a source and preamplifier with UPnP streaming. It should in other words be measuring forces with Linn Kinos as preamplifier and Linn Akurat DS streaming.

This came out really incredibly good, and I could in a weak moment make me ponder why I had invested in these two components which together extend up in a six-figure sum (NOK).

UnitiQute 2 streams HighRes with overwhelming quality. Høgtidsrom recorded on KKV by Beate S. Lech and Skruk has a presence and rawness that is spooky, and Ellen Sofie Hovland's Award winning soul is very Scandinavian also on this Naim device. Very close to the reference setup. But not quite, for the aforementioned Linn-combo gets perspective a little bit clearer, and the timing is certainly not any worse.




Harbeth and Naim

Right at the end of the test period I borrow Ole-Petter`s wonderful Harbeth P3ESR ​​SE. It was not primarily for the purpose to test them together with Naim UnitiQute 2 I borrowed them. But I played some discs with this combination too, and P3ESR ​​SE are some very great speakers. They are a bit cautious in the top, and Naim did naturally nothing to correct it.





Naim UnitiQute2 is an amazing little box, which I have not been able to avoid being fascinated by. It is not just that it can do so many things, but also that it does everything with such great dedication and high quality. The unit also provides a very high quality feel, which is one of Naim`s characteristics.

Otherwise UnitiQute 2 is perhaps an untypical Naim-unit in some ways. Possible only my prejudice, but I have a clear perception that Naim enthusiasts are typical collectors - people who are constantly upgrading their systems, often in the form a new power amps and power supplies as the economy and upgrading lust flourishes. UnitiQute 2 resonate in many ways to a different user group. With its modest outer being, it is more created for those who want a plant that makes little of itself, but equally well have an incredibly good shelter. And that`s where you find UnitiQute 2 at home. Although there is a great flexibility in terms of, inter alia, pre-out, making it a very good figure on its own.

WIth the UnitiQute 2 you get a very good preamplifier and power amplifier, the latter despite of modest rated power. But you also get an outstanding streamer that makes Spotify Connect being really close to lossless. And a unit that streams HighRes files making angels singing, recorded by KKV.

If you need a device with insolent good sound in a compact and appealing enclosure and with an outstanding user interface, it will be on the border of vandalism not to bring UnitiQute 2 for a spin.


Price in Norway: 16.995,- (NOK)

Thanks to Multirom for borrowing the Naim UnitiQute 2

Read more about UnitiQute 2 at Naim 

Read 19449 times Last modified on Saturday, 24 December 2022 13:38
Karl Erik Sylthe

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