After my previous reviews of the amplifiers of the Naim Uniti line-up (Nova, Atom, Atom HE), it’s time for something different. The Naim Uniti Core does fall into this line-up but is no ordinary amplifier. This system is a CD ripper. And why you would want this? You can read it here!
Let’s start with the specifications of the Naim Uniti Core.
2 x USB Type A Socket (front and rear)
1 x BNC S/PDIF
S/PDIF output plays up to 192kHz
352.8kHz and 384kHz are downsampled to 176.4kHz and 192kHz respectively
Certification and Licenses
Rovi, NTFS, HFS+
Serve up to 12 network-connected players via UPnP™.
Music stored locally on Uniti Core:
384k 32-Bit WAV, 24576kb/s: <3 streams
384k 24-Bit WAV, 18232kb/s: <5 streams 192k 24-Bit WAV, 9216kb/s: >12 streams
44.1k 16-Bit WAV, 1411kb/s: >16 streams
Music stored on a NAS:
192k 24-Bit WAV, 9216kb/s: <8 streams
Serve up to 4 network-connected players via UPnP™ at full CD quality.
Party Mode Streaming: Sync up to six Uniti all-in-one players or other Naim streamers and control via the Naim app.
Update your system wirelessly via the Naim app.
Audio CD (Red Book, CD and CD-R)
WAV – up to 32bits/384kHz
FLAC and AIFF – up to 24bit/384kHz
ALAC (Apple Lossless) – up to 24bit/384kHz
MP3 – up to 48kHz, 320kbit (16 bit)
AAC – up to 48kHz, 320kbit (16 bit)
OGG and WMA – up to 48kHz (16 bit)
DSD – 64 and 128Fs
Notes: Gapless playback is supported on all formats.
95mm x 214mm x 265mm (HxWxD)
Brushed and anodized aluminum
Auto Standby time
User selectable: adjustable from off up to 24 hours
115V, 230V; 50 or 60Hz
Typical Use (no storage attached): 6.7W
Network Standby (no storage attached): <2W
Deep Sleep: <0.5W Network Standby (with internal or USB HDD attached): > 15W*.
Actual power consumption will vary depending on the size and type of attached internal HDD or USB devices
Power-Line Lite mains cable (UK only), standard mains cable (international markets), cleaning cloth, drive caddy screws, BNC to Phono Connector, and quick start guide.
Please note: not sold with an internal hard drive – features a removable caddy into which an HDD or SSD can be installed
Power-Line Lite mains cable (UK denominations only)
Naim App for iOS and Android
The extended features are as follows:
UPnP™ (Universal Plug ‘n’ Play)
Serve your music to as many as 12 Uniti all-in-one players or other Naim streamers with up to 32 bits/384 kHz. Uniti Core will scan the network for shared audio files, including your iTunes library.
Create bit-perfect copies of your CDs, store them internally or on a USB-connected storage device, and play them back via Uniti Core (external DAC or digital-input amplifier required).
Connect your external DAC or digital-input amplifier to the precisely timed, re-clocked transformer-isolated S/PDIF output on the rear panel.
Storage and Backup
You can choose to fit an HDD (Hard-Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid-State Drive) with a capacity of up to 8 TB – enough space for 100,000 tracks. Alternatively, you can connect an external NAS (Network-Attached Storage) or a USB-connected storage device. NAS and USB storage can also be used as backup locations.
Supports a broad range of music formats including WAV, FLAC, DSD, Apple Lossless, AIFF, AAC, Windows Media-formatted files, Ogg Vorbis and MP3.
Update your system at the touch of a button via the Naim app.
So the Naim Uniti Core has a lot to offer on paper, how do you like it in use? I’ll get to that as well!
The borrowed Naim Uniti Core is a ‘review copy’ that is therefore also used more often. A new Naim Uniti Core is of course in a cardboard box, and not such a (beautiful) travel case.
From the distributor, I received the Core with some CDs.
Okay, the Uniti Core itself. There are two buttons on the front. Namely, the on/off button and the eject, to spit out a CD if it is already in the player. In addition, there is a USB port at the bottom left.
I continue to find the finish of the Uniti line beautiful. The heatsinks are not only beautifully made of steel, but they also work like real heatsinks.
This is the same on both sides, by the way.
The back is a bit different than we are normally used to. In fact, the Core is not an amplifier. The power connection is on the left. The large slot on the right is used to hold the HDD in place.
Of course, there is also a network port and a USB connection underneath. Finally, there is also a digital output to be able to unload the Uniti Core to (for example) a Naim Uniti Nova.
In this case, there is a 2TB Seagate in it. The hard drive can be expanded up to 8TB.
Once on, the illuminated Naim logo can of course be seen, this is something that appears throughout the Uniti line.
It’s time to rip a CD.
Naim has quite a nice app, which can also be used for other Naim products.
The nice thing about this app is that it also checks for firmware updates.
When opening the app, the rooms (and the various devices) are displayed. For example, by setting up a multiroom, multiple speakers and amplifiers can be synchronized with each other. This allows everything throughout the house to play at the same time.
This Uniti Core has been used before and therefore has a decent library. Normally, you start with nothing and have to fill it to your liking.
The following shortcuts are displayed in the app:
– Latest music
There are still some options to adjust via the settings menu.
– Presentation of sources
— Customize the order of the home screen
– Styles (app color)
– Manage music
— Configure music archives (set whether to use local or remote (NAS))
— Configure music shares
— Backup music (ideal for periodic backup)
— Restore from backup
— Backup status
— Import music
— Rip Progress
— Rip Settings… (WAV or FLAC)
– Register your product
– Search for updates
– Other settings
—- IP address & other IP info
It’s time to put a CD in the Core as well. The CD icon also appears in the top left corner of the app.
Before you know it, the CD has been ripped. That actually goes pretty fast.
After ripping, you can continue to admire the CD via the app. This makes it possible to play it directly from the Uniti Core (via the Digital Output), add it to favorites, or even retrieve information. Of course, it can also be added to playlists.
A very cool feature of the Core is that it can rip WAV with metadata. This makes retrieval and indexing a lot easier. Without it, it is really a pain in the ass to search.
Additional information about the CD currently in the Core can also be obtained via the Naim app.
It will then show up under albums in the Naim app.
But suppose you have another Naim Uniti (or other series and you don’t want to use any digital input, how does it work?)
In this case, I take the Atom. Because the album is saved as a favorite, it also shows up here. Music can then be played from the Atom. Here, in fact, the Atom connects to the Core via the network connection and “downloads/loads” the song there, for playback.
However, the other previously ripped CDs are not saved as favorites. As a result, they are not visible in the Atom. So let’s go back to the Core to look up an album again and mark it as a favorite. After this, it will also be visible on the Atom. What a user only has to do is go to the UPnP server (the Core), where all albums are displayed.
And there is the album, neatly added to the overview.
This also applies to the playlists created on the Core. They are also visible on the Atom.
However, what is not possible – and I find that a bit of a loss – is opening the library under the Atom and then clicking through to the albums where all albums of the Core are displayed. Like via the icon at the top left. That is not the case. For this, the user of an Atom (but also of any other amplifier) has to click through the app to the UPnP Server, which makes the Core visible, with all albums that the Core has.
Fortunately, with the playlists and favorites, there is at least a lot to display and set up.
By the way, what I noticed… I can put the same CD in 500 times without getting a message that it has been ripped before. For example, I was able to rip Eric Clapton and B.B. King’s CD twice (after it had already been ripped once). A check wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
The Naim Uniti Core is a great CD ripper that can provide quite a bit of fun within the Naim ecosystem. The fact that it can also serve as a UPnP server makes it complete, of course. This way you can access the Core and play songs from any device.
However, it is true that the Core is not very cheap. At just under €2500 (time of writing) it is not a very cheap CD ripper. However, this one looks beautiful with a Naim Uniti Nova. Should you prefer an all-in-one, then even the Naim Uniti Star would be an option. This also has a built-in CD ripper. However, for this, you must use an external SD card or external USB drive. There is no hard disk in the Star.
The 8TB storage is quite a lot. With just ripping CDs, there is a lot to store digitally. According to Naim about 100,000 songs. Before you get through that … you’re pretty far along. Speaking of ripping. The fact that the Core can rip WAV files with metadata is very handy/cool. This helps tremendously with maintaining a good database, especially when searching for keywords.
What I would find cool is if Naim eventually manages to make the app work from outside the house. Ergo, suppose; Eric Clapton’s beautiful CD is ripped and is on the hard drive (at home) and you are on the train, that you can play the CD via the app – on your headphones, for example. Music everywhere and always, that’s kind of the direction we’re heading now.
For now; rest assured, the Core in combination with a few well-ripped CDs is also nice to come home to.
It is important to mention that the Core can be used on any other system that has a digital input. This means that the Uniti Core should not only be connected to a Naim set. In short, any other random amplifier with a digital input – such as the output on the Core – can be used together. And that’s nice too. The Uniti Core is easy to operate via the app, no other tricky things are required for this. Even better; it could then even control the music played on another amplifier. For example; the same Eric Clapton CD is started via the app, then an amplifier only ‘listens’ to this digital signal and plays it through the speakers. In short… a lot of possibilities!
As for the app; it works fine as usual. Still, I hope that Naim makes the integration between the different devices just that little bit easier. As mentioned, after ripping a CD, it is automatically added to the albums in another device (e.g. an Atom). Fortunately, that too is easy to solve by adding it to a playlist after ripping it. After all, it may also be the case that a user wants the ripped CD to be included in a playlist that also contains 40 other CDs. Everything is possible in that regard. And the latter also refers to the Core a bit. Everything is possible, and to put it bluntly, you also pay something for it. Is that bad? I don’t think so, if you have the money and want something cool for your Uniti (or any other) set, why not. After all, people do not invest in expensive amplifiers and speakers to then play MP3s… we’re past that time.
The Naim Uniti Core gets 4 out of 5 stars from me.