Naim UnitiServe - is it as good as a good CDP??

Hi all
I am interested in the Naim UnitiServe HDD version. It has 2 TB storage and is networkable, and has a built in CD drive for Ripping CDs to WAV files.

BUT, as always, and I have read quite a few reviews, it is not all plain sailing.
Aside from the dream convienience of all my library in one place at a click of a button, does the black box do what it is suppoed to do, i.e. is it audiophile, and does it realistically equal a good CDP.

I would use the Coax out to my Audio Note DAC, so not the analogue outputs from the Naim, only the 'pure' digital signal.

I am not a Naim fan either, more Audio Note. I use a CEC TL51 transport and an Audio Note 3.1 DAC.

I wonder if this all in one solution is better than the almost as cute MacMini using a USB to SPDiff convertor?
"I wonder if this all in one solution is better than the almost as cute MacMini using a USB to SPDiff convertor?"

I have had both because a customer asked me to add a reclocker to it. Even with the reclocker, not even remotely close..... I have concerns about both the ripper and the player S/W.

A 2009 Mac Mini with a good USB cable, USB converter and Pure Music or Amarra 4318/19 is hard to beat.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
High Steve and others
So, are you saying the UnitiServe was poor soundwise, but the Mac Mini was better? And would a Mac Mini with say a Musical Fidelity V-Link and Pure MUsic equal my CEC transport for digi out?

I am confused if so, as a good company like Naim would release a music dedicated product (I know it read DVD though) and have it not sound excellent.

My worry with the Mac Mini, and I love and have an iPad2, iMac and Powerbook, is it was never designed for musical output. If only apply could see the market and make one, a dedicated music server solution which is AS GOOD as CDPs?

at this time, no music server product is better than a dedicated cd player or cd transport/DAC combo.

Naim makes very fine sounding cd players, both new and older models.
Most of these dedicated servers use off-the-shelf computer motherboards in them. They may have better power supplies though. The clocks in them are usually a dissappointment.

I use a Mac Mini 2009 with SSD and Amarra 4318/19. A Polestar USB cable to my USB interface. Kills everything else that customers have sent me, and they have send 5 servers.

If you do use a music server, consider Aurality or Sonore that support all USB interfaces and have optional USB music streaming outputs. This way, the master clock is not in the server but rather in the USB interface. Then you can select the best USB interface you can afford and get the best result.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Is this based on your experience. I read a different story, including from hifi magazine reviewers. Why is it that PC audio is overtaking CDP at the hifi shows?

Get some facts before you speak....
You get some facts before you speak...asshole!
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In my system, and in my opinion, the top of the line Naim NDS server/Uniti ripper is NOT comparable to their top of the line CD555 cd player in sound quality (I own both).

There is a slight bit more brittleness (artificial edge to the attack of notes) with the server. That said, I like how easy it is to find and access my collection from a server.

I've heard a number of dedicated computer music servers playing into to pretty good DACs. They certainly do sound good. But, I have not actually heard a direct comparison, with a server and a top of the line transport playing into a really good DAC in my own system.
I realize this is an older thread, but I'll. throw in my two cents. I have been using the latest Mac Mini with the i7 processor,the upgraded 1TB fusion drive, and Amarra software. Additionally, I have tried two aftermarket linear power supplies and also experimented with Pure Music Software. I'm using this in the context of an all Krell Evolution system (mono blocks, preamp, CD player with Cast Cables, and a pair of Martin Logan Summit X's. Results with the Mac Mini are somewhat of a mixed bag. My initial reaction was good and thought that everything was tonally neutral, however; I couldn't help but feel that something was missing! I was using a Bryston BDA-1 as my DAC and decided to try the Ayre QB-1. I can't say that this improved things, only that it sounded different. I guess I felt that the music didn't have the "life" or "musical phrasing" that I'm used to. I'm a musician and play piano and violin, so it left me feeling that things were just not complete. Piano music in particular sounded thin compared to what I normally hear. I decided I would try an off the shelf purpose built music server. I looked at Sooloos, Qsonix, Aurender, And Naim. I ultimately decided to go with the Naim Unitiserve. Now I had something to compare side by side! My first listen to the Naim was an eye opener! Music had the weight, dynamics, and musical phrasing that made sense to me. There was energy in the music that didn't exist with the MacMini. The piano had weight and structure and overtones that simply could not be heard with the Mac. Is it possible to get the Mac Mini correct? Maybe! There are too many variables involved depending on your choice of Mini, USB Cable, reclocking device, software, power supply etc. Only you can decide if you want to put forth the effort to do this much experimentation with all the combinations available! You may still have mixed results when all is said and done! Keep in mind that one of my Mac Mini, power supply, cable and Reclocking device combinations totaled $2800.00! Yes, the Naim Unitiserve is $3800.00! I get it! But at the end of the day I'm using the Unitiserve and have never looked back". I have more time to listen to music and don't have to think about wether I or not I have the right combination!
I'm in agreement with Krellman7. I own the UnitiServe and while I cannot
claim it to be the ultimate server, it is my first one, it is very good to my ears
and far fewer pieces than the Mini-Mac requires.

I delved into the Mojo from Albuquerque, but when it arrived I realized just
how many pieces it would take to make it all work properly and never
assembled it. Just returned, they were very good about refund.

I've owned a heavily modified CEC transport which sounded marvelous, but
never as good as the UnitiServe. The Naim does provide all which we seek;
imaging, detail and commanding dynamics. As a side note, I am really not a
fan of the Naim sound and therefore have never owned a piece until now.

My system is UnitiServe, Naim V-1 DAC, Manley Jumbo Shrimp, Manley Mahi
Mahi monoblocks, Merlin TSM MME monitors, MAC and Decware cabling.

Good luck with your search.
The Uniti is quite good and gets better with HRS nimbus couplers and a damping plate, Pardo LPS and AQ eagle eye least to my ears....
Not sure about some of the above. I heavily modded my Mac Mini with 12V board, linear power supply and SSD, and using Audrvana+ and a full M2 Tech EVO stack inc clock and it's own linear supply it sounds fantastic. No treble edge, lots of full midrange and solid bass, wide soundstage. It is way better than my original CEC CDP I had.

Key is kill all the operations not needed on the Mac Mini, use ethernet for the screen sharing, use a firewire drive and have the USB 2 audio in the right port (not shared). I use the TotalDAC USB cable/filter and no USB power. The clock in the M2Tech sets the data speed and feeds my DAC via SPDIF, not USB or Toslink. Seems to work the best to me. I have tried many other options and they were not is good.

Also ripp your RedBook files with XLD. Don't upsample on the Mac, better to not upsample at all if possible and use an NOS DAC.

It is work to set these things up, up worth it IMO.