The NP30 is a sublime performer across the board. From 192kbps MP3s up to 24-bit FLAC and WAV files, this unit displays a level of control and refinement that sets it apart from the majority of Blu-ray decks with similar streaming functionality.
It’s obviously at its best with FLAC and WAV. With our test tracks the NP30 ekes out minute little details and textures like the subtle rasp of a vocal or the pluck of guitar strings – stuff that goes largely unnoticed with inferior formats on inferior players.
But even with 320kbps MP3 and WMA files the NP30 excels, imbuing songs with an open feel, exceptional clarity in the higher frequencies, rock-solid bass and midrange, and a generally smooth character. Feed it a laid back jazz or soul song and the sound is fluid and soothing, but flip to an uptempo dance track and it bursts to life with impressive energy and an impeccable sense of rhythm.
We also can’t fault the streaming performance. Not once during our test did the Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection drop out – we were simply treated to long, uninterrupted periods of musical bliss. That’s great to know if you’re leaving internet radio or streaming services playing in the background at a party.
The quality of web radio varies greatly according to the bitrate of the station, with almost none delivering what you'd call audiophile levels of quality, but none of the stations we sampled gave us anything less than enjoyable sound.
The Cambridge Audio NP30 is a first-rate network music player – easy to use, beautifully built and a highly competent performer. What’s more, its £400 price tag seems like an absolute bargain compared with the wallet-busting prices of high-end streamers from the likes of Naim, Yamaha and Musical Fidelity.
These expensive rivals might provide even greater musical refinement, but the NP30 is a top-notch performer in its own right. So if you’re after an affordable network player that streams your digital music library and web radio with no fuss or bother, then the NP30 is a fantastic choice.