Review Price £399.95
Naturally for a device dedicated to playing digital music, format support is wide-ranging. It plays studio-quality (24-bit/96kHz) FLAC and WAV files - with Cambridge Audio keen to stress their ‘better than CD’ sound quality - as well as lower bitrate versions of these files. Also on the list is MP3 (CBR and VBR), AAC, HE AAC and AAC , Ogg Vorbis, AIFF and WMA.
Under the bonnet is an array of premium components designed to keep those audio signals sounding as clean as possible, including a Wolfson digital-to-analogue converter (DAC). The player’s internal workings are all geared up to keep jitter at bay, an excess of which can harm sound quality.
The current line-up of streaming services comprises Aupeo, Live365, MP3tunes and BBC iPlayer Radio, but not Napster or Spotify – their inclusion would have made it an even more formidable selection.
With UPnP devices, setup is blissfully simple. The NP30 connects to your network quickly and easily. It automatically determines whether you’re using a wired or wireless connection and searches for Wi-Fi access points when you first fire it up, displaying them clearly in a list. The unit supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 Wi-Fi encryption, and entering the password using front panel’s alphanumeric grid is simple enough.
Accessing the music you want couldn’t be simpler. Hit the Home button on the remote and you get a list of four options – UuVol Radio, Streaming Services, Media and Podcasts. Select media streaming and it finds any uPnP servers such as laptops, PCs or NAS drives without hesitation and again displays their names in a list ready for selection.
Once you’ve found the relevant server, your music can be displayed using all the usual metadata (genre, album, artist etc) but there’s also an alphanumeric keyword search that saves you the hassle of scrolling through pages and pages to find a particular song. When scrolling down lists, the NP30 hesitates briefly when it loads each page (and only four items are shown at once).
Armchair navigation is made possible by the supplied remote, which boasts classy build quality. It’s weighty, styled in an attractive silver finish and sports tidily arranged rubber buttons. It’s a treat to use, although some of the labelling is a little small.