It’s a network receiver designed to play music from a wide range of sources including AirPlay, PCs, iPod, USB drives, internet radio, as well as streaming tunes from Spotify and Last.fm. The only things missing are a CD drive, which was found on the original Piccolo but has since been jettisoned, DAB radio, Bluetooth and speakers – Denon recommends partnering it with a pair of your choice but if you want everything in one fell swoop then it’s also available with Denon SC-N5 speakers for £400.
Measuring just 18cm wide, this compact, unobtrusive box will be a real space saver in the living room – it's the perfect size for a sideboard or shelf. Denon has made this version much slimmer than the original Piccolo, which wasn’t exactly fat in the first place.
It’s also a real stunner, adorned by a glossy black or white finish, sumptuous curves and a large three-line OLED display on the front. It’s surprisingly plasticky to the touch but there’s still a high-quality heft to the bodywork and from afar it looks the business.
On top is a smattering of buttons for up close control of inputs, volume and menus, and an iPod/iPhone dock hidden under a flap. It’s the 30-pin connector, which means it doesn’t support newer iPods and the iPhone 5 with the Lightning connector, but you can connect them to the USB port on the front (as well as USB drives).
The back panel covers all bases without going overboard. There’s a single optical digital input, analogue stereo in and a subwoofer output, plus Ethernet for those who don’t fancy the built-in Wi-Fi. Two pairs of standard banana plug-compatible binding posts allow you to connect any speakers you like, plus there’s a WPS button for easy Wi-Fi hook up.
The DRA-N5 is small in size but big on features. It’s a streaming system first and foremost, which means it can play tunes from your PCs, NAS drives and other devices connected to your home network, as well as streaming music through the magic of AirPlay and Windows Play To.
The internet connection also allows you to access Spotify and Last.fm, which is a real bonus for music window shoppers. The DRA-N5 can also access internet radio, putting thousands of stations from around the world at your disposal.
So if you’re a fan of digital music in all its forms, Piccolo is definitely the place to come, although DAB radio and Bluetooth would have made this an even more formidable all-in-one system – perhaps that’s being greedy...
When plundering your own music collection, the list of supported file formats is excellent, including hi-res 192kHz/24-bit WAV and FLAC files, MP3, WMA, AAC, and ALAC. Fans of live albums will be pleased to learn that it also supports gapless playback.
Elsewhere the system musters 2 x 65W power output, and uses a ‘simple and straight’ circuit design to keep interference to an absolute minimum.