The Onkyo ABX-N300 – or iOnly Stream to give it its funkier, Apple-esque name – is a stylish wireless music system with AirPlay, media server and internet radio support, not to mention a dock for iPods and iPhones. It’s a jack of all trades then, but what we want to know is whether it’s a master of them too.
Onkyo ABX-N300 Design
First things first, design wise the Onkyo ABX-N300 is a stunner. The bodywork is curved and glossy like all the prettiest systems, but its dominant feature is a sliding brushed aluminium panel on top that covers the dock and the illuminated display panel. It has to be slid manually but it moves smoothly and cleverly the LCD panel’s light turns off when covered up. The display panel is top mounted so you have to be standing over it to read it, and because it’s a little small the information feels a bit cramped, but at least the song titles scroll.
In front of the display on top is a long row of illuminated touch sensitive controls covering Menu navigation, playback, volume and source selection. The whole unit sits on a brushed aluminium base, which is only connected at the back and makes it look like the speaker is floating – an effect augmented by the subtle ambient light shining underneath. It’s classy little details like these that push the Onkyo ABX-N300 firmly into eye candy territory, but it’s all put together with a satisfying sense of robustness.
On the back is a short Wi-Fi antenna that can be folded down when not in use, below which is a recess that houses an Ethernet port and 3.5mm minijack input for external sources. There’s no USB port which rules out on the fly playback of tunes from flash drives, but with so many other ways of playing music we’re hoping it won’t be missed.
Onkyo ABX-N300 Features
The key feature of the Onkyo ABX-N300 is, of course, AirPlay which works with mobile Apple devices and iTunes running on a PC or Mac.What's more, you can also play MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV files from Windows Media Player 11 or 12 and stream internet radio using vTuner. When you park an iPod or iPhone in the dock it charges, and you can control it using the Onkyo’s remote. Sadly for some, however, the Onkyo ABX-N300 features the classic 30-pin Apple dock connector meaning the speaker system is not compatible with the new iPhone 5 or 2012 iPod touch without the use of a pricey adaptor. It’s also a shame that Onkyo couldn’t have included DAB radio too but that might have been pushing it at this price.
There are a couple of ways of tweaking the sound quality, including bass and treble control and an S.Bass mode that gives bottom end a boost. Onkyo’s proprietary Active Bass Control makes real-time adjustments to the low-frequency sounds to makes sure it stays in line with the playback volume.
You also get a range of useful stuff like shuffle and repeat modes, a snooze function, sleep timer and two programmable timers. On top of this, the Onkyo ABX-N300 also boasts two full-range bass reflex speakers inside that employ 6cm cones and are housed inside independent cabinets.