- Refined yet exciting sound quality
- Versatile functionality
- Classy looks and solid build quality
- No DAB radio
- Difficult to search for music
- Wi-Fi optional
- Review Price: £299.00
- CD player
- Built-in Spotify, Last.fm, AUPEO! and vTuner
- USB music playback
- DLNA certified
- FM/AM radio
Whether it’s spun, docked, streamed or plugged, Onkyo has a solution for just about any method of playing music, and the latest system to hit our test bench is one that pretty much does the lot. The Onkyo CR-N755 is a network hi-fi receiver that pretty much
allows you to play music any which way you like – CD, USB, online
streaming services, FM radio, external devices, Bluetooth or network. The only missing piece of the puzzle is a record player, but you could easily add one in.
you hunt around, the CR-N755 receiver can be purchased with a pair of
D-055 speakers as optional extras (for £150), but it’s also sold
separately, allowing you to add your speakers of choice.
If you’re after some simpler, Apple centric devices, also consider the Onkyo ABX-N300, a sexy wireless music system with an Apple dock, and the Onkyo DS-A5, which provides a hassle-free way of adding Airplay to any sound system.
We were sent the receiver on its own, which is a beautifully built unit, made from a 1.2mm thick solid chassis, sturdy aluminium casing and gorgeous brushed metal faceplate.The large volume dial is robust and turns smoothly, while front panel buttons are firm and clicky. Every section is rigidly bolted together and the whole thing has a satisfying weightiness. The black finish makes it look sleek and stylish, but not exuberantly so, and there’s an alternative silver finish if you prefer.
On the front you’ll find a large LED display panel, with clear, crisp letters describing the selected input, volume and other key status info. If there are too many characters for the display width, the words scroll across. The slim CD tray is tucked discreetly below it, and surrounding these are buttons for Input, Tone, Return and playback. A small dial allows you to toggle through menu options on the display.
There’s also a USB port on the front panel, which can be used to connect storage devices and play music files, plus a 3.5mm headphone jack. The connections continue on the back panel with two analogue stereo inputs and one output, optical and coaxial digital audio inputs, a subwoofer pre-out and a 3.5mm minijack input. There’s a second USB port, which is useful as it allows you to connect Onkyo’s UWF-1 wireless LAN adapter or the UBT-1 Bluetooth adapter, providing two different ways of streaming music wirelessly to the unit.
The line up continues with an Ethernet port, the default method of connecting the CR-N755 to your network; a Remote Interactive (RI) port, which allows this unit to interact with other RI-compatible Onkyo devices like the DS-A5 dock; and FM/AM antenna inputs. Finally you’ll find two pairs of robust gold-plated binding posts for your speaker cables.
The CR-N755’s ability to play music from such a wide range of sources is its best asset. You can play CDs, plug an iPod, iPhone or flash drive into the front or back USB port or stream files from servers on your home network thanks to its DLNA v1.5 certification. Don’t forget that you can add Apple docking and AirPlay by purchasing Onkyo’s DS-A5 (£150).
As you’d expect the list of supported music formats via DLNA and USB is comprehensive – MP3, WMA Lossless, FLAC, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, LPCM, Apple Lossless and DSD.
There’s also a wealth of online content to choose from, including Spotify, Simfy, AUPEO!, MP3tunes, Last.fm and vTuner, which puts thousands of internet radio stations at your disposal from all around the world. There are FM and AM radio tuners too but sadly not DAB.
The list of technology inside the CR-N755 underlines its audiophile intentions. The Three-Stage Inverted Darlington amp has filtered down from Onkyo’s high-end audio components, while noise is kept to a minimum through the use of a symmetrical channel layout and short signal paths between the amp and power supply stage. A 192kHz/24-bit audio DAC, Wide Band-Pass Filter, Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry, Phase-matching Bass Boost and Advanced Music Optimizer for compressed music files help enhance sound quality further.
When operating the CR-N755 using the front panel controls, the little menu control dial is quick and accurate, and to select an option you simply press it in. The front LED panel is easy to read, with enough space to display most menu options as full words, which is helpful. You can tweak Bass and Treble levels and search CDs or FM/AM radio stations easily enough.
But when it comes to entering search terms or passwords in services that require login details, it feels long-winded twiddling the knob back and forth through the alphabet.
Searching through tracks on USB, media server or Spotify is fiddly too. The LED panel can only display one line at a time and you have to wait for it to scroll in order to read the whole title. It’s best to just find an album or artist and let it play, rather than faff about finding specific tracks.
Likewise internet radio – there are loads of stations to choose from, so finding something specific can take quite a long time. That’s why we recommend using Onkyo’s free Remote Apps for iOS and Android, which make it so much simpler to control the unit using your device.
However, the physical remote is a doddle to use thanks to its simple, spacious button arrangement and clear labelling. The buttons are rubbery and nice to press, although the number keys at the bottom are a little too small. We like the brushed silver and black colour scheme, which will add a touch of panache to the coffee table.
Connecting to the network is a hassle free process. Plug your Ethernet cable in and you’re good to go. Setup obviously takes longer if you connect a wireless LAN adapter, as you have to scan for routers and enter a password, but we didn’t have one to test out.
We were, however, sent a UBT-1 Bluetooth adapter, which the unit detected immediately when plugged into the USB port. Subsequent song streaming was an absolute breeze from our Bluetooth equipped phone, and when hooked up to a pair of Dali Mentor Menuet speakers the sound quality is excellent, thanks to the combination of Bluetooth 3.0 and the apt-X codec.
Next we let it rip with The Sunburst Band’s The Secret Life Of Us on CD. Its sound quality is terrific, conveying the jazzy, uptempo soul with energy and dynamism without making high frequencies sounding harsh or bright. The 2 x 22W amp is more than capable of filling the room, belting out tunes at loud volumes without any signs of strain.
Bass response is superb too. The album’s funky live basslines lock tight to the rhythm and don’t drown out other parts of the music. This beautifully integrated bottom end lends a depth and solidity to the music without making it sound muddy or boomy, leaving you with a refined, well-balanced and detail-packed sound.
Vocal clarity is spot-on too, plus instruments that can so easily sound shrill in the wrong hands come across as rich and smooth. This great work continues when you switch to streamed music, provided the files are of a good standard. Our FLAC tracks sound crisp and full bodied, again with no harshness or muddiness to ruin the listening experience. That also applies to music streamed from Spotify. Internet radio depends on the quality of the stream but even low-bitrate stations are perfectly enjoyable through the CR-N755’s circuits.
Overall we’re highly impressed by what the CR-N755 has to offer. The generous functionality reads like a hi-fi glossary – AUPEO!, CD, DLNA, FM/AM radio, Last.fm, Spotify, USB, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as optional extras.
This formidable feature line-up is backed up by remarkably good sound quality and a classy, robust design. Only the fiddly menu system, which makes it tricky to find music (Remote Apps notwithstanding) and lack of DAB radio stop it from attaining top marks.