back to article Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30 hi-fi streamer

Sound quality isn’t always the first consideration in the world of digital music, where songs tend to be compressed for convenience, rather fidelity. That’s where Brit hi-fi brand Cambridge Audio hopes to make its mark with the NP30 (Network Player 30), which offers better-than-CD hi-res 24-bit audio playback for music files and …


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  1. Stephen 1


    It's also hard enough to find CD quality WAV downloads let alone 24bit/96KHz. Where are you supposed to get that source material from?

    I use a Sonos coupled with a Cyrus DAC XP+ and matching amplifier, so I could play that resolution if I wanted to, there is just no point, though I can tell the difference between CD WAV rips and 320kb MP3 pretty easily (as could anyone else with that system before anyone starts).

    Talking of which, has anyone else noticed that some WAV downloads on some sites appear to sound as bad as MP3, almost as though they are just format conversions. I think someone should investigate.

    1. Cornholio

      Re. "24bit/96KHz. Where are you supposed to get that source material from?"

      How about Or maybe

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Cambridge Audio? Hi-fi?

    These terms don't belong in the same sentence. Ever since it became Richer Sounds own-brand, it's been little better than dross. Dross that they convince unsuspecting punters to buy whilst they slate the manufacturers of true premium hi-fi.

    1. Cornholio

      Cambridge Audio

      Surprisingly, some of their gear is well regarded.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Cambridge Audio

        Too damned right. I have their 540R surround amp, bought purely 'cos I couldn't find anything that sounded any better without paying four times as much. If I were to replace it, their current offering would definately be on my listening list.

        They're not Richer Sounds' house brand either. They sell globally, but Richer's have the (sole??) distribution rights in the UK.

        I guess the OP hates RS for some reason and also has his head up his own arse.

  3. petur


    IIRC, the Squeezebox also uses a 24 bit / 96 kHz Wolfson DAC

  4. JWS
    Thumb Down

    How much?

    Did I miss something here? Why would you pay £400 for something that is basically a media streamer - which can be bought from as little as £45 (or £20 if you don't need a network) and includes HDMI which will plug right into the AMP. Hell, just buy an Apple TV for £99 and that comes with some superb control apps via the iPhone and iPad. And I'm sure you can get Amps to take care of the 24-bit sampling...

    Just because it's from a Hi-Fi company doesn't mean it's actually any good or good value.

    1. John Hadfield

      How much

      Why would you pay £120,000 for an Aston Martin, when £12,000 for a Ford will do?

  5. Matthew Collier
    Thumb Up

    Not quite

    Full disclosure first, multiple Squeezebox owner here. However, contrary to the article, the current SB, the Touch, does indeed natively support 24bit/96Khz (and the Squeezebox Server supports 24-bit/192Khz files, which it downmixes before streaming to the SB). It also has a Web frontend (in fact, the server with Web frontend, is free, even if you don't have any physical devices, and there is also a software "SoftSqueeze" player that runs in Java). There is also an iPod like "Controller" for hand-held, colour screen, high-speed navigation/control including artwork. There are iPhone and Android apps, some free, which don't have multiple second delays to the controls.

    I like CA stuff, I have some myself, but this player seems a bit rough and ready, and expensive, for this market (though they should do well, as Richer Sounds, being the only distributor, don't sell the Squeezebox, nor push the Sonos much (I was in there last week enquiring about Digital Streamers in fact, and it's currenty not their thing)).

    The mention of the WEP key made me check CA's website, it does support WPA, so that's alright then ;)

    Good luck to CA though, anybody that helps get the message across that Digital Music playback doesn't have to revolve around Apple, the better!

  6. Anna Logg
    Thumb Down

    400 quid.!!!! no thankyou

    Far too expensive for a streamer that offers little more functionality than my 50 quid 'Logik' box - which doesn't have a 4 second delay when I press the buttons on the remote; as for 24/96; why bother when so few people can hear any difference, and only then when played really really loud, see following for example:-

  7. Peter Galbavy

    SB Touch most definitely does 24/96

    I stopped reading the review after the first couple of paragraphs 'cause it was obvious that either the reviewer was biased or ignorant or both. The SB Touch most certainly does 24/96 and it does it very well indeed.

  8. Tim 11

    erm, did anyone actually listen to it?

    considering is supposed to be a review of a hi-fi device, not just a toy, one would hope for a few more comments on the sound quality over and above half a sentence tucked away near the bottom.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      How music sounds

      Considering how few people actually bother to sit down and listen to music in a quiet room arranged around the audio system, does it really matter that the audio quality wasn't listened to?

      I would love to have some of the iPod generation(s) listen to a decent audio setup playing uncompressed audio sources, and also think that it would be a revelation to many of them to actually listen to some unadulterated live music (not what you get in a rave or night club!)

      I'm sure that the majority of people believe that the multi-track recorded, compressed, bass and treble heavy mush that is turned out by today's modern music publishers, and then mashed to death by the distribution method (particularly FM radio stations) is actually how music should sound.

      My audio setup is comparatively poor, consisting of best-of-breed budget audio equipment, most of which is over 20 years old, and I still get a Wow from some of my children's friends when they come and actually hear what vinyl on a reasonable turntable through real speakers sounds like.

      Back to the article. As soon as you distribute a good audio source across a network to an iPad or similar mobile audio system listened to in a noisy environment, you might as well be using Compact Cassette in an 80's Walkman as far as the accurate reproduction of the original material is concerned. Whilst I actually appreciate the fact that quality audio equipment manufactures are making an effort in producing this type of kit, much of it is really just for convenience, not audio quality.

  9. keith 9

    Thats not hifi

    its a toy!

    for the real thing :)

  10. Anonymous Coward

    24 bit marketing myth.

    For any domestic setting 24 bit sound improvement is a marketing myth - it just gives a studio engineer extra amplitude bandwidth to play with in the mastering process - a cheaper 16 bit would sound as good if connected optically in the chain - it's the interface you have to worry about with these doo-hickies.

  11. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Down


    no access to Radio 3's HD audio service then?

  12. Anna Logg

    no gapless playback!

    unimpressive an such an expensive box

  13. pPPPP

    Considered one of these

    I was considering getting one of these recently. Had a play in Richer Sounds and it was actually quite a good piece of kit. Finding podcasts or iplayer streams was a doddle and it sounded pretty good.

    However, all it does is play files across networks, or via USB. You need to buy the amp separately. And if you want to have a CD player (I do) you have to buy that on top. Which means you're looking at £1000 or so.

    I passed.

  14. Some Beggar

    What on earth are you wibbling on about?

    Why would it matter that you have a 24/96 DAC at the end of the digital path when the source material is a CD or internet radio station or CD-quality (or sub-CD-quality) digital file? That Wolfson DAC is used in lots of devices like this; I'm sure it's very good but it doesn't magically increase the sampling rate or bit rate of the material.

    Did Cambridge Audio press release print the details on the DAC in upper case bold or something?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bugger that.

    For that much you could knock up a full htpc complete with a decent sound-card capable of outputting 24/96. Having played with a few toys like this I find their UI's pretty cack. XBMC (or a file manager+mp3 playing software) is so much easier.

  16. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I'll stick to what I've got

    the pc in every room I need it does all this and video as well - and internet and computing and everything else I need. Even my old machines have better sound cards than that.

    Tim11 - you cant even listen to it - you need a hifi to go with it!!

  17. John Tuffen

    On a slightly-related note...

    For streaming audio, I've been most impressed by my Synology Diskstation NAS. If your NAS sits next to your amp (like it does in my house) you can plug a USB soundcard into the Diskstation and it will play out directly.

    There's a nice (free) app for iDevices which can remotely control the audio too, as well as streaming (different) audio the the iDevice as well.

    Oh, and it'll stream out to other media renderers too: I was quite impressed when I tested the Diskstation streaming different audio out of its own USB port + 3 iPod Touches + a Philips Streamium device without missing a beat...

    You could (almost) buy an iPod, a DS211j and a 2TB disk for the price of the CA streamer alone!

  18. Anonymous Hero

    Real life use

    A mate of mine who is a serious jazz aficionado and hifi bod got one of these and seems pretty happy despite it's one or two shortcomings. This was his take on it:

  19. a_mu


    looks very similar to the old Netgear MP101 does it not ?

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