Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30 hi-fi streamer
Hi-res, networked musical box
Available in silver or black, the NP30 features a large four-line ice blue display and a chunky accompanying remote. The display is large enough to include the full alphabet, making it easy to input WEP keys and there’s space enough for up to four track titles. It’s nice, but a bit basic-looking – especially compared to something from Sonos.
The iOS app improves accessibility but is rather unstable
Things improve if you download the accompanying UuVol iOS app, which allows you to control the NP30. This is much more attractive than the supplied remote, but it doesn’t offer full control – you can browse your media and play your tunes, you can also shuffle and jump between tracks but you can’t adjust volume – you’ll need the supplied NP30 remote for that, which seems like a trick missed.
It will display your cover art and it can play MP3, AAC, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, FLAC and AIFF formats, but not Apple Lossless or WMA Lossless yet, though it’s scheduled for a software update for the former later this year. You can also use different NP30s in different locations and they’ll all keep your playlists and favourites.
It’s an intuitive system in use, though it can take a while for tracks to load up once you first open the app. The controls can be a little slow too, taking about three or four seconds from pressing the stop button before the music actually cuts off. And while I couldn’t fault the sound quality, using it with my usual Analogue Audio system and Quad speakers, the iPad app crashed occasionally, just often enough to make it a nuisance.
Hi-fi spec streamer in need of a high end set-up to do it justice
It’s never been easier to get the sounds off your Mac, PC or Nas drive and play them where you want them. The NP30 fits in to this environment and, sonically, endeavours to raise the game. It's a good-looking machine that connects easily to your network, yet there are plenty of cheaper options that don't involve the need for expensive additions. The question is, how much of an audophile are you?
While the Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30 has hi-fi credentials with its native 24/96 streaming rate, but you’ll need a decent system to appreciate it. You’ll also need an iOS device to get the most out of it too. Due in Q4 this year, is the Android alternative which should support the Ice Cream Sandwich incarnation of the Googlephone OS, by which time the bugs might be sorted as the UuVol Remote app crashed just a little bit too often for comfort. ®
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