In the next couple of years, CD and DVD players will be where turntables are now: in a cupboard or fronting the systems of the only most hardened audio/video nuts. Streaming is where things are going, and components that facilitate this are slowly becoming more affordable.
The Cambridge Audio NP30 is the latest product to hit the market and the closest to fulfilling all of ouryet.
Design and features
The Cambridge Audio NP30 is part of the Sonata range and is a "half-sized" component at just 270mm wide, 67mm high and 285mm deep. The front of the NP30 features a large, four-line screen controlled by a plastic jog wheel. The screen is a bright blue LED, which, despite a brightness control on the remote, doesn't offer enough contrast for intelligibility across a room.
The NP30 is a media streamer, and its most significant feature is its ability to natively playback high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz audio files. These include both FLAC and WAV files, and it's something that the competing Sonos architecture cannot do. Other file types include WMA, MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis and AIFF.
While we found it straightforward to use the controls on the face of the unit, the Cambridge really comes into its own when combined with the UuVol app. This free app enables you to surf internet radio stations, listen to streaming content from the web or locally, and even make playlists.
Given Cambridge Audio's hi-fi reputation, the NP30 comes preloaded with a decent digital analog converter in the Wolfson WM8728 24-bit/96kHz, which enables it to process the high-definition files.
Connectivity includes stereo RCA, digital coaxial and optical, two USB, Ethernet and wireless. Cambridge Audio suggests using an Ethernet cable if you want to use 24-bit files, though. Unfortunately, there's no AirPlay support.