Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30 - Hard Act To Beat

12/21/2012 2:50:41 PM

This compact network audio player is smart enough to be in living room where it can provide a music connection between NAS or PC and stereo system. Beside playing locally stored music, it is able to detect internet broadcasts.

Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30

Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30

Available in black or white, NP30’s front features 4 line fluorescent display and a control knob. You can navigate through menus and settings by using a dial and buttons or remote control. NP30 can display embedded album arts and embed and basic metadata.

The unit is connected via Wi-Fi; most playback options can be controlled via a free iPhone app.

In the back lies analog stereo output as well as Toslink/coaxial digital output. The latter is very worthy, for adding an external digital-to-analog (DA) converter.

A recent upgrade adds Apple Lossless format to NP30’s supported lists. Updates are marked on screen when available, and PC is not needed to install firmware.

NP30 owns good sound quality. We tested the device in a system featuring Leema Acoustic Tucana II integrated amp and Harbeth LS3/5A speaker. Audio files were hosted on Synology SD1010+ NAS.

For WAV or 16bir or lossless files, NP30 delivers fine sound. It had bias toward treble, giving it a generally delighted balance.

Bass was enhanced, yet not as plentiful or clear as that on CD player. Sound range lost some particular details. It was a little inaccurate, in terms of depth and stereo.

Audio quality can be fast improved with hardware like Arcam rDAC. This DAC makes sound smoother, especially in hi-frequency ranges for low-quality MP3s.

Playback for a file folder was uncorrupted, thus there was no recognizable joint when playing continuous tracks.

Cambridge Audio advertised Stream Magic uniting many sources. Browsing Internet audio is very simple, like many podcasts. You have Aupeo personal radio, which provides interesting contents yet it costs $75/year to remove ads.

BBC iPlayer is also available, and Radio 3 has similar quality to CD available for AAC 320kps formats.

Hi-fi sound introduces more completed sounds, evoking a naturally warmth like analog does, with reference to 16bit rips. It can be heard in common instruments, such as contrabass and string ones, which produce livelier sound.

Hi-fi sound introduces more completed sounds, evoking a naturally warmth like analog does, with reference to 16bit rips.

Hi-fi sound introduces more completed sounds, evoking a naturally warmth like analog does, with reference to 16bit rips.

Playback wasn’t ensured our wireless 8m connection; we recommend you to use landline internet connection.

To win a reputation of home theater, a player must be user-friendly, listing music in a way that independent and easy to navigate.

Stability can be improved. We sometimes got suspension, after choosing an album via UPnP. NP30 will restart, taking up to 30sec. When booting finish, we had to rummage through folders to find the album which would be well played in the second try.

NP30 can list hundreds of folders in a few minutes. It can show track’s name with foreign characters which are often wrongly displayed on some players.


·         RRP: $599

·         Provider:

·         24bit/96kHz DAC

·         Stereo analogue RCA

·         Coaxial, optical S/PDIF

·         Ethernet

·         802.11 b/g/n

·         2x USB 1.1

·         67x270x285mm

·         2.1kg



·         Cambridge Audio NP30 has good sound whose quality is on par with CD’s one, and it performs excellently with 24bit sounds; it audio quality can be improved with an external DAC. Supporting ALAC adds more strength to the power of Sonata NP30.

·         Design: 3.5/5

·         Features: 4/5

·         Performance: 3/5

·         Value: 3.5/5

·         Total: 3.5/5


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