CES 2012: Pioneer N-50 & N-30 Audiophile Networked Audio Players
Did you lust after Widealab’s Aurender S10 music server, only to have your heart crushed by its $6,800 price tag? Pioneer’s newly announced N-50 and N-30 streamers might be just the substitute for those with more humble budgets and who couldn’t care less about internal storage. The N-50 ($699) is the higher-end model and features an “armored chassis” that’s designed to minimize external interference and the pesky vibrations that degrade sound quality. A USB port for connecting iOS devices sits up front, while coaxial and optical ports round out the inputs on the back. Likewise, coax, optical, and gold-plated RCA jacks are the available outputs. Inside, the advanced model also features twin EL transformers that further reduce interference, as well as two proprietary techs dubbed Advanced Sound Retriever and Sound Retriever Air, which are designed to eek out better sound from compressed sources like MP3s. The lesser-priced N-30 simply ditches the rear digital inputs, specialized chassis, and compressed music boosters, shaving the price down to $499.
Both models are capable of 192kHz/24-bit WAV / FLAC lossless playback and feature a 2.5-inch LCD for viewing metadata, album art, and file information. AirPlay is onboard for streaming in the Apple ecosystem, while non Macheads can fall back on DLNA 1.5 integration or internet radio services. Android and iOS owners can also download free apps to control the component using their phones.
We’re more than a little disappointed that wireless or Bluetooth connectivity costs an extra $100 a pop for the adapter dongles, especially considering you can purchase a perfectly capable Apple TV as an AirPlay solution for less than the price of these add-ons, while gaining access to more content to boot. Then again, we learned a long time ago that price point logic is the last thing one should consider when wading into the audiophile world.