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any experience with Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30 network music player?, for streaming PC audio to hifi system / receiver
sergeymen
post Jan 17 2012, 00:54
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I am zeroing in on the Cambridge Audio NP30 for streaming PC audio to my HiFi system in another room.

Has anyone had any experience with this device, especially in conjuction with Jamcast (virtual soundcard mode), or with Foobar2000 + foo_upnp?
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sergeymen
post Mar 26 2012, 19:11
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OK so tried this thing out and want to report my experience:

My main goal was to stream the output of my computer (PC) soundcard (using a DLNA server like Jamcast) or the output of foobar2000 player installed on my computer (using foo_upnp plugin) to the Hi-Fi system in the living room one floor down (wired connection using powerline adapters). I prefer to manage my playlists at the computer and just stream them to the living room HiFi system. Plus this allows me to use the DSP chain on my computer (e.g. cross-fading, replaygain volume adjustment, etc) and serve the final digital stream to my HiFi system. This is called a "DLNA infinite stream" because it's not streaming discrete files.

My secondary goal was to use this device to play internet radio streams without involving a PC.

Perhaps I am not the target audience for this device because I never cared about the quality of its onboard DAC (I am connecting it to the receiver via S/PDIF), and don't care about navigating the individual songs stored on my PC or NAS using the device's interface (I can imagine it would be a pain to navigate a large music library using ANY device without a keyboard).

My issues:
  • this device does NOT render DLNA "infinite streams" correctly. Which means if you are trying to stream something that is not a discrete file (e.g virtual soundcard mode of Jamcast, or Playback Stream Capture feature of Foobar2000 + foo_upnp) then you are out of luck. There are "hacks" to get it working, but it's not as easy as it should be and even then it only works with infinite streams converted to FLAC and MP3 only; not LPCM or WAV (which means your PC becomes slower/less responsive because it has to devote processing power to compressing the stream -- which is unnecessary in my case because I have plenty of bandwidth on my powerline network to stream LPCM to the receiver).
  • the NP30 also did NOT work with 128kbps AAC streams from internet radio stations, such as those from SomaFM
  • the online interface for managing your "preset" internet radio stations is slow and not as clean and easy to use as the one for Squeezebox Touch.
  • the cover of the control knob on the right side of the front panel does not seem to be attached securely; it was detached and was rolling around in the packaging, exposing the "under-knob" covered with dry glue
  • the device's interface is slow. I have tried another DLNA media renderer (Grace Digital network/wi-fi/internet-radio tuner, GDI-IRDT200), which was faster (although it also suffered from the above issues concerning DLNA infinite streams, and internet radio AAC streams).


In the end I got a working solution using my new Harman Kardon AVR 2650 receiver, which was able to stream both virtual soundcard mode of Jamcast and Playback Stream Capture feature of Foobar2000 + foo_upnp (both in LPCM). The DLNA Renderer feature of AVR 2650 seems much more reliable and solid. Although it lacks the impressive listing of accepted formats of players above (which are anyway half-truths at best as evidenced by the above issues), it streams LPCM and MP3 reliably. That is all I really need, since all the decoding of all audio formats happens on my computer, and the final stream is then sent to the receiver as LPCM. Although the receiver had its internet radio and podcast player interface also, I did not like it as much and instead ended up getting the Logitech Squeezebox Touch for easy access to internet radio and podcasts in the living room.

This post has been edited by sergeymen: Mar 26 2012, 19:12
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Hotsoup
post Mar 26 2012, 19:43
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I was using foobar UPnP through a Playstation 3 and it worked out well. When I finally picked up a Touch though I have fallen into gadget-love with it. Two features that won me over (basically because I didn't have to modify my music library on the upstairs PC) were native FLAC support and gapless playback. It's also a rather handsome little display (well-built too!) and not another box to find a shelf for.
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DonP
post Mar 26 2012, 21:18
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QUOTE (sergeymen @ Mar 26 2012, 14:11) *
(I can imagine it would be a pain to navigate a large music library using ANY device without a keyboard).


That depends on whether you know what you want to listen to or want to just browse. On my portable (could work the same way with a knob on a panel) scrolling accelerates as you spin the wheel. You can also start with selecting the first character and only scroll through the G's for example. Last resort, I can search the database by tapping out a partial of a tag in morse code

Seriously, most convenient is something with a web based control and run it from tablet/phone/laptop
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