It had to happen. Cambridge Audio, the company that's made a name for itself in the budget hi-fi arena, is now aiming its guns at the 'digital music generation' with the development of its first network music player, the NP30.
As the market shifts from CD to downloaded music and streaming music services, Cambridge Audio is gearing up to launch a series of networked products and an associated online music service.
First to arrive will be the 24-bit NP30, due on sale this autumn (price tbc), designed to allow "better-than-CD-quality" 24-bit/96kHz playback of digital music files stored on computers and home networks through any hi-fi or home entertainment system.
Housed in a compact, low-resonance all-metal chassis, the NP30 has a four-line LCD display and remote control, wireless and ethernet connectiivity, UPnP (universal plug and play) playback and compatibility with MP3, AAC, and uncompressed 24-bit WAV, PCM and FLAC files.
To coincide with its launch later this year, Cambridge Audio will simultaneously launch UuVol, a new online music service giving easy access to 15,000 internet radio stations, streaming music services and podcasts.
More after the break
It will also allow NP30 owners to customise their system to their own personal preferences.
New entry-level Azur hi-fi rangeIn the meantime, the company has not forgotten its traditional hi-fi customers. This month it will release its new Azur 350 budget hi-fi separates range, comprising the 350A stereo amplifier and 350C CD player, each costing £229.95.
The amp delivers 45W into 8 Ohms, has five inputs, one tape in and one record output.
Revamped casework has a thicker brushed aluminium front panel and new control knob design.
There's a pre-out connection for hooking up an external power amp or subwoofer, speaker B connections for a simple multiroom set-up and a front-mounted iPod/MP3 player socket.
A new precision ALPs 'black box' volume pot is said to give improved low-level channel balance and stereo imaging.
The matching 350C CD player has a new proprietary Cambridge Audio S3 servo coupled to a dedicated audio-only transport, a Wolfson WM8728 DAC, an audiophile-grade toroidal transformer and uses double-sided surface mount technology throughout.
Both models are available in black or silver and go on sale this month.