If you have a CD player- or turntable-fronted system you love but want to add music skills streaming to it, your wish is NAD’s command. The Canadian hi-fi brand has launched the CS1, an affordable hi-res music streamer designed to bless traditional hi-fi set-ups with streaming powers or be paired with active speakers to make up a modern, space-efficient system.
While the CS1’s £299 / $349 price puts it at the lower-priced end of the streamer market, suitable for similarly budget electronics, NAD is promising “audiophile-grade streaming” here thanks to its inclusion of “audiophile-grade components”. One of those is a digital stage based on Texas Instruments' PCM5141 DAC, a design NAD says is “known for its extremely low noise, excellent dynamic performance, and immunity to clock jitter”.
NAD has an arsenal of standalone streamers and streaming amplifiers in its arsenal that are based on the BluOS multi-room streaming platform from sister brand Bluesound, though the CS1 is purely an endpoint, solely supporting third-party streaming protocols such as Google Cast, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect. This increasingly popular route means that music can be streamed to the CS1 directly from Apple, Android and Google devices and native music service apps, instead of through a dedicated product app. As is typical for music streamers, connection to the internet is via your choice of wi-fi or Ethernet.
DLNA support allows for the playback of networked music files – the CS1 supports high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192kHz and can also render MQA files/streams – while Bluetooth is onboard for quick and easy offline streaming. Roon is also handily supported for subscribers to that library management platform.
As for hooking it to your system, the CS1 has RCA outputs for stereo amplifiers or powered speakers, as well as optical and coaxial outputs for external DACs or as alternative means of connection to amplifiers and powered speakers with digital inputs – so it really can just slip into existing systems.
If you're looking to easily and affordably make your system streaming-savvy and can wait until March (when the NAD CS1 becomes available), this could well be a strong option indeed.
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