NAD’s new wireless streaming is an inexpensive upgrade to high-res audio
Hi-Res Audio. That’s a nice ring, right? However, most people are content to listen to regular-resolution audio through streaming services or through physical formats such as CDs or vinyl records.These people are blissfully unaware that an opportunity exists to enhance things high resolution.
several The best music streaming services Offers Hi-Res Audio and its standard (uncompressed CD quality) and compressed (reduced quality) streams. On some services, like Tidal, you’ll pay a higher price to access the high-res tier, while others like Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited bundle it into their standard pricing plans. And there are others — we’re pointing at you, Spotify — Doesn’t offer hi-res audio at all!
Accessing Hi-Res Audio isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but it’s now easier. The new CS1 Endpoint Network Streamer from Canada’s NAD Electronics is a compact device that you can add to your stereo or home theater system to take advantage of high-resolution audio offerings from your music streaming service. Just plug it in, connect it to your receiver or integrated amplifier, connect to your home Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet network, and you’re ready to rock.
The affordable ($349/£299/499 CAD) CS1 supports dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and AirPlay streaming. But what really sounds good is that you can use Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect to stream directly and use the Tidal and Spotify apps to control playback. Onboard MQA support can play hi-res master-quality music from Tidal, while the CS1 is a Roon endpoint. You can also use Chromecast to grab music from compatible apps, and the CS1 will take it from there, streaming tracks in standard or high-res formats to its 24-bit/192kHz-capable Texas Instruments PCM5141 DAC.
As for connectivity, the CS1 supports analogue RCA as well as optical and coaxial digital outputs. Analog jacks allow for the connection of all kinds of equipment old and new, while digital outputs allow connection of the latest generation of powered speakers and even sound bar systems.
Analysis: Hi-Res Audio Doesn’t Need to be Expensive or Complicated
Have The low-cost way to get into hi-res music, but many of these options apply to listening with headphones.Although through best headphones Line, some people – like me – prefer to listen to music using a good old fashioned stereo speaker plus amp setup.
The high-end audio market is filled with integrated amplifiers capable of streaming high-resolution audio from compatible services like Tidal or Qobuz over a Wi-Fi network. But many of these components are expensive, and they also require the use of custom, brand-specific apps to facilitate streaming, which some do better than others.
Music lovers looking to add streaming and high-res audio capabilities to an existing stereo setup that lacks these features may find their options limited. A good option is the Node streaming DAC from NAD sister company Bluesound. The Node offers all the same features as the CS1, but adds analog input, HDMI eARC output, and most importantly, app-based control using the company’s excellent BluOS control app. But even if the Bluesound Node is a steal, $599/£549/CAD$699 is still more than many people are willing to spend.
For those folks, the lower-cost CS1 will serve as a more approachable option for adding streaming and high-res audio capabilities to existing systems. True, you can’t use the BluOS Control app used in the company’s pricier streaming products, but not everyone needs the advanced features the app offers (such as multiroom streaming to multiple components). With CS1, you just launch Tidal on your phone, tap play, and it’s up and running in high resolution.
The NAD CS1 Endpoint Network Streamer will be available in March.