CS1 breathes new streaming life into legacy hi-fi systems
There's no denying that streaming rules the roost for the way we consume our music these days. But if your perfectly good living room hi-fi is feeling very unloved, a little black box from Canada's NAD could help bring your aging setup into the 21st century.
There are other standalone streaming boxes and amplifiers in NAD's product line already of course, but the CS1 doesn't rely on an integrated streaming platform to do its thing, instead supporting popular third-party streaming and casting protocols from the likes of Spotify, Tidal, Google and Apple.
The unit can connect to a home network over 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi or Ethernet LAN, after which users can enjoy CD quality from an iPhone, iPad or Mac through AirPlay 2, for example, Chromecasters feeding in audio from any smartphone, tablet or PC can do a little better at up to 24-bit/96-kHz resolution, and Roon subscribers can tap into streaming services or their own digital libraries at up to the 24-bit/192-kHz – the maximum audio resolution supported by the unit.
Tunes can also be lined up in Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect apps and then playback transferred to the CS1 for output through your hi-fi system courtesy of left/right RCA ports or, if you prefer a minimal setup, directly cabled to powered speakers through optical/coaxial digital outs.
By the time it goes on sale in March, the company expects DNLA/UPnP certification to be in place, allowing users to control the unit from within their favorite music apps instead of needing a dedicated app like some streaming units do. The unit boasts full MQA rendering and decoding chops for master quality music from Tidal. Bluetooth 5.0 is onboard as well, for pairing to a smartphone, tablet, dedicated DAP or computer.
And finally, the company is promising an audiophile-grade listening experience from the NAD CS1 thanks to premium components like TI's PCM5141 digital-to-analog converter, "a design known for its extremely low noise, excellent dynamic performance, and immunity to clock jitter."
"Streaming has profoundly altered the way people discover and experience music," said Cas Oostvogel, NAD's Product Manager. "The CS1 makes it easy to add streaming to a legacy stereo or home-theater setup. Or someone could configure a low-footprint system for a den or home office by combining the CS1 with a pair of powered speakers. Streaming doesn’t get simpler than this."
The NAD CS1 Endpoint Network Streamer – to use its Sunday name – measures 5.5 x 5.5 x 2.16 in (140 x 140 x 55 mm) and weighs in at 3.3 lb (1.5 kg). It goes on sale from March for US$349.
Product page: NAD CS1