Onkyo CN7050 Networked CD Player (Silver)
|Price:||£459.90 FREE delivery.|
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- If you're seeking a top-quality Hi-Fi component that can handle digital audio playback from PC/NAS, smar tphone, and compact disc , then look no fur ther than the C-N7050.
- It's engineered for gapless high-resolution network audio (including 5.6 MHz DSD and 192/24 FLA C and WAV) with simple song selection via smartphone app. Compatibility:
- Compatibility: iPod. iPhone. This device uses the Apple Lightning Connector which is compatible with 5th Generation Apple devices and onwards. If you do not have a 5th Generation device or newer, you will need an adaptor (sold separately).
- Product features Radio display text. Clock.
- General information Remote control. requires 2 x AAA (included) . Size of main unit H20.5, W56.5, D39.8cm.
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|Sold By||urboturbo25||Nottingham HiFi Centre||Amazon.co.uk||AudioVisual Online||HiFix||Amazon.co.uk|
|Are Batteries Included With the Product?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Item Weight||—||6.5 kg||6.5 kg||5.3 kg||—||—|
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The Onkyo CN7050 is a hugely versatile audio player allowing high definition music playback from a variety of sources including your NAS drive, computer and smartphone along with your more traditional CD collection.
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Transformer emits an annoying hum, which is amplified by the nasty thin steel panels. Damping the panels from the outside makes the hum negligible, so one solution would be to apply something like Dynamat internally. I will probably do this at some point.
As above, the steel panels are thin and cheap feeling. The front panel is plastic, and also feels very cheap. The silver finish on this front panel is supposed to imitate brushed aluminium, but it's not convincing, especially when viewed next to real aluminium components. It's not very durable either, and will easily chip off to reveal the white plastic underneath.
The optical disk mechanism is acceptably quiet.
Unfortunately, the power cable is non-detachable.
The C-N7050's "Home Media" feature allows it to browse and play files directly from network shares on Windows PCs via SMB. This WOULD have been a great feature, except that, inexplicably, it will not work unless you disable Password Protected Sharing on the target PC. If Password Protected Sharing is enabled, you will see the following error upon attempted connection: "Authentication Failed. You do not have permission to access this server". This appears to be a limitation on all Onkyo devices that have the Home Media feature. Onkyo's solution is to disable Password Protected Sharing, which is unacceptable. I've seen some supposed workarounds on the web, but none of them worked for me. The most absurd thing about this issue is that if you do disable Password Protected Sharing, Home Media prompts you for a password and username (you can leave these blank and continue). It clearly has the means for SMB authentication.
I ended up having to use DLNA, something I purchased this device specifically to avoid. It's just an extra layer of complexity that shouldn't be necessary, and I only want folder view anyway. DLNA works quite well on this device, and that includes when it's acting as a DMR ("play to").
General playback observations:
The C-N7050 has a loud relay in it that it likes to cycle as much as possible. Start playback: "click". Stop playback: "click". Skip track: "click" [delay] "click". Fast-forwarding: "click" [seek] [delay] "click" [playback resumes]. I can see this really annoying some people. I don't care about the clicking so much as the delays. If you don't like decoder lag, you'll hate this. Everything feels clunky and slow. This behaviour is the same whether playing from Net or USB sources.
Gapless playback a huge boon, although it's not perfect. It works with USB, SMB and DLNA (excluding DLNA DMR/"Play To" mode).
As written in the manual, for gapless playback to work the sequence of tracks must all have the "same format, sampling frequency, channels and quantization bit rate". It also seems to imply that only WAV, FLAC and ALAC support gapless playback, but my testing suggests otherwise. I tried various formats via USB and DLNA, and noted that FLAC, ALAC, WAV, WMA Lossless and, surprisingly, OGG played gaplessly. AAC, MP3 and WMA do not, but there was only a very slight hitch between tracks (assuming the files are all the same format).
However, be aware that very short tracks will not be stitched together gaplessly, even if they are identical in format. Worse, they will cause the relay to cycle (with the associated delay) so the gaps will be huge. I can't figure out whether the governing factor is file size, track length or something else, but as an example; there were gaps between the 25 second sine wave files I was trying to use to test it, but when I extended those to 35 seconds they played gaplessly. This makes playing sequences of many brief tracks in a row downright painful. Finally, if you skip through a large portion a track it may have the same effect, inserting a gap between it and the nest track.
File support is very good. I've tested it with a wide range of formats and bitrates without issue. It's worth noting that multi-channel files are not downmixed; the LF/RF chanels are passed through and the rest discarded. Extremely high bitrate files (eg. 24bit/192kHz) are not supported on the rear USB port because it's USB 1.1 (not that it's worth purchasing files of that type in the first place). USB drives must be formatted in FAT32/16.
There is no support for intelligent streaming services like Spotify or Pandora, just plain internet streams. It supports vTuner so you can browse through all the stations in that large database, but it also allows you to enter and save up to 40 stream URLs directly. This is completely independent of vTuner, so in the unlikely event that the service is discontinued, you would still be able to manually enter your favourite stations. I really like this feature. You can even enter your URLs via a convenient web GUI (accessible by typing it's IP address into a browser address bar). From here you can also control network various settings. There are three physical buttons on the front panel of the unit which you can program to your most used stations, and you can go straight to any one of your saved favourites by entering 1-40 via the number buttons on the remote.
For internet radio, OGG, MP3 and AAC streams are supported. FLAC and Opus are not. So far those are the only 5 codecs I've tried.
Initial buffering times are slow; starting the same streams in Foobar2000 on PC or Xiialive on Android takes a fraction of the time. vTuner navigation is slow and there always seems to be one step too many required to start a stored station. All in all, the internet radio interface feels dated and tedious to use in 2016. I honestly find myself not using it because it takes so long to actually start playback. It's easier and quicker to boot my PC and play streams from that.
Startup time is slow. When you turn on the device it shows "Now Initializing...", and this takes a good 30 seconds to complete. If you pull out your phone and open the control app during this period, you'll probably get a "Connection failed, Device did not respond" error (tapping Reconnect always connects, but the app really could handle this situation more elegantly).
Of course, one can avoid this delay by enabling "Network Standby" (aka. quick start mode), and you'll need to do this if you want to be able to switch on the device via the app. The problem with Network Standby is that it's one of those half-baked lazily implemented quick start modes that leaves the device 99% on. The main transformer remains on, humming away merrily, the unit continues to generate as much heat as it does when in use, attached USB devices remain powered up, and even the VF display is still on (you can see the elements glowing). Power usage aside (probably negligible), I wonder what effect using this mode might have on longevity, particularly display longevity. And despite all that, C-N7050 isn't even visible to standard DLNA devices when it's "off" in Network Standby mode. You still have to turn it on with the remote or the app before you can cast to it.
Onkyo provides fiddly, yet comprehensive, control of the device from the front panel. Oppo could learn a thing or two. Using the menu knob, one can navigate through menus and play media without having to use the remote. This is obviously not going to be the best experience on a 1.5 line display but at least the option is there. And yes, only a fraction of that deceptively large panel of glass (plastic) is actually display. Competing products from Pioneer (like the N-30) have proper little colour LCD displays in them, Onkyo needs to up their game.
Navigating through long lists of files/folders with remote can be an onerous task, thanks to the lack of repeat on the arrow button inputs. You can't just hold the Down button to scroll through the items, you have to mash it. It takes about 30 seconds to scroll through 100 items. Fortunately looping is supported, so that effectively halves the maximun number of items you have to go through.
The remote itself is adequate, not as cheap feeling as the one Onkyo bundles with it's A-9010 amp. Speaking of the A-9010, the C-N7050 can relay controls via it's RI interface (cable is included) to compatible Onkyo amps. This is very convenient because it means I can control my A-9010's volume and power it on from the smartphone app via the C-N7050. It also lets you control the C-N7050 from the amp's remote, but I found this problematic; when navigating through menus with the amp remote it seems to register arrow key inputs twice which is extremely frustrating.
Onkyo has a remote app for IOS and Android, and I've been using the latter. It works quite well with the C-N7050, and is reasonably intuitive. It looks dated (definitely "material design" here) and are a few bugs.
You can select all the same sources that you can with the remote (although there is the option to hide, reorder and rename them within the app), and this is definitely the quickest and easiest way to navigate through them. The app also provides one extra source: "My Smartphone", which allows the C-N7050 to play music stored on the phone. It displays a completely different looking list view to the other sources, has no "folder view", and doesn't support gapless playback. When I initially tested this feature it didn't seem to work at all (perpetual egg timer on button, and it wouldn't respond to taps), but after an app update I was able to use it several times. However, it still seems to hang from time to time.
Another issue I notice when using a USB sources (also affects SMB, if I remember correctly) is that the app sometimes fails to display album art. At first I thought this had something to do with the size of the image file, and I was able to make the art visible by reprocessing the image to around 250KB. But testing it more recently there didn't seem to be any correlation after all. I don't know if DLNA is affected by this. It seems not to be, but I use Serviio and it mangles my album art into hideously compressed little thumbnails anyway. If it was something size-related, I'd never see it with Serviio.
When browsing through network or USB sources, the app does not display thumbnails. It seems that My Smartphone is the only source where thumbnails appear.
There are any number of cheap smart devices that can fulfill most people's network streaming needs without having to deal with a clumsy, dated UI and slow operation. I could have bought an Intel NUC and a decent DAC for the retail price of this unit in my country (and most people don't even need that DAC if they have a good AVR). I only purchased the C-N7050 because it was heavily discounted, and I'm still not sure it was worth it. Onkyo also seems to have cheapened the build quality of their lower cost products in recent years (I remember when even their low end DVD players and amps had folded aluminum faceplates). It's hard to recommend this type of product to anyone anymore. It would have been a Godsend back in 2005 when we were stuck with terrible systems like Net-Tune, dumb DVD players and no smartphones.
Update, November 2015:I had been considering buying an ONKYO UWF-1 USB internet dongle, this works when used in the front USB socket. However I was put off by the price being charged by Amazon UK and other retailers (£25-£30). To my surprise I chanced upon the fact that Amazon USA were selling the item for around £15, and postage to the UK was in the region of £3, a considerable saving. The UWF-1 arrived, was installed and is working well with the CN7050!
Currently Onkyo have a headphone promotion that is running until the end of 2015. If you purchase a C-N7050 you can claim a set of high quality Onkyo headphones. A word of caution, the application has to be posted to Onkyo in Germany and they don't seem too organised in terms of acknowledging receipt of applications, and dispatching headphones. Emails are answered (eventually) but I have now been waiting over six weeks for the headphones promised to arrive!
Update 8th September...
Still waiting for my headphones, minimal response from ONKYO to emails. Have now submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about the Headphone Promotion.
Further update: I contacted my online seller who immediately got in touch with ONKYO UK. From here on it was plain sailing, and after submitting proofs of purchase again, I received the promised headphones! Full marks to ONKYO UK, black mark to ONKYO Germany.