The world of audio streaming welcomes a formidable contender as Audiolab introduces its flagship network streamer, the 9000N, to its renowned 9000 Series lineup. Promising a feature-rich and sonically captivating streaming experience, Audiolab aims to cater to the demands of music enthusiasts seeking top-tier performance. With an extensive list of capabilities, the 9000N could set a new benchmark in the audio streaming arena.
The 9000N joins Audiolab's existing high-end range, which includes the 9000A integrated amplifier and the 9000CDT CD transport. While the brand's lower ranges also offer network streamers, the 9000N distinguishes itself by eschewing the DTS Play-Fi platform commonly seen in its siblings. Instead, it relies on a platform built from the ground up, centered around a Linux-based operating system.
The 9000N streamer opens doors to an extensive array of streaming options. Its primary control app provides access to popular streaming services like Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio. Audiolab emphasizes the user experience with intelligent search functions and the ability to create multi-source playlists, offering music aficionados a personalized experience.
Moreover, the streamer supports direct streaming from native Spotify and Tidal apps, thanks to 'Connect' support for both platforms. AirPlay 2, UPnP, and Roon compatibility further bolster the streamer's comprehensive catalog of streaming features, ensuring it caters to diverse preferences.
Audiolab ensures that the 9000N streamer stands as a formidable contender in terms of audio quality. It boasts support for high-resolution audio, handling PCM formats up to 32-bit/768kHz and native DSD formats up to 22.5MHz (DSD512) across Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and USB connections. The inclusion of full MQA decoding further enhances its audio capabilities.
For those who demand versatility, the 9000N provides multiple input options, including USB-A and USB-B ports for USB sticks and computer connectivity, respectively. Additionally, it offers a range of outputs, including RCA, XLR, coaxial, and optical, making it compatible with external DACs and amplifiers.
A successful streamer is not merely defined by its features but also by its audio quality. Audiolab has integrated the streamer with an ESS Technology DAC chip, specifically the eight-channel ES9038PRO. This choice reflects Audiolab's commitment to providing the best audio experience, complemented by its proprietary circuitry, including an ultra-precision master clock for impeccable timing and remarkable signal-to-noise ratio.
Furthermore, Audiolab has developed a new Class A circuit for the 9000N's design, enhancing its audio performance. To ensure clean and dedicated power distribution, the DAC stage benefits from its own power supply, catering to the left and right channels individually.
The Audiolab 9000N network streamer is now available in both black and silver finishes, offering a choice to match different setups and preferences. With a price tag of £2499 / $3499, the 9000N enters the market as a feature-packed and versatile streaming solution, challenging existing players in the field. Its departure from traditional platforms and embrace of a Linux-based system, coupled with its extensive features and audio prowess, positions it as a notable contender in the world of network streaming.