Onkyo C-N7050 Network CD-player

On hifi as in life, the laws of Darwinism apply - evolve or die. Companies wanting to support the ailing silver cd format need to produce a fresh turn to help keep us interested as compact disc software sales continue to slide southwards. To date, CD players have become CD transport-equipped DACs, but this Onkyo goes farther with its DLNA network music playing skill.

Whether you'd call it a network-equipped CD player, or a CD-equipped streamer does not actually matter. What's important is the fact that it brings together the key ways that digital audio is currently consumed by most people into one streamlined and highly affordable box. It also adds two USB inputs internet radio and iPod connectivity, meaning that it's a most flexible device. Digiphiles will also like the sound of the 5.6MHz DSD functionality, along with the normal 24-bit/192kHz FLAC and WAV playback. There is even a smartphone app to make controlling it more easy, also.

You'll find two friends that are absent, nevertheless. First, the Onkyo C-N7050 is not wifi equipped, meaning youwould need to connect it to your router. Likewise, there is no aptX Bluetooth playback. Within my experience this isn't a specially fine sounding manner of listening to music, but there's no denying that it's more attractive than DLNA compatibility.

At the center of the C-N7050 is a 32-bit Burr-Brown PCM1795 DAC, which provides gapless streaming of both 2.8 and 5.6MHz Direct Stream Digital files, 24-bit/192kHz FLAC and WAV, and 24/96 Apple Lossless formats. Also supported are MP3, AAC, WMA, WMA Lossless and Ogg Vorbis files. This functions (Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry) system, where sound information is converted between distinct sample points, and such points are joined with vectors that are analogue instantly.

It's asserted to substantially reduce digital sound.

The unit has all-alloy building with pressed steel casework and a satiny brushed aluminium front panel. Onkyo says the C-N7050's case has been designed to minimise the consequences of shaking, but in all honesty it is does not feel notably solid. However, it is decent enough to get a budget product and there are not any criticisms regarding the finish, which has rough edges that are fewer than most competitors at this cost.

The buttons feel favorable and clear to the touch, along with the cd tray moves out with a grace that places several £1,000 CD players one've tested to shame. The blue fluorescent screen appears a bit nineties also it'sn't the easiest to read, but it is adequate enough.

Connectivity is good; the front panel USB input gives direct-digital iPhone, iPod touch, and iPod play out, along with the back-panel USB port manages lossless audio from mass storage type devices and compressed. There are also optical and coaxial digital output signals round the back, plus the typical RCA phono output signals. Onkyo's Remote Interactive outlets enable the functioning of compatible components via a single remote control, and there's one supplied as well as a downloadable Onkyo remote program that is totally free.

Sound quality

Considering the cost of the Onkyo, and indeed its myriad skills, you can not help but be impressed by how well it performs. A decade ago, it might be asking a whole lot from a £350 CD player to sound smooth, thorough, even and agile, but the Onkyo C-N7050 does all of this and much more. Regardless of source, when given an adequate music file to play it produces an engaging performance that's completely devoid of what hardened hi-fi hacks call 'nasties'.

For example, the In The Waiting Line of Zero 7 presents itself in a completely gratifying yet engaging style. The track kicks off using a gentle groove driven by subtle keyboard work with drum machine hi hats glistening behind. The Onkyo sounds subtle, delicate and immersive. Treble is surprisingly smooth and completely devoid of grain in the upper registers, while the midband is spacious and expansive with bunches of detail apparent. Stage depth isn't as bad as you would expect from more expensive digital front ends, still, with a tendency to hang the soundstage around the loudspeakers' plain. Yet the abundance of detail that this player throws out never fails to capture the listener.

The lead female vocal line is smooth too; the tune's lyrical phrasing is carried in a very believable way. The bass guitar pushes matters together with gusto; like the vocal phrasing it works in a percussive fashion and gives a feeling of trajectory to the proceedings. Still there's a satisfyingly rhythmic gait to the proceedings, although the Onkyo bass speaker isn't as powerful as you might hear from a similarly priced CD player like the Cambridge Audio Azur 651C. It makes the music uplifting, and exceptionally satisfying to hear.

Change by Genesis to some less laid-back programme material like Los Endos, though it does become more clear that it's a budget machine you're listening to and also this player's fine character still shines through. This isn't because of undue distortion or any harshness, rather you become aware it does not quite have the dynamic range of some more expensive designs.

While it is really fairly good at microdynamics, it does not communicate the absolute power of Phil Collins' crashing drum work; it does not have the out and out power of higher-end kit. Nevertheless you're again drawn to the pleasing listening experience the Onkyo delivers; it never fails to get rid of your focus or make music sound sullen.

This album's slightly glowing balance doesn't upset the C-N7050 one jot. The brilliant hi-hat cymbal work is taken delicately with lots of atmosphere; it never grates and rots lightly into the back of the mix. It's a complex track with a lot but doesn't seem to phase it in the slightest. Once again there is a slight dearth of bass weight, yet this really is absolutely excusable at this price.

You wouldn't call it over-brightness, it is merely that more expensive CD players and streamers do better.

The first move that is gradually lyrical underlines astonishingly incisive detailing and its pleasingly wide soundstage. Despite its low cost this machine seems to drill down into the record giving a fair sense of what's happening at the back of the concert hall. It can carry an excellent sense of the recorded acoustic guitar, and in the exact same time stays pleasingly tonally balanced.

Snowflake was magnificently recorded by the by Kate Bush 24-bit/96kHz proves a real joy. The streaming abilities of the Onkyo are subtle enough to express the delicacy of this brilliant tune and its own play too. It is a thin affair with at times just really light instrumentation, yet the Onkyo C-N7050 keeps control of the flow of the tune right through the end and never loses the rhythmic plot. Kate Bush's icy voice is managed and never descends unlike many budget digital sound sources into brightness. Again the soundstage is capacious and wide, but it's not quite as it could be somewhat curtailed stage depth. The Onkyo presents the music definitely and upfront although you'll never call it glowing over the group or the treble; with quite demanding source content, it remains surprisingly smooth.

It is even an excellent company for an iPod, making Caravan's 9 Feet Under surprisingly listenable from an iPod nano despite it being a 256kbps AAC file. Again the music bounces along with aplomb, throwing out surprisingly assured and well located stereo pictures between my two loudspeakers. The somewhat data-compressed nature of AAC doesn't appear to phase the Onkyo; it really is out of the blue gratifying to listen to. Yet again it appears capable to tease out the pleasing details of the music without becoming too analytical.


Products aimed at the mass market having an attribute count that is prodigious don't consistently work. In trying to supply too much, many appear to attain too little; corners are often cut when showroom attractiveness plays such a big part. However this cannot be said of the Onkyo C-N7050; running the gamut of sources and music files, it proves to be a surprisingly enjoyable device to listen to. Smooth, with a pleasing quantity of space and atmosphere throughout the group and treble, additionally, it sports a bass that is unstable and articulate. This ties in using its innate rhythmic ability, that's able to essentially involve the listener in the music. Factor in commendable assemble the aforementioned ton of functions as well as quality and it is difficult to fault at the cost. In the event you're seeking a do-it-all source that will not break the bank, this deserves serious consideration.

Onkyo C-N7050 Network CD-player photo