Cambridge Audio has this week announced firmware updates for its EDGE NQ pre-amplifier’s network streamer* (€4000) and the CXN V2 network streamer (€1099) that add Roon Ready support**. The firmware update is applied over-the-air directly to the device. Neat, huh? Yes…but Cambridge users could already send Roon streams to the EDGE NQ and CXN V2 via their Apple AirPlay and Google Chromecast inputs.
What’s the difference? Roon Ready firmware puts Roon Labs’s proprietory RAAT protocol in play to move Roon users beyond AirPlay’s 16bit/48kHz ceiling (and Chromecast’s 24bit/96kHz), towards extended hi-res support that, in Cambridge’s case, includes DSD but not MQA.
Roon RAAT’s clear practical advantage over Google Chromecast streaming is gapless playback but in more revealing systems, its asynchronous data handling will sound better than Roon run via Chromecast or AirPlay. You can read more about Roon’s RAAT here.
Furthermore, Roon offers the world’s most advanced streaming UX. Its hyperlinked magazine layout optionally integrates Tidal and Qobuz subscriptions with local libraries to present them as one giant library. Roon Radio will swim through local and cloud content, blurring the boundaries between owned and rented music. You can learn more about Roon via our three-part video exposition here.
That’s the news but what’s the story?
As well as Apple AirPlay, Google Chromecast Built-in and aptX HD Bluetooth, the high-end EDGE NQ and more affordable CXN V2 both support Spotify Connect. Adding Roon Readiness puts both Cambridge Audio boxes inside this Music-First Audiophile‘s Golden Triangle: 1) Roon to stream from a hard-drive, Qobuz or Tidal; 2) Spotify Connect to fill in the blanks; 3) Chromecast Built-in to access Soundcloud’s gargantuan library of electronic music and hip-hop, much of which just isn’t available elsewhere, plus Pandora, Mixcloud and a whole range of other third-party streaming services.
That makes playing the music that you want to listen to as easy as 1-2-3 and without falling back on Cambridge Audio’s StreamMagic app (Android, iOS) that, whilst useful for changing hardware device settings, cannot compete with Roon, Spotify or SoundCloud on UI and whose streaming utility is restricted to UPnP, Tidal, Qobuz and Internet radio.
Further information: Cambridge Audio
*The EDGE NQ isn’t a streaming DAC with volume control. It’s an analogue pre-amplifier with an internal network player and DAC.
**Roon is a subscription service: US$119/year or US$699/lifetime.