Media Streamer

Pioneer Elite N-50 Network Audio Player

ARTICLE INDEX

The Pioneer Elite N-50 Network Audio Player On The Bench

The bench tests for the N-50 were done with our standard set of CD quality, 16-bit/44.1 kHz test tones converted to various formats including FLAC, ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) and WMA 9.2 Lossless. I also ran a set of tests using 24-bit/192 kHz test tones using the FLAC format. The tests were done using SpectraPLUS software measuring the analog output of the N-50.

At 1 kHz, THD+N for CD (FLAC encoding) played from a USB stick connected to the front iPod/USB input was 0.01799%.

At 1 kHz, THD+N for CD (FLAC encoding) streamed via DLNA using the Asset UPnP server was 0.01804%.

At 1 kHz, THD+N for CD (ALAC encoding) played from an iPhone connected to the front iPod/USB input was 0.01828%.

At 1 kHz, THD+N for CD (ALAC encoding) streamed from an iPhone via AirPlay was 0.01755%. The AirPlay results fluctuated during my bench tests, which I have seen in the past when measuring content streamed via AirPlay. The average results are what you see below. While SpectraPlus saw a fluctuating signal from the N-50, I never heard any problems when listening to regular content via AirPlay on the N-50.

At 1 kHz, THD+N for CD (ALAC encoding) streamed from iTunes via AirPlay was 0.01779%.

At 1 kHz, THD+N for CD (ALAC encoding) streamed from an iPhone via Bluetooth was 0.03340%, which is higher than the other tests in this group. We see that the noise floor rises at 1 kHz and we also have additional harmonics at the higher frequencies.

At 1 kHz, THD+N for CD (WMA 9.2 Lossless encoding) played from the Windows Media Player from a Windows 7 laptop via the rear USB input on the N-50 was 0.02116%.

At 1 kHz, THD+N for 24/192 (FLAC encoding) played from a USB stick connected to the front iPod/USB input was 0.002622%. This is an excellent result and helps to explain why the N-50 sounds so good with high resolution content. This test was only possible after the latest firmware update which allows the N-50 to play 192 kHz content from the front USB input.

Here are the results for 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies for CD (FLAC encoding) played from a USB stick connected to the front iPod/USB input. A slight B-A peak at 1 kHz is present at about -100 dBV.

Here are the results for 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies for CD (FLAC encoding) streamed via DLNA using the Asset UPnP server. There is a slight B-A peak at 1 kHz.

Here are the results for 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies for CD (ALAC encoding) played from an iPhone connected to the front iPod/USB input. There is no significant B-A peak at 1 kHz, but we do see some additional peaks at -90 dBV on either side of the fundamentals.

Here are the results for 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies for CD (ALAC encoding) streamed from an iPhone via AirPlay.

Here are the results for 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies CD (ALAC encoding) streamed from iTunes via AirPlay.

Here are the results for 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies for CD (ALAC encoding) streamed from an iPhone via Bluetooth. We see a B-A peak at 1 kHz at -85 dBV and we see additional peaks throughout the frequency range. The noise floor is also 30 dBV higher at the fundamentals.

Here are the results for 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies CD (WMA 9.2 Lossless encoding) played from the Windows Media Player from a Windows 7 laptop via the rear USB input on the N-50. There is no significant B-A peak at 1 kHz, but there are some additional peaks to the left of the fundamentals.

Here are the results for 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies for 24/192 (FLAC encoding) played from a USB stick connected to the front iPod/USB input. The noise that we see to the right of the fundamentals, starting at about 35 kHz, is far above the audible region.

The IMD measurement for CD (FLAC encoding) played from a USB stick connected to the front iPod/USB input was 0.0013%. This result is typical for the tests in this group with the exception of the Bluetooth result.

The IMD measurement for CD (FLAC encoding) streamed via DLNA using the Asset UPnP server was 0.0013%.

The IMD measurement for CD (ALAC encoding) played from an iPhone connected to the front iPod/USB input was 0.0013%.

The IMD measurement for CD (ALAC encoding) streamed from an iPhone via AirPlay was 0.0014%.

The IMD measurement for CD (ALAC encoding) streamed from iTunes via AirPlay was 0.0014%.

The IMD measurement for CD (ALAC encoding) streamed from an iPhone via Bluetooth was 0.0078%. We see the same rise in the noise floor at the fundamentals.

The IMD measurement for CD (WMA 9.2 Lossless encoding) played from the Windows Media Player from a Windows 7 laptop via the rear USB input on the N-50 was 0.0013%.

The IMD measurement for 24/192 (FLAC encoding) played from a USB stick connected to the front iPod/USB input was 0.002275%.

The measured frequency response at 16/44.1 rolls off slightly to 20 kHz.

Overall, the N-50 performed consistently in my tests for all formats and input methods with the notable exception of the Bluetooth input. Tests performed using the Bluetooth input had slightly higher distortion values and the noise floor was not as low as the other inputs on the N-50. The performance of the N-50 using high resolution, 24-bit/192 kHz content was excellent from the USB input. I did run a few bench tests with the "Pure Audio" and "Hi-Bit 32" processing modes enabled, but they did not alter my overall findings.