Audiolab’s flagship 9000 series has so far included the 9000A integrated amplifier and 9000CDT CD transport. To meet modern requirements, the kit sorely lacked a network player or transport. And Audiolab chose the first option – the Audiolab 9000N includes a DAC, and the switching arsenal includes analog outputs. Why they didn’t choose the pure transport option, as they did with the 9000CDT CD source, is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the Audiolab 9000N was equipped with a more advanced DAC unit than that built into the 9000A integrated amplifier (although the chip used is the same). But this is just a guess.
While the lower-end Audiolab 6000N Play and 7000N Play network players are aimed at entry-level and mid-range Play-Fi technology, the top-end 9000N streamer takes a different approach. The process of selecting a streaming platform for this model was thorough. Audiolab chose a platform that is recognized throughout the world for its stable performance, feature-rich control application, technical capabilities and sound quality. This platform combines a powerful ARM processor and a Linux-based operating system. Combining this platform with Audiolab’s digital and analog circuitry, the 9000N network player is designed to provide the ideal streaming solution for music lovers.
The Audiolab 9000N’s control app provides easy access to popular streaming services including Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify and TuneIn Radio. The app features an intuitive, feature-rich interface that makes it easy to create playlists, group albums, and organize tracks. Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect allow direct streaming from their respective apps, and UPnP/DLNA control apps like mconnect and BubbleUPnP can also control the 9000N. In addition, the component supports AirPlay 2 and is Roon Ready certified.
The Audiolab 9000N Network Player supports playback of PCM material up to 32-bit/768 kHz and DSD up to DSD512 (22.5 MHz) in a variety of containers such as FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF, DSF and DIFF. The component is also capable of decoding tracks in MQA format.
The Audiolab 9000N Network Player is capable of upsampling lower-resolution PCM streams and offers a choice of five DAC filter settings to tailor the sound to your preferences. The player is equipped with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor and a Saber32 ES9038PRO DAC chip from ESS Technology.
The player’s power supply is based on a 50 VA power toroidal transformer. The analog part after the DAC is made in a balanced topology, and the switching arsenal includes, along with unbalanced analog outputs on RCA connectors, balanced ones on XLR. There are also digital outputs for connecting an external DAC – coaxial and optical. The new product is also equipped with a USB-B port for connecting a computer and a USB-A port for playing files from an external USB drive. For integration into a computer network there is an RJ45 Ethernet port and a Wi-Fi adapter.
The Audiolab 9000N’s minimalistic front panel with rotary control knobs is adorned with a 4.3-inch IPS color screen that displays album art and various information.
The Audiolab 9000N network streamer will go on sale in mid-September and will be offered in a black or silver design with a recommended retail price of £2,499 / €2,799 / $3,499