Denon needs no introduction when it comes to audio and hifi, and with the CEOL RCD-N7 they were among the first to introduce AirPlay as an option for a networked music system, integrating with internet radio, docking station, USB, as well as normal CD.
Design, features & sound
Although many predicts that the era of the CD is one the way out there are still many that have a large collection of their music on CD’s and will continue to have so for a long time yet, or at least until they get the same quality from the digital music. For those a typical speaker dock just don’t cut it, but a mini hi-fi system like the Denon CEOL RCD-N7 marries the past with the future (although interestingly they have missed out on DAB radio for this one).
Styling of the Denon CEOL RCD-N7 is interesting in that it is all white unlike so many other systems in the market today, so perhaps an acquired taste. You can get the RCD-N7 network music player on its own or combine it with the all white (except for a grey ring around each driver) SC-N7 speakers.
The docking station itselfs sits at the top of the RCD-N7 unit underneath a plastic hinged flap, so you would not be able to dock an iPad, but to be honest this system is less about docking and more about streaming. At the back there is a myriad of other connection options, including three auxiliary inputs (two phono + one optical), subwoofer output, ethernet connection alongside built in wi-fi. At the front you will also find 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB slot for attaching other media.
65W RMS per channel supports most bookshelf or floorstanding speakers, allowing you to combine the RCD-N7 with your own favourite speakers, and there lies one of the attractions with this system; being able to customize it yourself to some degree.
All of the above is nice, but it is the network capability and AirPlay that makes this system warrant the price tag. After the initial set up you can stream music from a networked media, and if the attached remote control does not do the trick you can use the Denon Remote App for iOS devices to control the unit. If you are streaming over AirPlay that is not an issue at all as you control everything from your iOS device anyway, or iTunes on your computer. Streaming directly from other internet based services like Last.fm can also be done, although there is no direct support for Spotify so you would have to run that through your iOS device or computer.
As expected from a dedicated networked music system from Denon you will get a sound that is superior to most pure speaker docks in the market. I have not listened to it enough to rate the sound yet, but the first impression, even with the default SC-N7 speakers is pretty good, although a bit light on the bass. Depending on your budget and if you might already have a set of good speakers, you might get better performance from the RCD-N7 with a different set of speakers, and perhaps adding a subwoofer. Just remember that this is a 2-channel system and not a surround sound system. I will be back with more impressions of sound performance when had a chance to listen to it some more.
Note that AirPlay functionality is a software upgrade with a fee of £39 – How to upgrade Denon to AirPlay here.
The Denon CEOL RCD-N7 mini Hi-fi network music system is available from amongst other the following UK retailers (prices for system without speakers):
See more AirPlay speakers here.
* This is not a full review as the model has not been tested hands on and as such is based on product information and my own view of the collective information available on the system.