Pioneer N-70AE
Pioneer N-70AE
Pioneer N-70AE

Pioneer N-70AE: Network audio player at the top of the hierarchy

The Pioneer N-70AE player replaced the Pioneer N-70A model at the top of the hierarchy of network audio sources from the famous Japanese brand. How deep are the changes made? To use automotive terminology, is this a restyling or a truly new generation of player? Externally, there are practically no changes to be found. Let’s try to discover them upon closer acquaintance.

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In the new generation of Pioneer network players, marked with the suffix AE, there have been no structural changes – the series is headed by the Pioneer N-70AE model, followed by players with the N-50AE and N-30AE indices. As before, the top model features better vibration isolation, a more advanced design and impressive weight. The differences between the other two devices are mainly due to functionality. In the flagship, as before, the conversion of the digital stream into an analog signal is implemented on two eight-channel ESS Sabre32 Ultra ES9016S DAC chips.

That is, a separate DAC chip operates in each channel of the player, which improves the channel separation indicator and, as a result, contributes to the formation of a larger and more echeloned scene. Eight channels of each chip operate in parallel. The streaming, digital stream processing and control module is implemented on a 32-bit Texas Instruments AM3354 Sitara RISC processor with ARM® Cortex®-A8 architecture and a D808K013DPTP4 DSP processor from the same manufacturer. The Pioneer N-70AE, like its predecessor N-70A, is equipped with balanced analog outputs on XLR connectors, a built-in headphone amplifier based on the Texas Instruments TPA6120 audiophile chip, and is capable of receiving a PCM digital stream from a computer via USB with parameters up to 32 bit / 384 kHz and DSD up to DSD256.

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Inherited from the previous generation player Pioneer N-70A is a durable vibration-isolated case with a massive front panel made of aluminum plate and a thick top cover, which is attached to the frame with six powerful screws. The internal space is divided into three compartments by solid metal partitions, which contributes to reliable noise immunity. Accordingly, the compartments contain an analog part with a separate power supply with a power transformer, a digital subsystem and a second power supply to supply the digital part. The massive body rests on three powerful vibration-isolating feet – a three-point mounting system quite common in the world of hi-fi. But in the new model, they added two small additional rubber supports to the free corners of the case, which in the normal position of the device do not reach the installation surface of the player. Their mission is to prevent damage to this surface when moving a heavy component. This precaution is not superfluous if the device is placed on a glass shelf or polished wood.

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Since we started talking about the differences between models with the AE index, we will try to develop this topic. All the distinctive features of the new generation (well, except for the additional legs) are concentrated in the functional area, which is quite expected, given the fact that the digital content of modern electronics is primarily subject to obsolescence. Moreover, both in hardware and in software. First of all, the Pioneer N-70AE player supports the DSD format up to a sampling frequency of 11.2 MHz (DSD256), while its predecessor could only work with a stream with a frequency of 5.6 MHz (DSD128). Support for multiroom network technologies DTS Play-Fi, FlareConnect and Chromecast has been added, so now the Pioneer N-70AE can broadcast audio to any room in your home – you just need to install an active speaker system compatible with one of these technologies. Also in the new generation of the player, the list of supported Internet streaming services has been expanded – while the predecessor could only offer Spotify, the Pioneer N-70AE can also work with TIDAL and Deezer. Additionally, the dual-band (5/2.4 MHz) Wi-Fi adapter is now built inside the case, so there’s no need to fiddle with an external dongle. And finally, updating the system software can now be done not only from a USB drive, but also over the network from the manufacturer’s website. Accordingly, the device can independently monitor the relevance of the firmware. Otherwise, the new product repeats all the advantages of its predecessor.

Characteristics of Pioneer N-70AE

DAC two chips ESS Sabre32 Ultra ES9016S, 8 channels in parallel Upsampling
up to 384 kHz
Technology for increasing the bit depth of the digital signal Hi-Bit32 up to 32 bits
Digital filtering SHARP (high slope), SLOW (smooth slope), SHORT (fast impulse response) Frequency response
4 Hz – 90 kHz (- 3 dB)
Signal-to-noise ratio 114 dB (RCA), 117 dB (XLR)
Dynamic range 117 dB (24 bit, 32 bit)
Harmonic distortion 0.0017%
Separation channels 110 dB (1 kHz)
Output voltage/impedance 2.2 V/500 Ohm (RCA), 4.2 V/500 Ohm (XLR)
Headphone amplifier output power 2 x 100 mW (32 Ohm, 1 kHz, THD 1 %)
Supported headphone impedance 16-600 Ohm
Supported formats for playback via local network (LAN connection) and USB for external drives MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV (up to 24 bit/192 kHz), AIFF (up to 24 bit/192 kHz), FLAC (up to 24 bit/192 kHz), Apple Lossless (up to 24 bit/192 kHz), DSD up to 11.2 MHz
Gapless playback support for WAV/FLAC/AIFF/ALAC
Wi-Fi 802.11.a/ b/g/n/ac (2.4/5 GHz)
Supported web services Spotify, Deezer, TIDAL, TuneIn
MQA codec support
yes Apple AirPlay support yes
Chromecast support yes
Multiroom platform support for wireless streaming FlareConnect yes
Multiroom platform support DTS Play-Fi yes
Auto Sound Retriever improves the sound of highly compressed formats
Direct mode provides the clearest and most natural sound
possible, disables DSP Digital outputs can be disabled
Control via the Pioneer Remote app supported for iOS and Android devices
Inputs 2 x USB ports (type A, front and rear panels, PCM up to 24 bit/192 kHz , DSD up to 11.2 MHz), coaxial (PCM up to 24 bit/192 kHz), optical (PCM up to 24 bit/192 kHz), USB asynchronous (Type B, PCM up to 32 bit/384 kHz, DSD up to 11.2 MHz (DSD256)), Network port (LAN)
Outputs linear RCA (fixed), balanced XLR (fixed), optical, coaxial, 6.3 mm headphone jack (16-600 Ohm)
Other switching 2 jacks for Wi-Fi -antenna, 3.5mm Control Out connector for connecting to Pioneer components to control all devices using one Pioneer Remote App
Power supply two separate shielded transformers for digital and analogue sections
LCD display, 3.5-inch, color
Remote control RC-931S
Power consumption 40 W, standby: 0.3 W
Dimensions (WxHxD) 435x121x364 mm
Weight 11.4 kg