Hi-fi specialists Naim have released their latest assault on the wallets of audiophiles, with the HDX music jukebox attempting to persuade them that ripping CDs isn't the work of the devil. Of course, since this is Naim we're talking about, what they're actually suggesting is about as far away from MP3 as you can get while still residing on a hard-drive platter. The HDX creates uncompressed WAV files from a double-reading of each CD, ensuring an identical, bit-for-bit copy. The primary 400GB hard-drive can store around 500 CDs in this manner, cataloguing them automatically.
Since going to all that effort would be a bit frustrating should the primary HDD die, nightly backups are made to a second, also 400GB drive. Audio can also be loaded from USB memory sticks and iPods, as well as streamed to the device over a network. Navigation is either by the color touchscreen on the front of the unit, by the remote control, or by plugging in a keyboard and mouse for those heavy-duty re-labelling sessions.
If, however, you're one of those people who thinks that even CDs are a little beneath them, sonically, then Naim have helpfully made the HDX compatible with DRM-free 24-bit 96KHz and 24-bit 88KHz files. They should offer better-than-CD quality sound, and the company will be offering them for download later on in 2008. At the other end of the scale, it'll happily play back WAV, MP3, AAC (m4a only), FLAC and WMA files.
The HDX can then squirt up to six different tracks out simultaneously to different speakers. A PC app mimics the on-device navigation system for remote control, or you can attach a USB touchscreen. Yes, at £4,500 ($8,874) it's certainly not cheap, but you certainly get plenty for your money.