Since the 9000N launched last autumn, Audiolab’s flagship network streamer has received several software updates to extend functionality and enhance the overall user experience. The latest of these updates adds support for music management service Plex, providing another distinct advantage over competing network streamers. 

Essentially, Plex is an alternative to Roon – a platform to access, manage and play locally stored and internet-streamed digital music. Plex is lauded for its flexibility, lower cost and ability to handle lower-bandwidth network connections at home or away. Plex can also be used to manage video and image content in addition to audio. 

While many dedicated audio streamers include integrated Roon support, this has not been the path of travel for Plex. However, millions of music lovers, film watchers and TV viewers around the world use Plex’s software and streaming service to manage all manner of media across their devices. 

By offering 9000N owners access to both Plex and Roon, in addition to its own sophisticated music management app, Audiolab delivers the best of all digital worlds for discerning music lovers. 

The inclusion of Plex is made possible by Audiolab’s partnership with Lumin, which specialises in high-performance network music streaming. Lumin is the first high-end audio technology developer to integrate Plex connectivity, and owners of the 9000N benefit from this too. 

The 9000N’s Plex functionality was released on April 10 2024 with an automatic OTA (Over-The–Air) update for existing owners. I

ntegrated support is provided for the Plex Media Server and music-specific Plexamp software applications, both of which are free to download. Additional internet-enabled facilities, including innovative audio, music management and music discovery features, can be accessed via a paid ‘Plex Pass’ subscription. 

Other recent updates have added active features to the 9000N, as Audiolab’s flagship network streamer continues to evolve. 

Although full Roon compatibility was technically in place at launch, this functionality was not initially ‘active’. This was owing to Roon’s test and certification process, which encountered delays during the takeover and restructuring operation related to Harman’s acquisition of Roon. 

Full ‘Roon Ready’ capability was activated by Roon for all 9000N units on April 5 2024, following completion of the certification process. 

Tidal has added hi-res FLAC files to its top HiFi Plus subscription tier, creating a new ‘Max’ audio quality designation to match. Network streamers require a software update to support Tidal Max; the 9000N received its free OTA update in February 2024. 

In the Tidal app, ‘Max’ is used to signify the highest audio quality available for each album or track, whether that be hi-res FLAC (which has priority) or MQA. So, users simply see ‘Max’ when using the Tidal app via Tidal Connect, no matter which of these formats the file happens to be. 

However, if someone happens to use the 9000N’s own app to access Tidal, these file types are identified separately as ‘Max’ (specifically for hi-res FLAC) and ‘MQA’. 

The 9000N is an ‘affordable high-end’ network audio player made for discerning music lovers who refuse to compromise on performance. Whether streaming from local storage devices or internet-based music services, Audiolab’s flagship streamer delivers a blend of high-performance features and “class-leading” sound. 

The 9000N was developed in partnership with Lumin, and combines Lumin’s hardware/software with Audiolab sonic know-how, utilising top-spec circuit components including an eight-channel ES9038PRO DAC chipset with a discrete regulated power feed. 

Audio formats are supported to the highest specification, including 32-bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512. 

The 9000N’s dedicated control app is based on Lumin’s sophisticated and feature-rich app, specially tailored for Audiolab. Other integrated solutions for music management and control include Roon and Plex, and alternative apps such as Audirvana, BubbleUPnP and mconnect Player can also be used. 

Supported internet streaming services include Tidal, Qobuz and TuneIn – all built into the heart of the 9000N app – plus Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect. AirPlay 2 can be used to cast other services such as Apple Music and Amazon Music to the 9000N, and audio files can be streamed from Roon, Plex and UPnP/DLNA servers on a home network. 

Network connectivity includes Wi-Fi (a first for a Lumin-based streamer) as well as Ethernet cable, while USB-A and USB-B inputs are available to connect USB drives, PCs, Macs and so on. 

A 4.3in colour screen (again, a first for a Lumin-based streamer) offers a range of display options, and as the capabilities of the Lumin platform evolves, so too will those of the 9000N thanks to free over-the-air updates. 

Audiolab’s 9000N is available in black or silver at an RRP of £2,499. 

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