The Primare NP30 is perhaps a mark of just how fast network technology is spreading through audio now. Not because it is a ‘me too’ product – far from it, in fact – but because this is the kind of product that would have been met with luddite-grade suspicion six years ago, it would have been a headline-grabbing product three years ago, and now it’s the kind of product expected of a serious audio company. And arguably, a serious audio company making a network streaming player like the NP30 today could be viewed as a backwards thinking organisation.
Primare adopts a timeless aspect to its industrial design, which is another way of saying that the NP30 looks almost identical to its DAC30 DAC, not dissimilar to its R32 phono stage, and has a lot in common with all of Primare’s range of CD players, preamps, power amps, and integrated amplifiers. And the look has remained broadly the same since at least the turn of the century. To some, this might seem like lazy product design, but the other way of looking at this is it’s a classic look, and one that allows existing Primare owners a way to keep their products current without having a new device looking unacceptably different. Given that higher-end audio owners tend to keep their equipment for decades rather than years, I think this consistency of design makes a lot of sense for a company like Primare. If we are also being truly honest with ourselves (and simultaneously dishonest with our respective other halves), high-end products with a similar look can slip in under the home radar, and it’s sometimes easier to sneak a new device into your system if it looks similar to the one it replaces.