Review: Denon Ceol RCD-N10

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Test Denon RCD-N10

This week we reviewed the Denon RCD-N10 connected receiver, a product which has enjoyed a great success since its original release. Not only does this fourth iteration inherit the technical elements of the Denon Ceol RCD-N9, it also ensures compatibility with Denon’s Heos technology, Apple’s AirPlay 2 protocol, and Amazon Alexa voice control technology.

CD, tuner, WiFi streamer, and Bluetooth transmission

The Denon RCD-N10 receiver is aimed at those who are looking for a discrete yet practical hi-fi installation. The Denon RCD-N10 is fitted with a 2×65 W amplifier capable of driving most speakers (even floorstanders), an audio CD player, a USB port to read audio files stored on a flash drive, a WiFi streaming module compatible with AirPlay (iPhone), and with the DLNA protocol (NAS), an FM tuner, a Bluetooth receiver, and a DAC with optical inputs.

In other words, the Denon RCD-N10 may be used to listen to CDs, the radio, audio files, a UHD TV, Blu-ray discs (in stereo), Deezer, Spotify, and Tidal. Not a bad start.

Test Denon RCD-N10
The Denon RCD-N10 receiver and its remote control.

Power rating

If the Denon Ceol is such a hit, it is also because its amplification module sounds really good. The class-D power stage delivers up to 2x65W into 4 ohms (peak power) and we can reasonably expect around 2x20W of continuous power throughout the sound spectrum. This power rating is enough to drive compact speakers and even some floorstanders -at the very least smaller floorstanding speakers fitted with two 5” woofers and a tweeter. With larger models, the Denon Ceol is not quite as authoritative in the lows.

Design

One of the the Denon RCD-N10’s main advantages is its user-friendly design. Its large monochromatic OLED screen displays information about the currently played track, which  is readable from several meters away. The large remote control boasts a clever layout.

Test Denon RCD-N10
The Denon RCD-N10’s touch keys are lit by LEDs.

Audio inputs

The Denon RCD-N10 receiver features two Toslink optical inputs (digital) which may be used to connect a UHD TV (with an audio out set to PCM) and a Blu-ray player (audio set to PCM stereo as well) for example. The third connector is an RCA line input, which lets you connect a DAP or any other analog source. It is even possible to connect a turntable, provided that you connect an RIAA external preamp as the Denon RCD-N10 does not feature a phono input. The USB port on the front panel is compatible with USB drives and is compatible with MP3, M4A, FLAC, ALAC files, and even DSD audio stream. The track titles are displayed on the OLED screen and are also accessible via the Denon HEOS mobile app.

Test Denon RCD-N10
The Denon RCD-N10’s back panel.

AirPlay 2

Previous versions of the Ceol receiver were compatible with the AirPlay protocol. The Denon RCD-N10 is now AirPlay 2 compatible. The transmission quality when streaming music from iTunes or an iPhone is the same, but it is now possible to stream music to several compatible receivers since the AirPlay 2 protocol was made for multiroom streaming. Note that this only applies to audio files stored on an iPhone or computer using iTunes and doesn’t work with music streaming services as of yet. For online streaming platforms, the Denon HEOS app for iOS and Android may be used.

 

Amazon Alexa

It was bound to happen, the Denon RCD-N10 is now compatible with the Amazon Alexa voice control system. Nevertheless, you will not be addressing your receiver directly as the Ceol N10 is ‘Alexa compatible’, which means that it may be controlled via a compatible speaker. In practice, you may use an Amazon Echo or SONOS One speaker for example. The amplifier control is limited to musical playback from an online streaming service such as Deezer, Spotify, etc. (paid subscription required).

HEOS multiroom technology

The Denon RCD-N10 features HEOS multiroom technology. This is a good thing, as previous Ceol models were only compatible with Spotify. Now, the Denon HEOS app grants access to Deezer, Tidal, Tune IN, Napster and Amazon Music. Apple Music is accessible via AirPlay, and Google Play Music via Bluetooth transmission (non aptX). But to be fair, the Denon Ceol RCD-N10 is compatible with more sources than before.

Test Denon RCD-N10
Le USB type A port on the front panel may be used to read audio files. On the right is a powerful headphone output.

Mobile app

The weak spot of the previous versions of the Denon Ceol receiver was the mobile app. The Denon Ceol RCD-N10, as well as many other Denon devices (AV receivers, wireless speakers, etc.), may be controlled with the Denon HEOS app.

Test Denon RCD-N10
The Denon HEOS app for Android lets you control the Denon RCD-N10.

Testing conditions

We tested this receiver with a pair of Elipson Prestige Facet 8B and a pair of Polk Audio S10 compact speakers using NorStone CL150 speaker wire. We were a little disappointed that the Denon Ceol RCD-N10’s push terminals are only compatible with small wire gauge. We listened to FLAC files stored on a DLNA server via an Ethernet connection. We used both the remote control and the Denon HEOS app to control the receiver. If you try to access streaming services via the OLED screen, note that you will have to enter your login information using the remote control. This is rather inconvenient and we wish this information could have been automatically transmitted when we paired the HEOS app and the receiver.

Test Denon RCD-N10
The Denon Ceol RCD-N10 comes with the following accessories: a remote control, two batteries, two radio antennas, and a power cord.

Let it be said, the RCD-N10’s sound signature hasn’t changed one bit compared to its predecessors and this is a good thing. The receiver delivers solid lows and still stands above the competition in this category. The mids are still very well layered, while the highs sound even smoother than before.We even connected a pair of Klipsch RF-7 MKIII, a very unforgiving floorstander, to make sure that the signal-to-noise ratio was as low as it seemed with the compact speakers (and it is) and we wanted to see if the power supply was up to the task. The Denon Ceol RCD-N10 receiver didn’t lose face, although this type of floorstanding speaker deserves a much more powerful amplifier.

Conclusion

It’s hard to imagine the Denon RCD-N10 not working well with most compact speakers and small floorstanders. If you’re looking for an all-in-one, compact receiver compatible with Deezer, Tidal, and Spotify, the Ceol N10 is a a perfect candidate. We would have liked the receiver to be a bit more responsive to the HEOS app, but a comprehensive range of sources and the solid sound restitution make it a complete success.

What we liked:

  • The precise and substantial amplification
  • The compatibility with online music services
  • The Denon HEOS multiroom app
  • The general design

We would have liked:

  • An aptX compatible Bluetooth receiver
  • To not have to type our HEOS login with the remote control

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