Network Player and Streamer Reviews

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 30, 2016 56 comments
Wow
I like simple. I appreciate uncomplicated. Yet I write about computer audio. I also listen to music every day for most of the day so I'm very much interested in the quality of that experience. I've been waiting years for these things to come together and they finally have.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 23, 2016 15 comments
Junior
If you're looking for senior, that would be the PS Audio DirectStream (see review). Junior came into being with lots of senior's genes, of greatest import the FPGA-based digital processing engine developed by Ted Smith. The company then went about saving costs in less critical areas and Junior was born. The question on most people's minds may very well be—how far did Junior fall from the tree?
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 28, 2016 1 comments
Music-In-The-Box
You can serve to it, stream to it, and play to it via WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Toslink, or 3.5mm analog input. Armed with an ARM CORTEX A9 processor, 2x 50mm (2") speakers and an 89mm (3.5") woofer tri-amped with 60W of digital power, the Bluesound Pulse Mini pumps out a claimed 45Hz - 20kHz of not so mini music. Control playback from your iOS, Android, or Kindle device running the free BluOS control app or via the top-mounted touch controls and you have a world of music-in-the-box.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 07, 2016 24 comments
The New Node 2
The new Bluesound Node 2 looks a helluva lot better than the original Node, at least to my eyes. It's new beauty is not only skin deep as its processor has been upgraded to a 1 GHz ARM CORTEX A9 Multi-core processor, the DAC is now the BurrBrown PCM5122, and the company has also added more connectivity options, integrated Bluetooth, a headphone amp, and improved WiFi performance. Bluesound has also been been working on improving their BluOS app for iOS and Android devices so we're looking at and listening all new Blue Sound.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 31, 2016 40 comments
Fit For Audiophiles?
I've seen this question posed and discussed about any number of things including the Auralic Aries Mini and I always think; this is what's wrong with some of the thinking in our hobby.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 03, 2016 12 comments
Rendu
Streaming your NAS-based music from storage to speakers requires a device that sits in between. The requirements for this device are twofold; it needs to recognize your network attached storage (NAS) and make it available to another device, typically iOS or Android, which acts as your remote control for playback. In UPnP parlance, which I find as clear and easy to remember as Latin, and I never studied Latin, we're talking about a renderer and a control point. The Sonore Signature Series Rendu is, as its name suggests, a renderer whose job it is to serve up your network attached music. It'll also stream from Tidal as you'll learn about below.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 03, 2015 3 comments
Theory and Application (T+A)
0.5Hz – 300kHz. That's the stated frequency response for the T+A PA 2000 R integrated amp. Add < 0.001% total harmonic/intermodulation distortion and a 105/109dB signal to noise ratio (unweighted/A-weighted) and it appears as if T+A's theories have been applied rather successfully, on paper. The MP 2000 R DAC/Network Client's digital section boasts a 110db signal to noise ratio and we all know that less noise equals better resolution. More or less, on paper. When these two components are R-Link'd together and used to play music through your speakers of choice, theory and application need to add up to music appreciation. Of course T+A knows that and it sounds to me like they know it very well.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 20, 2015 15 comments
I'm listening to "Tout Juste Sous La Surface, Je Guette" from Aidan Baker's lovely Already Drowning using the AURALiC Aries mini wireless network player leashed to the Aurlaic Vega DAC via USB and I'm hearing good things. The mini is getting its tunes via WiFi from my Synology NAS running MinimServer and the setup took all of ten minutes, including SUI (stupid user issues).
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 25, 2015 0 comments
Cyrus Audio
UK-based Cyrus Audio has been in the Hi-Fi game for 32 years starting out with one of the very first specialist CD players. Fast forward to today, and you're looking at a company that offers roughly 20 products from streamers to preamps, to power amps and a few combinations thereof. We're going to be playing with the Stream XA which combines a UPnP/DLNA network player, the Cadence control app for iOS and Android devices, and DAC all-in-one.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 18, 2015 7 comments
Rendered
Server, renderer, control point. Those are the ingredients of a UPnP/DLNA playback system. The server stores your music as well as the server software, the renderer is responsible for requesting your music from the server and passing it along to your attached DAC, while the control point is your interface to make this happen. Today, we're looking at and listening to the Bel Canto REFStream Asynchronous Ethernet Renderer to see how well it performs this deceptively simple task.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 23, 2015 10 comments
My first review of the Auralic Aries network player was written back in October 2014 (see review). Since that time, Auralic has been busy improving the Aries mainly in terms of functionality and improved stability through a series of firmware updates. My initial review was based on firmware v1.7. The associated Lightning DS app has also seen steady improvement over this same period. With the recent release of firmware v2.4, I think it's a good time for a re-visit.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 18, 2014 3 comments
Primare
What do we want from a network player? The ability to easily stream music from our network attached storage, from a USB drive, perhaps stream from Internet Radio and streaming services, a nice interface via an easy to use app, and of course good sound. Good looks don't hurt either and just add to the ownership experience. The Primare NP30 checks off these boxes and it even adds Bluetooth connectivity for easy streaming from your or your friends and family's smart phones.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 26, 2014 9 comments
Sonos
Do you watch TV? Sports maybe? If so, you've probably spotted one of the Sonos commercials. White immaculate rooms are suddenly filled with liquid color, with flowers, or with paint spatters until the rooms are transformed. By music. Cool. And its cool for a few reasons; the message, the presentation, and the fact that a hi-fi company can afford to advertise on network TV during high profile/price sporting events. I'd imagine that Sonos is the only company to come through AudioStream to be in a position to pull that off.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 09, 2014 14 comments
DSD Over WiFi
The Auralic ARIES prototype debuted at CES 2014 and caused quit a stir with its ability to stream DSD over WiFi. The company prefers to call the Aries a "Wireless Streaming Bridge" but if we look at its functionality from a bird's eye view it is a network player or streamer. Essentially the Aries accepts your NAS-based music or streaming services via WiFi or Ethernet, its Lightning App acts as the control point, and it sends your musical selections on to your DAC of choice via USB, Toslink, Coax S/PDIF, or AES/EBU. Pretty straight forward stuff.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Sep 25, 2014 3 comments
Cocktail Audio
Cocktail Audio is, to the best of my knowledge, a division of Novatron a Korean company specializing in the manufacture of "Multimedia Devices". I first came across the Cocktail Audio X30 at CES 2014 and I was intrigued by its all in oneness. The X30 incorporates a 50W digital amp, DAC, server, UPnP network player, and CD ripper all in one package. Just add speakers.

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