Network Player and Streamer Reviews

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 18, 2014 2 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 8 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 2 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.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Sep 18, 2014 4 comments
Pro-Ject
Pro-Ject may be best known for their turntables, but they offer a dizzying array of products through their Box Designs line as well. From CD players to speakers and most everything in between, in multiple lines ranging from the E Line, C Line, S Line, DS Line, and RS Line (in ascending price order). Today's Stream Box is from the RS line, the top of the Pro-Ject digital heap.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Sep 11, 2014 5 comments
A Sound House
One could buy a complete system, end-to-end, from the house of Bryston Limited. From a source like the BDP-2 to any number of loudspeakers and everything in between. We've taken just the digital sliver, the BDP-2 and BDA-2, to put under our sonic scope. I've been hearing good things about the BDP since it was a 1, so I must admit to being especially excited to get my hands the BDP-2, what Bryston calls a "digital player", and we refer to as a network player. Bryston was kind enough to also send along their matching DAC for a twofer review.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 26, 2014 4 comments
Three For All In One
The Naim SuperUniti combines elements from three of Naim's stand alone components; the amp borrows its 80W per channel into 8Ω of power from the SUPERNAIT integrated amplifier, the UPnP network player portion comes courtesy of the NDX network player, and the DAC takes its "innovative data buffering jitter removal process" from the aptly named Naim DAC. There's also an AM/FM/DAB tuner and a headphone output in the SuperUniti making it one all around all-in-one player.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 10, 2014 1 comments
A Portable Network Player
Networked music on the go? From room to room and deck to driveway? The Bluesound Pulse is a portable player albeit one that is not battery powered that lets you connect to your network attached storage and the Internet for streaming either via Ethernet or Wi-Fi and play back up to 24/192 files. Throw in Bluetooth connectivity through an optional dongle and you have the world of music coming and going through one device.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 03, 2014 28 comments
A Network Node
The Bluesound Node is a network player—Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth in, out comes your choice of digital (Toslink) or analog (RCAs) music. The Node supports MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF in resolutions up to 24/192, gapless playback, cloud services including WiMP, Rdio, Highresaudio, Slacker Radio, Qobuz, Deezer and Juke (all of these services require an account and some have geographic restrictions), and Internet Radio via TuneIn Radio. You can also play music from an Internet URL. All of this functionality is wrapped up in a relatively small round-cornered display-less cube in your choice of high gloss white or black highlighted with a brushed steel strip running down its center. Control of the Node is performed strictly through the Bluesound app for iOS and Android devices.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 20, 2014 4 comments
All-In-One
The Cambridge Audio Minx Xi packs a 40 watt per channel (into 8 ohms) Class AB integrated amplifier, a network player, DAC, and headphone amp into one relatively small and sleek metal-wrapped high gloss white or black package. Throw in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the Cambridge Stream Magic app for iOS or Android devices, and you've got yourself one very good reason to never leave your couch. Except to dance.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 18, 2014 53 comments
MiND Reader
The Simaudio Moon MiND (MOON intelligent Network Device) is a UPnP/DLNA compatible renderer or more commonly a network player or streamer. In other words, the Moon MiND lets you play back your file-based music without a computer. Just add Network Attached Storage (NAS) and you'll be streaming your music in no time. A lot of people are also wondering—is the MiND an audiophile version of the popular and discontinued Squeezebox Touch? Let's find out.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 04, 2014 4 comments
A Powerful Musical Duo
The Bluesound Powernode delivers network-, smartphone-, tablet-, and Internet-based music via wi-fi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth while also packing an 50 Watt Direct-Digital Amplifier and a 24/192-capable DAC designed by NAD Electronics in one small round-cornered cubed package. The Duo is a sub/satellite speaker system designed by Paul Barton of PSB that has been optimized for use with the Powernode and together they can deliver music anywhere your wired, wi-fi, or Bluetooth range allows. Each come wrapped in gloss white or black with steely metal highlights.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 21, 2014 23 comments
A Musical Vault
The Bluesound Vault is in a category all by itself, at least for the time being. The Vault combines 1TB of Network Attached Storage (NAS) with a DAC and digital volume control so you can connect it directly to your hi-fi with a pair of regular old RCA interconnects. Using the very slick Bluesound app on your smart gadget or tablet of choice you can be playing scads of music in no time flat. No computer or external storage need apply. But that's not all.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 17, 2013 10 comments
ilLUMINate
The Lumin Network Player is the first and currently the only product from Lumin which is a trademark of Pixel Magic Systems Ltd. The latter's core business "...is to develop innovative technologies for the home theater video processing/scaling products and high definition TV related products with advanced software programming and design." I learned from an interview with Lumin on Positive Feedback Online (see interview) that the Lumin player essentially came about because the guys at Pixel Magic Systems are audiophiles and they couldn't find a DSD-capable network player. So they built their own.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 24, 2013 19 comments
Pi-Eyed
In my quest to find a suitable replacement for the discontinued Logitech Squeezebox Touch, I came across the Rasberry Pi. Anyone on a similar quest has more than likely been tempted by the Pi and if you're anything like me, you found its $35 price tag coupled with the promise of streaming capabilities from network attached storage and USB audio output too good to pass up. So I ordered myself some Raspberry Pi, loaded up a few instances of music player software and got to playing. I will say up front that so far I have mine working with CD-quality files through an older USB 1.0 DAC.

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