Network Player Reviews

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 03, 2015
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  |  Oct 20, 2015
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  |  Jun 18, 2015
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  |  Apr 23, 2015
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  |  Dec 18, 2014
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  |  Nov 26, 2014
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  |  Oct 09, 2014
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  |  Sep 11, 2014
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  |  Apr 10, 2014
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  |  Feb 18, 2014
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  |  Dec 17, 2013
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  |  Apr 24, 2013
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.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 31, 2013
Its Magic
People looking to play hard drive and Internet-based music without a computer have one choice—a network player. You could argue that a network player is a computer but that's missing the relevant point which is some people don't want to tie up their computer for use as a music server. They'd rather use a computer as a computer. So a dedicated device is their solution. The Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 gives you most everything you'd expect from a network player including the ability to play up to 24/96 music from Network Attached Storage (NAS), USB-based storage, the Internet, and it throws in a 24/192-capable USB DAC to boot.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Sep 18, 2012
How Smart Can a Radio Be?
Logitech has recently rejigged its entire lineup of music-playing products giving them all a new home under the "UE" umbrella. Here's what Logitech says about their new UE line:
Artistry Meets Engineering

Now, as Logitech UE, our commitment to precision technology and sound quality is the inspiration behind everything we do. State-of-the-art research facilities and top engineers from around the world ensure that every last detail in each of our products—from headphones, to smart radios, to wireless speakers—is perfect. Artists on stage or people in their living rooms are all united by the music they live for. And we are dedicated to creating products that bring it to them pure and undiluted.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jul 12, 2012
A Network Stereo Receiver
From a certain perspective, the more buttons, knobs, inputs, and outputs a given piece of hi-fi gear has the less likely its going to be taken seriously by the audiophile community. Never mind that the audiophile community is rarely taken seriously outside itself and sometimes even suffers dissension from within, the simpler-is-better maxim makes most sense when there's one specific job to do. When we add other factors like price, convenience, and increased functionality things can get all complicated. So if you are already taken aback by the word "Receiver" you may want to hold on to your Shakti Stones because the Integra DTM-40.4 also has...tone controls.

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