Network Player Reviews

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Steven Plaskin  |  Dec 21, 2017
A difficult task has been presented to me; sonic comparison of the Sonore Signature Rendu SE with the SOtM Triple Set that is composed of the sMS-200ultra, the tx-USBultra, and the sPS-500 power supply. It’s a difficult mission because these products have been previously reviewed here at AudioStream and all were found to be first-rate products. Michael Lavorgna did an excellent job reviewing the Sonore Signature Rendu SE and found it to be a "pure pleasure" to listen to. Likewise, I was very impressed with the performance of the SOtM sMS-200ultra, tx-USBultra, and the sPS-500 with silver Y DC cable in my reviews. It just so happens that I own both the Sonore Signature Rendu SE and SOtM Triple Set and have a burning desire to know which setup will sound best in my system. Will it be the Sonore Signature Rendu SE or the SOtM Triad that will bring me closer to the music, and ultimately, long term musical satisfaction?
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  |  Mar 31, 2016
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  |  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  |  Jun 18, 2015
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 07, 2016
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  |  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  |  Apr 28, 2016
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  |  Jan 18, 2018
Inputs and outputs. In hi-fi, it's interesting to note that with a device like the Bricasti M5, people wonder which of its outputs is "best". That's like asking, "What's the best screwdriver—flathead or phillips?"
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  |  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  |  May 16, 2017
"Take 'em to the bridge"—James Brown, "Sex Machine"
Can a piece of hi-fi be a sex machine?
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 01, 2016
All-In-One With A Twist
The ELAC Discovery is a one-box solution for people looking to turn their digital music collection, streamed and stored, into analog while using Roon to control playback. The Discovery handles gapless playback and PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz (WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, OGG, MP3, AAC) while offering two analog outputs + WiFi for multiroom(s) audio. Here's the twist: Discovery runs on Roon Essentials, which negates the need for a separate device running Roon Server/Core, and Roon Essentials is included in the Discovery's price.
Steven Plaskin  |  Dec 08, 2016
The Nimitra Computer Audio Server is the design of Keetakawee Punpeng, the creator of Fidelizer. I have previously written about Fidelizer Pro, software that optimizes the Windows operating system for use with music software. Keetakawee, who hails from Thailand, decided to combine his software talents and computer hardware knowledge to create a reference audiophile music server. He also wanted a server that would not only be better sounding than an off-the-shelf computer, but a device that would be effortless in terms of setup and use. The Nimitra was conceived as a plug and play device that would take the frustration out of the use of a computer for audio and let users concentrate on their enjoyment of music.
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.