Online streaming has grown pervasive, and for music lovers, it most likely plays a sizable part in everyday listening habits. Even staunch supporters of traditional formats have to concede this. However, if you value having your music sound its best regardless of how you choose to listen, a dedicated music streamer is a necessity for your digital hi-fi demands. The only way to do them justice is to select one of the finest music streamers, whether you want to listen to CD-quality recordings from premium music subscription services or play locally stored lossless files.
There are several types of music streamers. They can be included as stand-alone elements in a specialized hi-fi setup, integrated into wireless speakers, single-box systems with amplification, or both. A music streamer must manage numerous distinct wireless sources and be able to play music files from local storage on your network, but other hi-fi separates like a turntable or CD player merely have a straightforward function to accomplish.
The bulk of the choices in the list below support the overwhelming majority of hi-res music formats, however the highest resolution supported ranges from 24-bit/96kHz PCM files for more entry-level products to 32-bit/768 kHz for systems that strive to push the envelope. But since the great majority of music isn’t available in those more extreme file forms, we wouldn’t get too hung up on the statistics. A capability of 24-bit/192kHz should be more than sufficient to suit the needs of the majority of audiophiles. CD quality is 16-bit/44.1kHz.
Streamers come equipped with USB connections, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, and UPnP compatibility. Regardless of the model, you will be able to stream thousands of internet radio stations, play music files from an associated NAS drive, and have at least Spotify and presumably higher quality alternatives like Tidal or Quboz built-in. Most devices come with Bluetooth, and it’s even better if it’s the more powerful aptX HD version. The majority of streamers also feature digital inputs, allowing you to use them as a sort of digital hub for your system in addition to playing music files from a USB drive.
You’ll actually need a smartphone or tablet to control your streamer if you want to get the optimum user experience. The quickest way to create playlists is to use such devices and your streamer’s software, which is also the best way to traverse big music libraries. You might want to seek for devices with a display and a conventional remote control if that doesn’t appeal to you at this price point.
Since we’re discussing practicalities, it’s important to note that a reliable home internet network is a prerequisite for any music streamer, and you must choose whether to connect the steamer wirelessly or physically with an Ethernet cable. Going wire-free is enticing since it simplifies and organizes things, and if your network is reliable, it should work well for most people. But if you can, stick with wired connections because they provide a more reliable connection and make things run more smoothly over time.
Like all things hi-fi, streamers can range greatly in price, and how much you should anticipate to pay will depend on the rest of your setup. Although it always pays to be flexible to find the appropriate one, we would advise starting out with a budget about equal to that of your amplifier.
Music streamers are an excellent method to improve your audio quality over a basic wireless speaker, regardless of your budget. A hi-fi streamer is the best option if you enjoy the convenience but want better sound and have the space and money for a stereo system. You will have access to a staggering variety of music almost independent of the music streamer you choose to purchase; nevertheless, if you choose carefully, it will make listening to that music even more delightful.
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Naim Uniti Atom Compact All-in-One Integrated Amplifier and Music Player
- 40 watts x 2
- optical, coaxial, USB, and HDMI digital inputs, RCA stereo analog input, and a minijack headphone output
- Bluetooth with aptX, Apple AirPlay, Chromecast built-in, and Spotify Connect
A music server or streamer is what the Naim Uniti Atom is known as. It’s made to be a central location for all of your music, streaming it wirelessly over Wi-Fi and sending it to your amplifier or straight to your speakers. Like many other streamers, the Uniti includes an amp inside. The Uniti Atom and a pair of speakers are therefore all you need to create a killer system. Not simply because of the variety of things it can do, but also because of its stunning appearance and hefty price tag, it’s a discussion starter.
No matter which test speakers we connected to the Atom, we were always blown away by how full and clear the sound was. Every music we played through it sounded vibrant, alive, and engaging, with the details stretched out and clear to hear. The mids and highs are where we really heard this, as energetic elements like the voices, strings, and snare claps just sprang out at us. The Atom was perfectly capable of playing just about anything, giving it life at 32 bit 384khz. However, genres like electronica and acoustic music benefited the most from this. It outperforms music streamers that are more expensive in this area by a wide margin.
The Uniti Atom has more tricks up its sleeve than just clarity and detail. There are, after all, many excellent stereo amplifiers that provide clarity. Instead, the Atom shines because almost every component of the sound is secure and confident. We discovered this in especially when evaluating movie soundtracks, which demand a lot from speakers and amplifiers due to their extensive dynamic range. They often play sounds adjacent to each other, ranging from extremely soft to very loud. To hop between them quickly and make them shine, an amp must be somewhat well-made connectivity options. There were no issues for the Uniti Atom. It resisted our best efforts and kept arriving despite them.
The bass would be the component that we would criticize the most. The Uniti Atom is unquestionably brighter and emphasizes the bass far less than other streamers listening session, even yet the low end is just good. The soundstage provided by the Uniti Atom also usually impressed us. This obviously relies on the speakers you choose, but even as we switched between the several speakers we had available for testing, we felt like the Uniti Atom was stretching the music outward and delineating the distinct components of each track with clarity and cleanliness.
Amazing is the Naim Uniti Atom. We frequently have high levels of skepticism toward things with prices like this since, once you pass a certain threshold, the returns can suddenly reduce. But the Uniti Atom’s superior quality left us in awe at every turn. The design and usability were revolutionary, and the sound quality was exceptional. We were shocked by how quickly it took over as the main musical component of our daily lives, being the first thing we switched on when we entered the workplace and the final thing we turned off before leaving. Naim Audio ought to be incredibly proud of this groundbreaking device. This is one of the Best Music Streamer in 2023.
Cambridge Audio CXN V2 Stereo Network Streamer
- ✓ STUNNING SOUND QUALITY - The convenience of digital audio without compromising audio quality. Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) lets you enjoy the...
- ✓ ADVANCED UNSAMPLING FOR CLEANER AUDIO – Cambridge Audio’s advanced Adapted Time Filter 2 (ATF2) technology upsamples all incoming digital...
- ✓ MUSIC ANY WAY YOU WANT IT – With the CXN (V2) network streamer, pick from the sources you use daily – Spotify, Google Play, Pandora, Apple...
With its brushed metal finish and user-friendly menus, the Cambridge Audio CXN might be for you if you’re looking for a fashionable way to play your music wirelessly. But it’s not just a pretty face; it also delivers where it counts. The sound quality is excellent, and the delivery is zealous and focused, combining quick timing with minute levels of information. We called the first CXN “wonderfully amusing,” so it’s encouraging to see that this second-generation model has kept that personality.
This music streamer distinguishes out thanks to its numerous connectivity choices and seamless performance over wi fi connection. It has a modern design and excellent construction that would look great in any space. This ruthless machine offers a plethora of functions, including file compatibility, and amazing and pleasurable sound quality.
Free and paid high-definition streaming services like internet radio, streaming platforms like Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, and Qobuz are available on CXN V2. You can access Apple Music, Amazon Music, BBC Sounds, and other streaming services thanks to Chromecast and Apple Airplay2. Additionally Roon Ready, CXN V2 unifies the viewing of your digital audio files from any source. It’s one thing to simply obtain the music you desire. Another is to be moved by its faithfulness. Due to this, CXN V2 has two DACs from the Wolfson WM8740 series. By employing our proprietary ATF2 technology to upscale any digital music to an information-rich 24-bit/384kHz, music is delivered with a warmth, depth, and complexity not typically associated with digital audio. The Cambridge Connect App for Android and iOS can be used to control each of these functionalities. Users may quickly and easily find what they’re looking for thanks to this. Even beginners shouldn’t have any issues using the Cambridge Audio CXN v2.
This music streamer is a sleek option for those looking for wireless music streaming. The Cambridge Audio Network Player is among the models with the best usability. The sole drawback is that customers must insert a different USB stick into the back in order to access the Wi-Fi. But this only needs to be done once, and it’s a really simple operation. The Cambridge Audio CXN v2 Network Player is certain to meet your needs in terms of overall performance and use for music streaming devices at an affordable price range. This is one of the Best Music Streamers in 2023.
Bluesound Node 2i Wireless Multi-room Hi-Res Music Streaming Player
- Connect to any existing stereo amplifier, AV receiver, or powered audio system
- Featuring digital and analog input/output options, Headphone stereo Mini jack, subwoofer RCA mono
- Seamlessly stream music from a CD player or turntable through the NODE 2i to other blue sound players.Power Consumption (Idle):6 Watts
The Bluesound Node 2i appears to be incredible. The MQA lossless format is supported, and it offers a comprehensive wireless multi-room streaming solution that can handle almost everything. It works with almost all popular streaming services, is Roon Ready, and masters high-resolution file types. The dynamic range is great, and the sound is rock-solid. It has a stylish look and a fantastic BluOS software.
Your current audio setup becomes a network-ready Bluesound player thanks to the NODE 2i. Making it a part of your multi-room Bluesound wireless system requires connecting its analog or digital outputs to your current receiver or amplifier. Stream high-definition music from your personal computer, online radio stations, or music services. The whole-house wireless music system from Bluesound is made to work in conjunction with audiophile-caliber equipment so you can get the most out of your digital music.
You can stream audio directly from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer through your Bluesound system thanks to built-in Apple AirPlay 2 technology. That includes the music from Netflix films and YouTube videos. You can also do much more if you have an Apple Music® subscription. Use Siri on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV 4K to give voice commands to control Apple Music. Tell it the song or playlist to play, as well as which Bluesound speakers or other equipment you want it to use.
For higher-fidelity sound with compatible Bluetooth devices, the NODE 2i offers aptX HD Bluetooth streaming. Additionally, the system is backward-compatible with prior Bluetooth versions. Even other Bluetooth music players in your home that are wired to your network can access that Bluetooth source. You can also wirelessly stream music from the NODE 2i to a linked set of wireless headphones for easy late-night listening.
Virtually all digital audio formats, including high-resolution files up to 24-bit/192kHz, are compatible with Bluesound. Use a networked hard drive or your computer to access the music you’ve saved there. Listen to music online from radio stations and subscription services like TIDAL, Deezer, and Spotify® (including their high-res MQA service tier). Downloads from high-res music websites like HDtracks are also available. When friends stop by with their own music, you may easily play files “locally” from a flash drive or hard drive thanks to a USB port.
The Bluesound Node 2i’s absence of a display doesn’t bother us all that much; at this price, it’s hardly a deal-breaker. One of the few red flags against the Node 2i is that control can only be done through the top panel or the BluOS app. The app is… alright, but it isn’t as responsive as we’d like and frequently has bugs. Having said that, the Node 2i is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a cheap MQA listening solution.
Audiolab 6000N Play Wireless Streaming Player
The newest addition to the renowned audiolab 6000 Series of components is the wireless audio streaming player known as the audiolab 6000N Play. With DTS Play-Fi Technology, music may be delivered in high-resolution format via your wireless network and, if necessary, simply expanded to a multi-room system. Any device connected to your wireless network can stream content, including PCs, tablets, smartphones, and NAS drives.
Third in the company’s mid-range 6000 Series, after the 6000A integrated amplifier and the 6000CDT CD transport, is Audiolab’s first standalone music streamer. And it takes both of their technologies and characteristics. It provides a competent and composed sound with an attractive openness and a nice honest, down-the-middle tonal balance using the same best DAC chip from the amp and circuit design from the transport. It includes the Time Domain Jitter Eliminator from ESS Technology, which analyzes and algorithmically improves the input signal’s timing. The isolated power supply and toroidal transformer of the 6000N Play’s circuit design are taken directly from the 6000CDT.
However, DTS’s Play-Fi hi-res, multi-room platform serves as the cornerstone of its streaming experience. Because the 6000N Play’s software is built around Play-Fi, it can access services like Spotify Connect, Tidal, HDtracks, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music, Napster, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and SiriusXM when it is connected to a network by ethernet or its dual-band wi-fi.
Due to DLNA and UPnP compliance, it can also broadcast high-resolution music files up to 24-bit/192kHz from networked servers. For a multi-room setup, it can also wirelessly connect with up to 32 additional Play-Fi-enabled devices. The DTS Play-Fi control app serves as the entry point to all of these features. We have previously used this platform with the award-winning Arcam rPlay, and we are confident in saying that it supports its well-equipped streaming smarts with a simple, reliable user interface. On the home screen, you can access your music services, control the volume, and manage a multi-room environment. As you explore a streaming service catalog in depth, hitting the DTS logo brings you back home, while another press takes you to your previous in-app navigation point.
Although music streaming has established a stronghold in the music industry and is now widely available in manufacturer’s hi-fi catalogs, it is understandable that not everyone is prepared to throw away their other source components. And the Audiolab 6000N Play doesn’t require you to given its affordable price, understated appearance, and streaming capabilities.
With the extra benefit of being able to blend invisibly with your hi-fi rack, The Play is a fantastic, reasonably priced solution to integrate streaming into your system. In all honesty, it’s the most effective financial answer we’ve ever encountered.