With the rise and prominence of subscription streaming services such as Spotify and Tidal, it is no surprise that more are looking to uphaul their digital audio set-up. Music streamers are one such way to remove any weak links in your audio chain and retrieve the best quality from digital files whether they are locally stored lossless files or CD-quality tracks from your music subscription apps.
These are dedicated devices capable of retrieving audio files from another location – they are used interchangeably with the term ‘network players’ with some containing their own in-built digital-to-analog converters (DACs). We explore the best the market has to offer so you can continue playing high-quality music files to wirelessly drive your subwoofers, speakers or even headphones.
|Model||DAC||Resolution||Ability to Stream Spotify Music|
|Naim Uniti Atom||Yes||32 bit / 384kHz||Yes|
|Bluesound Node 2i||Yes||24 bit / 192kHz||Yes|
|Marantz PM7000N||Yes||24 bit / 192kHz||Yes|
|Cambridge Audio CXN V2||Yes||24 bit / 96kHz||Yes|
|Denon PMA-150H||Yes||24 bit / 192kHz||Yes|
|Arcam ST60||Yes||32-bit / 192kHz||Yes|
Naim Uniti Atom
Good music is known to ignite good feelings among listeners. That is what Naim is designed to do. With its amazing craft of sound, clarity, and artistry, this amazing product rewards you with silence in the environment, dipping away every interference and noise. The result is a rare distinction separating the artist’s intention and any other unwanted sound. They achieve this through their state-of-the-art technology. Naim Uniti Atom is designed with four engineering fundamentals to deliver quality and value.
It is an all-in-one music streamer housing a high-end Burr-Brown DAC, an amplifier of the class AB, UPnP Server, and networked infrastructure. The network is done using wired ethernet and 802.11ac wireless components. That is to ensure that your Naim Uniti Atom All-In-One Unit will function using wired and wireless networks. This unit can stream music from a network server, pull music from an attached USB Storage device, connect to Bluetooth devices such as tablets and smartphones using AptX HD, and connect to online platforms such as Spotify, Tidal, etc.
Naim Uniti Atom delivers on sound and nails many other streamers on design. The equipment is sleek, good-looking, and an excellent office standard. It looks luxurious in every aspect, and by just one look, one would deduce that it’s quite pricey. The material used on the Naim Uniti Atom is not cheap either. Nor is it just a huge box of things like many other designs in the market. It is designed in a style of its own.
What’s more, this device can support Apple Airplay, too, using its built-in Chromecast system. Furthermore, this amazing streamer is also designed to act as a node in a multi-room audio set-up, helping to stream music to other Music streamers. That means you can easily use it in a commercial setting that requires more music extensions.
It is designed to pair with Naim Uniti Core which encloses a hard disk and CD ripper. This device is so amazing. When you approach it, the proximity sensor changes the display to present more information so you can promptly choose which command to allow. The volume is also displayed on the dial screen at the top of the enclosure. Everything just fits right in, allowing you to maneuver so easily.
Naima Uniti Atom gives each of the components its environment, omitting every toxic interference so that you receive your music in its solid purity. While listening to your music, the sound comes out with such clarity that it ignites your passion into the dance floor. How the components mutate to form a piece of resounding quality music is simply amazing. Naim Uniti Atom meets all the wireless home hi-fi output qualifications that will leave music lovers wriggling across the floor.
The Naim Uniti Atom is an astounding music hub for all your music. Designed to stream wirelessly over WIFI, the streamer then sends out to the Amp, which picks the signal to bring a resounding beauty of sound. Its internal Amp is extremely powerful and can filter your music in a way that leaves you on the dancing floor.
The Naim Uniti is a killer system worth your money with its amazing sound clarity. Its sound is crispy clear, resounding, balanced, and cool. The kind of sound you would love to hear continuously into the middle of the night. The vocals, the strings, and the combinations just burst with life.
The technology behind this device lets you enjoy both the quiet and the loud exuberated passion. This is because it minimizes the internal interplay levels to enjoy the intended quality. Furthermore, the unit is fitted with a rapid sound tier system that brings harmony and satisfaction.
The Naim Uniti Atom packs a gorgeous 5-inch display on the front panel to display album art while music is streaming. The incredible thing is that, as you approach the device, the proximity sensor will momentarily change to display a smaller image with the name of the current track inscribed on one end, the artist’s name, the album name, and elapsed streaming time. When idle, Atom’s home screen shows selectable sources that you select using the Remote Control.
Never worry if you use Roon Server as the Device is Roon ready. This device is built with low-power consumption Zigbee Radio. Zigbee Radio provides two-way communication. It has 21 buttons that are backlit to produce amicable illumination for a better view. The lighting is automatic; it suddenly blasts into a warm illumination by picking up the Remote Control. This ensures you use your device even in a dark room. It produces a ring of LEDs on the D-pad to show the volume level.
The remote doesn’t support long-range control for a good reason. You are to use it in conjunction with the front panel; otherwise, you have the option to use your Android or Apple App to access all the Naim’s services. The app is excellently designed to play a continuous stream without interruption.
Dynamics and the Bass Quality
You must have thought that clarity and detail are all Naim Uniti Atom boasts about until you come face to face with its dynamics and bass. Atom is not just another Streamer; it is a powerhouse of rare bass quality and excels in music dynamics. The type that can play movie soundtracks which range from quiet to loud sounds. Such sound range is often a challenge to many other systems but not the Naim Uniti Atom.
- Produces a deep bass
- Warm and well-balanced sound quality
- Strongly built
Bluesound Node 2i
Bluesound Node 2i is one of the best sound systems available now. It is a very graceful second-generation streamer with our time’s powerful and brilliant sound quality. Let us look at some of its brilliant features. Node 2i is a wireless streamer with a dramatic upturn in sonic performance. It was designed as an upgrade over the NAD Masters M50.2 BluOS network streamer. This new upgrade worked more on isolating the sound frequencies from the WiFi to render a smooth flow of music streaming.
The Bluesound Node 2i now has a smaller WiFi chipset, enabling the mighty gadget to play with circuit layout, thereby advancing the audio output. The device also has a dual-band WiFi. Apart from that, they have also added Apple Airplay 2 and a two-way Bluetooth to the list. That means you can now use wireless headphones using the BluOS 3.0 App. What’s more, it has been packed with a faster processor to process files much faster. The new model comes loaded with RCA, coaxial, USB, optical, and subwoofer connectivity support. This ensures that you can get your music from any source you like.
The sound system in this latest model greatly improves the earlier models in many ways. It has improved on the richness across the frequencies. The sound performance is not inferior either. A balanced bass that infuses flawlessly with the vocals, strings, and the claps of other sounds bring life to music. The machine has excellent abilities when it comes to audio quality. Not to mention its streaming ability which also has greatly improved.
Let us look at the Bluesound Node 2i’s dynamism and organization. It’s organization, timing, and dynamic expression are super iconic. The improvement comes due to the addition of Arcam, which is the reason for the super performance.
This machine is designed to connect to other traditional systems with ease. This means that it is capable of connecting HiFi systems, including powerful speakers, to the steaming world and internet audio. This super streamer picks your old music equipment and converts them into the kind of music you would want. Take, for instance, an old and forgotten amplifier lying somewhere on your premises. When connected to this music streamer, your music would sound new to your ears.
The Bluesound Node 2i is designed with enhanced dual-band WIFI to render the best-in-class performance even in crowded airspaces. With its Bluetooth aptX, the Bluesound Node 2i easily supports 24-bit streaming directly from your phone or tablet. It can also transmit studio-quality music to Bluetooth headphones or external speakers. What’s more, it also has DAC technology which enables Node 2i to decode and stream MQA files with a lot of ease.
The Bluesound Node 2i is packed with analog and digital input and output options uncommon with many other models. With this iconic device, you receive great playback choices that beautify your sonic domain with a mix of sounds and vocals.
You can play from all sources and formats such as CDs, USB, and other modern connectivity.
One of the amazing features of the Bluesound Node 2i Streamer is its hands-free capability. That means you can connect your streamer with Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon Lexa.
- High connectivity
- Gives value for money
- Strongly built
- Not the most intuitive controls
Sonos is best known for wireless speakers, which have been associated with high performance for a long time. It was only recently when they began to make Amplifiers. Sonos Amp is their latest model Amp to hit the market with high audio performance. Does this device fit the class of music streamers? Yes indeed! Let us diagnose this super amp model.
The Sonos Amp is a product fitted with all the smart streaming capabilities you can think of. It has ports to connect to any HIFI speakers. Needless to say, the Sones Amp can serve you better in movie watching supported by the Sonos Beam Soundbar.
The latest design is a break away from the older models that were bulky in size. The new Sonos Amp comes with a minimalist look, a wider but shallower shape than its predecessors. Its design makes it ideal for custom HiFi connections. More importantly, the slim size makes this fantastic product that easily fits in the rack. That means installing it does not pose a problem. It is available only in black minimalist color with three-touch sensor buttons at the front and a circular chimney shape at the top completing the show.
Each of those buttons has assigned functions. The first button controls the play/pause function. The next one controls volume while the last one makes track selection. The amp has a phone app that does most of the functions. The app strips the gadget of any need to control it by other means.
The smp pairs with most wireless speakers easily. It has high power output which means better performance. The rear contains all connection ports; two speaker wire terminals, a stereo/analogue output, subwoofer output, etc. The analogue output ensures that you can connect older devices.
Did you know that the Sonos Amp carries an HDMI port on its rear to ensure quick and easy synchronization with your TV Set? The Sonos Amp will automatically turn to TV Sound mode, in which case you can control the TV remotely. It is also fed with ethernet ports that can be used to connect other devices as well. This includes WiFi and other internet-related devices.
This amp plays music from every streaming service with unmatched capability. You can control Spotify Connect, Apple Airplay2, and Pandora. While it works in conjunction with other devices, the system can fill the house with quality music. Sonos products are champions in multi-room streaming.
Setting up Sonos App is fairly straightforward. All you need to do is connect your device to the available WiFi network. Open the Sono App, tap connect when a prompt appears that requests to control a nearby Sono system. If you don’t receive a prompt, just visit the settings and tap join a nearby system. Follow the instructions to connect your Sonos app to the Sono system.
Sonos Amp and TV Viewing
Despite the amp being a two-channel system, it has some spectacular sound processing. The phantom center speaker environment it creates works well when watching movies. It packs individual sound effects which come with a 3-D display.
- Easy to set
- Best for bookshelf speakers
- Well distributed sound
- Limited to 2 channels
Sony HAPZ1ES is designed to deliver high-powered sounds that are common with Sony products. This device comes with a serious conversation in the streaming and music world. Being a stereo HiFi, the results from this flagship show that the giant maker is not joking about music consumption.
The Sony HAPZ1ES follows the same traditional format as the Sony brand. It is featured with high-resolution audio and copes with any audio format such as WAV, FLAC, AIFF, and DSD. Packed with a 1 TB internal Hard Drive, the Z1ES introduces a different approach to streaming.
The Sony HAPZ1ES is WiFi enabled which makes it ideal for streaming. You will need to run the app on your device. Once you have installed the app on your PC, select the folders the app will be allowed to access and save your settings. The software will supply all the functionalities that make this device king over all the others. You will need to add music files to the selected folder to facilitate automatic transfer to the player. This removes all hassles in handling such information.
Remote Control App
Sony HAPZ1ES comes with a minimalist Remote controller. The Remote Controller isn’t simple either, and it is sleek, minimalist, and stylish. It supports multiple folder locations, which means it can accommodate more users and assign them unique folders.
The Sony HAPZ1ES server is not just another music streaming entity, it is a splendid performer. It has support for DSD files and all the other formats. Once you have entered the folders from which you want to transfer files to the app, it is time to tap the button. The process will start instantly, and the transfer is fast. The Z1ES is a central streaming performer you may never have thought of.
- Great sound quality
- Easy to use
- Covers the whole house
- Takes time to set
This is a streamer that acts as an amplifier with everything you would need for power and input. It supports multi-room as well, so all you need is good speakers. The Marantz PM7000N is the company’s latest show of power in digital streaming. It is a top model from Marantz. Let us look at some of its features.
Marantz Resolution & MQA
The amp doesn’t support MQA. That is the only downside for music lovers who want more than CDs. That means it doesn’t provide full sound quality for Master releases. But it supports 24-bit files that are stored on the hard Drive or a network.
An All-in-One User-Friendly Device
It has never been easy to connect to a wireless network with this amp, especially for iPhone users. Select that iPhone connects to the same network in the menu, and you are done. The amp is user-friendly as all you do is select the files or folder and operate it from your remote controller.
The sound isn’t exactly poor but not high standard as well. Compared to some of the models mentioned above, its sound quality is slightly wanting but not it’s streaming ability. Overall, it is an all-in-one amplifier that can’t be ignored.
- An easy to control volume
- Bluetooth/WiFi enabled
- Leading voice agents for amplifier control
- Weak power support
- It is very heavy
Cambridge Audio CXN V2
It is one of the best streaming devices out there. Its network streaming capability is incomparable to any other network streamers. The only difference is that it requires a smaller speaker to work better. You will have to ensure your speaker is no more than 100 watts, or the sound quality may drop due to less power to push it.
The Cambridge CNX V2 Streamer is less spectacular and has a basic design. Unlike Naim Uniti Atom and other streamers, which carry standard modern, sleek looks, not the Cambridge CXN V2. It is just a plain box coated on the inside with foam to offer protection to the circuitry. But a closer look will reveal an aluminum chassis with a very good feel in your hands. The streamer feels lighter, with a volume knob that acts as the selection knob.
Its connection ports lie on the rear, solid when connected with devices so that when you try to pull them out, nothing feels loose. That is the Cambridge CXN V2, the simple and rich experience for music lovers.
With the help of the StreamMagic App, you will find all the controls you need for the CXN V2. If that is not enough, this app can easily integrate third-party apps to its core function, making your music live, simple and enjoyable. This includes radio frequencies too. But you are forced to add BT100 Bluetooth Dongle if you require it to connect to Bluetooth devices. Unfortunately, it only supports Bluetooth input.
It uses Wolfson WM8740, an old popular chipset known for its warm sound signature. The resolution isn’t that bad, though you wouldn’t compare it with modern types that offer HIFI audio capabilities. Though it has a balanced XCR, it makes a good pair with SMSL.
UI & Remote
Thankfully, its remote controller is one of the best with all the good you may need in a remote controller. Generally, the device is user-friendly, with an easy menu system for beginners to master.
- Fairly priced
- Poor emission of bass
One look at the device will reveal its edge design, a complete functional front panel, and OLED display. This streaming device boasts both wired and wireless connectivity, a rare function with many other streamers. It has in-built HEOS, a discrete headphone technology, and a powerful amp to push sophisticated speakers. Whereas it can link a TV audio output, the device can play a host of audio shows too.
It is sized right with distinctive looks of quality. If you are looking for something unique and a musical powerhouse worth your money, think Denon PMA-150H. The other design feature is the high-quality solid built and clean aesthetics. It is also well re-engineered, making it look elegant and you will love it in your space.
- Detailed musical accuracy
- No sound interference
- More Connectivity options
- High power consumption
- Available in black only
Let’s look at the design works of this amazing amplifier. The front panel is just simply super beautiful, with a classy volume dial, three buttons, and a spectacular OLED Display.
This device is bundled with dynamic and expressive capabilities, this unibody machine is not just another streamer. It has strong support for streaming and is very sophisticated.
Its sound is superb, with impressive performance. With this streamer, you are assured of expressive, big full audio beauty.
Think of music, and in comes the MusicLife App, which propels the performance of Arcam ST60. It has greatly improved its streaming services through this app, including improvements on Tidal and Qobuz. The improvement extends to internet streaming as well.
It doesn’t have a complicated interface, nor is it hard to navigate. With the help of the Remote Control or App, you will find it easy to maneuver.
- Streaming support is strong
- The sound is clear with tonality
- Doesn’t support Apple music
- No DSD
Music Streamers Buying Guide
Our list confirms that there are many types of music streamers in the market. Here is a guide that should help you choose the best along with reasons to buy a music streamer.
With Spotify HiFi soon to launch, many people are looking for ways to best make use of Spotify’s convenient and high quality subscription service. Many of the music streamers above are capable of streaming Spotify. Furthermore, Spotify Connect enables the playback of Spotify from any device connected to a common WiFi. With this nifty feature, Spotify enables playback directly through its servers allowing quick switching between multiple products. See our article on Spotify compared with other streaming services.
The Use of Roon
Hardcore audio enthusiasts may be familiar with dedicated software programs such as Roon. It is a popular streaming service for audiophiles which hosts a library of your local digital audio files as well as that of a streaming service. Unfortunately it is not the cheapest of software services and users will have to pay $119 a year or $499 for lifetime membership. However, it is a dedicated well-designed music library which aggregates your highest quality audio files into a nice and easy to display digital magazine.
Anything that you send your money on should not complicate your life. This is why before purchasing a streamer, it is wise to check if it has usability features. One of the features is a remote control. The features should help you operate the device without much struggle.
This is another important factor to consider when buying a music streamer. A good unit should be highly connectable to Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/Ethernet. It should also work with the most common streaming platforms like Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, etc. These options ensure that you can easily enjoy the latest music without having to pay for a new device.
Having a great music streamer is one step towards perfecting a great digital audio system. With the growth and popularity of digital audio streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal & Qobuz – it is no wonder more and more people are seeking to extract the best audio quality from files. Not only this but the latest devices bring a whole lot of modern features which aid user convenience and enable multi-device connectivity.
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