Gone are the days where audiophiles had to rely on cassette players or CD players for their music. Nowadays streaming services are rife and there is a huge abundance of choice when it comes to streaming music however and whenever you want.
Music streamers capture this direction of the industry and are a revered item for audio enthusiasts. In essence, they are a piece of hardware allowing a user to play and access music via a network or internet connection.
Compared to laptops and mobile phones (which can be considered basic music streamers), the audiophile music streamer often supports a wider variety of audio codecs as well as higher resolution. In addition, a fair few feature their own internal digital analog converters (DACs) which tend to outperform those from laptops or mobile phones.
- Music Streamers: What You Need to Know
- What Is A Spotify Streamer?
- Is It Really Necessary to Own a Music Streamer?
- Provides Ease of Convenience in a Streamlined Solution
- Universal Plug and Play / DLNA
- Music Streaming Software Alternatives for Music Streaming Service Platforms
- Sound Quality Is Notably Different From Non-Dedicated Music Streamers
- It Frees Up Your Other Devices from Playing Back Audio Files
- Final Thoughts
Music Streamers: What You Need to Know
A music streamer, also called a streaming media player or streaming music player, is a simple device that allows you to play your favorite music tracks from anywhere and anytime, as long as the music streamer is connected to a network that has an internet connection.
Usually, most music players will rely on dedicated music service platforms, such as Spotify or TIDAL when it comes to music playback. However, if the music streamer has its own internal storage, it can then play the files from its storage locally, making it the “main server” for the music playback instead of the music service platform’s servers.
If the music streamer doesn’t have internal storage for storing music tracks, it can instead rely on either external storage devices such as USBs or external hard drives, or the device can connect and use NAS (Network-Attached Storage) like cloud storage that holds the music files for playback.
What Are Some Examples of Music Streamer Devices?
One particular music streamer device that we can highly recommend for you to use is the Naim Uniti Atom. This particular device has proven itself to be one of the best music streamer devices that you can get in the market today.
The Uniti Atom has won three awards for its excellent performance combined with the exceptional build quality and usability, all wrapped in British-inspired design that is paired for years of entertainment, ensuring that the unit will last for a lifetime.
Furthermore, it can easily access the best of the best music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, and Qobuz without issue. Furthermore, using Apple’s AirPlay 2 service is made easier thanks to the built-in Chromecast and Bluetooth playback.
Finally, you can use the Uniti Atom with your existing systems seamlessly; you will have a better experience watching your favorite TV shows or listening to your favorite tracks. An HDMI connection is also available for your TV unit, so it can display high-quality images and videos.
Check out our other highly recommended music streamers available today.
What Is A Spotify Streamer?
A Spotify streamer is a dedicated music streamer meant for Spotify music service and playback. That means that you can only use Spotify to access and play your saved music tracks from that specific music service platform.
Most Spotify streamers are just simple music streamers (mostly without a screen) that has their own internal or external WiFi antenna that it uses to connect to an available network. Those specific models are akin to the first generation of old MP3 players, having no screens to see what’s being played or what would be the next song to be played.
They do have basic button controls around the device’s body, usually the basic ones (power button, stop, play/pause, next, previous, and connecting for WiFi/network).
However, there are other Spotify streamer units that have their own screen and internal network antennas used for connecting a data network from a network provider, instead of relying on a WiFi connection (that means those devices have internal SIM card storage for network provider use).
Those models also have basic controls, which are usually either simple physical buttons or full-on touch screen controls just like a regular smartphone these days.
Is It Really Necessary to Own a Music Streamer?
Now that we know what a music streamer is, the next question would be: is it necessary to own a dedicated music streamer device? The simple answer to that is no, as you can simply play your favorite music tracks on any device today that can read it and provide music playback. For example, your very own smartphone can easily be a device for playing music, especially newer models and with dedicated audio chips and powerful speakers.
However, if you want to experience the full audio experience that many audiophiles highly recommend, then getting a dedicated music streamer is a must. Aside from having a separate, dedicated device that is meant for your music playback, there are several notable benefits from owning such a device.
Provides Ease of Convenience in a Streamlined Solution
Before the age of microSD cards that are now common within many modern devices, previous ways of storing data such as music tracks can be extremely bulky and troublesome.
Aside from the convenience the device offers, having access to a music streamer means that you have instant access to play your favorite tracks via a network connection, eliminating the need for connection cables such as RCA cables as an example. Additionally, it eliminates the need to bring the physical music source with you every time, like physical CDs or vinyl discs for classic songs.
Universal Plug and Play / DLNA
Additional features are also present in many modern music streamers nowadays, such as Universal Plug and Play, a feature that allows devices with UPnP to seamlessly discover and connect to each other without the need for wires and cables.
Another notable feature is the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), which allows devices with DLNA to connect to each wirelessly into your home’s WiFi network.
This allows the music streamer with DLNA to act as the main server for other devices trying to access the media files inside it without connecting physically or transferring the file by the use of a computer or USB storage.
For those feeling nostalgic for the good old radio, there is a feature called internet radio. And yes, the name itself is a giveaway: it is a radio feature that uses the internet for its live tunes. Modern radio stations now use the internet to broadcast their live programs aside from the traditional way; devices with an internet radio feature can enjoy reliving the days of listening to the classic radio.
Nowadays, thanks to the rise of music streaming service platforms such as Spotify and others, you can even eliminate the need of having storage on your music streamer devices (resulting in Spotify streamer devices and other similar units that handle music streaming service platforms).
Music Streaming Software Alternatives for Music Streaming Service Platforms
Speaking of having alternatives from music streaming service platforms, there are specific music streaming software available in the global market nowadays that can be used as alternatives to those music streaming service platforms, if your internet connection is troublesome.
One such example would be the Aurender Conductor app is great at this, but only offers a few choices on what alternative online platform it would connect to, such as TIDAL and Qobuz. Another example would be from Bluesound, the BluOS app.
The app itself is full of features for wireless, dedicated music streaming; the only known downside for it is that it is very technical and isn’t user-friendly, which would most likely turn off general users.
Sound Quality Is Notably Different From Non-Dedicated Music Streamers
If you want to listen and experience the best sound quality and music playback from your beloved songs, then having a dedicated music streamer is the simple answer to that. Non-dedicated music streamer devices will have problems in handling specific sound quality for playback, as well as the type of audio file being used for the said playback.
Most dedicated music streamer devices nowadays can play audio files up to 24 bit / 192kHz with some like the Naim Uniti Atom pushing for 32 bit / 384kHz. As a result, their quality is pretty impressive.
Unlike non-dedicated music streamer devices (i.e. smartphones, computers, etc.), by default, dedicated music streamers have better built-in components, internals, and software made for playing music in the highest quality possible.
Hi-Res (High-Resolution) audio files will greatly benefit in terms of sound quality and audio playback when played in a dedicated music streamer device, as that device will ensure that little to no loss in playback will happen.
It is the total opposite for non-dedicated devices unless they have either software or components meant for Hi-Res playback. Additionally, non-dedicated devices can make up for that issue by having a DAC (Digital Audio Converter) device connected to it, making a non-dedicated music streamer device able to play Hi-Res audio files without loss in quality.
It Frees Up Your Other Devices from Playing Back Audio Files
Having a dedicated music streamer device eases up the burden from your other devices from audio playbacks, such as your smartphone or computer/laptop. It allows those devices to be free from repetitive tasks that consume a lot of resources from their ends, such as the battery, processing power, and storage.
Even smartphones and computers/laptops can provide audio playback when needed, it denies the use of other features that either device offers (i.e. for smartphones, you can’t simply play your music tracks while being on a call).
That is especially true if both devices are already overloaded with tasks and processes that you have programmed them to do; it will surely put a huge strain on the device’s capabilities when you add in music playback on top of the others it is already doing.
This may lead to that device slowing down or crashing down entirely, which can affect what you were doing before that happened (i.e. lost work, etc)..
The only downside in freeing up either your smartphone or computer/laptop from that particular burden is that you will be adding another separate device on your loadout. Furthermore, you will be needing to fork out some hefty cash if you want to have the best dedicated music streamer device in the market today, which can either cost more than your other devices.
Getting a dedicated music streamer device will bring lots of benefits to you, as it will provide the best audio listening experience for you. Additionally, the other benefits it provides are good motivators in getting one for yourself.
It would also be a great benefit if you have an audio system already set up and want to improve the sound quality output of that system while having the ability to play music wirelessly without relying on your smartphone and/or computer/laptop.
But, before getting a music streamer, make sure to properly research beforehand if your audio system at home is compatible with one. Furthermore, having a proper budget for one is essential, as some can be pricey.
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