Network Media Players

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Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 03, 2019  |  0 comments
As last month’s Group Test of entry-level network audio players showed, the streaming sector is hotting up with a wide selection of easy-to-use players to choose from at some very attractive prices. As if to further demonstrate the growth in the market, Yamaha has introduced its keenly priced MusicCast NP-S303 music streamer that’s designed to be an easy network audio add on to an existing hi-fi setup, or to partner with its matching full-size integrated amplifiers as part of a unified system.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 03, 2019  |  0 comments
Since the demise of the iPod Classic and the rise of the smartphone as the portable audio device of choice for the majority of users, the digital audio player market has struggled to flourish. This hasn’t stopped some specialists from carving out a niche, though, and Astell&Kern has been offering a considerable range of high-end players for some time. With an eye on keeping things in the real world, the A&norma SR15 is at A&K’s more affordable end of its extensive product range and is £100 more than the AK70 (HFC 428) that’s more recently been updated to mkII. The specification of the SR15 improves on the AK70 mkII and it’s fitted with 64GB of internal memory, which is supplemented by the inclusion of a microSD card slot for a card up to 400GB.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 01, 2019  |  0 comments
Our recent Group Test of entry-level network music players (HFC 442) showed there are some very impressive low-cost models to help you get started in streaming, but Google perhaps offers the bargain of the lot. It has a growing range using its own Cast streaming platform and for £70, the Chromecast Ultra supports video, but we’re more interested in the Chromecast Audio at just £30.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Nov 22, 2018  |  0 comments
With streaming music readily available at our finger tips, it’s sometimes difficult to fathom the best way of combining digital media libraries into one central location to achieve the same effortless tap-to-play scenario that brings together all our digital music. I am sure plenty of us have spent enough time grappling with network-attached storage hardware and CD-ripping software to know that there has to be a more elegant way of cataloguing our music libraries.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Nov 19, 2018  |  0 comments
Eagle-eyed readers will recognise the form of the Auralic Aries G1 from our review in the January issue of its high-end Aries G2 sibling at £3,899. Understandably the G1 sacrifices some of the features of the flagship model to come in at less than half the price. The principle is the same, though, and this is a streaming transport that focuses on the business of accessing your digital music files on a home or external server and presenting them to an outboard DAC via its digital output connectivity.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Oct 08, 2018  |  0 comments
Looking at the latest CXN network streamer/digital preamp/DAC, nothing has changed cosmetically from the original and between us and the barcode label on the carton, no one else will have a clue that this is the updated version. In matters of hiding your brighter light under the same bushel, the CXN V2, with its enhanced usability and slicker streaming properties, looks very Cambridge Audio and pretty much foolproof.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Aug 20, 2018  |  0 comments
In the world of networked audio, a seamless user experience to back up the solid performance is key to any success. In parallel to the development of networked streaming audio products, we’ve seen the development of servers and control software too. One of the best known and most effective has been Roon (see Insider, HFC 435), which with its highly regarded bespoke software suite allows even very large libraries to be managed in a logical and self-explanatory fashion. Nucleus is a dedicated piece of hardware that creates an optimised Roon experience.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Aug 19, 2018  |  1 comments
Network audio has become a big part of our hi-fi listening habit as more of us get more comfortable with the prospect of streaming music from pay services like Tidal and Qobuz or from a networked server containing a music library at home. It’s an area that’s seen considerable expansion in the last decade, but is still pretty much dominated by a few familiar names. For any company to make inroads into this sector, it needs to have a front end that goes the extra mile at a competitive price. Auralic has been impressive in this regard and first began to carve itself a reputation for well thought-out and capable products at competitive price points with the likes of its Aries Mini music streamer (HFC 425) and the Altair DAC/preamp with music streaming (HFC 428).
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Jul 13, 2017  |  1 comments
The form and function of network audio products has been slowly but surely solidifying around a selection of key functions that we expect them to perform. Within this ‘firming up’ process, some brands have found niches they can use to create products that stand out from the crowd. Auralic has been around since 2009 and in that time has been hard at work creating streaming products that alter the roles and responsibilities of given components. 
 The Aries Mini is a case in point.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Mar 24, 2016  |  0 comments
Few current audio trends seem to be gathering pace with quite the urgency of personal high-resolution audio players. Considering how many consumer temptations the proliferating sector has snagged, it isn’t hard to understand why. Perhaps it was inevitable that the early aspirational appeal of Astell&Kern’s carbon fibre-clad, tech-dense luxury items would open the way for the skilfully compromised but high-achieving, cost-very-much-an-object Far East offerings that have grown the market and realised the idea that the sonic advantages of hi-res on the move are for every music lover and not just the diehard audiophile or well heeled. More than that, the market is evolving and diversifying in interesting ways.
 |  Jan 26, 2015  |  0 comments
With a reputation for elegant Scandinavian design, Primare’s products are instantly recognisablefor their minimalist approach to high-end separates. At £6,500 each, the recently launched flagship 60pre/power amps ooze class fromtheir two-tone titanium and black cases housing the company’s latest UFPD (Ultra Fast Power Device)Class D technology. Below theseamps sits a selection of more modestly priced amps, CD players,a DAC and a MM/MC phono stage. The NP30 is based on the MM30 ‘media board’, a £1,300 add on that slots into dedicated ports in Primare’s I32 integrated and PRE32 preamp, turning them into fully fledged network players.
 |  Jan 26, 2015  |  0 comments
No sooner had A&K started selling its flagship AK240 portable hi-res audio player than it announcedit had also upgraded its two original portables, the AK100 and AK120 – reviewed issues 370 and 375 respectively. While the junior members of the AK club have been given new finishes and received a raft of performance enhancing measures (including Cirrus Logic CS4398 DACs) the AK240 remains the out and out leader of the gang. The defining feature of the flagship model is the presence of an extra XMOS processor, which provides native DSD support at both 2. 8MHz and 5.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  1 comments
What the world needs now – to quote the great Burt Bacharach – is love, sweet love. Well perhaps, but there’s a sizeable number of consumer electronics companies who think this is no longer quite so pressing, and instead we should all be given network music players to play with. So much so that now it feels like you can’t move for the things. Love isn’t all around anymore – as The Troggs once sang – audio streamers are! Krell’s new Connect needs to be special then.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
If anyone can help drive the take up of hi-res audio among non-audiophilesit’s this Japanese giantof consumer electronics with its premium-brand reputation. The NWZ-ZX1 operates very much like an Android phone with DLNA networking, web browsing, email, YouTube, etc, but without the telephony or texting features. Audiophiles may baulk at this multi-tasking, but such features are largely software based and unlikely to compromise the player’s performance. And by offering these features rather than say an expandable memory slot, digital optical audio output, DSD compatibility or the ability to use the NWZ-ZX1 as an external DAC, Sony is clearly targeting a different type of user.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
Despite having its finger in many home entertainment pies, the fact that Yamaha continues to plough considerable R&D into dedicated two-channel audio shows how much it values purist hi-fi. This network player also signals a move into newer territory for Yamaha, as its first all-in-one streamer for the UK. The R-N500 sits within Yamaha’s more affordable amplifier range starting with the £200 A-S201 integrated through to the £340 A-S500. These amps, however, are fairly standard fare compared to the R-N500, which is bristling with features drawn from the company’s mainland Europe and USA-facing R-S receiver range, from where the R-N500 inherits its front panel layout.