Best Music Streamers of | The Master Switch.Bluesound Node Review (Streamer) | Page 22 | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum
We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more about us. If you love great audio, a dedicated music streamer is essential. It can become the center of your hi-fi universe, making every listening session that much more enjoyable. At The Master Switch, we adore music streamers, so we decided to put together a list of the best. By music streamer, we mean a device that has the ability to play audio stored in another location.
This location can be over the Internet, in the form of a streaming service like Spotify or Tidal, or an external hard drive.
What We Don’t: Very expensive, remote picks up fingerprints. At The Master Switch, it’s our policy to return review models that are sent to us. But we really didn’t want to let the Naim Uniti Atom go. It works so well, so effortlessly, that we found ourselves using it almost every moment we were in the office.
The operating system is virtually flawless, and the Uniti Atom is capable of playing music from just about any source. Thanks to an included integrated amp, it manages to produce excellent sound quality in its own right, with audio that is crisp and detailed. It also helps that the design is spectacular, with a nifty volume wheel and vibrant screen – even if the remote is a fingerprint magnet.
It definitely costs a pretty penny and is only suitable for those looking for the absolute best. We’d be crazy to pick anything else for the top spot here — the Naim Uniti Atom is one of the best products we’ve ever tested.
It’s also worth noting that Naim makes several different variations, including ones with larger amps and CD rippers, so you’ll have plenty to choose from Read our in-depth review See the Naim Uniti Atom. We especially appreciated just how easy and intuitive the operating system was, and the vast range of services we were able to connect the CXN to – including Google ChromeCast.
Be warned that it may take a little work to connect it to a service like Roon – Cambridge calls the player Roon Capable, rather than Roon Ready. Cambridge have also added Tidal Connect, so you can now stream directly from that service. The design is a little bit more spartan than others on this list. That isn’t necessarily a problem, but it does have at least one puzzling aspect.
Almost all the other streamers on this list will connect to a Wi-Fi network using a few simple taps of an app, but the CXN V2 requires that you plug in a separate USB dongle into the back. We genuinely can’t think of why this is the case. However, it’s something you only need to do once, and it doesn’t stop the CXN V2 from being a genuinely fantastic piece of equipment.
If you’re looking to step up into slightly better hi-fi sound, but don’t want to remortgage your house, this may be an ideal starting point What We Don’t: Lack of advanced features and low file resolution may turn some listeners off. This surprisingly capable little streamer comes from Audioengine, a company best known for its wireless speakers.
The biggest downside of the Audioengine B-Fi is that it can be just a touch too simple. That said, it’s still a solid machine, with crisp sound quality and easy operation. See the Audioengine B-Fi. What We Don’t: Less-expensive products perform better. For a long time, the Naim Uniti Atom Has reigned supreme at the top of our list, and the M33 was an attempt to unseat it.
The Uniti Atom remains on the throne It also has a gorgeous touchscreen, and is built like a tank. With watts of power, it can handle all but the most demanding speakers. While it brings several terrific features to the table, we just think that other, less expensive streamers sound better.
The Uniti Atom is the most obvious example. For a more affordable version, try the NAD M10, below. On the surface, the Bluesound Node 2i is amazing. It offers a complete, wireless, multi-room streaming solution that can handle just about anything you throw at it—including the MQA lossless format.
It’s compatible with virtually all major streaming services, is Roon Ready, and handles hi-res file formats like a pro. The sound is rock-solid, with excellent dynamic range. It has slick design, and a great app in BluOS. We aren’t too bothered about the lack of a display on the Bluesound Node 2i; for this price, it’s hardly a dealbreaker. Control is done either via the top panel, or via the BluOS app, and this is one of the few black marks against the Node 2i. The app is That said, if you want an affordable solution for MQA listening, the Node 2i is an excellent choice.
There are also models from Bluesound that include CD playing and ripping, but you will of course pay more for these. See the Bluesound Node 2i. What We Don’t: Utilitarian design. If you want to add streaming to an existing hi-fi system in the simplest, most wallet friendly way possible, this is the way to do it. The Xiaomi Mi Box S is not an especially attractive device, and has a distinctly utilitarian feel about it. If you do want alternatives, it may be worth hunting down a Google Chromecast Audio or an Amazon Echo Link; both have been discontinued, but still regularly pop-up for sale as B-stock.
For now, though, the Xiaomi Mi Box S is a simple and effective plug and play solution that will work with just about any system. See the Xiaomi Mi Box S. What We Don’t: High price for a very stripped-down system. The Auralic Aries G2. There is no amp here, and no DAC.
You also have the option to add 2TB of internal storage, although this increases the cost considerably. The 2. Most of these are internal, and you can definitely hear the difference when you compare the systems side-by-side.
See the Auralic Aries G2. The Aurender A10 is the second most expensive streamer on this list, and it certainly brings a lot to the table. It has two key features. The first of these is dedicated MQA decoding, which means it’s ideal for those who love streaming music from Tidal. The second is its absolutely enormous hard drive. With four terabytes to play with, you’ll be able to store an absolutely massive collection of music on there, and access it via the outstanding Aurender Conductor app.
However, the app is also the A10’s Achilles heel. For some reason, and one we can’t quite fathom, it is only available on iPad — not iPhone, and definitely not Android. There are other problems, too. The screen on the front of the A10 feels miserly and small; it always feels like you have to squint to see what information is being displayed. And even a year or two after its initial release, the A10 is still not Roon Ready.
Because of these issues, we don’t think it’s the best choice for high-end streaming — that would be the NAD Masters M However, it definitely has its uses for those in need of MQA decoding and an outrageous amount of storage. See the Aurender A The Portuguese company clearly places a lot of emphasis on design, and it helps that the feature set here is top-notch. You not only get a CD ripper with 1 TB of internal storage, but also full streaming capability from just about any service you can think of.
And while there is no digital display, there is innuOS, one of the best music library management apps not named Roon. In short: solid range of features, for a relatively friendly price.
The Texas Instruments chipset gets the job done, but it never felt as nuanced or clean as we would have liked. This is a system that works much better if you have an external DAC, which you can feed via the optical output. What We Don’t: Clunky and frustrating setup, unintuitive app. And, finally, the audio has a real edge, with clean and dynamic detail. However, there are real downsides that make the Andover Audio Songbird an alternative, rather than the first option.
Primarily, this has to do with the app used to control the Songbird. Setting it up is a tricky, finicky process, with frequent restarts due to glitches in dropouts. If you value high-res streaming and sound quality, and are prepared to put up with the frustrations, then the Songbird is a good choice. But Andover have a long way to go before they can compete. See the Andover Audio Songbird.
What We Don’t: Wi-Fi issues, limited inputs. It may be more mass-marketed than most streamers on this list, but the Sonos Amp absolutely deserves to be here. This model is also a total breeze to set up. We did have a few issues with our test model. Chief among these issues were Wi-Fi dropouts, which were frustratingly common, despite flawless connection on other devices. However, we would still rate it in our top ten, and can honestly say we had a blast testing it.
Read our in-depth review See the Sonos Amp. However, while the NAD M10 has excellent features, we felt just a tad let down by the sound quality.
Best Music Streamers of | The Master Switch.Streaming for audiophiles… better sound on a modest budget –
› best-music-streamers. See our guide to the best music streamers of , with reviews of top music streamer models from Naim, Cambridge Audio, Linn, NAD, and.
– Audirvana vs bluesound node free
For Qobuz and local files I use Bubbleupnp. Volumio’s Primo for about the cost of the BlueSound Node is a much higher. Who’d subscribe to Audirvana at 70Usd per Year when Stellar Roon interface Audiolab, Bluenode, Allo Products and Audirvana, Jriver etc. Streaming services compared – at a glance ; Service, Free tier, Monthly hi-res price, Supported formats, Max streaming quality ; Spotify, Yes, ad-.