Network Audio Players/Servers

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Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 14, 2015
Lindemann audiotechnik, a boutique brand from Germany, has focused on high-end music replay for the past 20 years. It was one of the world’s first high-end brands to offer an outboard USB-to-S/PDIF converter for connecting a computer to a DAC. And it was also quick off the mark to make a USB-equipped DAC. Identifying a new trend for ‘downsizing’ complicated audio rigs, it has developed a range of four midi-sized – if expensive – products dubbed Musicbook.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 14, 2015
When Primare set out to develop its I32 integrated amplifier a few years ago (and sibling PRE32 preamp) it also designed in an expansion slot for an optional media streaming and DAC board dubbed the MM30. That optional MM30 ‘media board’ PCB forms the heart of the NP30 network media player/DAC. It’s based around a UPnP/DLNA network streaming module from German supplier Audivo. Playback of music files up to 192kHz/24-bit is supported via wired Ethernet LAN, with gapless playback of segued tracks, along with internet radio using the familiar vTuner platform.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 14, 2015
Sony has returned to pure, two-channel, high fidelity sound; there’s an initiative to bring hi-fi replay back to the top of its consumers’ must-have wish lists. And it has produced a raft of new products focused around hi-res computer audio. All are compatible with files up to 24-bit/192kHz and, of course, DSD downloads. HFN was first in line to sample the ‘Elevated Standard’ HAP-Z1ES digital music file player featuring a built-in 1TB HDD, and its partnering TA-A1ES integrated amplifier rated at 80W/8ohm.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015
Canadian audio manufacturer Bryston adopted a purist approach with its first computer audio product, the BDP-1 ‘digital player’ [HFN Apr ’11], this based on an ultra-minimalist computer with four USB sockets for memory sticks or external HDDs. An enhanced model, the BDP-2 featured here has joined Bryston’s line-up along with a new BDA-2 DAC which includes a 192kHz/24-bit capable asynchronous USB input. This uses proprietary firmware running on the XMOS USB audio micro-controller platform. Bryston supplies the necessary driver software on a memory stick for Windows PC users (Macintosh supports USB Audio Class 2.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015
Krell announced at the 2014 Las Vegas CES its intention to introduce a UPnP/DLNA-compliant network media player and the rather aptly named Connect is now available in the UK. There are in fact two versions of Krell’s Connect player, the one featured here having an optional built-in DAC with balanced (XLR) and single-ended (RCA) analogue outputs. Needless to say it is vastly overbuilt compared with most music streamers! At its core lies a familiar BridgeCo-based StreamUnlimited platform including vTuner internet radio functionality. Massive power supplies have always been the cornerstone of Krell designs, and the Connect has an over-specified linear power supply with a 94VA toroidal transformer large enough to power a modest amplifier.
Ed Selley and Paul Miller  |  Jan 15, 2012
Pro-Ject enters the keenly contested media streamer category with the latest member of its compact Box range, a design based on the StreamUnlimited platform. The market for network media streamers has expanded dramatically in the last 12 months and with it the number of units available to choose from. Although the process of buying high quality music via download is still somewhat lacking in choice, the advantages of well implemented network audio are becoming apparent to an ever wider circle of buyers.
John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2011
The first in a new breed of ‘computer transports’, WideaLab’s Aurender S10 employs a Linux-based OS and solid-state storage to render your music collection via digital outs. Aurender music servers are new to the UK. Made by WideaLab, a specialist subdivision of Korea’s Wonik Corporation, they are designed for pure audio replay of a lossless digital music library – aimed squarely at audiophiles who care passionately about sound quality. That’ll be us, then!
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2011
Known for its poetically-inspired amplifiers, Sonneteer chose instead to name its stylish network player after the god of dreams. Now there’s a CD-ripping server to match. For those of a certain age, the term ‘music centre’ still conjures up a cheapo record player/radio/cassette unit in a plastic wood-effect finish, sitting uncomfortably on a suburban sideboard. But Sonneteer’s thoroughly modern Morpheus has very little in common with those old audio dinosaurs.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
Bryston presents a simplified method of enjoying computer audio Confronted with the burgeoning of computer audio, manufacturers of conventional hi-fi equipment have reacted in diverse ways. A few have buried their heads in the sand; some have made USB DACs, others hard-disk players, still others streaming network players.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
A clever combination of streamer, DAC and pre-amp that ought to win many converts. What is the CLiC? To describe it as a digital preamp, or a streamer, does not do it full justice. Better to think of it as a unit which selects internet radio, and music files from a variety of sources – including wired and wireless networks and data stores, Red Book CD players and even analogue.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
Naim's move towards streaming audio continues with this innovative all-in-one. Cute by nature, Qute by name. Though there’s nothing overtly cuddlyfeely about the Naim Audio UnitiQute (black and angular in the familiar functional Naim manner) this compact box offers so much at an attractive price that you have to regard it with affection.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
The flagship Olive server backs up convenience with audiophile credentials. Olive Media Products has developed its digital range slowly and logically, initially with the less ambitious O2M multi-room player and O3HD and O4HD music servers, all of which feature 4. 3in touch-screens and command lower prices. The O6HD is its premium product, aimed at audiophiles who desire the convenience of a music server but are not prepared to sacrifice sound quality.
Keith Howard and Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2011
A fairly costly system with certain limitations but the bee’s-knees intuitive touchscreen interface is a plus, and for some this will be the ideal home music distribution solution. When Meridian announced, to some surprise, that it had bought Sooloos in late 2008, it was a demonstration that the UK’s premier exponent of digital audio technology had recognised the burgeoning importance of computer audio, conceded that it was somewhat behind the game, and concluded that the best way to fast-track a move into this sphere was to buy what was, and remains, widely recognised as the best music server software available.

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