Network Audio Players/Servers

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Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 07, 2020
hfnoutstandingEver at the cutting edge of both analogue and digital Class D amplification, NAD's new M33 is the first to utilise Purifi's groundbreaking modules. All this and streaming too...

Launched last year, NAD's M10 all-in-one streaming system [HFN Jun '19] was remarkable in two ways. One was that this compact 'just add speakers' package was actually part of the brand's elite Masters Series, more usually populated by high-end DACs and amplifiers, while the other was that this little system, selling for around £2000, was exceptionally good, receiving a glowing review in HFN before going on to win a 2019-20 EISA award as Best Smart Amplifier.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 11, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe new flagship player network player from Naim ups the ante – not to mention the price – from the company's previous range. Is the performance elevated, too?

The ND 555, sitting at the top of Naim's latest three-strong network player/streamer/call-it-what-you-will range at £12,999, isn't a direct replacement for the 'old' NDS. Yes, that player is now discontinued, but note I said the ND 555 isn't a 'direct' replacement – after all, the new model is more than twice the price of its forebear...

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 12, 2019
hfncommendedThe entry-level model in Naim's new network music player range may look simple to the point of anonymity, but its performance could make it the true star of the lineup

No display, no power supply upgrade route, not even a remote handset: at first glance, the most striking feature of Naim's £2299 ND5 XS 2, the junior model in its revitalised network music player range, could be everything it hasn't got. After the striking looks of the 'new Uniti' models, with which it shares a software/hardware platform, and the large full-colour displays of the pricier NDX 2 [HFN Sep '18] and ND555, the ND5 XS 2 gives away little about its functionality.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 16, 2021
hfnoutstandingThe evergreen Uniti Atom all-in-one platform, complete with custom streaming solution, is adapted to service the needs of the most demanding headphone users

Never let it be said the product name isn't long enough – in the 12 years since Naim launched its network audio all-in-one, to which the buyer need only add speakers, it's grown from the simple NaimUniti of the initial model, all the way to this, the £2399 Naim Audio Uniti Atom Headphone Edition. And yet here, less is more.

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.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 19, 2019
hfncommendedThis do-it-all unit, designed as the hub of a digital music system, combines ripper/server, streamer, player, DAC and more. Is this a total solution, or is it trying too hard?

Here's a simple suggestion for anyone thinking of moving from 'physical media' to computer-stored music, or at least adding a collection of files to their system: buy the most complex piece of equipment you can find. Yes, that may seem like some kind of lunacy for the beginner in ripping, serving and streaming, but then the £5099 Novafidelity X45Pro, the flagship of its manufacturer's range, will do everything you could ever think of in the world of digital audio – and then some.

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.
Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThis neatly packaged, sleekly-styled Scandinavian integrated offers DAC and streaming functionality, plus a very fine sound thanks to its proven Class D power amp modules

Many think of Apple as creating today’s world of sleek, minimalist consumer electronics – but the business and creative heads of that Californian company – Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive – were themselves inspired by great talents working in hi-fi, long before the iconic iPod was ever launched. Lest we forget, Jacob Jensen did amazing industrial design work at Bang & Olufsen for decades, as did Dieter Rams at Braun 15 years earlier.

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.
Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 13, 2020
hfncommendedWith wireless streaming, class-leading connectivity and 200W of Class D power, this sophisticated Scandinavian pre/power combination covers all the digital bases

Primare – the company that describes itself as 'the sound and vision of Scandinavia' – is also becoming rather more visible in the UK and rest of Europe thanks, in part, to the boost provided by a couple of EISA awards. Based in Sweden and founded by Danish designer and audiophile Bo Christensen, Primare has found its métier over the past few years. Its Prisma platform brought integrated wireless streaming functionality to the hi-fi world before most – and delivered it with typical Scandinavian panache. Ergonomic excellence is central to the brand's values, and this is surely a concept whose time has come.

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.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngHere’s a network audio bridge, a USB player and computer audio cleaning device, and a Roon Ready endpoint – all in one tiny (and affordable) box. Is there anything it can’t do?

The rise of ‘computer audio’ has rewritten the rules on hi-fi components. What once required a full-width separate can now be achieved with an almost vanishingly small box of computer technology, all ready to connect into your existing system. You can stream using a Raspberry Pi, an Asus Tinkerbox or an Intel NUC – to name but a few – and a whole industry has sprung up making add-ons for these mini-computers to turn them into digital or analogue audio devices, or even complete ‘just add speakers’ systems.

Review: David Vivian, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThe company ups the ante by adding a 'just-add-speakers' solution to its Artera series, managing to squeeze streaming alongside CD replay into casework of pert proportions

So far, Quad's Artera family has comprised the Play (a combined CD transport, DAC and preamp) and the Stereo [HFN Nov '15], which is a power amp using the company's Current Dumping topology. Both solid-state components, not only are they compact and dapper but high functioning and lifestyle literate too – a feat that's trickier than it might seem. But not as tricky as folding all of the above (plus streaming) into a chassis with the same proportions as the other components in the Artera range.

Review: Cliff Joseph, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngIt's costlier still than its predecessor, but Questyle's updated portable Digital Audio Player-and-dock combo delivers great sound quality – both at home and on the road

Shenzhen-based brand Questyle impressed the pundits with its debut QP1R digital audio player (DAP), launched back in 2015 at just the right time to exploit the increased interest in high-quality portable players and DACs. At first glance, the new QP2R looks very similar, with the same rugged and sturdy design – available in either gold or an Apple-esque 'space-grey' – and that distinctive armour-plated volume control protruding from the top of the device.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 28, 2022
hfncommendedThe most comprehensively-equipped component of Roksan's Attessa quartet combines phono, line and digital inputs with a BluOS streaming platform and beefy amplifier

So it turns out that network amplifiers built around BluOS streaming technology are like buses. No sooner had we waved goodbye to the £1299 NAD C 700 [HFN Feb '22], then up popped the Attessa Streaming Amplifier from Roksan, a little more expensive at £1495 but cut from the same just-add-speakers cloth. This joins a competitive market alongside not only NAD's device but Bluesound's £850 BluOS-based Powernode, plus other streaming integrateds including Cambridge Audio's Evo 75 and Audiolab's Omnia. Handy for Roksan, then, that it has a lot going for it.

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