As we’ve mentioned previously on our Tech Blog, music streaming is big business these days. Far from being second fiddle to more traditional musical formats, most of our listening now occurs online. So in terms of streaming Hi-Fi, what option best suits your needs?
With services like Qobuz now letting you stream a huge range of Hi-Res tracks, not to mention the ease of cataloguing our own collections from CD and vinyl, there’s never been a better time to consider going all digital for the future. To that end, we’ve taken a look at some great ways to stream your music while still enjoying amazing Hi-Fi sound.
Japanese brands are normally ahead of the curve when it comes to integrating the latest tech trends into their own products. Industry stalwarts, Denon are no different, becoming one of the first to enter the marketplace with the award-winning DNP720 a few years back. Its successor, the DNP730, is another brilliant option for those looking to add to their pre-existing hi-fi. Capable of playing back a huge number of formats, including FLAC and DSD, the Denon’s onboard DAC is also capable of bit-rates up to 32/192khz. Wi-Fi is built in, Spotify Connect is onboard for those with an account for the ubiquitous streaming service, and there’s even internet radio making it a fabulously versatile budget number. Worth a look if you’re new to streaming!
Winner of What Hi-Fi’s ‘Product of the Year’ Award in its category, the MCR610 has been an enormous success ever since – and it isn’t hard to see why. With a 60wpc amplifier, CD player, digital radio, three lots of inputs and two sets of speaker outs, the Marantz makes an impressive start even before we get to the streaming strings to its bow. It’s capable of connecting across your home network to read music from your PC or laptop, and with Airplay employed for iTunes users, the MCR610 is perfect if you want it all, and all in one box. Bluetooth, Spotify and Last.FM support also feature – see, it does everything! Marantz are set to release the latest incarnation later this year in the MCR611, which once again looks set to wow customers with all the same award-winning traits.
Yep, you probably guessed it, Sonos. Whilst a legion of (still very good) imitators have cropped up in the past few years, the original remains the choice to reign supreme. With unprecedented support for streaming services (there are 32 at time of writing!), a wonderful, responsive app and a range of products diverse enough to leave no room without music, Sonos really is a fantastic way to get your digital music playing around your home. The beauty with it is that you can build a system that perfectly fits your needs, adding speakers to your network is easy and it can all start with just a single PLAY:1 speaker. You can even build your own surround sound system using Sonos. Support for Hi-Res audio would be much appreciated, but that won’t affect the majority of listeners who are used to playing CDs and for this type of product it’s a forgivable omission. By all means check out their rivals, but as it stands, Sonos is still the best way to enjoy your music wherever you are at home.
Combining the best of both digital worlds, the Arcam CDS27 is both CD player and network streamer. It even plays Ye Olde SACD – one of the first Hi-Res audio formats ever released. Built around Arcam’s favoured Burr Brown PCM1974 DAC and a whole host of clever engineering in both the clock and output stage, the CDS27 is a highly capable bit of kit. You’ll enjoy audiophile quality when you stream music stored on your home network, with the only real downside being that it doesn’t support Spotify or any other streaming service for that matter. But if you want to keep hold of your old CDs to compliment your growing collection of audio downloads, it’s a no brainer that’ll slip comfortably into your system.
Best High-End Hi-Fi Component – Cambridge Audio 851N
If you’re really serious about your music and want to hear what streaming can bring to your Hi-Fi, the Cambridge Audio 851N is an absolute must listen. Built in the same tank-like casing as the rest of their flagship 851 series, the ‘N‘ is a triumph of industrial design, and a breathtaking audio product. Its 4.3″ screen is the focal point of the front fascia, making navigation a breeze, showing album artwork and track info bright and clear across a room. Onboard upsampling of each available input (of which the 851N has eight for connecting additional components through its class-leading DAC section) to 24/384khz delivers a wonderful, clean sound from just about any source. The list of compatible filetypes for playback is massive, Bluetooth is built in, and Spotify Connect comes as standard. This is a serious piece of kit, and hugely worth an audition for those looking for digital perfection – but then again what else would you expect from such a prestigious manufacturer?
These may be just a few of our favourite choices for streaming Hi-Fi, but hopefully it has inspired you to try some of the best of the best components that are out there as we move into this exciting new area of music listening. You can try these or any of the huge range of options that we have in-stock simply by popping in-store or calling to book an appointment in our state-of-the-art demo room. You can also find out more by calling our friendly Telesales team on 0333 900 0093.
Author: Chris, Liverpool store