Please can we have a pure streamer someone...

Dan Turner

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I'm sure I can't be alone in thinking that the hi-fi manufacturers are missing a trick - and more importantly a big segment of the market - by trying to over-complicate and over-feature the emerging breed of streaming devices.

I'm sure that their must be a significant number of music lovers out there that are computer literate enough to rip CDs and manage their own network, but who don't want to use their computer as part of their hi-fi set-up for a variety of reasons.

For instance I'm currently using my MacBook Pro because with lossless and uncompressed files fed into a decent DAC it just about betters the Arcam CD37 I was previously using. The convenience of iPhone control and not having to swap CDs sealed it. That said it's not a perfect solution. If I want to use my Mac for something else whilst listening to music then I have to stream to an Airport Express and suffer the inherent susceptibility to wireless drop-outs and the AEs sloppy clocking which leads to occasional 'blips' in the digital output. If I plug it in directly then obviously it's hard to use it for anything else.

If I buy one of the streaming devices that's currently out there (or any of the forthcoming ones that I have seen) then it's going to do far more than I want or need it to do and consequently cost subjectively too much. I say give us a pure streamer - no ripping, no storage, no analogue output, no FM/DAB radio etc. Just something that can handle all the common file formats from a NAS device via ethernet or wirelessly, a spdif output and the contemporary range of control options. In other words, in the long-standing hi-fi tradition, something as true to it's primary function as possible, not a jack of all trades.

This may be a little cynical, but I think I know why we haven't got that yet and perhaps are not likely to - there would be no excuse for such a device to be priced anywhere other than the £low-hundreds and it might render more feature-laden and therefore more expensive alternatives in manufacturers' ranges rather hard to shift.

Linn seem to have got closest, but have included expensive (although no doubt excellent) analogue stages. Sonos too doesn't seem to be too far off and doesn't cost too much - at the moment (cheap analogue stage, un-switch-offable wireless and lack of high-res support notwithstanding) it looks like my front runner.

I'm conscious that I might be envisaging something that fits my particular needs perfectly without realising that those needs are not so common place, so I was wondering what everyone else thought?!

Cheers.
 

John Duncan

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Well ther's the Cambridge np30, due soon, and no doubt others after that - there's the Marantz one but that's not exactly budget. Course, as Chebby's just found out, a hundred quid blu ray player just about serves that function, plus a lot more, and I suspect that's where the future of consumer-grade streaming lies, particularly if spotify were to come out with an embeddable app...
 

Dan Turner

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Ah yes I was momentarily forgetting about the Cambridge - that seems like a promising prospect at a reasonable price (albeit with analogue output built in which I think will be redundant for many). I have applied for the Beta test!
 

Rich27

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Presume that you are using the DAC in the Supernait but how are you connecting it up to the MBP?

Obvious answer would be a Mac Mini as your streamer, I use one of these connected to the DAC via a Hiface and Chord BNC-BNC cable. This combination imho blows the Naim CD5XS out of the water in terms of sound quality and ease of use (ipod touch as a remote control).

I think you are right in terms of the pricing for such a device as you envisage, the prices for currently available high end streaming devices are ridiculous when compared to something like a Mac Mini.
 

CraigDS

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The only solution I think is the Linn Sneaky. I think for a streaming source that can play studio master recordings and does not need a DAC it is great value. You can buy them for £700 if you look hard enough. Linn got it right from the start and the Linn DS is getting better and better. Linn constintly have free upgrades available and now users are on the 7th upgarde called "CARA 7". The basic software is gone. The control software is now called Kinsky and it is as attractive and slick to use as anything I have seen. Naim are the closest but there £2k Unitiserve needs a DAC and also once you rip all your CD's the ripping capability will become redundant. Also Naim's £4.5k HDX has internal storage and owners are already having to buy external NAS drives because their HDX is full. You can now buy a HDX without the internal storage for more money??? Linn done it correct in my opinion. Have your own or as many storage devices as you want and buy a Linn DS source that needs no DAC and your computer can be switched off. I am not a dealer and I used to have a Naim 122x & 150x. I am just giving my opinion. Also I am a computer monkey and got my DS playing music in less than 30 minutes!
 

Dan Turner

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Rich27:
Presume that you are using the DAC in the Supernait but how are you connecting it up to the MBP?

Obvious answer would be a Mac Mini as your streamer, I use one of these connected to the DAC via a Hiface and Chord BNC-BNC cable. This combination imho blows the Naim CD5XS out of the water in terms of sound quality and ease of use (ipod touch as a remote control).

I think you are right in terms of the pricing for such a device as you envisage, the prices for currently available high end streaming devices are ridiculous when compared to something like a Mac Mini.

Hi Rich - I'm connecting via the optical spdif output on the MBP. I am aware of the Hiface and Weiss (same thing essentially but from firewire output) devices, and I have considered a Mac Mini. If I went that route I'd definitely go for one of those.

I think I'd prefer to get away from having a computer as the front end entirely though if possible. Again that seems like an unnecessary duplication of what I already have to a large extent.

Andrew - that looks great but do you know if it's a current product? I was looking on the Logitech website for a full spec & feature list, but I can't seem to find it?
 

Andrew Everard

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Not current AFAIK, judging from the Logitech site, but still available. Current version of the original SB is the SB Touch, which has analogue and digital outputs.
 

CraigDS

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Well spotted. That is a good indicator of how much I enjoy it. A Sneaky DS into a Naim Supernait will sound fantastic! Also when you want to upgrade you can put your Sneaky in a different room and use it's internal power amp. I found some videos of Linn Kinsky desktop in action on Youtube. Maybe worth a look?
 

Dan Turner

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CraigDS:Well spotted. That is a good indicator of how much I enjoy it. A Sneaky DS into a Naim Supernait will sound fantastic! Also when you want to upgrade you can put your Sneaky in a different room and use it's internal power amp. I found some videos of Linn Kinsky desktop in action on Youtube. Maybe worth a look?

I'll have a look! Linn do seem to be leading the market here at the moment. I wish they'd release one without any analogue gubbins (let alone the amp section), priced accordingly though!
 

Dan Turner

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Andrew Everard:Well, again there's the Squeezebox Duet...

Andrew that looks great, and great pice given that it includes the controller - do you know can it access music stored on a NAS device without the computer needing to be switched on? I looked on the website but they didn't state that as far as I could tell.
 

Dan Turner

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JohnDuncan:You need a nas with squeezeserver on it. Ripcaster do them precondigured or you can install it yourself if Linux doesn't scare you...

Thanks JD - I'm proficient enough to give it a bash then go running to a mate who is an expert when it all goes wrong! Do you see any problem installing it on an Apple Time Capsule?
 
A

Anonymous

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SB Touch sounds like what you need - you can use the digital output and your music can be on an attached external hard drive, so you don't need a computer attached or even a NAS.

You've far more choices if you treat the streamer as a streamer/dac. I've gone for an SB+ myself (based on the SB but souped-up).

Rob
 

SteveR750

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OK rewind geek time; I got as far as "can't use mac and play music at the same time" (since when did a CD player 'stream' music into an amp in common parlance? yes I know one is digi and one is analogue but its still confusing nonetheless).

I ask because I am about to launch into a computer based source, on the basis that I can use the computer be it Mac or PC for more conventional activity (no ESP, not rhythmic chilling in a dark room
). I'm not going to buy a Mac if its not useable whilst playing music, that's rather negating a significant part of the advantage. In simple terms, I thought all you had to do was connect your pc to a DAC with whatever cable is required / of your choice, the DAC being user friendly straight into a preamp and voila; the hard part being to work out what to listen to next.
 

The_Lhc

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Why hasn't anyone mentioned Sonos? Slackers...

Needs nothing but a nas, no software running on it required. Just doesn't handle anything above 16 bit formats unfortunately.
 

Craig M.

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SteveR750:
OK rewind geek time; I got as far as "can't use mac and play music at the same time" (since when did a CD player 'stream' music into an amp in common parlance? yes I know one is digi and one is analogue but its still confusing nonetheless).

I ask because I am about to launch into a computer based source, on the basis that I can use the computer be it Mac or PC for more conventional activity (no ESP, not rhythmic chilling in a dark room
). I'm not going to buy a Mac if its not useable whilst playing music, that's rather negating a significant part of the advantage. In simple terms, I thought all you had to do was connect your pc to a DAC with whatever cable is required / of your choice, the DAC being user friendly straight into a preamp and voila; the hard part being to work out what to listen to next.

i can't say i've tried photoshop on my mac mini, but for web browsing/downloading/copying files from one hdd to another - no problem. i don't really use it except as a music server though.

i think the op means it's not convenient for him to use his laptop where the stereo is.
 

SteveR750

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OK thanks Craig, its a bit clearer, but....

Quote:

i think the op means it's not convenient for him to use his laptop where the stereo is.

Un Quote

Well so that's what I thought, and then the sky fell in. I'm not intimidated by reality but the ensuing techno babble lost me like rooney.
 

Dan Turner

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Craig M.:SteveR750:
OK rewind geek time; I got as far as "can't use mac and play music at the same time" (since when did a CD player 'stream' music into an amp in common parlance? yes I know one is digi and one is analogue but its still confusing nonetheless).

I ask because I am about to launch into a computer based source, on the basis that I can use the computer be it Mac or PC for more conventional activity (no ESP, not rhythmic chilling in a dark room
). I'm not going to buy a Mac if its not useable whilst playing music, that's rather negating a significant part of the advantage. In simple terms, I thought all you had to do was connect your pc to a DAC with whatever cable is required / of your choice, the DAC being user friendly straight into a preamp and voila; the hard part being to work out what to listen to next.

i can't say i've tried photoshop on my mac mini, but for web browsing/downloading/copying files from one hdd to another - no problem. i don't really use it except as a music server though.

i think the op means it's not convenient for him to use his laptop where the stereo is.

Exactly - if you're using a laptop as your source and you want to retain it's essential 'laptopness' then you have to stream wirelessly and if you plug it straight into your hifi then you have a computer fixed in a not particularly convenient place, was all I was trying to say.

The only context I used the term streaming was when replaying music via the network - I consciously didn't use the term in relation to when the laptop is plugged directly into my dac/amp, which I agree is directly comparable to using a CD Player in a logistical sense.
 

Dan Turner

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the_lhc:Why hasn't anyone mentioned Sonos? Slackers...Needs nothing but a nas, no software running on it required. Just doesn't handle anything above 16 bit formats unfortunately.

True - The Sonos looks good, but in comparison to the Squeezebox Duet doesn't look like great value - for essentially the same price you get the streaming device and the controller with the latter.

Unless someone tells me the SB has worse sound quality (via digital!) or the squeezebox server software can't be installed on an Apple Time Capsule then it looks like my favourite option so far...
 

John Duncan

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I'd be surprised if the squeezebox server software can be installed on an Apple Time Capsule. It's not really a NAS in that sense I don't think...
 

Craig M.

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the_lhc:Why hasn't anyone mentioned Sonos? Slackers...

Needs nothing but a nas, no software running on it required. Just doesn't handle anything above 16 bit formats unfortunately.

the op did, in the op...
 

Dan Turner

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JohnDuncan:I'd be surprised if the squeezebox server software can be installed on an Apple Time Capsule. It's not really a NAS in that sense I don't think...

Drat! :0(
 

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