Posted on Wed, 05 Nov, 2014
Posted by Peter


naim-ndx-inspirational

Streamers. They’re all the rage – and for a very good reason. And why? Well, they’re getting better. Much better. We know that streaming digitally will never quite replace wired analogue in terms of sound quality, but it far surpasses it in terms of convenience and sheer usability, and sound quality is catching up fast. Case and point: the following five hi-fi streamers are streaming separates, designed for use with an existing system

Just in case the paragraph above makes no sense to you, let me give you a brief overview of the wonderful world of streaming, and what separates a hi-fi streamer from the rest. A streamer is a device which acts as a source for your digital music collection. It is usually a multi-channel device, which allows for the files on your computer or NAS drive to be played – quite seamlessly – through your existing system from one place. A streamer also acts as an effective way of streaming wirelessly directly from your smartphone, tablet or MP3 player via Bluetooth. Many of them also have internet radio and compatibility with HD streaming websites such as Spotify built in too. It’s a very clever bit of kit that  brings both your own music, and the music of the world – together in one place, to be played through your system as though it were a CD or a vinyl that never needs the tray opening or the needle lifting.

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Most streamers can be operated by – at the very least – a screen and remote control, and many have adjoining applications for smartphones. They are very epitome of convenient, and while we never expect them to replace CDs and vinyl (etc.) entirely, we expect their popularity to continue to soar, especially considering the latest advances in technology allowing for the audio to be of a very high quality indeed, particularly at the hi-end. Even wireless is improving in leaps and bounds, thanks to Bluetooth AptX.

There are several different types of streamer and the best fit is dependent on your existing set up. This list is for hi-fi streamers; streamers designed for those who have a fully set up hi-fi system, and simply want the streamer to work as a source. This is ideal if you already have the suitable amplification and speakers and works out as a much cheaper solution than purchasing a streamer with built-in amplification – which, of course, we can also provide.

Most hi-fi streamers have the controls for music on the unit itself – usually with a screen – so you’ll need an existing integrated amplifier or pre amplifier and power amplifier with speakers. The hi-fi streamer comes in as a source, and nothing else.

So, you have your fully amplified set up. Perhaps you’re looking to integrate a streamer as a fresh source… or maybe you’re looking to upgrade! Well, we have collated five of the best streamers we have – all of which are available on 12 months 0% finance. Let us help you take that step into the age of streaming, and lets make it hi-grade.

Remember, all prices stated were correct at the time of publishing and may be subject to change.

1. Cyrus Stream X Signature Digital Streamer – £1250
Cyrus-Stream-X-Signature-Digital-Streamer

Let’s kick things off with a Cyrus, shall we? Cyrus have a bit of a reputation in the streaming field as a good, solid bet. Mainly owed to their experience in the field. Cyrus have been working obsessively with streaming, lonmg before many other brands has cottoned on to what it was – and the X Signature is their flagship streamer, and accumulation of their years of research, planning, design and meticulous attention to detail. All of the creases have been ironed out – and the Signature is exactly as good as a flagship should be. X Signature allows you to browse and select from your entire music collection using the colour screen n-remote (an optional extra), and it has it’s own app too, if you prefer to keep things to one device. Stream from any UPnP or DLNA device, or your PC or mp3 player. If that’s not enough,TuneIn Radio, grants you access to thousands of radio stations from around the world.

Why do we like it?
Yes, it is pretty impressive on the features front. But what really makes it worth it is the sound. Advanced filtering and resonance reducing techniques have ensured that the Cyrus not only streams CD quality – it improves upon it.

What about the money?
10% deposit of £125 followed by 12 monthly payments of £93.70. Please contact us for more information.

2. Naim NAC-N 172 XS Pre Amplifier + Streamer – £1695

Naim-NAC-N 172-XS

Second up, we have the first of our Naim options. And, in true AA style, this is a wildcard. The NAC-N 172 XS is a combined pre amp and streamer, which means you will need a power amp as opposed to an integrated to make this work. But if you do have a power amp, you can upgrade your existing pre amp and acquire a hi-end streamer in one smooth purchase with this unit. So there are advantages – particularly if you’re limited in the space department. What’s nice about this unit is both the streaming qualities and the amplification qualities have been individually praised by both critics and customers – so there isn’t a loss by combining the two.

Why do we like it?
It’s double Naim. Two Naims for the price of one. It’s a pretty unique product – and certainly one worth remembering if you’re ever on the look out for either a pre amp or a streamer. Especially if you need an upgrade on the other function.

Why do they like it?
‘Best streamer £1000-£2000, Awards 2013. An engaging and high-res-happy performer – and a real star turn at this price level.’ (What Hi-Fi? Magazine)

What about the money?
10% deposit of £169.50 followed by 12 monthly payments of £127.13. Please contact us for more information.

3. Linn Majik DS Network Streamer – £1880

Linn Majik DS Network Streamer

 

Next up, we have some magic from Linn. Well, Majik. This audiophile grade streamer is the next step up from the critically acclaimed Sneaky DS and is derived from Linn’s legendary flagship, the Klimax D. It may be the middle child – but it’s anything but mediocre. It’s a feature-laden streamer that really packs a punch in the sound quality department too, boasting SACD quality sound and user-friendliness to the extreme. It enables immediate access to a whole host of streaming possibilities, including internet playlists, the files on your computer or any other UnP enabled device, and internet radio. It even has Songcast built-in – so you have a premium streaming service ready at your fingertips

Why do we like it
This is a streamer that is suitable for the masses – anyone from a newcomer to a seasoned connoisseur – there’s enough in terms of features, sound quality and user-friendliness to make this a proud purchase, wherever on the streaming/hi-fi spectrum you sit

Why do they like it?
‘I must say that I was impressed with the quality of the sound reproduction. It seems to me that the Linn Majik DS clarifies details that could not be heard before. I have rediscovered music that I hadn’t listened to in years. No single component has made as much difference in my system as the Linn Majik DS.’  (EnGadget)

What about the money?
10% deposit of £188.00 followed by 12 monthly payments of £141.00. Please contact us for more information.

4. Naim NDX Network Player – £3275

Naim NDX Network PlayerThis is not the first Naim streamer on our list and (spoiler alert…) it won’t be the last. Naim have really focused their efforts on streamers lately – and the results are quite spectacular. Not only does it have every feature you could want in a hi-end network streamer – including wireless capabilities – and even includes an in-built Burr Brown DAC. Frills aside, what an investment in a Naim NDX really means is an investment in pure, true and detailed sound – and some of the best sound possible in streaming. Not only is it lossless, but it’s gapless. No matter which files/formats you switch between, the NDX will never miss a beat.

Why do we like it?
There isn’t much out there in the streaming field that will beat a Naim. Except – perhaps – another Naim…

Why do they like it?
‘Best streamer £2500+ Awards 2011. If sound quality is your priority the NDX has to be the high-end media player of choice […]The NDX is relatively quick-witted and has a well-thought-out remote handset. We’re convinced that media players such as the NDX will ultimately replace the CD player for many people.’ (What Hi-Fi? Magazine Awards October 2013)

What about the money?
10% deposit of £327.50 followed by 24 monthly payments of £122.81. Please contact us for more information.

5. Naim NDS Reference Network Player – £6,795
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Well, what’d’ya know? It’s another Naim. And this is their Reference streamer. Yes, it has internet radio and every other feature you could possibly name (Naim?), and yes, it’s all very user-friendly, but the money is in the sound. Boasting 24 bit/192kHz audio, the NDS displays all the musical quality of its complete build of the finest high-end components and precision engineering. The NDS takes its place far above the award winning ND5 XS and NDX as the reference Naim network player, exhibiting that clarity, depth and ‘edge’ that is true of only a Reference quality unit It is a revolutionary step forward for high-end audio – and will be truly satisfying for anyone willing to take the leap into the digital deep end.

Why do we like it?
Have we mentioned how much we like Naim? Well, we’re a huge fan of the unit at the bottom of the range. So you can only imagine how we feel about the one at the top. The sound is as surprising as it is superb, and will convert even the most hardened analogue audiophile to the world of possibilities that streaming provides.

Why do they like it?
It’s a massive, majestic, delicate, dynamic, emotive, immense and totally addictive sound. This is quite simply the best network music player we’ve ever heard.’

What about the money?
10% deposit of £679.50 followed by 36 monthly payments of £169.88. Please contact us for more information.

We know that not everyone out there will be convinced that streaming is the future. We know it got off to a shakey start. But the past is the past – and streaming is the future. So… fancy experiencing everything hi-grade digital audio has to offer, all at the press of a button or the swipe of a finger? Look no further.