Best network music streamers 2023: make your hi-fi smarter

Whether your home hi-fi system is a beautiful vintage receiver and speakers, a modern pair of powered speakers, or something in between, adding a dedicated network music streamer to your setup is one of the best ways to bring high-quality digital music. There is one. Your streaming services or local files come to life.

These Internet-connected devices come in all shapes, sizes, budgets, and capabilities, and they work with everything from Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal to Amazon Music, Qobuz, Deezer, and other latest and best streaming music subscription services. Connectivity options with network music streamers are vast, making it easy to connect them via RCA, Optical, USB, XLR, HDMI, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Chromecast, and many other inputs/outputs. Some network music streamers have their own built-in amplifiers, so you only need to add speakers, while most are meant to bring excellent digital sound to your existing system.

Whichever route you go, it can be difficult to choose if you’re new to the world of network music streamers, so we’ve put together this list of some of the best to help you decide.

Cambridge Audio CXN Network Streamer.

Cambridge Audio

Cambridge Audio CXN V2

Best Overall Music Streamer

Pros

  • Cambridge Audio celebrates sound

  • A wide range of inputs/outputs

  • excellent app control

  • detailed file support

Shortcoming

  • a little on the expensive side

  • bluetooth transmitter is different

Do you expect nothing but top-notch audio quality from your network music streamer? For those of us with high listening expectations and money to spare, the Cambridge Audio CXN V2 comes from reputable British audio manufacturers and should be your premium network streamer of choice.

Underneath its sexy brushed metal finish are two 24-bit Wolfson DACs, split internals for the best noise and distortion reduction in town and a maximum playback resolution of 24-bit/384kHz. Supported hi-res formats include FLAC, ALAC, WAV, PCM, and DSD, and you’ll be able to stream your tunes via Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, Chromecast, UpNp, and Roon. There is also native support for the Spotify, Tidal, and Qobuz platforms. Along with Wi-Fi and LAN network connectivity, the CXN V2S inputs include two USB-A ports and one USB-B port, as well as optical and coaxial. Outputs include balanced XLR, line level, and coaxial and optical.

You can also download the StreamMagic app (iOS and Android) to control and customize your CXN. No, it’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for a music streamer that can handle almost anything, the Cambridge Audio CXN V2 has the component for the job.

Cambridge Audio CXN2

Cambridge Audio CXN V2

Best Overall Music Streamer

Yamaha WCX-50 Network Music Streamer.

YAMAHA

Yamaha WXC-50

Solid compact streamer with built-in preamp

Pros

  • built-in preamp

  • Compact design can stand vertically

  • excellent dac

Shortcoming

  • No native support for Apple Music, Qobuz, or Amazon Music

When it comes to overall performance, features, and value, we believe the Yamaha WXC-50 is a great mid-priced option for users looking for a network streamer that includes a built-in preamp, making it Makes it ideal for those of us who want to dedicate all our AV ins, outs and EQ to a single device. It has a fairly small footprint and can be mounted vertically to save more space.

Equipped with an ESS Saber DAC and an onboard music enhancer to enhance your MP3s, the name of the game is precise and rich sound at a price that doesn’t intimidate. You can connect to the WXC-50 using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or wired Ethernet, and the device supports several popular streaming platforms, including Spotify Connect, Pandora, and SiriusXM. Sadly, there’s no native support for Apple Music, Qobuz, or Amazon Music.

You’ll be able to download the MusicCast app (for iOS and Android) to control the streamer from your smartphone or tablet, as well as link the WXC-50 to other wireless Yamaha gear for multi-room audio. Its $450 price puts it in the midrange range.

Yamaha WXC-50 Network Music Streamer

Yamaha WXC-50

Solid compact streamer with built-in preamp

YIM Pro Review 00037

Simon Cohen/

vim pro

Best budget-friendly network music streamers

Pros

  • extremely economical

  • 24-bit/192kHz lossless audio

  • excellent app design

  • AirPlay/Chromecast/Bluetooth

  • Strong streaming service support

  • Too many connections

Shortcoming

  • No Apple Music/Youtube Music access in app

Our own Simon Cohen is a certified digital music fan, and it’s hard to understand him when it comes to convincing us about the virtues of analog formats like vinyl (we don’t have it yet). But he’s the most knowledgeable person we know in this area, so you can trust his review of the formidable $149 YIM Pro.

A direct competitor to Sonos’ popular Port (it’s really like a carbon copy), the YIM Pro is a bare-bones black box that isn’t much nicer to look at in terms of design. But don’t let this fool you. Like the Sonos port, the WiM Pro is equipped with connection options, physical and wireless, including RCA line in and out (for connecting external sources like turntables and CD players that can be streamed through the system), coax, SPDIF Optical in included. in/out, LAN, Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Bluetooth, Chromecast, and more.

With its excellent companion app, Wiim Pro provides easy access to a ton of streaming services including Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon Music, Pandora, Deezer, SoundCloud, TuneIn Radio, and the list goes on. As far as support for high-resolution and lossless music formats goes, the YIM Pro is, yes, a Pro, playing lossless ALAC, APE, FLAC and WAV files up to 24-bit/192kHz, as well as lossless MP3. Provides support for. AAC, WMA, and OGG.

Additionally, and like Sonos, by simply adding other Wiim hardware like an additional Wiim Pro device, or its smaller, cheaper sibling vim mini Or the latest and more premium WiIM Pro Plus, you can easily extend your network throughout your home.

YIM Pro

vim pro

Best budget-friendly network music streamers

Small WiM Mini Network music streamer on a table.

Derek Malcolm/

vim mini

Best Bare Bones Under $100

Pros

  • excellent value for the price

  • ultra compact

  • Easy setup and use

  • Lots of streamer support

Shortcoming

  • No native Apple Music support

  • DAC is good but not great

One way to describe Vim Mini is small but mighty. Smaller than a hockey puck and also much lighter, the YIM Mini has almost all the features of its bigger siblings, the YIM Pro and . YIM Pro Plus For a fraction of the cost. Plus, you can add other WiM devices like the Mini or Pro and Plus throughout your home to create a complete home system.

Like Sonos, the well-designed WiM Home app brings everything together for super-easy control. All your streaming services – from Tidal and Spotify to Qobuz, Amazon Music, Deezer, Pandora and more (unfortunately, there’s no native support for Apple Music) – and a universal search makes it easy to find what you want. Are. Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect also allow you to not use the Wiim app if you prefer to use their official app instead. Chromecast, AirPlay 2, and Alexa support let you group any of these speakers together for multi-room listening, and Alexa and Siri compatibility lets you control things with your voice.

Although the connectivity is quite basic, it may be all you need. It has 3.5mm Aux In and Out ports for connecting external devices as well as connecting to a receiver/amp or a set of powered speakers for playback. Additionally, there’s an SPDIF optical out for sending digital audio up to 24-bit/192 kHz to compatible devices.

Setup and connecting to Wi-Fi couldn’t be easier, and the YIM Mini’s DAC sounds great if you don’t opt ​​to push it even better (but you can).

wiim mini

vim mini

Best Bare Bones Under $100

Sonos Port Network Streamer.

digital trends

sonos port

Best for Sonos users and beyond

Pros

  • Works seamlessly with Sonos speakers

  • one of the best apps

  • Analog and digital input options

Shortcoming

  • Sound can be more expressive

  • expensive

If you’ve already immersed yourself in the Sonos ecosystem with multiple Sonos speakers scattered throughout your home, but you still have an extra “dumb” sound system that sounds amazing but is disconnected from the Sonos Hive, So adding a Sonos port is an excellent way to bring everything together.

The port will not only allow you to access all the streaming services (including Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Qobuz, and more) you use on your non-Sonos system through the rest of your Sonos speakers, but you’ll also connect Can also include external analog sources such as turntables and CD players via RCA to send through the system. Additionally, the Sonos Port supports Apple AirPlay 2 to send music directly from your iOS devices.

And everything is controlled from Sonos’ industry-leading app — there’s a universal search feature that will search across all your signed-in services, and Spotify, Tidal, and Amazon Music users have access to those respective apps to control them. Have the option to use them, should they prefer.

sonos port

sonos port

Best for Sonos users and beyond

AudioEngine Bi-Fi Network Streamer.

audioengine

audioengine b-fi

Another budget option for beginners

Pros

  • Cheap

  • super compact

  • easy to install

  • Looks great for the price

Shortcoming

  • Minimum Connectivity Port

  • at maximum 16-bit/44.1kHz

Maybe you’re just getting started with network music streaming, and you want a solid and reliable streamer that won’t break the bank. If it’s important to test the waters before swimming with manta rays, or you just want a great streamer for a good price, the AudioEngine B-Fi should fit the bill.

Once connected to your Wi-Fi (no Ethernet option on this model), you can stream tunes over Wi-Fi from your iOS device using Apple AirPlay and whatever music-streaming platform you’re subscribed to. Will be able to do. Unfortunately, though, there’s no Chromecast support, so Android device users will have to stick to the AudioEngine Control app (iOS and Android), which allows you to control services like Spotify, Tidal, and Qobuz without switching between them. Another app, even if you can.

You can also use the Control app to link your Bi-Fi to up to 12 other Bi-Fi streamers, as well as compatible smartphones, computers, and network storage devices. One thing to note, however, is that AudioEngine B-Fi maxes out at CD-quality 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution, which isn’t a bad thing as it still sounds great, but it doesn’t have to be high-resolution. It is believed. Many major streaming services are offering.

audioengine b-fi

audioengine b-fi

Another budget option for beginners






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