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The Best Music Streamers in 2024

Explore the best music streamers of 2024, from high-end models like the Naim Uniti Atom to budget-friendly options like the WiiM Pro Plus. Discover the future of high-fidelity audio streaming.
best music streamers

Selecting the best music streamer for your home audio setup in 2024 can dramatically enhance your listening experience, whether you’re streaming Tidal, Qobuz, Apple Music, or utilizing DLNA for high-resolution audio playback. With technology advancing rapidly, it’s crucial to understand the distinctions between devices that support AirPlay and those optimized for the highest quality sound reproduction.

This article aims to delve deeply into the world of music streamers, highlighting top picks like the Naim Uniti Atom, known for its exceptional performance, and exploring more wallet-friendly options such as the WiiM Pro.

What is a Music Streamer?

music streamer, also known as a network music player, is a device that can play audio stored in another location. This location could be over the internet, such as a streaming service like Spotify or Tidal, or an external hard drive. Some music streamers have built-in digital-to-analog converters (DACs), amplifiers, or both, while others are designed to connect to your existing audio equipment.

Why Do You Need a Music Streamer?

Music streamers offer several key benefits for audiophiles and casual listeners alike:

  • High-quality audio: Music streamers often come with high-quality DACs that can convert digital signals into analog sound with more accuracy and detail than most smartphones or computers.
  • Access to music libraries: Music streamers can access vast music libraries from various streaming platforms, giving you an endless supply of music at your disposal.
  • Convenience: With a music streamer, you can control your music playback from anywhere in your home using your smartphone or tablet.

What to Look for in a Music Streamer

When shopping for the best music streamer, consider the following factors:

  • Compatibility: The music streamer should be compatible with your preferred streaming services and music formats.
  • Connectivity: Look for a music streamer with a variety of connectivity options, such as RCA, optical, USB, XLR, HDMI, Bluetooth, AirPlay, and Chromecast.
  • Sound quality: The sound quality of a music streamer largely depends on its DAC. Consider the DAC’s maximum resolution and supported audio formats.
  • Ease of use: The music streamer should have an intuitive interface and a responsive control app.

The Best Music Streamers in 2024

Naim Uniti Atom

Naim Uniti Atom

The Naim Uniti Atom stands out as a multifaceted powerhouse, skillfully combining the functionalities of a headphone amplifier, DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter), and streamer into one sleek, compact unit. Its compatibility with a wide array of streaming services—including Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, and Qobuz—alongside support for Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, and Bluetooth playback, positions it as a versatile choice for audiophiles.

Key Features and Connectivity:

  • Streaming Services: Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, Qobuz
  • Wireless Connectivity: AirPlay 2, Bluetooth aptX HD, Chromecast
  • Wired Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Line level, Coaxial, 2x Optical, 2x USB Type A
  • Outputs: XLR and line level preamp, Headphone output (6.35mm, balanced XLR, Pentaconn 4.4mm)
  • Audio Resolution: Max file resolution of 32-bit/384kHz, DSD128

The design of the Uniti Atom is a testament to Naim’s attention to detail, featuring a chic, neo-industrial aesthetic with brushed aluminum trim and blocky heat sinks that not only serve a functional purpose but also contribute to its elegant appearance. For headphone enthusiasts, the Uniti Atom provides three output options—a standard ¼” TRX jack, a Pentaconn jack, and an XLR jack for balanced connections—catering to a wide range of preferences and equipment.

The Naim Uniti Atom’s integrated 40W/8Ω amp, alongside its DAC capabilities and Roon Ready certification, ensures it meets the highest standards of audio quality and user experience. Its ability to handle a 32 bit/384kHz resolution underlines its capacity to deliver unparalleled high-resolution audio, making it the best overall music streamer for those seeking the pinnacle of sound fidelity in 2024.


Bluesound NODE

Bluesound NODE

Moving on, we explore the Bluesound NODE, a device that stands as a beacon for those seeking high-quality streaming without the premium price tag. Priced at a modest $499, the NODE is a testament to Bluesound’s commitment to delivering exceptional value. It’s a device that eschews an in-built amplifier for a focus on its core competencies as a streamer and DAC, making it a versatile component in any audio setup.

Key Features and Connectivity:

  • Sources: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB, AirPlay 2, HDMI eARC
  • Outputs: Unbalanced RCA, Coaxial, Optical, 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • Max File Resolution: 24-bit/192kHz, DSD256
  • DAC: ESS 9028Q2M Sabre DAC for superior sound quality
  • Additional Connectivity: USB A for external DAC, Subwoofer out for enhanced bass

The NODE X, the latest iteration, boasts significant improvements over its predecessors. It incorporates the latest Bluetooth technology and supports a wide range of streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal, and Qobuz through the intuitive Bluesound app. This version sees the introduction of a new DAC, the ESS 9028Q2M Sabre DAC, elevating the sound quality to new heights. The inclusion of a remote control and a subwoofer out port also underscores Bluesound’s commitment to user convenience and sound customization.

Despite its many strengths, the NODE has faced criticism regarding its app’s reliability and the performance of its internal DAC. Measurements have shown notable distortion levels, placing its DAC in a less favorable light compared to competitors. However, the NODE X maintains the refined and potent sound characteristic of Bluesound, delivering a detailed and open presentation. With extensive streaming service support, compatibility with up to 63 other BluOS devices, and Roon readiness, the NODE X represents a significant leap forward. It’s a device that, despite its flaws, offers a compelling package for audiophiles looking to expand their high-resolution audio ecosystem without breaking the bank.


Cambridge Audio CXN V2

Cambridge Audio CXN V2

As we look into the Cambridge Audio CXN V2, it’s evident why this streamer has garnered attention since its release in 2018. Priced at $1099, the CXN V2 is a testament to Cambridge Audio’s commitment to high-quality sound and robust build quality. Here’s a closer look at what makes the CXN V2 stand out:

Key Features and Connectivity:

  • Digital Inputs and Outputs: The CXN V2 supports a wide range of connectivity options including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast, and AirPlay, making it versatile for any setup. It’s also equipped with USB, coaxial, and TOSLINK digital inputs, along with balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs.
  • Streaming Services Compatibility: Spotify Premium, TIDAL, Qobuz, and more are directly accessible, providing a vast library of high-resolution audio at your fingertips.
  • Wolfson WM8740 DAC Chips: Known for their warm and dynamic sound, these DAC chips ensure that your music is reproduced with exceptional clarity and richness.

Performance and User Experience:

  • The CXN V2 boasts a range of technical specifications that highlight its superior performance. With a frequency response from 40 Hz to 15 kHz, a dynamic range of 117.4 dB, and a remarkably low THD of 0.00055%, it’s clear that this device is built for audiophiles. The stereo crosstalk at -116.5 dB ensures a clean separation of channels, enhancing the immersive audio experience.
  • The user interface is praised for its simplicity and responsiveness. The smooth and fast UI, combined with a tactile volume knob, makes for an enjoyable user interaction. The LCD off function, which entirely turns off the screen during play, is a thoughtful addition for those who prefer minimal distractions.
  • Roon Ready certification and compatibility with Google Home, Apple Airplay, and Roon multiroom systems underscore the CXN V2’s versatility in integrating into various home audio setups. Its multiroom capability allows for seamless audio playback in different rooms, creating an enveloping sound environment throughout your home.

Build Quality and Aesthetics:

  • The CXN V2’s solid build quality is immediately apparent, with no loose connections and a robust chassis that promises longevity. Its minimalist matt black finish, available in a limited edition of 1000 units, adds a touch of elegance to any space.
  • The device’s design is both practical and aesthetically pleasing, with balanced XLR outputs and unbalanced RCA outputs neatly arranged for easy access. The inclusion of dual Wolfson WM8740 24-bit DACs not only enhances the audio performance but also contributes to the device’s sleek and professional appearance.

In summary, the Cambridge Audio CXN V2 is a compelling choice for those in the mid-price range seeking a streamer and DAC that offers an unbeatable blend of sound quality, connectivity, and user-friendly features. Its compatibility with virtually all music streaming services, along with its high-quality digital audio performance, makes it a top recommendation for audiophiles looking to elevate their home audio experience.


WiiM Pro and Pro Plus

WiiM Pro

Transitioning to the WiiM Pro and WiiM Pro Plus, these devices represent an exemplary blend of affordability and high-performance in the current landscape of music streamers. Both models share similar dimensions and weight, with the WiiM Pro at 11.6 oz and the Pro Plus slightly heavier at 14.1 oz, indicative of their compact and user-friendly design.

Key Specifications:

  • Audio Inputs/Outputs: Both models come equipped with RCA Line and SPDIF Optical inputs, while their outputs extend to RCA Line, SPDIF Optical, and Coaxial, ensuring versatile connectivity options.
  • Internal DAC IC: The WiiM Pro utilizes the TI Burr-Brown PCM5121, while the Pro Plus upgrades to the AKM4493SEQ, reflecting in their SNR and THD+N ratings. The Pro offers a SNR of 102dB and THD+N of 0.009%, whereas the Pro Plus boasts a significantly higher SNR of 120dB and a lower THD+N of 0.00032%, marking a clear distinction in audio quality.
  • Connectivity and Streaming: Both models support dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, and a range of protocols including AirPlay 2, Chromecast Audio, DLNA, and more. They are compatible with a wide array of streaming services directly from the app, such as Spotify, Amazon Music, and Tidal, among others.

The WiiM Pro and Pro Plus stand out for their comprehensive support for high-resolution audio, capable of handling up to 192 kHz 24-bit audio for the Pro Plus and 48 kHz 24-bit for the Pro. This is further complemented by their ability to work with voice assistants like Alexa, Google Voice, and Siri, and facilitate seamless multiroom streaming. The Pro Plus, in particular, shines as the best budget music streamer, offering an impressive array of features including AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, and compatibility with a plethora of audio formats at less than half the price of its counterparts. This makes it an ideal choice for those looking to economically upgrade aging HiFi systems or set up sophisticated multi-room audio environments.

Notable Features and Additional Information:

  • Voice Assistant Compatibility: Works with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant for convenient voice control.
  • High-Resolution Audio Support: Both models support Hi-Res Audio from leading services like Spotify, Amazon Music, and Tidal.
  • Advanced DAC and Audio Processing: The WiiM Pro Plus features a high-precision, low-jitter AKM4493SEQ DAC, supporting up to 384 kHz/32-bit audio with 106 dB SNR for unmatched sound quality.
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.1 ensure a stable and reliable connection, surpassing traditional Bluetooth connections in performance.

In essence, the WiiM Pro and Pro Plus offer a compelling combination of features, performance, and value, making them standout choices for anyone looking to enhance their home audio system in 2024.


Audioengine B-Fi

Audioengine B-Fi

Transitioning to the Audioengine B-Fi, a device that strikes an appealing balance between affordability and performance for those venturing into the realm of high-resolution audio streaming. Priced at a modest $189, the B-Fi emerges as a noteworthy contender for budget-conscious audiophiles. Its sleek aluminum case, adorned with a white finish and black plastic endcaps, houses a suite of features designed to enhance the digital music experience.

Key Specifications and Features:

  • Audio Outputs: Analog RCA, Digital Optical, 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • Supported File Formats: AAC, AAC+, ALAC, APE, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WMA
  • Streaming Services Integration: Comes preinstalled with apps for iHeartRadio, Napster, Qobuz, QQ Music, Tidal, TuneIn, and Ximalaya, with Amazon Prime Music added in the second production run.
  • DAC Chip: Equipped with an ESS Technologies Sabre ES9023 DAC chip, supporting 16/44.1 file formats for high-quality audio playback.
  • Connectivity: Utilizes Wi-Fi for wireless connection, with support for Apple AirPlay, but lacks an Ethernet port for wired networking.

Despite its compact size and budget-friendly price, the B-Fi’s performance has faced scrutiny. Measurements have indicated challenges with noise and distortion, suggesting that the device may not provide the desired transparency to the 16-bit format. Furthermore, the B-Fi’s reliance on 802.11g Wi-Fi networks and the requirement to use the Audioengine app for setup could pose limitations for some users. However, its support for high-resolution music files through DLNA, UPnP, or high-res streaming apps—albeit with downsampling to 16/44.1 for playback—retains its appeal for those seeking a straightforward, budget-friendly entry into the world of music streaming.

In summary, while the Audioengine B-Fi presents an attractive option for those on a budget, with notable features like a quality DAC, wide compatibility with streaming services, and an elegant design, potential buyers should weigh its performance metrics and connectivity limitations. As we continue to explore the best music streamers of 2024, it’s clear that the B-Fi carves out its niche for casual listeners and those looking to dip their toes into streaming high-resolution audio without a significant investment.


EverSolo DMP Series

eversolo dmp-a8

Diving into the EverSolo DMP Series 2024, we’re greeted with a trio of models that cater to a range of audiophile preferences and budgets. The lineup includes the DMP-A6, DMP-A6 Master Edition, and the flagship DMP-A8, each meticulously designed to blend superior audio performance with sleek aesthetics. Here’s a quick breakdown of their pricing and dimensions to start:

  • Dimensions:
    • DMP-A6 and DMP-A6 Master Edition: 10.6″ W x 3.5″ H x 7.4″ D
    • DMP-A8: 15″ W x 3.5″ H x 9.8″ D

The design across the series is striking, featuring a brushed aluminum front faceplate, frosted anodized aluminum top, and side grills that not only ensure efficient heat dissipation but also add to the visual allure. A standout feature is the 6-inch touchscreen that enhances user interaction, allowing for seamless navigation through its myriad of features.

At the heart of the EverSolo DMP Series is its support for an extensive array of audio formats and connectivity options, ensuring it caters to virtually any setup or preference:

  • Supported Formats: DSD512 Native, PCM 768KHz/32bit, DSD64, PCM 192KHz/24bit
  • Connectivity: HDMI output for multi-channel DSD, Roon Ready, Tidal Connect, Qobuz Connect, DLNA, Airplay, Bluetooth 5.0, and an impressive 4TB M.2 SSD support for extensive music libraries.

Each model in the series comes with its unique set of features and specifications, making them suitable for different user needs. The DMP-A6 and its Master Edition are powered by two ESS Sabre ES9038Q2M DACs known for their detailed sound reproduction, while the DMP-A8 elevates the experience further with AKM AK4499EX and AKM AK4191EQ DACs, offering a warmer and richer sound presentation. Notably, the DMP-A8 stands out with its all-in-one capability, serving as a pre-amp, DAC, and streamer, and is equipped with a dual hybrid power supply for unparalleled audio fidelity.

The series also boasts a customizable home screen and a row of apps, enhancing the user experience by allowing personalization according to one’s preferences. Pre-installed apps like Tidal, Qobuz, and Amazon Music, among others, ensure that users have immediate access to a vast array of high-resolution music content. Furthermore, the inclusion of a 4TB M.2 SSD hatch and a CD Rip app for lossless CD ripping addresses the needs of audiophiles who value both digital and physical media.

In essence, the EverSolo DMP Series 2024 positions itself as a formidable contender in the high-resolution audio market, combining state-of-the-art technology, user-centric design, and a comprehensive feature set that caters to the needs of discerning audiophiles and music enthusiasts alike.


iFi ZEN Stream and NEO Stream

ifi zen stream

Delving into the iFi ZEN Stream and its upgraded sibling, the iFi NEO Stream, unveils a fascinating duo within the realm of high-quality music streamers. Both devices cater to audiophiles with a penchant for high-resolution audio, yet they serve different niches due to their distinct features.

iFi ZEN Stream:

  • Streaming Platform Support: Spotify, Tidal, Roon, AirPlay, Chromecast, DLNA, and NAA.
  • Audio Quality: Capable of streaming high-resolution audio up to PCM384 and DSD256.
  • Connectivity: Features two SuperSpeed USB3.0 ports with Active Noise Cancellation II and S/PDIF out, incorporating the iPurifier to minimize interference.
  • Exclusive Modes: Allows selection between ‘Exclusive’ modes for optimized performance.
  • Hardware: Powered by a 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex microprocessor, supplemented by high-quality components for processing and power supply.
  • MQA Technology: Supports Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) technology for superior sound.
  • Additional Features: The software is finely tuned for seamless operation and excellent sonic performance. However, it lacks a screen or interface and requires a separate DAC for digital output.

iFi NEO Stream:

  • Upgraded Features: Offers more connectivity options, a screen, built-in DAC, and enhanced features over the ZEN Stream.
  • Connectivity & Display: The inclusion of a screen provides direct interaction, making it more user-friendly for those who prefer a visual interface.
  • Built-in DAC: Eliminates the need for a separate DAC, streamlining the setup for a more compact audio system.

Performance Insights:

  • Wi-Fi vs. Ethernet: The ZEN Stream performs smoothly over both wired and wireless connections, with Wi-Fi showing minimal buffering and almost none when using Ethernet.
  • Compatibility: Successfully output to all three USB DACs tested without issue, maintaining audio quality consistent with direct connections to a computer or DAP’s local library.
  • Exclusive Mode Challenges: While supporting Roon Exclusive mode, some users reported difficulty with USB output, which was resolved through device settings adjustments.

In summary, the iFi ZEN Stream emerges as a robust option for those seeking a dedicated streamer that emphasizes audio quality and versatility in streaming platforms. Its ability to deliver pristine high-resolution audio, coupled with its support for various services and exclusive modes, positions it as a compelling choice for audiophiles. On the other hand, the NEO Stream, with its additional connectivity options, built-in DAC, and user-friendly screen, offers an upgraded experience for those seeking an all-in-one solution. Both devices underscore iFi’s commitment to high-quality audio reproduction, catering to a wide range of preferences and setups.

I have a full review of the iFi ZEN Stream here.


Conclusion

Through this deep dive into the best music streamers of 2024, it’s clear that regardless of your budget or audio fidelity expectations, there’s a device out there that can transform your listening experience. From the multifunctional elegance of the Naim Uniti Atom to the budget-friendly ingenuity of the WiiM Pro Plus, each model presents its own positives, promising to cater to the nuanced needs of audiophiles and casual listeners alike. The diversity and advancement in technology demonstrated across these streamers not only enhance our connection with music but also significantly elevate the quality of home audio environments.

In making an informed decision on the best music streamer to suit your needs, consider not only the specifications and price point but also how each device aligns with your personal listening preferences and existing audio setup. The perfect streamer should seamlessly integrate into your lifestyle and budget.

Be sure to check out our other buying guides to help you get the best audio experience possible!

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