Streaming Device Reviews

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Al Griffin  |  Mar 06, 2019  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent sound quality
Strong feature set
Good ergonomics and control app
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
Simaudio's Moon 390 is a high-res stream machine that combines high-end sound with an extensive feature set and solid ergonomics.

Canada's Simaudio has been designing and manufacturing audio electronic components from its home base in Quebec for almost four decades. While the company's product lineup clearly skews toward the high end—a pair of its flagship Moon 888 monoblock amplifiers will run you around $120,000—the company also makes a wide range of other components with more approachable price tags. A number of these, such as the Moon 390 preamplifier ($5,300) we have under review here, feature the MiND 2 streaming module, a built-in network player that lets you stream audio from services like Tidal, Qobuz, and Deezer, along with files stored on a NAS or USB drive or computer.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Apr 26, 2010  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,098 (as reviewed)

At A Glance: Robust wireless communication between devices • Supports most audio codecs except Apple FairPlay DRM-protected and WMA lossless • Access to numerous online audio-subscription services • ZonePlayers can stream local analog sources to other zonesI’ve often thought it would be nice to have music in multiple rooms of the house; but, as I’ve alluded, my home is not custom install friendly. I decided that a wireless multiroom system would definitely be the best bet. Sonos, a company that focuses exclusively on wireless multiroom audio, has a system that’s designed to do just thatŃand moreŃin up to 32 independent zones without breaking the bank or tearing down any walls. After I read the endearing tag line, “Wireless that works like magic,” I thought, what better time or place could there be to check out Sonos’ latest system incarnation? So I asked Sonos to send out its Bundle 150 two-zone package ($999 ) plus a ZoneBridge and let the fun begin.

Barb Gonzalez  |  Jul 31, 2013  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $70 At a Glance: Mirrors or extends PC desktop using WiDi • USB connection and micro SD card slot • DLNA certified for streaming of home media libraries • Flingo App adds dozens of niche video channels

“What’s the best way to connect my PC to my TV?” is a question I am frequently asked. While many TVs have PC connections and many laptops have HDMI outputs, there’s still the issue of controlling the computer while sitting on the couch. The NTV-300SL (aka the NeoTV 300 Max) is a great, relatively inexpensive solution that lets you keep your laptop in your lap.

Kim Wilson  |  May 09, 2012  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $50 At a Glance: Streams a wide variety of content from various paid and free services • Easy setup • Built-in Wi-Fi • Small, compact form factor • Control device with free iPhone or Android app

With so many TVs and BD players offering streaming services these days, I didn’t think there would be a lot of demand for standalone units; yet, they keep coming, presumably for those still watching older equipment without this feature. When evaluating these units, the most important aspects are the services and channels provided, along with the user interface. The actual streaming quality is dependent on your Internet connection (which Netgear suggests should be no less than 3-4 Mbps for 720p, though I’d say 6 Mbps is safe for 1080p).

Chris Chiarella  |  Aug 19, 2004  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2004  |  0 comments
With Omnifi, your MP3s are everywhere you want to be.

Liberating gear such as that manufactured by Omnifi, a division of Rockford Fosgate, compels me to look at where I spend the bulk of my waking hours: at the office, in the home theater, or in the car. As with all great action heroes, my daily adventures are set to music—not a problem when I'm chained to my desk with my entire music library at my disposal on my hard drive. A portable player is one way to transcend the confines of the workspace, and some even arrive bundled with cables to plug into a hi-fi system for all to enjoy, but this is hardly an elegant approach.

Al Griffin  |  Aug 07, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Integrated Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $400 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great value
Tidal, Spotify, and TuneIn streaming
Digital and analog inputs accommodate multiple sources
Minus
Subwoofer output
Treble-forward sound with some music
Coarse volume steps
No USB-DAC input

THE VERDICT
OSD Audio’s compact, component-based system is a great value and offers a high-er-performance alternative to many all-in-one wireless speakers.

OSD Audio is a company that seems to make everything— everything audio-related, that is. When I stopped by the company's booth at the CEDIA trade show in 2018, CEO Dave Chai took me on a guided tour of the vast array of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, outdoor speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, accessories, and cables on display, thoroughly impressing me with his ability to speak about each product in detail. While much of OSD Audio's catalog is aimed at custom installation pros, two new consumer-oriented categories for the company are bookshelf speakers and integrated amplifiers with wireless streaming capability.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 12, 2013  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price $699

At A Glance
Plus: USB DAC built in • AirPlay, optional Bluetooth
Minus: Small font on display • No headphone output

The Verdict
This is a great-sounding way to add network audio features, especially the crucial USB DAC, to an existing system.

Have you watched in dismay as new features have left your old surround receiver or stereo preamp in the dust? Would you like to hang on to your old buddy but give it a new coat of paint? The Pioneer Elite N-50 bids to do just that, bringing a USB DAC, optional wireless connectivity, and other computer audio-related features into a rack-size component. It brings your existing equipment up to date for the second decade of the 21st century.

Barb Gonzalez  |  May 23, 2014  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Offers most major apps
Excellent picture and sound quality
No additional subscriptions required to access streaming services
Netflix Max helps find recommendations geared to your taste
Minus
No remote or QWERTY keyboard outside of game controller
Limited number of apps—no social networks or photo apps
No DLNA or other streaming from home network media libraries

THE VERDICT
Excellent for gaming and on the whole, but not the best choice for streaming alone.

With PlayStation 4, Sony has upped the video game ante with incredible graphics and the ability to share gameplay with the touch of a “share” button on its redesigned game controller. But how is it as a media streamer? I took a look at Sony's latest to check out its entertainment offerings and its ergonomics as an entertainment (non-gaming) device.

Daniel Kumin  |  Dec 07, 2011  |  0 comments

ALMOST THIRTY YEARS AGO (can it be?) the compact disc promised "perfect sound forever." Two decades later the iPod, iTunes, and their ilk offered all music, everywhere, all the time.

Today, the first innovation is in decline while the second - despite all the quibbles about data-compressed sound quality, piracy, and the degradation of music into a disposable, mixable, mashable commodity - is ascendant. And yet, some few of us are ungrateful enough to want both; the convenience and ubiquity of iPod-like music files, and the listening experience that digital audio at its best can deliver.

Of course, the people in Hell want ice water too.

Daniel Kumin  |  Dec 07, 2011  |  0 comments

ALMOST THIRTY YEARS AGO (can it be?) the compact disc promised “perfect sound forever.” Two decades later the iPod, iTunes, and their ilk offered all music, everywhere, all the time.

Today, the first innovation is in decline while the second — despite all the quibbles about data-compressed sound quality, piracy, and the degradation of music into a disposable, mixable, mashable commodity — is ascendant. And yet, some few of us are ungrateful enough to want both; the convenience and ubiquity of iPod-like music files, and the listening experience that digital audio at its best can deliver.

Of course, the people in Hell want ice water too.

Daniel Kumin  |  Dec 07, 2011  |  0 comments

ALMOST THIRTY YEARS AGO (can it be?) the compact disc promised “perfect sound forever.” Two decades later the iPod, iTunes, and their ilk offered all music, everywhere, all the time.

Today, the first innovation is in decline while the second — despite all the quibbles about data-compressed sound quality, piracy, and the degradation of music into a disposable, mixable, mashable commodity — is ascendant. And yet, some few of us are ungrateful enough to want both; the convenience and ubiquity of iPod-like music files, and the listening experience that digital audio at its best can deliver.

Of course, the people in Hell want ice water too.

Michael Berk  |  Dec 15, 2011  |  0 comments

Interested in testing the wireless whole-home audio waters but want to do so with an absolute minimum of fuss? The latest version of the Home Audio Link (HAL, for short) from Aperion Audio will probably fit your needs just fine.

Consisting of a pair of puckish little rubbery objects with retractable USB tails (replacing the little blocks that made up HAL 1), the system lets you stream uncompressed digital audio (up to 16-bit/48-kHz resolution) from one place to another, simply and inexpensively.

What's not to love?

John Sciacca  |  Dec 28, 2011  |  0 comments

Most new Blu-ray players are capable of streaming both movies and music, so why would you ever consider buying a dedicated music-streaming device? I mean, if you learned nothing else from your mother, you’re probably at least squared away on the concept of not buying the cow if you’re already getting the milk for free.

Michael Berk  |  Feb 29, 2012  |  0 comments

If you're a Boxee Box owner, you probably noticed the revamped and streamlined main menu in the latest iteration of the OS, Boxee 1.5. The company's new USB stick goes that one better, adding live TV to the do-it-all streamer's ever-expanding repertoire.

Daniel Kumin  |  Aug 30, 2011  |  0 comments

Cambridge Audio is a British electronics maker with a long-running dedication to serious audio (minus the silly-expensive audiophile pricing) and a long-running commitment to quality digital playback. So, when the company first previewed a network music player in late 2010, it got my attention.

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