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Streaming V Sound Quality : which takes precedence?

Plugging in a new amp creates that hitherto feeling. Oh Yes, that one where the system creates a new sonic affection. The meltability into audio in a dreamy way, the reason why we do this. Upgraditis to boot. It could very well be too, a DAC, a new pair of speakers, or a pre-amp. But is this woozy state of contentment changed, in use, by streamers and their point to point functionality? Should we forego sonics to a large degree, by streaming features?

The reviewer has at hand a system, where the ability of full convenience is easily at his or her self-indulgent behest. He has a number of systems to pick from. Meanwhile in the real world it’s the *bit between* the transient finger pronating motion to a tablet, laptop or phone, that is equal to the rest of Audiophiles in what we want. The times where everything goes *quiet*, so far as our own physical inactivity. Where the HiFi is just left to get on with it and where sound is king, on a throne?

Hegel H90
Streaming versus Sound Quality

It could be a question of how far we extend it. Voice control to our HiFi via an Amazon Echo Dot, or Google Nest Mini. Are these to be included in the list of controllability to be judgements of experience too? That the flexibility of our ability to ping Chromecast or Spotify Connect streams from an app, as controller, to direct the Chromecast or Spotify device to where the stream URL sits, is alone one of higher importance? Well not really. It’s a big part of it, as how else do we get our tunes to the HiFi! But can it be achieved alternatively with one part of our mind still on best Sound Quality at price? You betcha..

Naim Uniti Atom

Straight to an example – you can buy a Naim Uniti Atom around £2000 (€2749). With it’s 40watts per channel, as well as Chromecast built-in, Apple AirPlay, AptX HD Bluetooth and Spotify Connect. Then on the other hand – an all *Viking* conquering affair to Naim’s Anglo-Saxon territory : Hegel H90 (£1500) and a £500 Primare NP5 Prisma Network Player. Similar penny drop, but with the same Chromecast built in, WiFi capability, AirPlay, Bluetooth and Spotify Connect with Roon Readiness to come moreover (currently Roon capability over Airplay – as with the Hegel). But instead, the Hegel notches up dynamic power to 60W into its identical 8ohms. But crucially a damping factor around 2000, relevant to controlling stop and start of bass drivers, and one reason Hegel amps sound so good.

NP5 – only 143 x 36 mm x 125 (WHD)

Which similarly priced system would you wager being the sonic improver? I know which one. So often then, multi-box is not to be scoffed at.

What I’m saying is that you can have your cake and eat it on sonics and point to point streaming function….Even adding *dongles* to audio systems too like the Chromecast Audio Puck, still kicking about. This is reliant, quite often, on being flexible to consider options other than one-boxers. So next time you are ready to commit on solutions that offer ALL the point to point streaming you’ll ever need, in one box, have a think – can a purchase be achieved alternatively with similar good design and sound? And what are the relative price points reaching same ends?

Hegel H90 Rear
Streaming versus Sound Quality

Can you hide the Streamer?

Another consideration to this end is, can the add on streaming box of trickery be hidden in a rack or cabinet such that your decision to buy effectively hinges on the primary source component and *its* design. In the above example, the Hegel. These are after all very easy components to use.

Chromecast Audio

This was a consideration when I looked at the Cyrus ONE Cast – a Chromecast Audio puck gives the Cyrus ONE HD nearly the same functionality (without auto on switching) for a £300-ish saving, and being the size of half an ice hockey puck, you can put it almost anywhere!


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  1. Good article. I no longer have a dedicated room, nor the desire to arrange my living room to a two channel set-up with a narrow listening seat. The answer for me was an iFi Aurora. It is absolutely brilliant! When I sold my two channel system, I kept a few components to try with the Aurora including my Allo USBridge Sig with Digione Sig and Shanti. Roon server, Balanced Power Conditioner, and a nice TWL Digital American power cable for the Aurora as well.The result is better in every way than my $15.000 tube based 2 channel system (with a total 16 sought after NOS tubes and V-Cap CuFTs) with the exception of soundstage. But, the Aurora sounds fabulous anywhere I am in the room. More like good radial speakers. Similar tone, much fuller mid range, treble that is so extended, clear and with no irritation, and bass that simply has to be heard to believe. The only speakers I have heard that have this quality of bass are my buddies Wilson Sasha DAW speakers. Huge speakers and very $$$. The Aurora sounds good on it’s own too, you definitely can use as a one box system, but is you are a discerning audiophile who loves Roon, adding a streamer delivers a little extra. You can replace the Russian tube but if course that will void the warranty. Effortless, natural sound. Couldn’t be happier.

    • Thanks very much Bill and your comments on your system. I tried to test the Aurora but didn’t get anywhere with it, as I wanted to give my fair impressions against a Naim Muso. Ill keep on trying as they do look terrific with the wooden appearance.

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Written by Simon Price

I'm an audio lover who likes sharing experiences of faithfully reproduced audio in a CREDIBLE, BALANCED and ENGAGING way. I’m interested in products; their looks, functionality and features, and most importantly how they sound! My reviews keep technicalities easy, as I believe great audio is non exclusive and to be enjoyed by all! It's all about the music!

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