Top 10 Hi-Fi Music Streaming

10/18/2012 3:36:55 PM

Price: $907.5

Who needs to drill holes and re-plaster walls to get a multiroom music system at home? Not you. With Sonos, creating a simple two-zone system is an idiot-proof doddle: the cheapest way would be to combine two of the new Play: 3 units with the Sonos Bridge route. Want to go more amplified ZP120 in another room, or existing one or the new Subs for a sizeable bass boost. The dedicated controller has now been discontinued, but the free apps (iOS, Android, Mac, PC) work beautifully.


Sonos multiroom system

Killer feature: Zoneplayers can all sync for ‘party mode’ or play individually

Stuff says 5/5 stars

Infinite music in every room without the need for custom installers? Sign us up now

Denon D-M38DAB

Price:  $453.9

Of you want a D-M38, you’ll have to move quickly – the D-M39 has now released and can be bought for $ 583.5. the M38 is still a great bit of kit (especially given the price), but it might be wise to delay your purchase until we’re reviewed its successor.


Denon D-M38DAB

Naim UniQute

Price: $2,309.5

Value: 5/5

Not since prince’s heyday has such sweet music emerged from such a tiny thing. The UnitiQute produces audiophile sound from streamed files, all controlled by an iOS app. The $5267 Super Unit is better still (but pricey): the flagship NDS ($10129) even more so.

Description: Naim UniQute

JBL OnBeat Xtreme

Price: $559

Value: 5/5

If you want to have your cake and eat the whole thing as well, look no further than the OnBeat Xtreme. It’s packed with features – Bluetooth streaming, iThing dock, USB, built-in mic, video output and more – bit it’s also loud, fun and great sounding. Tasty.

Description: JBL OnBeat Xtreme

Marantz M-CR603

Price: $777.9

Value: 5/5

Marantz’s brilliant micro-hi will play CDs, DAB, FM and internet radio, or stream from Bluetooth or DLNA-equipped gear, but it’s the ability to stream music from devices with Apple’s AirPlay tech that sets it apart. Shame it lacks Wi-Fi, though

Description: Marantz M-CR603

Marantz M-CR603

Geneva Model M

Price: $940

Value: 5/5

An iAudiophile’s dream, the Model M pump out serious sound of the kind you’d expect from a separates system. Want to go wireless? The dinky, ultra-portable Model XS ($291.9) stream via Bluetooth and does a fantastic job given its size

Description: Geneva Model M

Philips Fidello SoundSphere DS9800W

Price: $1,134.5

In a world awash with AirPlay-equipped docks, the new SoundSpheres create a niche for themselves by offering proper two-channel stereo output. iDiosuncratic looks ensure they’ll stand out even further from the crowd, and they sound great too.

Description: Philips Fidello SoundSphere DS9800W

B&W Zeppelin Air

Price: $810

Value: 5/5

The Air brings the weighty sound and design smarts we’ve come to expect from the Zeppelin family, then adds AirPlay streaming as a bonus trick. The clever Zeppelin Air app is a further plus, letting users pool their music collections to a collaborative playlist.

Description: B&W Zeppelin Air

B&W Zeppelin Air

Focal XS book

Price: $421

Value: 5/5

Can a computer ever be a proper hi-fi substitute? It can if kitted out with these premium desktop speakers. In fact, this 40W active system serves up such an up compromising sound it’s equally at home when plugged into your MP3 player.

Description: Focal XS book

Focal XS book

Logitech Mini Boombox

Price: $72.9

Value: 5/5

Travelling light? The Mini Boombox is so small it’ll fit in your pocket, but still pumps out a superb sound for the price, whether your tunes are streamed over Bluetooth or played via its 3.5mm line-in. The perfect accessory for all your summer picnics

Instant expert

Marc McLaren lives life in stereo

Pure’s first Sensia was a big favorite at Stuff Towers: a DAB radio with a 5.7in touchscreen, it earned itself a 5-star review and a place in this here Top 10. Big shoes for its successor the Sensia 200D Connect ($405, to fill then, but shoes that look like a perfect fit. Yes, it has the same color touchscreen, 30W of power and DAB and FM tuners as its predecessor – but it also has access to a lot more music. The new Pure Stream app launches alongside the 200D, allowing you to stream tunes wirelessly from your iPhone or Android smartphone, while the Spotify-esque Pure Music service is available for $8 a month. With Pure boasting improved sound quality, it could be back in this Top 10 soon. We’ll have a review on shortly.

“The Sensia 200D can pick up a lot more music than the original”

What look for

1.    Spread ’em

As proven by the Naim, left, mini doesn’t have to mean manky. Spreading the speakers out will help sound quality and adding a subwoofer can be a good move.

2.    Boxes of tricks

Look for as many features as you can get for your money: demand DAB, decent build quality and aux-in sockets for your PMP, plus HDMI if you want TV connectivity, and DLNA, AirPlay or UPnP music streaming tech.

3.    Ugly duckling?

No matter how well-specced a mini system is, it still need to fit with the décor of the room it’s going in. there are plenty of lookers out there, so don’t settle for a minger.

4.    Stream team

Most hi-fi systems are network-ready these days, but to take advantage of their streaming skills you’ll need a server – whether PC or NAS drive – and a good Wi-Fi set-up. Going wired can be a better bet in houses with thick walls.

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