Streaming Device Reviews

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Kris Deering  |  Dec 29, 2021  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $10,995 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Compact form factor—fits in standard-width rack space with Strato C player
Significantly boosts movie download speed
Minus
Pricey
Kaleidescape Store immersive audio support still spotty

THE VERDICT
Kaleidescape new compact Terra Movie Server delivers an improved user experience and greater flexibility over the company’s standard Strato system.

Kaleidescape sure has been busy since I reviewed its Strato S 4K Ultra HD Movie Player late last year (October/ November 2020 issue). The company added three new servers to its Terra lineup: the compact 6TB ($5,995), 12TB ($7,995), 18TB ($9,995) options, and a 72TB monster ($23,995) for those who want massive storage without having to string multiple Terra units together. For this review, I was sent the 12TB Terra, along with a Strato C 4K Movie Player (recently reduced in price to $2,995) to test it with. I'll focus first on the 12TB Terra and then give an update on my overall Kaleidescape experience after living with a system for over a year (I purchased my Strato S review unit).

Howard Kneller  |  Mar 17, 2021  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,835

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great sound quality
Multiple HDMI inputs (w/ARC)
Effective Space Optimisation room correction
Built-in phono stage
Minus
Dealer setup recommended
Small speaker terminals

THE VERDICT
Linn's all-in-one wireless streamer/amplifier/DAC offers impressive sound, sleek looks, and plentiful connectivity options.

According to the corporate lore of Scottish audio manufacturer Linn, in 1973 a newly married engineer named Ivor Tiefenbrun went shopping at his wife's direction to buy home furnishings. To his wife's chagrin, the story goes, he instead returned with a stereo system. After setting it up, Ivor was disappointed with the sound, but soon discovered that moving the turntable from his listening room into an adjoining room improved the system's performance since the speakers' output no longer interacted with the turntable and distorted the audio signal.

Michael Antonoff  |  Apr 01, 2016  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Free (App); $5 to $20 per hour

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Eliminates airfare, hotel, and dry-cleaning bills
Diffuses “line rage” caused by waiting in too many lines for too long
Lets you bypass prickly security checks
Minus
Vertically held camera phones result in narrow, picket-fence-like view on widescreen
Surge pricing and data overage charges passed onto consumer quickly add up
Lacks 4K video and 7.1- channel audio support

THE VERDICT
Mob Cam VR will appeal to the weary, the non-ambulatory, or anyone so disgusted with the idea of returning to a massive trade show that they’d do anything to opt out.

Mimicking business plans pioneered by Uber, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit in which anyone with a car, room, or broom can offer transportation, a bed, or cleaning service to strangers, the Lirpa Labs Mob Cam VR is a new app that empowers smartphone owners everywhere to work as on-location cameramen for one or more distant viewers willing to pay for a live video feed.

Howard Kneller  |  Jul 13, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Spacious, rich sound
Gorgeous aesthetics
Tank-like build quality
Feature-packed
Minus
Small display
Limited wired connectivity options
Lacks room correction

THE VERDICT
The Marantz Model 40n is a thoroughly modern music streaming machine that sounds great and delivers a robust set of features without losing sight of the brand’s storied past.

I attended a launch event for the Marantz Model 40n a few months ago and marveled at just how far the iconic brand has come since founder Saul Marantz took his first steps as an audio pioneer way back in 1945. In true hobbyist fashion, he modified his car radio so he could listen to it at home and, once it was up and running there, continued tinkering with it to improve its performance.

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.

Howard Kneller  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,548 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stellar performance
Powerful internal amplifier
Modular design accommodates updates and additional features
Minus
Modestly built chassis
Small front-panel display
Uninspired remote control

THE VERDICT
The C 399 delivers great performance, impressive features and flexibility, and high value in a modest, yet handsome package.

While waiting on the arrival of NAD's C 399 integrated amplifier for review, I checked it out on the company's website. What I saw there was a minimally adorned exemplar of the black-box design school, with steel chassis panels of ordinary fabrication and a small display showing mostly monochrome text. Yawn. Well, a funny thing happened when the C 399 finally arrived, and I unboxed it. I took a shine to its no-frills, understatedly handsome looks. Sure, there are more striking-looking components out there with more robust build quality, but they'll cost you.

Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 04, 2020  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Reference-quality power and D-to-A conversion
Excellent on-board phono section
Onboard Dirac Live room correction
Minus
Coarse “app” volume control steps
No USB type-B port for computer connection
Occasionally wonky AirPlay 2 streaming

THE VERDICT
The M33 combines state-of-the- art sound, power, and broad functionality in an elegantly conceived package.

Boy, has NAD come a long way. Back in 1978, the Canadian/ American/Euro multinational's first product was an unassuming but great-sounding little 20-watt integrated amplifier in a plain gray sheetmetal box, with controls that had all the sophisticated feel of a Kenner Easy-Bake Oven.

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.

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?

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