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Arrggh... brain melted! help me with streaming solution please!

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retropower's picture
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OK, this is my first post on here, but i've been a What Hi-Fi reader for 15 years and always been into my audio (and was a sound engineer/producer for some time).

 

Anyway, I love listening to music while i'm cooking or entertaining in the kitchen, and for a while i've just had a decent micro system hooked up to my laptop via a jack-to-rca lead. Not great quality, but good enough.  I use Spotify, which again although not perfect is good enough on 320kbps to live with.

 

Now, i'm having the kitchen totally gutted and rebuilt. I've incorporated a pair of B&W ceiling speakers, and have an Arcam Alpha 8P power amp which will live under the units.  The original plan was to mount a Nexus tablet on the wall and just connect the headphone output to the amp via a jack-to-rca. This got me looking for a decent cable. Then while looking I saw USB DAC's and thought that would be better (presuming the DAC in a tablet or smartphone to be fairly basic), so i'd use a USB cable, sit the DAC next to the amp and away I go. But then while searching DAC's I noticed wireless DAC's and that got me thinking that might be better again, because the tablet doesn't have to be fixed, I can use it whereever, and it saves me engineering i nice solution for hiding the cables.

 

So now i'm looking at wireless DAC's and i'm a bit baffled. Some are Bluetooth and some are WiFI. Now I assume the WIFi ones would be better? What i am a little confised by is that they all have some kind of USB dongle to act as the transmitter, but surely most mobile devices are capable of doing this anyway?  I thought that is what Apples airplay was, and DNLA for that matter? 

 

SO I guess to cut a long story short, is there a way to stream Spotify from a mobile device to a DAC of some sort without having a clumsy USB dongle hanging off it?  

Overdose's picture
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RE: Arrggh...

Depending on your budget, I'd recommend either a Sonos Connect or an Apple Airport Express and connect this to the amp. The choice between the two also depends on where and how you store your music. Streaming to the AEX is somewhat dependant on iTunes running on another device.

The addition of a NAS for storage would be useful, but then you are into the price range of a Mac mini if you include the price of the Sonos as well.

So...

Option 1: Sonos Connect for streaming and NAS for storage.

Option 2: Apple Mac mini for streaming and storage.

If you don't need additional storage and have no Apple devices, go for the Sonos on its own, if you already have an iPhone/iPad, the AEX would be a good choice.

I personally wouldn't bother with an additional DAC at this point.

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scene's picture
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RE: Arrggh...

+1 on what overdose said.

But... If the sonos was to be the only source for you alpha, you could also consider the more radical approach of dispensing with the alpha and getting a sonos Connect:amp. One box solution, all remotely controlled. Depends how much you love your alpha.

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professorhat's picture
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RE: Arrggh... brain melted! help me with streaming solution

Sonos Connect would do the job as you're streaming Spotify direct from the internet rather than through the mobile device. You also need to have a Spotify Premium membership to do this (in case you don't already have one, worth bearing in mind the extra £9.99 per month). You can then control this streaming from an app installed on your Andriod / Apple tablet or phone - so it does do everything you want it to. It can also stream things like internet radio and, as others have mentioned, any music stored on a computer / NAS.

For your question, though, I think what you need is a bluetooth enabled DAC like the Arcam rBlink or Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus with the BT100 wireless audio receiver (just examples, not recommendations as I haven't heard either - I'm sure many others exist). This will let you stream music direct from your Nexus / bluetooth enabled device without a dongle.

I suspect most of the ones you've been looking at that use dongles use their own proprietary wireless streaming format - this has the advantage that it will probably be more likely to work better at longer distances and without dropouts, but does need the dongle in to transmit the music in their proprietary format.

Personally, I think if you already have the Spotify membership, the Sonos would be a better solution. You'd probably need both a Sonos Connect and a Bridge - the Bridge is connected via wired ethernet to your internet router, and then the Sonos Connect would be attached to the Alpha in the kitchen. The reason I think this is better is I think you're less likely to suffer dropouts compared to a tablet that's probably moving around / being used for other things at the same time. And you also have more flexibility e.g. if you wanted to, you could stream music from your local music collection on your PC / NAS.

 

retropower's picture
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RE: Arrggh. brain melted! help me with streaming solution!

The Sonos does sound a good plan.  I assume if i went down this route then i could add more bridges later in other rooms to make full use of the Sonos multiroom ability?

professorhat's picture
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RE: Arrggh. brain melted! help me with streaming solution!

Well, you only need one Bridge, and then only if you can't put any other Sonos device near your internet router. Essentially, one of the Sonos devices has to have a wired connection to your internet router - this can be any Sonos device. If your internet router is out of the way somewhere though, the Bridge is the method by which it can be connected up (and this is why I've mentioned it above since I'm assuming your internet router isn't in your kitchen!).

You then just purchase additional Sonos devices as required - no wired connection is needed for any of them as they all stream wirelessly. So once you have the Connect installed in the kitchen (and Bridge if required), you could easily add something like a Play:3 later on, for example in the bedroom - this could then be controlled by the same app and you can either stream the same music as is playing in the kitchen directly to it, or you could have different music / internet radio / whatever playing in the bedroom.

 

retropower's picture
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Arrggh... brain melted! help me with streaming solution please!

sorry, yes i meant more 'connects' not more bridges.  

 

I think this is probably the best way to go, so thanks guys!  I'll let you know how it goes Wink