Best way to Listen to Spotify!?!
Well not as simple as that but that's where we'll start!
I like spotify a lot and have put a fair amount of time into setting up play lists but one problem I've always had is what's the best way of listening to it through my primary kit.
I was initially a Napster user, at the time I had a Squeezebox Duet and I was pretty happy with the combination (when the SB worked!!!) but at the time Napster didn't do offline listening on smart phones and they had become Rhapsody so I decided to jump ship and go to Spotify.
Great I thought, I can listent to stuff offline on my phone, ah what do you mean the squeezebox duet doesn't officially have a spotify plugin!?!? ARGGHHH!
I cut my losses with the SB in the end and sold it on ebay (after logitech's decision to scrap them - was all for buying a touch) - when it worked it was great, but it never worked first time which defeated the object as usually I just wanted to listen to some music for 30mins and instead I ended up fixing it for 30 mins first!
That left me with only two options to listen to spotify through my main setup in the living room - directly connected iPad or Phone (currently Samsung Galaxy SII) or plug a cheap bluetooth dongle into my AV Receiver and stream from either device. Or through a laptop connected via HDMI, standard cable or bluetooth.
Everything seems to have a compromise - bluetooth quality isn't as good, directly connected is ok but I had to get up to control the device and I can use spotify apps on smartphone or tablet. Laptop is best quality sound but I need to be near the laptop to control it.
So here's what I've toyed with:
1. Good bluetooth streaming like the rBlink - BUT phone, ipad and laptop don't do Aptx and I won't get full spotify functionality.
2. DAC - seems to be the best option for quality but still would like a more elegant method to control spotify then having to use the laptop
3. Network streaming device like the Pioneer N50 or Marantz NA7004 - N50 looks the better option. Disadvantage is the outlay and is it worth it to play through my exisitng kit.
4. Bit left field - build a Media PC which can deliver a lot more functionality for slightly cheaper/similar sort of price to option3 with some compromises on music quality and remote control ability.
5. Sonos - looks great - limited spotify functionality and pricey for performance based on the demo's I've had.
Budget £400 max unless I wait and get something that can do this and stereo amp duties.
Onkyo TX-SR608 and Kef 2005.3's
As an aside I have a NAS and plan to rip my CD collection to FLAC - currently ripped to MP3 in various bit rates.
Long term I'm planning to add better surround speakers with a proper set of fronts (probably floor standers) for music and possibly get a stereo amp so feel free to take that into consideration when making recomendations.
So what's everyone else doing - I can't be the only one who's considered these scenarios yet I can't find anything on the internet and the mags never seem to compare all the options - would make a good featre WHF !?!