The active speaker route with airplay, various wired digital input with remote volume control & function switching is an extremely elegant solution for those starting from scratch or for those willing to dispose of their existing kit. Many people prefer separate boxes for the sheer flexibility it gives them. Perhaps we should start respecting other's choices, afterall, we all consider the hardware secondary to out shared love of music, don't we?
No suggestion from my part that anyone should not follow their own choices, just an observation that a stand alone streamer is going the way of the Dodo.
Arguably the 'proper' Hifi streamer appeared in 2000 with the launch of SlimDevices. The pinnacle of their offering, the Transporter, was launched in 2006 (I have one, and it is still my main listening source). SlimDevices was sold to Logitech the same year. Logitech closed the Squeezebox division at the end of 2012. In my mind, this pretty much captures the lifecylcle of the stand alone streamer.
To be fair, it is not as if the Hifi separates business itself is in rude health, I dont think Naim sold themselves to Focal because business was booming.
Apart from a few enthusiasts, there is little demand for a stack of (empty) black boxes with a rats nest of cables behind. If I was starting in the Hifi business today, it would be active, DSP, wireless speakers.
Lets check back in a couple of years and see how things have developed.
I agree with a lot of what Busb and Andyjm have said.
Personally, I just go with what I best like the sound of, and is flexible enough to be upgraded if the whim takes me.
Since we are living in the present, a streamer based product makes the most sense (imo); but as to what the future may bring...........
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
The standalone streamer is still available, but is now outdated, it is the past. In the present, TVs offer more functionality than standalone streamers and DVD/Blu-Ray players the same. They are limited in their function and are likely to go the way of the mini disc player. The only devices that have any long term future are multi function ones, just like mobile phones in fact. Try buying a mobile phone that has no other function than to make calls.
It is likely that some very niche products will continue to be made for and sold to enthusiasts, but the reality is trending away from separate boxes as the younger generation seek more than just sound quality and want better tech and integrated functionality. Miniturisation has enabled this to come from smaller and smaller devices. The only components that need to have any 'real estate' presence in the home are the screen needed to watch media and the speakers neeeded to listen to it, everything else can quite comfortably be made to fit inside these enclosures.
Edit: and the above is not the future, it is here now a widely available.
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
not going too much off topic, could someone advise if I can get somewhere a passively cooled laptop? or is it only the privilige of tablets? my 7 year old Dell laptop recently died on me. I guess it was the graphics card which couldn't take it any longer. anyway, the point is this laptop after so many years of heavy gaming abuse began to humm worse than a mad humpster in its play-wheel. I still use a CDP ATM but I'm considering going back to computer audio. however, I don't want a humming transport when listeming to music....
streamers on the other hand are usually passively cooled, aren't they?
Giro, InTheGroove, Digit, ClassicOne, MG12
Dell Mini 10 / 10V, Nokia Booklet 3G, ASUS PC T91, Sony Vaio P, Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 / CF-30 and Nec VersaPro VS-7
There are a few to have a look at.
Its worth noting that no computer is going to break into a sweat playing back music and will to all intents and purposes be silent. Movies are more demanding, but most AV solutions are not passively cooled, but with fans, again noise levels may be considered silent as they are most unlikely to be heard above the movie.
There are many truly silent computers available for multi media playback, laptops fewer, but as above, they do exist.
...and unsurprisingly this is a major benefit that streamer manufacturers highlight.
An example here, highlighted in another thread by the anticipated launch of his product, which some would suggest is obselete before it even hits the shops (though I disagree with that).
Hi-Fi: Krell KAV-300cd, Michell TecnoDec/RB250/Grado Prestige Black1, KAV-300i amp, Transparent balanced interconnects and bi-wire to Sonus faber Concerto grand piano speakers, Nakamichi ZX-7 cassette deck, Logitech Squeezebox Touch, Hitachi FT-5500 and Sony S570ES tuners, BCD Engineering stand, RA Powerlink, Chord powerchord, Grado SR60i cans.
AV: Sony Bravia KDL-32EX503 telly, BDP-S370 player with QED HDMI. Currently unused: Denon AVR-1705, DVD-1710, KEF KHT1005.2
I agree, which is why I used the phrase "streamer based", rather than " a streamer".
Dell Mini 10 / 10V,Nokia Booklet 3G,ASUS PC T91,Sony Vaio P,Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 / CF-30 andNec VersaPro VS-7
Thanks for the tip but I'll be frank with you. All those suggestions are simply fugly (not to mention some of them are already discontinued). Wouldn't put any of them on a display in my living-room. Tablets look much neater but you need to find some usefull stand somewhere.
I see you might be keeping your finger on the computer tech (I don't anymore. I got bored with computers) so you might be able to answer me another question. I know of a very nice looking passively cooled HTPCs - Tranquill PC is the brand - very presentable and dare I say audiophile like looking, but not costing €5,000.00 or thereabouts. The question is; do you know a way to control a computer fully remotely via another device, like a smartphone (could be Windows based)? reason is I don't have a TV and don't intend to have one. TV shows are a waste of time IMO and I don't like to look at a black hole in the middle of my living room if the TV is not in use. I know myself as much to know that if I had I TV it would be turned on only if it was to make some background noise. I don't want to come back to it anymore. So no more TVs for me unless they invent something that can be rolled up and tucked away in a corner when not in use. I guess I still have to wait a few years for it come. But this leaves a problem of not having a graphical interface with a PC if I wanted to incorporate it into my hi-fi. So, can you efficiently comunicate and control a PC via another device? that's what streamers have naturally on offer. do PCs?
yes, you can control a pc from lots of places, Windows calls it remote desktop. There's also VLC or teamviewer to name but a few. Also depending on what you are running on the pc, there may be a dedicated app for that bit of software as well. Or, you can use your tablet as a mouse/keyboard for the pc. So there's more options to controlling a pc than a streamer.
Tranquil pc's are nice, but overpriced for what is off the shelf kit put together by them. there's nothing audiophile (as much as I hate the term) about them apart from them using the word.
As for a TV you can roll up when not in use, what about a projector and an electric screen
Aesthetics are a subjective determining factor for any item, be it hi-fi or any other. I have not factored in looks for the reason that a computer can be hidden away, if need be.No TV? How about a projector screen or projecting onto a wall?
Anyway, back to the computer solution.
There are many options, some more cost effective than others and a lot depends on what you want to acheive and what functions you want.
You seem like you might like a bit of DIY, so one cheap and pared down option might be a Raspberry Pi using something like XBMC as a front end. You could create your own enclosure as required. I use a Mac mini in headless configuration and use my Laptop to control it, this might be overkill for you though.
The bottom line though, is that streaming generally has such a large selection of music from a variety of sources, that a screen of some sort is imperative for an ease of use point of view. Usually, manufacturers rely on mobile devices with apps for control.
What do you currently have in terms of tech by the way?
Edit: Perhaps this is best dealt with in a dedicated thread?
Overdose, I'm not keen on Airplay and still believe it to be a bit of a compromise. I may as well stick an aptX phone to Arcam's rBlink (TrustedReviews heaped praise on it recently).
Also you may believe the dedicated streaming device is outdated - but go telling that to Sonos owners or manufacturers. They won't be pure standalone devices as Chebby stated - indeed the one Cyrus option I'm looking at has a one-box streamer, DAC and pre-amp, but they won't go away. And some of us don't want the telly to dominate the room when listening to music only, I really don't care how smart the telly is. Broadband is still too expensive and unreliable where I am anyway.
Arcam Solo Mini/Monitor Audio RX1/Cambridge Audio 751BD/Samsung 37” LCD
I'm not telling you or anyone for that matter what you should buy, indeed, your choice is just that, but the fact that yourself and some others want to go down this route does not alter the fact that streamers are no more than simplified computers dedicated to audio only and offer nothing else. It's just the way it is.There are better streaming solution alternatives to dedicated streamers.
They will probably be around for a while yet though, but will become to be seen more and more like legacy equipment and appeal to an increasingly smaller market than they already do. A bit like fax machines I guess, yes they're available, but better alternatives exist.
For yourself manicm, streaming seems only a viable solution for you if the network is local anyway, no internet sourced media is going to be accessible to you without broadband, expensive or not.
Sonos is one of the few streaming dedicated solutions worth buying into, but then only perhaps if you have no other tech devices and want multi-room capability. Take away the multi room ability and you can do everything the Sonos can with a cheap netbook.
Horses for courses, buy what suits, but back to the OP, dedicated streamers offer nothing over a computer based setup.
...except maybe ease of use, plus the fact that right out the box it's a device already optimized for its one task, and generally it will be more aesthetically at home with existing HiFi kit than a PC. But in terms of potential SQ, I can't disagree
Main system: Mac Mini 2011 • HRT II+ DAC • Marantz CD 63 mkII KI & PM66 KI • MS 10i speakers [borrowed]
In storage: Thorens TD160 (no cart) • Cyrus 2 & PSX • Cyrus tuner • Technics SL-P777 • Nakamichi DR-1
I turn on my computer and activate the remote, which also opens iTunes, I then browse my library, select music and play. I'm not sure what is more difficult about that than using a dedicated streamer. The looks are a non issue with the Mac mini, it's a non descript small silver box and can be completely hidden from view if need be, no aesthics issue.
Straight out of the box is how I use the Mac and iTunes BTW. No faff.
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