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White Lightning's picture
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Which network audio player?
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Hi Guys,

I have just signed up to this, what looks like, wonderful forum. The main reason I signed up right now is that I could use some advice from the audio experts out there before I spent some of my hard earned £££ on a network audio player.

The reason I want a network music player is because I want to move away from CDs and start utilising my NAS box as more of a media server. My budget is about £400 tops. Currently, I have a Technics hifi seperates system, which includes a SU-A600 amplifier, SH-GE70 graphic equalizer, SL-PG490 CD player and ST-G70L. A decent bit of kit in it's day and still sounds fantastic. The amplifier drives a pair of Mission floor standing speakers. I also have a QNAP TS-109 Pro NAS box running a TwonkyMedia server. 

I am currently ripping my 350+ collection of CD albums to MP3 file format using 320Kbps. The majority of my collection is rock, hard rock and heavy metal. Although, my wife does like a bit of dance music.

So, that's my setup. I am looking for a network music player to sit between my NAS box and to my Technics amp (which has no digital inputs, it would appear). 

I have already spent numerous hours reading reviews of various network players and two that look the best are the Marantz NA7004 and the Pioneer N-50 (or even possibly the N-30). But, there may be others I should be considering (like Denon, Cambridge Audio etc). I would most likely be using a wired Ethernet connection so the lack of a wireless option on the Marantz is not a deal breaker. The Marantz has DAB whereas the Pioneer does not but I am not sure that really matters as some Googling on the subject on internet radio vs DAB seems to suggest internet radio is better quality anyway (and I have checked that you can get Planet Rock on internet radio  Smile )

I think the key is which one would be better quality and ultimately I would be most happy with.

So, can anyone help me choose what would be the best option for me to go for ...?  

Thank you in advance.  :grin:

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RE: Which network audio player?

There are far more expert contributors here, but as none has yet plunged in here is my take. The Maratz is very nice but fails by not playing gaplessly. 

The Pioneer is a current fave, and you can find it for less than £400, so I would look closely.  It has no DAB but why would you want that?

i definitely would suggest you rip at much better quality though.

A left field choice would be the discontinued Sqeezebox Touch, from an eBay near you at c£200. 

Krell CD and amp, Michell/Rega/Grado record player, Hitachi and Sony tuners, Nakamichi cassette, SBT streamer, Sonus faber spkrs.  Sony and Samsung BDP & TVs. Qobuz > iPad > AudioPro Allroom Air One

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RE: Which network audio player?

Are you likely to want multiroom capability in the future ?

Also before ripping your cd collection in mp3, I would strongly suggest you do a fair bit of research and rip in a loss less format such as FLAC.

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RE: Which network audio player?

My take.

It's a shame the Squeezebox has been discountinued, as that was always my 1st response. But I would look at the Sonos range. 

Advantages of such systems include multiroom support, gapless playback, full internet radio, spotify etc support and more of a standard for such things as smartphone apps etc.

 

As for ripping. 320 Kbps MP3 is as good as anything for listening. The quality of the mastering is important, not bitrate once you get above about 190 Kbps. I don't believe anyone here could tell the difference.

(You can try for yourself if you download Foobar2000 and the ABX comparison tool - It takes minutes to realise that a 256 Kbps MP3 sounds identical to a WAV or a FLAC).

However, if you have the space, then ripping losslessly is sensible, because sometime down the line you may decide to change format. And if you do, a lossless file can simply be transcoded.

Transcoding from one lossy codec to another can and will reduce the quality, possibly to an audible level.

However, I have plenty of stuff only in MP3, and it is not in anyway second best to my main bulk of FLAC files.

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RE: Which network audio player?

+ 1 for Sonos. 

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RE: Which network audio player?

If multiroom is not essential I can vouch for the Pioneer N-50.

Bought it recently and am loving it. Sound is terrific, streams

from desktop (NAS in the pipeline) very well. Internet radio is

a new discovery for me..loads of good rock stations other

than Planet Rock ( which I have it playing at the mo.). Also

use as a DAC to a Pnny blu ray transport - definite

improvement. Very solid and the android app seems to

work pretty well.

Naim NAC 152 XS - NAP 155XS - Naim Stageline - Rega RP6 / Exact - Rega RP3 - Pioneer N-50

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RE: Which network audio player?

fr0g wrote:

As for ripping. 320 Kbps MP3 is as good as anything for listening. The quality of the mastering is important, not bitrate once you get above about 190 Kbps. I don't believe anyone here could tell the difference.

(You can try for yourself if you download Foobar2000 and the ABX comparison tool - It takes minutes to realise that a 256 Kbps MP3 sounds identical to a WAV or a FLAC).

:roll:  Here we go, there's always one on every forum dictating what people can and can't hear.

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RE: Which network audio player?

eggontoast wrote:

fr0g wrote:

As for ripping. 320 Kbps MP3 is as good as anything for listening. The quality of the mastering is important, not bitrate once you get above about 190 Kbps. I don't believe anyone here could tell the difference.

(You can try for yourself if you download Foobar2000 and the ABX comparison tool - It takes minutes to realise that a 256 Kbps MP3 sounds identical to a WAV or a FLAC).

:roll:  Here we go, there's always one on every forum dictating what people can and can't hear.

 

I don't see any "dictating". I apologise if your 1st language isn't English, but I did say "I don't believe" which leaves room for someone to prove that assumption wrong. But I have yet to see anyone do that, other than one possible positive test on Hydrogen.

My belief, from personal testing, from other people testing is that you, or anyone cannot tell a full bit rate, modern LAME or similar encoded MP3, or a modern similar AAC from the original. And to my knowledge the only way to test for that is to do an ABX comparison, which can be done in minutes with free software.

Either way, as I said, I would also encourage ripping lossless for reasons I also gave.

 

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RE: Which network audio player?

Now that the Squeezebox is gone (we may need to acronymise that), whichever of the Marantz, Denon, Pioneer or Cambridge NP30 you like the look of.

I'm not convinced by Sonos having used it, and further I'm not sure where they're going with hardware (though I'd have a playbar in a flash, genius idea).

Moderator: john.duncan.whf at gmail dot com
Kit in state of flux

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RE: Which network audio player?

John Duncan wrote:

I'm not sure where they're going with hardware.

Stereo speakers should be the next logical step to add to their portfolio, like these (even though you can use Play:3 & Play:5 in stereo mode):

http://www.teufelaudio.co.uk/raumfeld-audio-streaming/nr-streaming-high-end-70.html

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RE: Which network audio player?

fr0g wrote:

I don't see any "dictating". I apologise if your 1st language isn't English, but I did say "I don't believe" which leaves room for someone to prove that assumption wrong. But I have yet to see anyone do that, other than one possible positive test on Hydrogen.

My belief, from personal testing, from other people testing is that you, or anyone cannot tell a full bit rate, modern LAME or similar encoded MP3, or a modern similar AAC from the original. And to my knowledge the only way to test for that is to do an ABX comparison, which can be done in minutes with free software.

Either way, as I said, I would also encourage ripping lossless for reasons I also gave.

 

You can dress it up how you like but your response is BS, your preaching poor information based on your own listening experience.

People don't have to sit there doing Foobar ABX tests and post there results to prove to some deaf chump on the internet that there is a difference.

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RE: Which network audio player?

Rip to FLAC, and buy yourself a Sonos Connect.

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RE: Which network audio player?

eggontoast wrote:

 

You can dress it up how you like but your response is BS, your preaching poor information based on your own listening experience.

People don't have to sit there doing Foobar ABX tests and post there results to prove to some deaf chump on the internet that there is a difference.

 

If I were to lower myself to your level of debate I might say something I shouldn't, but believe me, there is only one chump in this conversation, and it isn't me.

The "poor information" being spread is that listening to HQ MP3 is somehow second best. It isn't. And no, people don't have to sit there and do the 5 minute test, but it's quite illuminating and somewhat of an epiphany when you do. 

And my hearing is excellent too, thanks for your concern.

 

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RE: Which network audio player?

fr0g wrote:

If I were to lower myself to your level of debate I might say something I shouldn't, but believe me, there is only one chump in this conversation, and it isn't me.

Is that the best you can do......what's your next line 'I know you are I said you are but what am I'. I thought we were back at school.......only were not learning anything just going over old, mundane ground.

fr0g wrote:

The "poor information" being spread is that listening to HQ MP3 is somehow second best. It isn't. And no, people don't have to sit there and do the 5 minute test, but it's quite illuminating and somewhat of an epiphany when you do. 

Um, yes it is second or possibly third at best. For the record I have done the test sometime back when there was a similar debate on a different forum. There was nothing illuminating and I didn't have an epiphany either, it just confirmed what I already knew, you can tell the difference.

fr0g wrote:

And my hearing is excellent too, thanks for your concern.

Unfortunately the results of your Foobar test and postings on this thread would beg to differ.

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RE: Which network audio player?

No point in arguing on this. Just agree to disagree and move on. Smile

I'm personally not too fussed about bitrates (unless they're ridiculously low). When I listen carefully to determine which one's better, I stop enjoying my music! I think higher bitrates (or lossless) can be useful in more complex music where lower bitrates can sound mush. I don't listen to most of them, so not particularly bothered.

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RE: Which network audio player?

bigboss wrote:

When I listen carefully to determine which one's better, I stop enjoying my music!

This is all too true, some of my most pleasurable listening experiences have been from listening to hissy, crap recordings.

Sometimes with Hi-Fi you do forget to just enjoy the music.

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