Products like the Arcam miniBlink have set a high bar for Bluetooth DACs – can the Streamport Universal follow in its footsteps?
In the Bayan’s favour is price (£30 cheaper than the Arcam) and the fact it features NFC connectivity. That means you can hover a compatible smartphone over the top of the DAC, pair and stream via Bluetooth (including aptX) without the hassle of having to delve into your smartphone’s menus.
There’s a small power button on top of the Streamport Universal – if you can’t pair via NFC, you need to press and hold for around eight seconds to kick-start the pairing process. It’s signified by white and blue LEDs blinking on the front of the unit.
You can connect the DAC up to an amp through either its 3.5mm output or analogue RCA sockets – and you get both sets of cables supplied in the box, an added convenience some rivals just ignore.
If you do want to use the Bayan’s analogue outputs, we’d suggest swapping the supplied interconnects for proper cables at some stage – the difference between the packaged ones and a decent pair such as the Wireworld Luna 7 is night and day.
From the off, the Bayan doesn’t sound as open, clear or spacious as its close rivals, despite picking out a decent amount of detail.
Where DACs like the Crystal Acoustics BluDAC bring clarity and a fine sense of spaciousness to music, the Bayan sounds more compressed and congested.
Vance Joy’s spritely, playful and folky Riptide sounds like it’s had the sparkle and life sucked out of it.
The normally plucky-sounding strings and percussion come across as indifferent and disinterested. Switch to Kings Of Leon’s Work On Me and the DAC fails to convey the ebb and flow of that ducking, weaving bass guitar.
You can forgive some products for subtle nuances in sound, but the Streamport Universal makes music less interesting and appealing.
This isn’t something we could live with long-term.
MORE: See all our DAC reviews