Best music streamers 2018

If you've shunned a CD collection in favour of music stored on a hard drive, then you're going to need a quality streamer suited to the task. We've found the best music streamers to take the hassle out of the hunt.

Most of the selections below support the vast majority of hi-res music formats. Some also boast AirPlay, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, UPnP compatibility and USB connections.

This being the 21st century, internet radio comes as standard - as do smartphone and/or tablet control apps. With the cheapest budget model coming in at just £30, the question is: can you really afford not to add a music streamer?

Best music streamer under £100

Best music streamer under £100

Google Chromecast Audio

Simple to use, affordable and high-res.

SPECIFICATIONS

Outputs: 3.5mm, optical digital and analogue | Hi-res support: 24-bit/96kHz | File formats: Most | Spotify Connect: Yes | Dimensions: 5.1 x 5.1 x 1.3cm | Weight: 30.7g

Reasons to Buy
Adds streaming to traditional systems
Easy to use
Lovely design
Reasons to Avoid
No multi-room audio yet

Today's best Google Chromecast Audio deals

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£29.99
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£30
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£30
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£39.99

The Google Chromecast Audio is a super affordable and simple way to make a traditional audio system work wirelessly using Wi-Fi. That means you can get high-quality 24-bit/96kHz audio beamed wirelessly around your home, controlled by just using your phone. The tiny device offers 3.5mm and digital optical outputs meaning it can simply plug-into your system and start delivering a stream. Cast-compatible apps include Spotify, Google Play Music, and more. Remember to pop into settings and turn on the high dynamic range mode, to get the best audio possible.

Best music streamer under £500

Best music streamer under £500

Bluesound Node 2i

High-end specs at a fantastic price.

SPECIFICATIONS

Outputs: RAC, coaxial, optical | Hi-res support: 32-bit/192kHz | File formats: Most | Spotify Connect: Yes | Dimensions: 4.6 x 22 x 14.6cm | Weight: 1.72kg

Reasons to Buy
Superb sense of scale
Impressive timing and dynamics
32-bit/192kHz support
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing at this price

Today's best Arcam rPlay deals

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£337.50
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£339
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£339
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£339
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If your budget is £500, you'll be hard pressed to find a wireless music streamer as talented as the Node 2i. It boasts a strong set of features, like Apple AirPlay 2, two-way Bluetooth, dual-band Wi-Fi, 32-bit/192kHz DAC and a raft of analogue and digital  outputs. When it comes to sound quality, the Node 2i shows plenty of skill from impressive detail to slick timing. It's an enthusiastic-sounding piece of kit, capable of breathing life into any audio you send its way. As far as music streamers go, you won't find many that offer such amazing value for money.

Best music streamer under £1000

Best music streamer under £1000

Cambridge Audio CXN (V2)

The CXN (V2) is the best streamer out there at this price point.

SPECIFICATIONS

Outputs: XLR and RCA analogue, digital coaxial and optical | Hi-res support: 24-bit/192kHz | File formats: Most | Spotify Connect: Yes | Dimensions: 8.5 x 4.3 x 3cm | Weight: 3.5kg

Reasons to Buy
Impressive and enjoyable sound quality
Sleek design and high quality build
Excellent features and file support
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing at this price

Today's best Cambridge Audio CXN deals

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£699
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If you want a stylish way to stream your music wirelessly then the Cambridge Audio CXN, with its brushed metal finish and intuitive menus, could be for you. Sound quality is fantastic with an enthusiastic, driven delivery that combines snappy timing with subtle levels of detail. There's a wide range of features to choose from, including AirPlay, Tidal, Chromecast and Spotify Connect, all controlled through Cambridge's Connect app for iOS and Android.

Best music streamer under £1500

Best music streamer under £1500

Cambridge Azur 851N

A premium music streamer with the performance to match.

SPECIFICATIONS

Outputs: XLR, RCA analogue, digital optical, coaxial | Inputs: Digital, coaxial, optical, AES/EBU, USB | Hi-res support: 24-bit/192kHz | File formats: Most | Spotify Connect: Yes | Dimensions: 43 x 36 x 11.5 cm | Weight: 8.1kg

Reasons to Buy
Full-bodied, balanced and rhythmic
Open and spacious
Vast file support
Reasons to Avoid
Bluetooth only optional
No analogue inputs

Today's best Cambridge Azur 851N deals

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£1199
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The Award-winning Cambridge Azur 851N is the ideal premium streamer if you want a machine that doubles as a digital pre-amp or you want something to slot straight into your system. The sound is full-bodied and muscular with punchy bass and a great sense of dynamic reach. The Cambridge connects to your network via ethernet, or by plugging in the supplied USB adapter. File support extends all the way up to 24-bit/192kHz and the Cambridge upsamples this to 24-bit/384kHz.

Best music streamer under £2000

Best music streamer under £2000

Moon Neo MiND

Class leading audio performance at this price.

SPECIFICATIONS

Outputs: Digital coaxial, optical, AES/EBU | Hi-res support: 24-bit/192kHz | File formats: Most | Spotify Connect: Yes | Dimensions: 17.8 x 7.6 x 28.0 cm | Weight: 3.1kg

Reasons to Buy
Instruments well organised
Great timing and dynamics
Musical delivery
Reasons to Avoid
No built-in DAC

Today's best Moon Neo MiND deals

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The Moon Neo MiND offers a stunningly musical and brilliantly balanced sound. From NAS drives to streaming services, this no-frills machine streams them all wirelessly, supporting 24-bit/192kHz files, useful for the likes of Tidal. The sound is fantastic with near perfect dynamics, timings and musicality. Quality isn't even lost when you stream over Bluetooth. You will need to factor in the cost of an external DAC, though.

Best music streamer under £3000

Best music streamer under £3000

Naim ND5 XS

A must-audition if you’re after a high-end streamer that can do it all.

SPECIFICATIONS

Outputs: Optical and two coaxial | Hi-res support: 24-bit/192kHz | File formats: Most | Spotify Connect: Yes | Dimensions: 59 x 50 x 20 cm | Weight: 10.3kg

Reasons to Buy
Clear and precise sound
Sturdy build and design
Excellent specification
Reasons to Avoid
Power supply upgrades aren’t cheap

Today's best Naim ND5 XS deals

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£2499
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To put it bluntly, the Naim ND5 XS is one of the most talented high-end streamers we've ever tested. It's a full UPnP player and supports everything from Wi-Fi and aptX Bluetooth to NAS, Tidal and Spotify Connect. Sound quality is stunning no matter the kind of music that's being played. Its balanced and detailed presentation is apparent from the outset with no seeming limit to tits dynamic reach.

Best music streamer under £5000

Best music streamer under £5000

Naim NAC-N 272

Top-class sound and extensive features makes for an outstanding streamer.

SPECIFICATIONS

Outputs: Optical and two coaxial | Hi-res support: 24-bit/192kHz | File formats: Most | Spotify Connect: Yes | Dimensions: 59 x 50 x 20 cm | Weight: 10.3kg

Reasons to Buy
Terrific streamer-cum-preamp
Feature count
Insightful, organised sound
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing

Today's best Naim NAC-N 272 deals

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£3699
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£3999
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The Naim NAC-N 272 delivers on two fronts - it's a feature-packed streaming preamp and it sounds superb. Connectivity options include digital inputs, optical and coaxial connections along with Bluetooth. There's also 24-bit/192kHz support with all the main file formats covered, from FLAC to AIFF to Apple Lossless, with native support for Tidal and Spotify Connect. Build quality is suitably solid, while sound quality is stunning at the money. We're huge fans of the Naim's communicative, balanced sound and it's a master of dynamics. And it's preamp section is as good as any rival we've heard in the £1000 to £1500 price range.

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