Cambridge Audio is having a pretty good year, to put it mildly. The British hi-fi company's new and revamped CX series combines a fresh, modern redesign with excellent sound quality. The CXN streamer left such an impression on the What Hi-Fi? team that its Product of the Year Award was an instant, uninamous decision.
The sleek, floating design, the smart and colourful display, and the way that volume dial moves - it's all beautifully engineered. It's a joy to use, and once you have your music set up (it boasts thorough file support and has an exhaustive set of features, incluing DLNA, Spotify Connect, high-resolution support and multiple USB ports), it's seriously fun to listen to.
Punchy, deep bass, loads of insight, melodic and cohesive dynamics, and an intimate way with voices makes the CXN a superb piece of hi-fi kit. £700 starts to feel like the deal of the century for such a classy, premium-feeling streamer.
If your budget doesn't reach quite that far, don't worry, because the Pioneer N-50A has you covered. The N-50A is a great first step into the world of hi-fi streaming, with a feature set that's just as impressive as the Cambridge's, and a sound that's attacking, dynamic and detailed. A larger display screen and some added features makes the N-50A a slicker machine than before (its predecessor, the N-50 was a 2013 Award winner) and the neat, brushed aluminium design looks smart as ever.
An entertaining and easy to use streamer that will get you tapping your toes with any music you play, the N-50A is the best you can buy for £500.
See all our What Hi-Fi? Awards 2015 winners
For those prepared to splash a bit more of their hi-fi budget, Cyrus and Naim are the kings of streamers. The £1250 Stream Xa keeps ahold of its crown in this price range, with little else threating its position. Cyrus's stunningly precise and taut handling of subtle detail and dynamics is a clear notch up from the CXN, and absolutely fantastic to listen to. It's a staggeringly good streamer.
Naim's ND5 XS has been around a for a couple of years now, but its recent update (which includes native Tidal support), coupled with a high-end approach to music streaming, makes it one of the best streamers we've heard that doesn't have a five-digit price tag.
It's a superb performance: subtle, accurate, fluid and agile in a way that sounds astonishingly effortless. Naim's ferocious commitment to make streaming as seamless as possible while delivering an insightful and enjoyable audio experience is an admirable feat.
If you love music and you can spend over £2000 on a streamer, you should. And it should be the ND5 XS.
More after the break
Media streamers from Amazon, Roku, Google and Apple have been setting the world alight. These plug-and-play mini set-top boxes are winningly compact, and packed with internet goodies such as catch-up TV services and on-demand apps. They've become such a dominant way of accessing apps like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and more, that we had to include them as a new sub-category in this year's Awards.
The Roku 2 was the forerunner for this Award, but then the Amazon Fire TV (2015) came long. It has similar features to its rivals: an extensive catalogue of music, movies and TV shows at the press of a button.
But the Fire TV has one trick up its sleeve that the Roku 2 doesn't: Ultra HD 4K support. It's the first streaming box in the UK to offer 4K support, which means you can plug the Fire TV straight into your 4K TV, projector or compatible AV receiver and stream the latest films and shows in full-fat 4K.
And all that for just £80...