The music streamer category isn't the most product-packed of all the categories at this year's What Hi-Fi? Awards, but it is certainly one of the most interesting. We started this year a little concerned that there might not be many new models arriving to really challenge our established favourites, but a few late entries have shaken things up in the best of ways.
Two of last year's winners – the Bluesound Node and the Arcam ST60 – have given way to two rather outstanding streamers: the budget WiiM Pro Plus and the mid-range Cambridge Audio MXN10, winners of our 'Best music streamer under £300' and 'Best music streamer £300-£750' awards respectively, although the ST60 has reached the end of its lifespan and so isn't technically eligible for this year's judging. The refined Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) retains its place in the next price bracket up, while the veteran Naim ND5 XS 2 remains our high-end pick.
What's pleasing about this category is that we have a really nice spread of prices across the range of four models picking up these coveted Best Buy trophies. The Naim fills out the place reserved for a high-end model without being completely bank-breaking, whereas the Cambridge CXN (V2) is a perfect option for someone looking to spend sensibly without pinching too many pennies. But it's the more budget-friendly end of the market that really excites us, predominantly as it's where the new boys are making their respective marks.
Cambridge Audio has a history of making decent music streamers, but the new budget MXN10 still defied our expectations, outperforming both the Bluesound Node and Audiolab 7000N Play despite its significantly lower price.
The WiiM Pro Plus, meanwhile, is something of a mini-marvel. It's small, completely unassuming and its price is as dinky as the unit itself, but my word did it impress us across the board, sounding poised and accomplished while boasting a great set of multi-room tools to get your fledging system up and running. If you're starting out on a budget, it really is the streamer to go for.
Don't ignore the returning models if you have the cash, though. There's a reason the beautifully made and superb-sounding CXN (V2) remains the best streamer at its price point, while the insightful and expressive Naim ND5 XS 2 really is a majestic performer across the musical spectrum.
Last year, the now-ousted Bluesound Node took home the ultimate prize to be crowned Product of the Year, meaning the door has been left wide open for a new champion to take the gong at the What Hi-Fi? Awards evening next month following the Node's unseating. All four products represent superb value for money, and Cambridge Audio will certainly feel confident courtesy of having not one but two runners in this super-tight race.
See every What Hi-Fi? Awards 2023 winner here
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