Dreaming About Music Streaming? What Does It All Mean?

There are a raft of new products available that allow you to stream your music and the idea behind this blog, is to highlight one or two products and explain the basics of how to incorporate a "streamer" into your existing Hi-Fi system.

Streamers - Clockwise from top left: Bluesound Node 2 £499, Yamaha WXAD-10 £149, Sonos Connect £349, Naim ND5XS £2430, and Yamaha WXC-50 £329

Streamers - Clockwise from top left: Bluesound Node 2 £499, Yamaha WXAD-10 £149, Sonos Connect £349, Naim ND5XS £2430, and Yamaha WXC-50 £329

Firstly perhaps I should explain what we mean by "streaming". There are two forms of streaming:

1. Directly from the Internet via a service like Spotify, Qobuz or Tidal. These services are a little like SKY, you pay a subscription every month and get access to their massive, and constantly updated, music library. Prices are usually £10-20 a month. The streamer needs to support the service you are interested in and not all streamers support all streaming services.

2. Music stored locally on a computer or network hard drive (NAS drive). Usually these are CD's that have been copied onto a computer / NAS drive, or music downloaded from the internet.

Bluetooth or Airplay could also be considered "streaming" but neither are a particularly high quality method so I'm not going to cover those. However a number of streaming products do include them.

Our Apple iPad Mini with the Tidal App. 9 out of 10 Streamers use an App as a remote control so you will need an iPad / iPhone or Andriod phone or tablet (like a Samsung)

Our Apple iPad Mini with the Tidal App. 9 out of 10 Streamers use an App as a remote control so you will need an iPad / iPhone or Andriod phone or tablet (like a Samsung)

So why bother with streaming?

The two main reasons are:

1. Easy access to your entire record collection without having to go looking for the CD.

2. By adding more streamers you can get music all around your house, easily controlled by a tablet or smart phone

You can make playlists, or you can just play a random selection from your whole collection, it's great to hear some of the older stuff that got buried at the back of your CD rack and forgotten about. If you subscribe to a streaming service you have access to millions of tracks and never need to buy a CD again!

What about quality?

Typically streamed music is around the same quality as CD. You can make it better if you get the more expensive kit but most of the time it's roughly comparable to CD quality. Tidal and Qobuz are better quality than Spotify if you are using a streaming service but are more expensive, but do allow you to stream (Qobuz / Tidal) and download (Qobuz) 24bit Hi-Res music. 

However copying (ripping) your CD's is where it can seem complicated because there are so many different file types used to store music. Pretty much everyone has heard of MP3, but that's the lowest quality 'lossy' format which in the process of conversion removes some of the information to allow it be compressed down to the smallest possible file size.

You could start with Apple Lossless, it's better than MP3, Itunes is easy to use and it's widely supported - it's a proprietary format and will only work with Itunes and the Apple ecosystem. However, we would recommend FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), it's the next step up in quality it's an open (not hardware dependent) lossless (No data is removed from the converted file) format and is widely supported. WAV is the original CD source file but it's uncompressed, so it takes up a lot more hard drive space and there can be problems with track information (meta data) being transferred correctly, so unless you are going for high end quality we would suggest using FLAC or ALAC if you're an Itunes user - FLAC will not play on ITunes. If this seems really daunting then there are several products that will rip and store your CD's, making the process as simple as possible. e.g. Innuos Zen Mini or Naim Uniticore

Time to look at kit.

If you want to dip your toe into the "streaming" water, Yamaha have just realised a new product, and at £149 it's very affordable.

Yamaha WXAD-10

Yamaha WXAD-10

The Yamaha WXDA-10 uses Yamaha's MusicCast technology which is also incorporated in a good number of other Yamaha products including most of their recent Home Cinema Amps. The MusicCast app is pretty good with all the normal streaming services like Spotify etc.

Yamaha MusicCast app

Yamaha MusicCast app

The WXDA-10 only has analogue connections so plug it into an aux input on your amplifier and follow the instructions on the app to set it up in 5 mins.

Another recent addition to our collection of streamers is the Bluesound Node 2 £499

Bluesound node 2

Bluesound node 2

The Node 2 can be connected with normal analogue interconnects, but also has digital outputs.

bluesound node 2 back panel

bluesound node 2 back panel

It's an obvious sonic improvement over the cheaper Yamaha. The Bluesound boasts MQA (Master Quality Authenticated)  compatibility (yet another new high resolution music file format!) along with all the other usual features, and a decent app better used on a larger ipad.

Bluesound App

Bluesound App

All the streamers mentioned or pictured are available for demonstration in store, where you can try the apps for yourself. We will always try to answer any questions you have.

Yamaha Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T:

Bluesound Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T:

Auralic, Russell K & Cyrus: New Product Additions At Audio T Reading

We are delighted to announce the inclusion of a number of new products, two of which are wholly new suppliers to the Reading store.


For us the timing could not be better than now to introduce Auralic to our range. In an age of ever decreasing CD player sales, we have been looking, as have many of our customers, for a streaming solution that is universal, i.e. matches any existing brand and at the same time is affordable. Auralic are just such a brand. Indeed maybe the only one at present?

From as little as just £449, the Aries Mini is a serious quality, tiny (about the size of an Apple TV) full HD streamer (up to DSD even over WiFi) and client in one. With analogue outputs included and the ability to fit an SSD drive internally, it can be a complete solution and simultaneously serve other rooms.

For the audiophile the Auralic Aries (£1495) is their high-end solution for streaming, just add your own DAC to the required level.

For those looking for an entire digital streaming compact separates system we have the Altair streamer/pre-amp and Merak 200w Monoblock amps. Just add speakers. £5747.

Key to the Auralic experience is their fantastic IOS app, Lightning DS. By far the most powerful and intuitive music app we've used to date. Giving you full access to your local music library as well as direct to your Tidal or Qobuz accounts.


To complement the Auralic and any other streamers we have chosen Innuos. Innuos make a range of Server/CD rippers starting from as little as £699.

Simply slide in a CD and the unit rips, downloads metadata and artwork and builds your library. Full editing access is by an excellent cross-platform browser support page.

Russell K

In a crowded market place full of great speakers (well here anyway) there seems little room for more. That would be true if they didn't offer something new and fresh, a different perspective perhaps or a different set of priorities. 

In Russell K's designs we have just that; a fresh outlook. Russell's top priority was to convey the artist's message more than anything else but not at the expense of tonal colourations and other distortions; a tall order. His solution was not to follow, but to lead by thinking afresh the design parameters. His designs have to internal wadding whatsoever, thin cabinets walls and a thick baffle. The result; speakers that cut straight to the performance with no perceivable time smearing and are capable of serious musical engagement. They have an incredible bass response belying their size and can be driven by affordable amplifiers. We rather like them!

Three models are available; The original RK Red 100 and the smaller Red 50, both standmounts and available in gloss black (premium) or a variety of wood veneers. The Red 150 floorstanders, small but full range.


Welcome back, Cyrus One!

After what must be over 25 years, Cyrus again have a model One. Naturally, apart from its dimensions and overall design it's all new and technologically up-to-date.

A little powerhouse of an amp capable of driving any speaker likely to be used at the price point, it's immediate and fun with a great sense of drive, a truly worthy successor.

Cyrus One rear panel

Cyrus One rear panel

Features include; Bluetooth connectivity and a decent phono stage, so should appeal to all the family's needs. £699

Auralic streaming Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T:

Innuos rippers and music streamers are also available from: 

Russell K Loudspeakers are also available at: EnfieldPortsmouth

Cyrus Hi-Fi products are also available from: 

Introducing The Innuos Zen Mini Mk2 CD Ripper, Streamer and Music Server

As everyone knows the way we listen to music has been revolutionised over the last decade. A whole new generation of streamers, digital to analogue converters and music servers means that we can now listen to our digital music from CD rips, music streaming services, or Hi-Res downloads in very high quality.

One such device that has become very popular recently is the CD ripper and music server; a way of both storing, archiving and playing your music collection wirelessly or hardwired in your home. Amongst the very best of these devices are the Innuos Zen series.

Innuos have three models in the series, the Zen Mini Mk2, Zen Mk2 and Zenith Mk2, it’s the Zen Mini we are looking at today although all three have the same functions just with increases in sound quality as you go up the range.

The Zen Mini’s functionality is incredibly vast but we’ll keep things simple to start off with. Inserting a CD into this slick looking black box will result in it being automatically ripped to the internal hard drive (available in 1 or 2TB) in FLAC or WAV format. Track information and album work will be found by the system and then the CD will be ejected once the rip is complete and hey presto! You have the start of digital music collection. If your music that is already stored digitally, on a computer for example, it can also be transferred on to the hard drive via your network (more on that later).

You have plenty of options on how to play your music from there; the Zen Mini is compatible with a huge range of wireless, multi-room systems, Sonos being the prime example.  It is a UPnP server so any streamers attached to your network will also be able to pick up your music either wirelessly or via Ethernet.  Playback is also supported via the USB port which can be connected to a DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter). Finally for those streaming fans the Zen Mini includes, Qobuz (We're offering a FREE 1 Month Trial and a FREE Hi-Res download until the end of November 2016), Tidal, Spotify, Iplayer and internet radio.

By visiting the Innuos page from your web browser (www.my.innuos.com) you can access the Zen Mini’s library and there you have a huge array of options like editing the track names, order, art work etc. It's here that you can also manage your collection by moving music from other places on your network, such as your computer onto the Zen Mini.  There is also a large array of apps available for both Apple and Android that are capable of controlling the playback from the unit, meaning you don’t need to use a computer at all.

The Zen Mini has no fans at all so when we tested it in our demo room it made no noticeable noise at all. We tested it with multiple systems both through the network and through the USB into a DAC and we were very impressed with the reproduction of the digital files, it simply sounds fantastic.

With its huge range of functionality, high build quality, ease of use and fantastic sound quality the Innuos Zen series may just well be the future of music storage and playback. For further information or if you would like a demonstration please get in touch!

Hefin, Nick and Gareth - Audio T Cardiff

Innuos Hi-Fi rippers, streamers and servers are available from the following branches of Audio T: