Category Archives: Wifi

Devialet D-Premier


Conditionnement DevialetThis Fritz Langian breathe-on-it-and-it-tranfers-your-brain digital amplifier and world-domination-in-a-chrome-box, is simply the most awe inspiring piece of hi-fi equipment I have seen in a long time. Inside a sleek chrome box, it harbors 240 watts of weird class A and D combinatrix, 24-bit/192KHz DAC, SD card reader, wifi connectivity and streaming over network. And that is not all… look at that remote. I know a remote has fairly little to do with soundstage and transparency; but look at it! Is that cool or what?!

Outputs include XLR and HDMI, and they are routable (!). On the input side it goes novel even more by including a programmable phono stage to satisfy most, if not all but the most pernickety, vinyl lovers. What can I say? I want one!

Olive O6HD

o6hd_silver_front_angleOlive has been on the media streamer market for the better part of the market’s existence, yet hasn’t made much noise. Their latest initiative could be here to change that: The world’s first HD Audiophile Server. That is what they call it and looking at the specs, it’s definitely the world’s first something, even if others have touched on this before. The Linn DS is definitely up there (with a slightly more rabid price tag) and so is the NaimUniti Serve. The latter being a really attractive setup in its family configuration of server, players and mini players.

The device itself is cool if not exactly novel. The design is like other Olives, slightly unusual and definitely not very shelf-friendly.  The slanted cabinet has a touch screen on top and a handful of heavy duty connectors on the back. The front has a slot for ripping CDs. To get you going, the O6HD comes pre-installed with 12 HD tracks from Chesky records. Hand-built in America and all, it will look good on a serving table or something.

The power supply is split into two, to feed analog and digital circuits with each their own chill filtered juice. The DACs are 24-bit Burr-Brown PCM1792 supporting high resolution conversion of 24-bit/192KHz. It comes with 2TB of storage, letting you rip quite a bit of CDs, at least in 16-bit resolution. At full resolution it is not one byte too much. Unfortunately the CD transport is just that. A CD drive. It doesn’t support DVD or SACD so the only option for actually getting any HD content is to rip it elsewhere or download HD tracks.

A rather cool feature is genre specific tags. Only information pertaining to the specific type of music is shown in the genre navigation. That is really good news for classical music connoisseurs. Add to that a bit of color coding and a bloody nice glass touch screen, and you have a pretty nifty dashboard. The ever present iPhone / iPod Touch remote isn’t missing either.

Wireless iPod dock for Sonos


sonos-wireless-dock_w500Sonos today announced  a wireless dock for Apple iPod Touch and iPhone. The dock allows you to stream music from your iPod to Sonos devices across your home. Sonos already has an analog line-in that can be streamed. Adding the iPod lets you only wish for one extra thing and that is a streamable digital input. Couldn’t be far away, I am sure.

HP Dreamscreen

hpdream The HP Dreamscreen is not an audio device per se but a good old fashioned picture frame with some unusual features.

As a picture frame it is rather above par in terms of picture quality and how it presents photos. It can show images from one of several built-in card readers or stream them from in-house media servers and even from HP’s own Snapfish photo service via its internet connection. For reasons unknown, it cannot stream video. That is somewhat odd since video playback is very, very good. The screen has an exceptionally wide viewing angle and very little ghosting. It comes with a handy little remote that can be parked in a small pocket behind the screen and hidden on-frame controls that light up when you touch it. Apart from getting greasy the screen itself does not have any touch capabilities.

What qualifies it for this short mention is not the fact that it shows your Facebook pals and all their weird ass twips to the world but the fact that it streams in-house MP3 music as well as internet radio stations and even Pandora*. Sound quality is next to hilarious but stick a pair of decent computer speakers in its headphone jack and you have yourself a nifty kitchen aid that gladly plays your favorite radio station while tickering your bestest friends’ updates. Or do as we do; export your own favorite Gumbo and Tamales recipes to a 4×3 image format and save them in a photo stream.


* Possibly due to its Pandora support the HP Dreamscreen is not available in Europe. A pity considering its other properties.

Naim UnitiQute

NaimQute The people who gave us the NaimUnity last year have gone and done it again. This time with a cute little device aptly and cleverly named The UnitiQute. The main difference from the NaimUnity is the absence of a CD transport. In other words, the UnitiQute is for those who don’t care about perloid plastic discs or those who have a plenty of sound elsewhere and needs an extension.

The front is sleek and minimalistic and very Naim.  The back panel abundant with connectors for all things digital and a few analogue for good measure. The UnitiQute streams from internet radio stations and from network storage devices, be it a regular NAS or that equally sleek Naim HDX in the living room. In addition to networked music, the UnitiQute plays music from attached devices, such as iPods and USB harddrives.

Flac support of up to 24bit/96KHz puts it well in the clear with the competition. With a built-in amplifier yielding 30W of smooth niceness it is fairly self contained and should fit any small living area. Put an HDX in the study with your Focals, a Unity in the living room and a Qute in the bed room and your retirement is pretty much secured.

Apple Airport Express

Apple Airport Express The Apple Airport Express is not new by a long shot, 6 years in fact, but it does sport a nice feature making it worth mentioning anyway, a feature I failed to mention when commenting on Apple TV: They act as a remote output through what Apple has aptly named Airtunes. You can select Airports and Apple TVs around the house when playing songs from iTunes and have them play through one or more simultaneously. What is more, it has a Toslink connector buried inside the miniscule output jack for a purely digital connection to your sound system, should it support it. Actually, the Toslink connector is much preferred over the analog output due to excessive and quite audible hum from the built-in power supply.

Apple Airport Express There are a few catches. You cannot kill a connection initiated by one computer from another, i.e. you cannot start your music from the computer in the office and then when you get to the kitchen, take a computer there and select another song. This can be a major hassle [to be very diplomatic] if you use more than a few computers. Also you are pretty much limited to playing music via iTunes. There are a few hacks out there allowing you to route sound from other applications to an Airport, such as Airfoil from Rogue Amoeba, but these tools are compromises. Particularly latency is a big issue, especially when watching video and routing the sound elsewhere. Applications competing for the Airtunes connection is another issue adding to the brew of annoyances. Having to manually kill a connection made by Airfoil to open one for iTunes is certainly not befitting my workflow.

Setting up an Airport is straight forward. With it comes a setup application that browses the network for Airports and lets you connect to whichever one you like and configure it. Should you have special needs in terms of authentication protocols or topologies it lets you handle that too, albeit considerably less elegantly.

The Apple Airport Express costs next to nothing so if you already use iTunes, this is a really cost efficient means to a distributed music system. Airtunes has some design flaws but works remarkably well considering.

Sonos ZonePlayer S5

sonoss5 Sonos have ruled the streaming kingdom seemingly for eternities now but have been subjected to more and more frequent bashings for stubbornly sticking to less than standalone-friendly ZonePlayers. In others words: Why don’t they make a real standalone player for the kitchen (or wherever this makes sense)? Now they have… The ZonePlayer S5 is one such thing. A monolithic heat fan from appearance; a well spec’ed transistor radio beneath.

Each driven by a D-class amplifier of unknown grandeur 5 drivers form the bessel. One of these is a 3½” center positioned subwoofer [remember 3½” floppy disks? Woof!]. Otherwise it appears to be spec’ed like its brethren ZonePlayers. Like these the S5 can be controlled by the dedicated CR100 or Cr200 controllers, or from a PC or an iPhone.

Sony NAS-Z200iR and CMT-Z100iR

Sony CMT-Z100iR Now we are back to some bona fide digital news. Sony just announced a new system consisting of a media streaming apparatus called NAS-Z200iR. As to why Sony have chosen to use the term NAS in the name is a bit of a conundrum, since the device does in fact not have any storage to share. What it will do, however, is receive music from a DLNA compatible server (meaning pretty much everything), host an iPod in a docking station or play a CD. It even has an old fashioned AM/FM radio for when the internet radio stations are not enough. How about that?

On a curious note aside, the NAS lets you control an iPod from a wireless remote roughly twice the size of an iPod Touch. I know, I know. You get speakers and amps and stuff. But still. If you look past all that.

At the same time Sony announced another device called CMT-Z100iR. It looks roughly like the big sister NAS, but instead of having everything remote controlled, controls are mounted on the base of the iPod dock. This one comes in white as well. Pretty cool looking too.

Specs have not been revealed yet for either device. Can’t be long, though.

NaimUniti

Naim have always been associated with extreme high end and baffled the world not long ago when they extended their product line to Bentley in-car hifi with KW-fed 11 speaker extravaganza and a price tag to fit the car. Well, none of that. Now Naim went out and did an all-in-one package for the home sporting some rather nice specs and a compactness leaving little else to be desired.

Naim Uniti The NaimUniti is a 50W integrated FM/DAB receiver with built-in CD transport and internet connectivity. It accepts USB devices, controls an iPod, reads CD-R discs and streams music from the network, including internet radio stations. Ogg Vorbis and Flac are supported as is Apple Lossless. On the input side there are 5 digital and 4 analogue. The latter including one specifically for the Naim Stageline phono stage for all that vinyl screaming for attention and so often forgotten in other solutions.

Asus Eee Top

asuset1602 This is not a streamer. It is not even a media center of any kind. It is quite simply a PC and not a very impressive one at that – spec-wise; an Asus Eee sporting a 15.4” touch monitor and driven by a measly Atom processor. It does, however, have enough power to run a standard media player such as Foobar2000, Songbird or indeed Windows’ own Media Player. And this is what makes it suddenly stand out. For a relatively small investment you get something that operates like a Sooloos, albeit without the otherworldly audio capabilities, and looks cool on almost any table top.

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