Want streaming made simple to understand? Read on….
What is streaming?
Streaming is a method of delivering an audio signal to your audio system over the Internet. This is real-time audio through a network connection. The benefits of doing so are many but we’ll explore those later.
What can I stream?
You can stream radio from anywhere in the World. That means you can listen to all the radio stations you can listen too normally using a radio BUT you can also listen to radio stations from other countries. It also means that you can look for radio stations that play the sort of music you like; jazz, blues, classical or rock. All this without the need for an aerial.
You can also subscribe to music. Think of it as joining an immense music library; paying for entry and all the music is free. You never actually own it but as long as you keep your subscription up you never need to “buy” music again in the conventional sense. The best known of these services is Spotify but sadly that one isn’t the best for quality reasons. Tidal offers much better quality for only a small increase in cost. The Hi-fi subscription service costs £20 a month and for the price of two CD’s you get to access the World’s music library in exactly the same quality as owning the CD’s.
What about the music I already own?
Streaming audio players will also play the digital music you already own. It will allow you to access music stored on your laptop, your phone or your tablet. You can even archive all your CD’s onto a storage device and play those quickly and easily and WITHOUT any loss in quality.
Imagine all your CD’s, all neatly catalogued with album artwork, all data such as artist, album name, genre, song title etc – all available for you to listen to on your stereo system or anywhere else in the house. The discs themselves can be boxed and put in the loft.
Doing this is dealt with in more detail here.
Streamers also offer;
- Bluetooth connectivity for your devices
- Digital and analogue inputs for other sources
- Some offer Airplay and Chromecast
- Dock and charge your phone
- They’ll play your itunes library
Yes quality matters a great deal. Streaming audio in it’s mass-market form isn’t particularly good sounding. It offers ease of use and convenience but sounds inferior to CD. Not by a small amount either and it is very clear. Lets take CD quality as the standard most of us are familiar with. Most streaming services (but not all – No Sir!) are based around MP3. MP3 is rubbish quality.
A visual example;
Imagine this as CD quality
This is MP3 quality.
Some people say they can’t tell the difference but the difference to your ears is the same as the one above to your eyes! We’re being reasonable about this too; we understand MP3 is fine for your phone but listen to it through a stereo and it’s extremely poor and renders music harder to enjoy. Its stepping backwards in terms of performance.
Fortunately you don’t have to accept this! Streaming can be about CD quality and above.
Why we don’t sell Sonos
Sonos is designed for CD quality and below. Other products like Bluesound and Auralic (from £499 and £449 respectively) only cost a little more but do the same thing and offer CD quality and above.
So what do I need to Stream?
You need wifi in your home. And then you need a streamer or streaming product connected to it either wired or wirelessly.
Some streaming products are all in one solutions. They provide a one box solution.
The Naim Muso QB sounds remarkable and costs £649. It isn’t the cheapest all in one unit we stock but it’s one of the best. Deep, powerful and immersive sound from a compact ten inch cube.
Another solution is an all in one Streamer and amplifier. All you need to add to this is a pair of loudspeakers. It provides a very high quality solution to your musical needs. You can listen to anything from pretty much anywhere. Any source (including a turntable) and with complete ease of use.
The Naim Uniti Atom is a great example of streaming made simple. This unit costs £1750 and sounds incredible from a small, discreet and rather beautiful box. We have a range of solutions that go from £799 upwards.
Finally you can add Streaming to the stereo system you already own. Taking this approach will cost from £449 upwards using the Auralic Aries Mini.
I hope this helps you get to grips with streaming. Streaming itself can be extremely confusing and of course the people who make the biggest noise about it tend to be focussed on lower quality and appealing to the masses. Sadly the masses often don’t care about quality. We care greatly and are selective about the items we sell and the service we offer.
We’ve pictures only a small selection of products and we sell a much larger range but are eager not to confuse. Ideally we’d like to discuss these issues in person and of course demonstrate the clear differences to you in our demo room.
Don’t accept low quality or assume it’s all you can afford. We’ve always said that getting it right needn’t cost a lot more than getting it wrong. Let us help you make streaming simple!