Digital-to-analog converters have long gone beyond their usual capabilities – now it is difficult to imagine such a device without means of streaming signal reception .
Our new rating contains eight of the most impressive and latest devices – network audio players.
8. WiiM PRO
DAC – 24/192 | Processor – Quadcore A53 | Weight – 0.33 kg | Built-in clients – Spotify, iHeartRadio, Tidal, Amazon Prime Music, Napster, Deezer, Roon Ready
Pros – inexpensive universal “combine”
Cons – detail is not ideal
Verdict – a good first step on the path to streaming
The WiiM Pro streamer is quite inexpensive, but thanks to Chromecast support and the proprietary WiiM Home application (there is support for Spotify, iHeartRadio, Tidal, Amazon Prime Music, Napster, Deezer, and even Airplay 2 and Roon), even an audio novice can handle setting up the device. The built-in digital-to-analog converter, of course, is not of a reference level, but the same signal-to-noise indicator here reaches 100 dB, and the sound of the device seems quite lively and dynamic. Of course, working on a home network with DLNA servers has not been forgotten. The icing on the cake is support for voice assistants Siri, Alexa and Google.
7. Bluesound PowerNode N230
DAC – 24/192 | Processor – ARM Cortex-A53 | Weight – 2.62 kg | Built-in clients – Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz, Roon Ready
Pros – you only need speakers – and the system is ready!
Cons – the bass texture is not enough
Verdict – the advanced streaming algorithm makes the model outstanding in its price category
The Bluesound Powernode N230 not only sports one of the most powerful BluOS streaming platforms available today, which is hard to fault. But it is also a complete device – you just need to add speakers to the component, and everything will work, because “on board” there is also a HybridDigital NAD amplifier (2×40 W). The sound, whether fully on or in source mode, pleases with its liveliness. The proprietary BluOS Controller application is a star from the sky in terms of ergonomics, there are enough built-in clients, Apple AirPlay 2 and Roon Ready are in place, voice control via Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri works – what more could you dream of?
6. Denon DNP-2000NE
DAC – 32/384 | Processor – ULTRA AL32 | Weight – 9.7 kg | Built-in clients – HEOS
Pros – great design, good sound
Cons – nothing significant
Verdict – true Hi-Fi!
We already have heavy Hi-Fi artillery in front of us – the Denon DNP-2000NE weighs almost 10 kg and is an example of modern engineering design. High-quality components and solid power supply make themselves felt – the sound images are dense and large-scale. Among the talents of the network player, it is worth noting the proprietary HEOS streamer, which opens up a lot of connectivity options, and the proprietary Ultra AL32 audio processing algorithm, and a four-channel DAC, and work with signals up to 11.2 MHz DSD and 32 bit / 384 kHz PCM.
5. Shanling EM7
DAC – 32/768 | Processor – N/A | Weight – 3.2 kg | Built-in clients – TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer, Apple Music, Amazon HD
Pros – extraordinary performance characteristics
Cons – slightly refined presentation
Verdict – a very impressive player
Shanling EM7 delivers a staggering 125dB signal-to-noise ratio – ESS Technology’s flagship SABER ES9038PRO chip packs a punch. Among other things, there is also a powerful (7 W at 32 Ohm) headphone amplifier, but the most important advantage of the model is the open OS based on Android 10, which allows you to customize the device as you wish. It is very convenient to operate the network player thanks to the rotating 5.8” Full HD display, and the sound it produces is rich and sparkling with detail. The element base is of high quality – two KDS quartz oscillators, TI OPA2211 chips for the proprietary constant-phase CPAF algorithm, thin-film resistors, Panasonic tantalum polymer capacitors and Omron relays – admittedly, we even checked the price tag of the device, but everything turned out to be correct.
4. Rose RS520
DAC – 32/768 | Processor – Cortex-A72, Cortex-A53 | Weight – 8.1 kg | Built-in clients – Tidal, Oobuz, Spotify, Apple Music, Roon Ready
Pros – a lot of possibilities, decent sound
Cons – imperfect localization
Verdict – great performance from the South Korean company
The Rose RS520 network audio player also uses the ESS Technology SABER ES9038PRO chip, but now the RS150B streamer system is complemented by a proprietary RA180 amplifier with a power of 2 x 250 W. The system turns out to be surprisingly effective, even when turned on “full” – the sound has that same gloss that fans of high-fidelity sound appreciate. The proprietary ROSE Connect Premium app is, again, quite user-friendly, and the Android OS and large display provide excellent ergonomics.
3. Matrix Audio Element X2
DAC – 32/768 | Processor – NXP i.MX 6Quad Cortex-A9 | Weight – 3.9 kg | Built-in clients – Tidal, Qobuz
Pros – voluminous and large-scale sound picture
Cons – none
Verdict – an excellent representative of its price category
Matrix Audio Element X2 Pure is an audiophile streamer released for the company’s tenth anniversary. The efforts were beneficial – it’s difficult to make any complaints about the truly three-dimensional sound picture; the circuit with parallel (dual mono) connection of eight-channel ES9039PRO chips from ESS Technologies and a linear power supply with a toroidal transformer works excellently. There is no headphone amplifier here, but there is room for a very serious pre-amplifier – so the device can be connected directly to a power amplifier or active speakers. Streaming options are standard for the group – Tidal and Qobuz, DLNA and Airplay.
2. Simaudio Moon 390
DAC – 32/384 | Processor – N/A | Weight – 10 kg | Built-in clients – Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Roon Read
Pros – luxurious sound
Cons – quite expensive
The verdict is a clear step forward for Simaudio
Simaudio Moon 390 is a network player with a DAC (32 bit / 384 kHz, DSD256 and MQA), a 350P preamplifier, a headphone amplifier, and an MM/MC phono stage. Let’s add the sound so beloved by the company’s fans with “that same” gloss that audiophiles value so much – and we’ll get a real dream in audio. Support for Tidal Masters, Qobuz Sublime+ and Deezer Hi-Fi is also not forgotten, as is Roon Ready certification. Under the hood, everything is fine – for example, a pair of 10 VA toroidal transformers and a 26,400 uF capacitor block.
1. Naim NSC 222 New Classic
DAC – 24/192 | Processor – N/A | Weight – 11 kg | Built-in clients – Spotify, Apple Music, Qobuz, Tidal
Pros – dense and natural sound with excellent rhythmicity
Cons – nothing significant, except the price
Verdict – you have to pay for High End…
The new New Classic series, which includes the Naim NSC 222, is not only an extravagant design. As usual for a British company, the player produces such a rhythm that the legs themselves start dancing – at the same time, it forms eerily believable and textured sound images. The latest version of the Naim streaming platform works perfectly (there is support for Spotify Connect, Apple Music, Tidal, Qobuz, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, UPnP, Roon Ready), the proprietary application for mobile gadgets Naim App, again, does not cause criticism.