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It’s a common refrain in the high-end audio world: analog or bust. Digital and streaming files—which used to have to be compressed before being reproduced—were notorious for offering lower quality sound. For that reason, many audiophiles have been reluctant to incorporate them into their high-end systems, sticking to CDs or turntables. In recent years, though, a variety of streaming services and system components have come out to handle high resolution music that rivals anything on physical media.
Tidal, a streaming service created to offer a high resolution alternative to Pandora and iTunes, provides CD quality sound and access to virtually any music that has been recorded for a monthly subscription. A recent update pushes that even further with better-than-CD-quality streaming technology using MQA.
Whether purchasing music in DSD or FLAC formats, streaming through a service in MQA, or converting CD collections to digital storage; the experts are nearly unanimous: technology has allowed digital music to surpass the quality that the analog world was able to offer. Below we highlight some products that will let you get easy access to these services in your River Oaks, TX home.
UPDATE: In October 2018, Devialet added two new models to its Phantom line with the Phantom Reactor 600 and Phantom Reactor 900. At a more affordable price, these entry level speakers offer less power at 600 and 900 watts respectively but offer the same Bluetooth, Spotify, and Airplay features as the flagship model.
The French audio manufacturer has a series of luxury, high-performance wireless speakers that have garnered them over 100 patents during their development. The latest release in its Phantom line is the Phantom Gold, a futuristic spherical speaker weighing in at 26 pounds. It is one of the most versatile ways to easily play and stream music. All you have to do to get started is plug in the speaker and add it to your wi-fi network using the Spark app. It walks you through the simple setup and then provides the playback interface. Need to add another device? No problem. A digital input allows a host of sources to be plugged in to the system. Want even more versatility? Pick up a Cocoon carrying bag and take your Phantom on the next vacation or pool party trip.
How does this speaker stand out from other wi-fi speakers on the market? For one, it’s insanely powerful with a peak output of 4,500 watts. Its unique spherical design also results in clear, detailed audio reproduction and unbelievably deep bass sound without the need for a bulky subwoofer. You can Airplay or Bluetooth to the speaker, but with this much clarity, you'll want to use high-fidelity streaming services like Tidal. Phantoms can be used as a single, in pairs for high fidelity stereo, or multiples in a whole house configuration. Love the idea of truly innovative technology like this, but with even higher performance? Devialet also makes world class, audiophile grade integrated amps, called Expert Pro, to use with speakers you already own. Expert Pro has many of the built in streaming capabilities the Phantom has for high resolution audio, plus a host of other high tech features. With software updates, upgrades and new features can be added at any time.
You can also bring digital audio capabilities to your existing high-end system. To do this, you need to invest in high-performance amplifiers that can connect your streaming services to your luxury loudspeakers. When only the best will do, we recommend adding Dan D’Agostino’s components.
The Momentum series amplifiers and preamplifier broke the mold for traditional electronics design. Now as part of the same series, the Momentum Lifestyle Amplifier provides the same level of sound quality in a unique, all in one, device. It comes with all the traditional power, clarity and precision of the Momentum amplifiers but with an additional digital-to-analog converter. The DAC uses top-of-the-line clocking techniques to reduce digital lagging so it can translate the signal into high-resolution reproduction. To enjoy your favorite hi-fi streaming services all you have to do is download the MLife app and follow the instructions. MLife delivers power, musicality and the world of lossless streaming without compromise. The song and album metadata even shows up on the unit’s front panel.
From the makers of legendary NAD electronics comes an innovative approach to high fidelity streaming. BlueOS was created as a proprietary wireless specification to provide the ease of use in other mass market products, but with much higher performance. There are standalone wireless speakers that can be added to the BlueOS ecosystem, but there are unique products that fill out specific needs too. The Vault2, for example, has BlueOS streaming capability but has a disc drive and hard drive to rip and store CD collections. It can replace a CD player in legacy systems, but in addition to playing CDs, it will rip them to a high-resolution file type of your choice, store it on a built in hard drive, and make the stored music available to stream to other BlueOS devices in the home. BlueOS can also be added to virtually any NAD component, either through an upgrade card or as an add-on device. Wireless speakers and sound bars, rackmountable whole house audio amplifiers, upgrade cards, CD ripping and storage devices, and more are now all available with BlueOS built in.
Purpose built for one reason and one reason only, Aurender has stormed onto the streaming scene to provide the best quality components for storing and streaming music. Forget using a computer or Mac Mini to store high resolution files. The sound quality in an Aurender music streamer is far superior. All built to be audiophile grade gear with the lowest noise floor possible, the lineup starts with an N100H, the single most popular audio component we have carried in years. These players utilize an iPad app for control and searching, and all integrate with Tidal for the highest performance in streaming. While most are designed to be used with a standalone DAC (digital to analog converter), the newest model A10 includes a built-in high quality DAC for those who don’t already have one. Whether streaming Tidal or storing your own digital music files, the audio community is in agreement, Aurender is the reigning king of high fidelity music streaming, storage, and playback.
For whole home audio and high-performance solutions, we also partner with companies like McIntosh and others who use DTS Play-Fi for high performance streaming. To learn more about bringing high-resolution streaming to your home, call us at 713.933.0606 or fill out our online contact form.