There are a couple of budget (around $500) Audiophile Music Streamers I recommend. The first is the Audiolab 6000N Play, which I consider to be the best sounding streamer in that price range. The second is the Bluesound Node 2i, which I believe to be a notch below the 6000N in sound quality. Still, it offers more functionality, like MQA compatibility, a headphone amp, playback buttons on the unit, the ability to read USB drives, and a slightly better control app.
However, if you wish to upgrade from these units, the streamer I would look at next would be the $1099 Cambridge Audio CXN V2 Audiophile Music Streamer. Once you move up to this price point, you get some useful extras. For example, there’s a full-color screen that displays not only album art and metadata but also a full menu of setup options. Also, complete controls on the front mean you can use the unit without depending on a remote or an app on a mobile device. But, if you want to use a remote, you can do that as well. You also have the option of using the recently updated Stream Magic app, which makes it a lot more flexible than the streamers mentioned above.
The CXN V2 also has two DAC chips instead of one like the lower-priced options and tons of inputs so you can pull music from just about anywhere, including USB hard drives, a laptop, network drives, online streaming services, etc. The CXN V2 is indeed a jack of all trades. It’s actually more than just a streamer, it’s a digital preamp! I’m excited about getting this unit in, so Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to get an update when the full review goes live!
- Love the ability to operate directly from the remote
- Rear USB Input is very handy
- The front screen is beautiful…love the album art display
- Stream Magic app is amazing, love how you can sort music…takes some time to learn however
- STUNNING SOUND QUALITY – The convenience of digital audio without compromising audio quality. Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) lets you enjoy the effortless accessibility of digital audio and also appreciate the sonic excellence that Cambridge delivers.
- ADVANCED UNSAMPLING FOR CLEANER AUDIO – Cambridge Audio’s advanced Adapted Time Filter 2 (ATF2) technology upsamples all incoming digital audio sources into a 24-bit/384kHz signal, which helps resolve very fine detail.
- MUSIC ANY WAY YOU WANT IT – With the CXN (V2) network streamer, pick from the sources you use daily – Spotify, Google Play, Pandora, Apple AirPlay 2, or other internet radio channels.
- POWER TO TRANSFORM YOUR DIGITAL EXPERIENCE – Dual Wolfson WM8740 DACs (premium digital to analogue converters) give music more detail and warmth. Hear musical nuances that you’ve never noticed in songs that you’ve listened to a thousand times.
- WIRED OR WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY – Via wired (Ethernet) or wireless (WiFi dongle), connect to your home network for Internet Radio, online music services, AirPlay, and music libraries stored on your computer.
I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My thirst for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.