Latest audio streamers – 2022 choice

The fastest technological progress in the audio industry today is noticeable in the field of digital audio. Not only stationary digital-to-analog converters are developing at a tremendous pace, but also their modern descendants – systems that can not only decode sound, but also stream it over a home network, as well as work with streaming clients. In our new selection – eight of the most interesting audio streamers that have recently appeared on sale. The rating is sorted in order of increasing cost of the components.


iFi Audio Zen Stream

iFi Audio Zen Stream is a proprietary digital-to-analog converter, complete with a streamer module – there is Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, and gigabit Ethernet. The system works on the basis of a quad-core ARM Cortex chip and uses a chic element base (ceramic capacitors, Taiyo Yuden TDK C0G inductors), it’s a pity that the power supply is pulsed, but for the indicated price it would be strange to expect more. Future firmware updates will add support for Chromecast, however, and the current support for Sygnalist HQPlayer already looks great. The sound of the device is very confident.

iFi Audio Zen Stream Specifications

  • Input voltage DC 9V/1.8A-15V/0.8A AC 100 -240V, 50/60Hz
  • Input voltage DC 9V/1.8A-15V/0.8A AC 100 -240V, 5Input Wi-Fi / Ethernet / USB HDD (Firmware updates via OTA and USB-C at rear)
  • Formats PCM384 DSD256 (MQA passthrough)
  • Output USB3.0 (Type-A Socket) x2 SPDIF (Coaxial)
  • Power consumption No Signal ~6W Max Signal ~10W
  • Dimensions 158 x 100 x 35 mm 6.2″ x 3.9″ x 1.4″
  • Net weight 578g (1.14 lbs)

Price – 439$

Volumio Primo

The tiny Volumio Primo can do a lot – there is also a built-in 16 GB drive, Volumio’s own platform flaunts excellent ergonomics and a lot of features, and support for PCM signals up to 32/768 in this price segment seems like a real gift. The heart of the model is the modern ESS ES9038Q2M chip, MQA support is not forgotten, and the sound of the device flaunts excellent dynamics.

Volumio Primo Specifications

  • Uncompromised Bit-Perfect Audio Playback
  • Hi Quality Audio Output powered by ESS  ES9028Q2M DAC
  • Integrated WebRadio directories
  • Supported Formats: DSD, WAV, FLAC, Alac, Aac, Vorbis, Cue, Mp3 and more
  • Playback control and configuration via Web-app from anything with a browser
  • Powered by ASUS Tinkerboard S
  • Multilanguage
  • Alarm and sleep function
  • USB Audio Output up to PCM 32 bit 768 kHz and DSD512
  • SPDIF Audio Output up to 24 bit 192 kHZ
  • HDMI Video Output
  • CIFSSMB and NFS Network Attached Storage compatibility
  • Wireless and Wired Network Connectivity

Price – 540$

Matrix Audio Element I

Matrix Audio Element I is not only an advanced streamer with support for most modern streaming services and working with streams up to 32/192, but also an excellent headphone amplifier (with discrete amplification up to 1300mW – so, the device can handle almost any headphones). The powerful ARM Freescale I processor is paired with an ESS ES9028PRO chip and an XMOS XU208 module. The IIS LVDS connector allows you to use an external clock – a rarity in this segment. The power supply unit is external, linear, allowing the possibility of an upgrade. The model has a THD of 0.0004% and flaunts a well-coordinated sound with excellent resolution.

Matrix Audio Element I Specifications

  • Input I2S via HDMI Optical RJ45 SPDIF
  • Output Jack 6.35mm RCA/XLR
  • DAC / ADC Chip ES9028PRO
  • Max sampling rate 768kHz DSD1024
  • Channel 2 (Stereo)
  • Streaming services & Network protocols AirPlay DLNA Qobuz Roon / Roon Bridge / Roon Ready Tidal

Price – 999$

NAD C 700

The NAD C 700 uses an ESS Saber ES9010 based DAC and a HybridDigital UcD amplifier (2x 80W) carried over from the NAD C 268 and NAD C368. With a 5” color display, a BluOS Enabled streaming system that supports a host of streaming services, and great sound, the quality of the NAD C 700 is hard to complain about.

NAD C 700 Specifications

  • Continuous output power into 8 ohms and 4 ohms>80 W (ref. 20 Hz-20 kHz at rated THD+N, both channels driven) >100 W
  • THD+N (20 Hz – 20 kHz) at rated power<0.04 % <0.04 %
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio>84 dB (A-weighted, 500 mV input, ref. 1 W out in 8 ohms)
  • Clipping power>86 W (at 1 kHz 8 ohms 0.1 % THD) >102 W (at 1 kHz 4 ohms 0.1 % THD)
  • IHF dynamic power8 ohms: 100 W 4 ohms: 125 W
  • Damping factor>90 (ref. 8 ohms, 20Hz to 20kHz)
  • Frequency response±0.18 dB (20 Hz – 20 kHz)
  • Tone controlsTreble: ±6.0 dB at 20 kHz Bass: ±6.0dB at 60 Hz
  • Channel separation>93 dB (1 kHz) >72 dB (10 kHz)
  • Input sensitivity (for 80 W in 8 ohms)Line In: 550 mV Digital In: -12 %FS
  • Trigger Out12 ± 1 V, 9 mA
  • Standby power>0.5W

Price – 1599$

Rose RS150B

South Korean manufacturer CItech’s top model, the Rose RS150B, is a streamer with a ton of features and a chic sound that can surprise even hard-core hi-fi fans. The device can not only stream and process the stream via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, but also can transmit video in 4K. MQA support is also not forgotten, a linear PSU and a FemtoClock precision clock generator are used, the case is machined from a solid aluminum billet. The 14.9-inch display immediately catches the eye, and the proprietary Rose OS (modified Android) allows you to get all the features of modern streaming. “Under the hood” work Cortex-A72, Cortex-A53, Mali-T864 and the ESS ES9038PRO chip. The signal-to-noise ratio reaches 121 dB.

Rose RS150B Specifications

  • OS Rose OS Ver 1.22.4 (based on Customized Android 7.1)
  • Body Milled from Solid Block of High Purity Aluminum, Minimizing Vibrations and Noise.
  • Display 14.9-inch-Wide HD IPS Touch Screen LCD
  • CPU Hexa Core CPU Dual-core Cortex-A72 up to 1.8GHz Quad-core Cortex-A53 up to 1.4GHz
  • GPU Mali-T864 GPU, OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1, OenVG1.1, OpenCL, DX11
  • DAC Chip ESS Technology, SABRE ES9038PRO
  • Output level 6.5Vrms (Balanced), 2.2Vrms (Unbalanced)
  • THD 0.0002%(Balanced,1KHz 6.5Vrms), 0.0003%(Unbalanced,1KHz 2.2Vrms)
  • THD + N 0.0003%(Balanced, 1KHz 6.5Vrms), 0.0004%(Unbalanced,1KHz 2.2Vrms)
  • IMD -103dB (Balanced), -103dB (Unbalanced), SMPTE 4:1, 60Hz:7kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio 121dB (Balanced),118dB (Unbalanced), A-wt
  • Dynamic Range Max 132 dB (CCITT filter)
  • Audio input Optical x 1, COAX x 1, Line-IN x 1, AES/EBU x 1, HDMI ARC x 1, USB DAC x 1Stereo Crosstalk Max -138dB, 20-20kHzOutput Frequency Response 20Hz to 40,000(+/-0.5dB)
  • Audio output Optical x 1, COAX x 1, Pre-OUT (Balanced x 1, Unbalanced x 1), I2S-DVI x 1,I2S-RJ45 x 1, AES/EBU x 1
  • Output Impedance 50Ω
  • Audio WAV, FLAC, AIFF, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, DFF, DSF, AAC, CDA, AMR, APE, EC3, E-EC3, MID, MPL, MP2, MPC, MPGA, M4A PCM : 8KHz~384KHz(8/16/24/32bit per Sample) Native DSD: DSD64(2.8MHz)/DSD128(5.6MHz)/DSD256(11.2MHz)/ DSD512(22.5792Mhz)
  • Video ASF, AVI, MKV, MP4, WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 H.263, H.264, H.265, VC-1, VP9, VP8, MVC H.264/AVC, Base/Main/High/High10 [email protected] up to 4Kx2K@30fps H.265/HEVC, Main/Main10 profile@ level 5.1 High-tier up to 4Kx2K@60fps

Price – 4995$

Lumin P1

The Lumin P1 streamer can work both as a DAC and as a streamer, and passes a 4K video signal (via HDMI 2.0). The model works on the basis of ES9028PRO, is built on the “dual mono” principle, equipped with an FPGA-based clock and has completely separate power circuits for the digital and analog parts of the path. Not forgotten is the precision volume control from Leedh. The sound of Lumin P1 is very solid and refined.

Lumin P1 Specifications

  • NETWORK PLAYBACK: Up to DSD512 Up to 384 kHz, 16–32-bit, Stereo MQA Full Decoding
  • UPSAMPLING RATES & BIT DEPTHS: DSD128 upsampling option for all files PCM 384kHz upsampling option for all files
    USB: USB Audio Class 2 Compatible WINDOWS 10 (Release 1703 or above) / Mac OSX or above DoP 128 support PCM 44.1–384 kHz, 16–32-bit, Stereo
    AES/OPTICAL/SPDIF: PCM 44.1 kHz–192 kHz, 16–24-bit DSD64 (DoP64, DSD over PCM)
    HDMI X3: PCM 2.0 Audio support 4K Video Passthrough
    USB: Native DSD512 support PCM 44.1–384 kHz, 16–32-bit, Stereo
    BNC SPDIF: PCM 44.1 kHz–192 kHz, 16–24-bit DSD64 (DoP64, DSD over PCM)
    HDMI X1:(HDMI PASSTHROUGH AND ARC SUPPORT) PCM 2.0 Audio support 4K Video Passthrough ARC (Audio Return Channel) support
  • ANALOGUE INPUT: RCA Unbalanced x1 XLR Balanced x1
  • ANALOG OUTPUT: Dual ESS SABRE32 ES9028Pro DAC chips Fully balanced layout with high-quality components Output connectors coupled with dual LUNDAHL LL7401 output transformers Femto Clock System with precision FPGA distribution
  • OPTICAL NETWORK: Industry-standard SFP 1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet Adapter may be needed for your particular switch/cables Use simultaneously with RJ45 (e.g. connect one to router and one to LUMIN L1 or NAS)
  • POWER SUPPLY: Internal dual-toroidal Separate digital & analogue circuitry Low-noise linear regulator
  • FINISH: Black anodised aluminium Raw aluminium
  • LUMIN (SOLID ALUMINIUM CHASSIS): 350mm (W), 380mm (D), 107mm (H), 12kg

Price – 10000$

SIM Audio Moon 680D

It is difficult to confuse SIM Audio products with any other brand – so Moon 680D is made in a recognizable luxurious case. The device uses the developments first used in the older 780D v2, and is equipped with a branded MiND 2 streamer. Of course, separate DC power circuits with inductive filtering are used, and if this is not enough, you can also purchase an optional external power supply. The ESS ES9028PRO chip operates in a fully balanced circuit, the signal-to-noise ratio reaches 123 dB, and the sound simply strikes on the spot with its volume.

SIM Audio Moon 680D Specifications

  • Frequency response (full range) 2Hz – 100kHz +0/-3dB
  • THD @ 1kHz, 0dBFS (A-weighted) 0.0005 %
  • Intermodulation distortion 0.0003 %
  • Dynamic Range 123 dB
  • Signal-to-noise Ratio 123 dB @ full output
  • Channel Separation 120 dB
  • Intrinsic Jitter 1 pico seconds RMS
  • Analog Output @ 0dBFS 2.0 V
  • Analog output impedance 100 Ω
  • PCM Bit-depth range 16 – 32 bits
  • PCM sampling frequency rates 44.1 – 384 kHz
  • DSD sample rates DSD64, DSD128 & DSD256
  • Shipping weight 38 lb / 18 kg
  • Dimensions (width x height x depth) 18.75 x 4.0 x 16.8 in

Price – 10500$

Kalista DreamPlay Stream

As the name implies, Kalista DreamPlay Stream is the successor to the recently released Ultra High End product line from a well-known French manufacturer. The device is network capable, certified by Roon, and includes protocols and clients such as Airplay, Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, Spotify and vTuner. Yes, the price of the model is indecently high, but once you listen to the Kalista DreamPlay Stream, the questions “why is it so expensive” no longer arise.

Kalista DreamPlay Stream Specifications

  • Streaming : DLNA-UPNP, Room-ready, AirPlay, Tidal, Quobuz, Deezer, Spotify Premium, vTuner
  • Digital Inputs : ethernet, USB
  • Digital Output AES/EBU
  • Integrated D/A conversion
  • Analog Outputs : RCA and XLR
  • Power supply including 8 independants regulated lines
  • Weight / dimensions : 5 kg / 400 x50 x 270mm

Price – 24000$