What do you need?
Now, what does it take to stream? Not much. In fact, anyone can stream. In fact, we all do it (almost) every day. Think of internet radio, YouTube or other media we play from the internet. Or what about ‘replay TV’? High level music streaming works in a similar way. All it takes is a player and a home network.
Now it is crucial that the infrastructure is in good order. By this we mean that there is a decent internet connection, a decent router and preferably also good wifi to operate the player (via a phone or tablet).
By the way, we always recommend connecting players with an Ethernet cable. A wired connection prevents many problems because the bandwidth is stable. Wifi can work well, but is subject to fluctuations in bandwidth. In addition, the WiFi quality of standard routers provided by the provider is not great. If you want to play without any problems, connect a cable.
Are you looking for tips on a good network for streaming audio: we have written a few articles about this (more on the Dutch version of Alpha Audio).
What flavors are there?
In addition to a good infrastructure, a streamer is also needed. That could be a regular phone (after all, it has a media player on it), a (smart)TV, Chromecast, Apple Airport, or of course a dedicated audio streamer. And with the latter you can choose from very affordable to extremely expensive models.
Let’s split it up. Streaming audio comes in many shapes and sizes. However, it can be divided into two groups:
- Single room (or single zone)
- Multi room (or multi zone)
Now we can still include bluetooth, but in this article we will leave this form of streaming aside for a moment. Although bluetooth is technically a network. And in that respect, playing via bluetooth is streaming audio.
Anyway: single room or multi room streaming. It’s up to you to determine what fits in with your listening behaviour. Would you like to have music played throughout the house sometimes, then a multiroom solution is the obvious solution. If you mainly play in one room, a single player will suit you perfectly. The advantage is that you then have more choice, since not all brands have a multiroom solution.
Then the controls. This is usually done with a phone or tablet. But it can also be done with a PC or laptop. Or maybe a dedicated touchscreen, like Sooloos had. On that device there will be at least one piece of software: the App.
The App is an element that not everyone immediately thinks about. You used to have a remote control with physical buttons… now you have an App. Some kind of virtual, digital remote control. Of course, it’s crucial that you enjoy the app as you’ll need it every time you want to listen to music.
Know that not every manufacturer has an app for both Android and iOS. Or have their own app at all. It is therefore wise to check beforehand whether the app works on your devices.
We’re going to continue the service. Because there’s a choice if you don’t like the original app. Think of Roon. Roon is a piece of software that works on the basis of a Roon server (to be installed on a PC, Mac, Linux computer, NAS or in separate form: Roon Rock), a (very nice) app to control things (also via PC, Mac or Linux PC) and your player (which must be Roon compatible).
Roon seems complex at first, but it’s not. In fact, you install a ‘server package’ on a PC of your choice, install the app on your phone or tablet and Kees: you’re ready to play. That is, if your player is Roon compatible. And they’re not all of them. Luckily, there’s more to come and more… We are very fond of Roon.
Now there are many manufacturers who have their own app. But not all of them. Or they’re just not nice to use. If the player uses the so-called UPnP protocol (or DLNA, which is a derivative of UPnP), in many cases you can also use another app. Think of BubbleUPnP: a universal app that allows you to control all UPnP devices in your network. And you can even stream Tidal or Qobuz without your streamer supporting that native. Handy app!