Key information about streaming
Most people still regard listening to music as having a ritual, tactile quality. Put on a record or CD, take a seat in your wingback chair, listen – and start to enjoy. But meanwhile there is a growing horde of hi-fi fans, who couldn’t care less whether their music comes in some kind of physical form, i.e. on a tangible recording medium.
Instead of filling your apartment up with record and CD racks, you can simply store all your music files on a single central data storage medium and then play them using the right streamer for the job. The benefits: A not inconsiderable portion of your hi-fi system is out of sight and you can conveniently select whatever track you want to listen to using a smartphone or tablet computer. You can compile playlists, ply the one or the other room with music as you see fit – and you don’t even need to get up out of your wingback chair to do all of this.
Ever since streaming providers first started offering gigantic non-compressed-quality music libraries, you as the consumer have not had to lower your sights soundwise. And last but not least streaming players offer you access to the big wide world of Internet radio and podcasts, which can be conveniently played with just a few taps of your finger.
The choice of streaming players is staggeringly huge. Therefore it’s all the more important that you don’t “pick the wrong one”. If your top priority is maximum sound quality, then you should definitely choose a device that is high-resolution- and bit rate-compatible – and get used to the fact that in practice everything only functions via a cable connection (RJ45 Ethernet cable). CD-standard streaming via any WLAN is usually not a problem; if significantly higher audiophile standards need to be met, then at-home WLANs can quickly get out of their depth.
Unfortunately these days we still can’t take interruption-free playback as a given. If you like reveling in 60-minute prog-rock albums, then before buying you should definitely check whether the player you have set your heart on provides a gapless rendition of your audio format.