Connected receivers: 2018 updates

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What are all-in-one connected receivers really worth compared to traditional hi-fi amplifiers? Can they drive all types of loudspeaker, most notably floorstanders? Is their compact format synonymous with limited power? Here are a few elements which may help answer this question.

Compact stereo amplifiers half as large as standard models are  now in some ways a novelty. Major players in the audio industry have been designing compact devices to listen to radios and Audio CDs for decades. The main asset of these devices is obviously their compact design, but all-in-one compact devices also benefit from technical advantages.

D-Stream Wamp 200SB
The D-Stream Wamp 200SB features a WiFi and Bluetooth aptX receiver and is Qualcomm AllPlay (multiroom) compatible.

Connected amplifiers: the audio signal travels through shorter paths

All-in-one stereo amplifiers are a great solution to deal with a very few cables (especially RCA cables),  unlike a full stereo system comprised of separated components. No need to connect the CD player to the amplifier with an RCA cable, or to use a digital cable to connect the network player. In addition to the undisputable financial advantage, using an all-in-one device ensures better preservation of the audio signal due to the sorter signal path, which results in improved sound quality.

Yamaha WXA-50
The Yamaha WXA-50 combines a HD audio network player with a Hi-Fi stereo amplifier and a MusicCast multiroom platform.

Connected receivers: powerful devices

With the soaring popularity of switched-mode power supplies (extremely compact models), it is now possible to design very compact amplifiers with the ability to deliver dozens of Watts per channel, which was unthinkable 10 years ago.

Elipson Music Center Mini BT
The Elipson Media Center Mini BT delivers between 2×40 W and 2×80 W, is fitted with an internal DAC with optical input, and is Bluetooth aptX compatible. It features a Bluetooth activation function: the amplifier automatically starts when a wireless audio signal is detected.

Connected receivers: digital technology

Moreover, some all-in-one receivers work as a power DAC. Rather than amplifying analog audio signals, which damages the signal and creates distortion, digital amplifiers convert sounds into digital data which are then modulated. The signal is fundamentally left intact. At the end of the signal path, the digital audio signal is filtered in order to transmit audible sounds to the loudspeakers.

Tangent Ampster II BT
The Tangent Ampster II BT connected receiver was designed to drive any compact speaker and most floorstanding speakers.

The result is outstanding, the sound is extremely smooth and the soundstage is spacious. The sound of digital amplifiers is sometimes compared to the sound signature of tube amplifiers, an old technology which is still considered as the pinnacle of musical restitution.

Klipsch PowerGate
The Klipsch PowerGate connected amplifier is rated at 2×50 W and is compatible with audio streaming and DTS Play-Fi.

Connected receivers: Bluetooth aptX

The vast majority of all-in-one receivers released in 2018 are fitted with a Bluetooth receiver to allow users to stream music from a smartphone, a tablet, a computer, and even a Bluetooth enabled TV. These Bluetooth enabled receivers, such as the Elipson Music Center Mini BT and Tangent Ampster II BT, are now compatible with the Qualcomm aptX high-quality wireless transmission.

Connected receivers: Wake On Bluetooth

Certain connected receivers automatically start upon detecting an incoming Bluetooth audio signal transmitted by a previously paired smartphone. This function is offered by the Elipson Media Center Mini BT et Tangent Ampster II connected receivers.

Naim Uniti Atom
The Naim Unity Atom is a reference in its category. It features an old-school class-AB amplification module and ensures high-quality audio restitution.

Often WiFi compatible and now multiroom ready

These compact receivers feature multiple wireless features, which means they can be used to access audio files shared via a local network (DLNA protocol) and the Internet. It is also possible to listen to Internet radios as well as online music streaming services. While certain models only feature Spotify Connect, other receivers, such as the Denon Ceol RCD-N10, offer more options.

Denon Ceol RCD-N10
The famed Denon Ceol RCD-N10 features a CD player as well as a radio tuner and can read HD audio files stored on a NAS or a USB drive. It is now also Heos Multiroom compatible.

The  Denon RCD-N10 connected receiver is also Denon HEOS compatible and may be added to a multiroom installation. This allows the user to use the Denon HEOS  app to control the Ceol N10 receiver as well as all home theater receivers and loudspeakers compatible with Denon HEOS. You can then stream music throughout your entire home.

 

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