Music Streamers

Written by
HTD Staff
Published on
February 1, 2022 1:03:31 PM PST February 1, 2022 1:03:31 PM PSTst, February 1, 2022 1:03:31 PM PST

A music streamer is an audio play-back device that plays audio files that are not stored within the device. They are generally a better solution for whole-house audio than Bluetooth devices because:

  • They can be controlled from anywhere within range of your WiFi network.
  • They don't rely on your smart phone or tablet to be the music source; instead, smart devices are simply used to control the streamer.

Music streamers use your WiFi network and its connection to the internet for streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal and Pandora. Some music streamers can also locate and play music files stored on your home network. And some music streamers still allow your smart phone to be the source itself, such as when using AirPlay or AirPlay 2 from an iOS device.

We purposefully do not build music streamers into our equipment. We often refer to HTD systems as source agnostic because the type of audio source you connect is irrelevant- you can connect multiple music streamers, smart phones, TVs, CD players, etc. and the system operates the same way giving you the ability to select which source you want to hear in each speaker and at what volume, all from your smart phone or tablet. Building in a music streamer would be akin to offering a home theater receiver or TV with a DVD or Blu-ray player built-in.

As streaming technology morphs and improves and new, previously unthought of features such as voice assistants emerge, you don't want your whole-house audio investment held back by a built-in streamer. This is especially true considering the relatively low cost of many music streamers. It's better to replace an inexpensive streamer, than to be stuck with older technology or the unfortunate option of having to replace your entire system.

Our approach also allows you (rather than us) to ultimately determine how much to spend on a streamer. Streamer prices vary considerably. Consider your budget and then choose one with the features and performance you want. For music streamers that means focusing on compatible streaming platforms and services and the quality of the built-in DAC (digital to analog converter). Many of our customers opt for one higher-end streamer for primary use along with one or more inexpensive streamers often dedicated for kids and/or guests.

We do not attempt to replicate control of the services available to these music streamers. Since these services and the apps they provide to control them are constantly changing, there is no reason for HTD to offer a watered-down version. Instead, our apps provide convenient shortcuts to other apps with which you are already familiar, including Spotify, Sonos, Pandora, Apple Music, Prime Music, and dozens of others. Shortcuts make it easy to bounce between what you want to hear and where you want to hear it.

The following list is intended only as a service to our customers. While we do our best to confirm the features and performance of these streaming devices, HTD does not guarantee the accuracy of the information found on this page or the products themselves:

Streamers with AudioCast

  • Several brands/models with nearly identical features.
  • Price: around $40 on Amazon and elsewhere. Do not typically include their own 5V power source.
  • Stream music services through the AudioCast streamer, using apps for services like Spotify, Pandora, and Tunein.
  • DAC quality: average

Wiim Mini AirPlay 2

  • Price: around $100 on Amazon.
  • Stream music services through the device, using apps for Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, and others.
  • Stream audio from your iOS device to the Echo device using AirPlay 2.
  • Can be grouped with Echo devices in the Alexa app.
  • DAC quality: average

Amazon Echo Dot

  • Price: around $35-50 on Amazon (Gen 3 and Gen 4)
  • Stream music services through the Echo device using voice control and/or the Amazon Alexa app. Music services include Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Tunein, and Tidal.
  • Stream audio from your iOS or Android device to the Echo device using the Amazon Alexa app and Bluetooth (must be within range)
  • Plays in sync with other Echo devices.
  • Also used to control other home automation devices compatible with Alexa.
  • DAC quality: average

Amazon Echo Link

  • Price: around $200 on Amazon. Includes an audio cable and power cable.
  • Stream music services through the Echo device using voice control and/or the Amazon Alexa app. Music services include Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Tunein, and Tidal.
  • Stream audio from your iOS or Android device to the Echo device using the Amazon Alexa app and Bluetooth (must be within range)
  • Connect an analog external source to wirelessly stream to other Echo devices
  • Plays in sync with other Echo devices.
  • DAC quality: above average. Also provides option to bypass the built-in DAC to add your own, even better DAC such as our own DAC-1.

Sonos Port

  • Price: around $450.
  • Plays in sync with other Sonos devices.
  • Stream music services through the Sonos Port using the Sonos app as well as directly from within many popular streaming services including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify, Pandora, Tunein, and Tidal.
  • Stream audio from your iOS device to the Sonos Port using Airplay 2
  • Access and play media stored on your network
  • DAC quality: above average

Bluesound Node 2i

  • Price: around $550.
  • Stream audio from your iOS device to the Node 2i using Airplay 2
  • Stream music services through the Node 2i using the BluOS Controller app as well as directly from within many popular streaming services.
  • Access and play media stored on your network
  • Dual band Wi-Fi and support for 2-way Bluetooth aptX HD.
  • DAC quality: well above average

Your home theater receiver may have one already built-in

  • Certain home theater receivers include a streamer. If your model offers an ethernet connection and advertises one or more streaming services (Spotify, Pandora, etc.), the chances are good the receiver includes a built-in streamer.
  • Connect the receiver's pre-amp or Zone 2 output to one of the source inputs on your whole-house audio system.
  • On the receiver, select the music streamer as the source for that output.
  • DAC quality: typically average


*There are other music streamers priced as high as several thousand dollars which may or may not be relevant to your needs, but for most people it is difficult to justify the higher cost for the purposes of whole-house-audio.

Please contact us if you discover a mistake with any of the information on this page and/or would like to recommend a model not already mentioned.