Special Mention: Company of the Decade: APPLE
Airfoil from Rogue Media
Note 1: I should give a shout out to Sonos for their multi-room options, but I never bought into that ecosystem. I was always worried about their longevity and didn’t want to spend a fortune on devices that could get bricked if they went under. Also, for years, their speakers and boxes were too expensive compared to Airplay devices. I just never saw it is a decent value. I do think they have filled in many holes over the years and brought their speakers down in price, but if you compare it to Airplay which was already built into my 3 receivers from 3 different companies, adding the $250 Sonos Connect to the system for streaming which was already had built in, didn’t make good financial sense. I will still give them credit for being ahead of the curve for multi-zone options. Though, they didn’t make this list.
Audyssey MultEQ XT32
Note 2: I am not blind to the Raspberry Pi and the numerous little audiophile offshoots that can be fun to use for some people. I still feel that the Mac Mini is a better mainstream off the shelf solution for most people even though they cost a lot more. That being said, these cool little devices just barely missed my list. If this article was more about great nerdy options for those wanting great sound on a budget, I probably would have added it.
While Roon's owner discussed some issues with DLNA that are valid, I would still rather have support than not. In my bedroom system, for example, my Marantz can stream Qobuz at 24/192. I do have an occasional hiccup in the system, but not enough to make me want to shut down the option. When it works, which is the vast majority of the time, the sound is amazing. Roon definitely has mastered how to use metadata and has a beautiful iOS remote app, however, Audirvana and their remote app get the job of playing music done even if it doesn’t have the same level of metadata-goodness. It is really just a great way to improve sound from a computer with a much smaller cash layout, while also supporting a technology that must of us already use.
Note 3: I should mention Casting in this article, so here it is. The reason I don’t consider it top ten is because of the discontinuation of the Chromecast Audio device. It was really the best way to get great sound from Casting and with it gone, this tech evaporated from my list. Also, compared to Bluetooth and AirPlay, it is severely limited in the number of services and devices supported.
Note 2: I should mention Casting in this article, so here it is. The reason I don’t consider it top ten is because of the discontinuation of the Chromecast Audio device. It was really the best way to get great sound from Casting and with it gone, this tech evaporated from my list. Also, compared to Bluetooth and AirPlay, it is limited in the number of services supported.
The Wrap Up
Have a great new decade!