With these devices you stream your music

A music streamer is quite a broad term. There are a lot of devices with which you can play music from online sources. Think, for example, of a computer, smartphone, game console, Bluetooth receiver, wireless speaker or network player. In this article we look for the best music streamers for your situation, so that you can enjoy Spotify and the likes to the fullest.

Tip 01: Headphones

Do you have a rather specific taste in music that other family members can't appreciate? Or do you usually just listen to songs on the go? In that case, you don't have to play Spotify through speakers. A smartphone (or tablet/computer) with headphones connected is sufficient. Download the app from Spotify or another music service to your smartphone and start playback. If you find cables difficult, then a bluetooth headset is worth considering. Your smartphone transmits the music wirelessly to the listening device. Furthermore, a copy with active noise suppression is nice if you regularly listen to music in busy environments, for example on the train or on the street. An inconspicuous measuring microphone in the housing picks up ambient sounds, after which the headphones produce opposite audio frequencies. This technique cancels out the ambient sounds for the listener, so that you no longer hear other people chatting, for example. Headphone manufacturers use the English term noise canceling for this. When purchasing headphones, also pay attention to the battery capacity, the carrying weight and the sound quality.

Tip 02: Smart TV

Maybe you already have a suitable device in the living room to stream music without noticing. You can easily expand the functionality of the smart TV by installing apps. Of course, video services such as Netflix, YouTube and NPO Start are obvious, but did you know that most devices also support music services? For example, you use Spotify on recent smart TVs from LG, Philips, Samsung, Sharp and Sony. The operation differs per device. For example, you can install a Spotify app on recent smart TVs from 2015 or later, after which you select favorite songs with the remote control. Another possibility is that you use the Spotify app on your smartphone to 'pass on' music to your television. For good sound reproduction, it is worth connecting your television to an audio system, because the built-in TV speakers sound rather tinny. Connection can be analog or digital. For digital sound transmission, most models have an optical output. Alternatively, you can return the sound via an HDMI cable (see box). In addition to Spotify, the music services Deezer and Napster can also be found on certain smart TVs.

Audio return channel

Recent smart TVs support the audio return channel (arc) feature. It is advantageous that you send the sound of TV apps back via the HDMI cable, so that you do not have to connect a separate audio cable. You connect the HDMI output of a receiver or soundbar to the HDMI input of the television with a suitable cable. You then activate the arc function on both the audio system and the smart TV. This option is usually hidden somewhere in the menu. As soon as you play a song via the Spotify app on your television, you will hear the music from the speakers of the audio system.

Tip 03: Game computer

You can easily use certain game computers as a music streamer. A big advantage is that such systems are often already connected to an audio system, so that the songs sound good. On a PlayStation 3 or 4 you will find Spotify in the main menu, while on an Xbox One you first install the app from the Microsoft Store. You use the game controller or the app on a smartphone to select a fun playlist. You can even switch off the television, after which the music continues to play. Furthermore, on a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, you can even listen to songs while playing video games. Unfortunately, there are no music services available on Nintendo game consoles.

A PlayStation 3/4 or Xbox One is fine as a music streamer

Tip 04: PC or laptop

Of course you can just as easily use the PC or laptop to stream music. One drawback is that a notebook's built-in speakers usually don't sound too good. And also speakers are often connected to PCs that do not excel in quality. So perhaps an upgrade is necessary. Fortunately, there are excellent PC speakers available for good sound. The Chinese brand Edifier, for example, manufactures very good products for an affordable price. Alternatively, you can also connect the computer to a receiver or soundbar, for example via an analog or optical sound cable. This is not very practical, by the way, because you have to store the PC or laptop somewhere near the audio system due to the limited cable length. You can of course also connect (wireless) headphones to a PC or laptop. You can use almost any music service via a browser, such as Deezer, Tidal, Napster, JUKE and of course Spotify. You simply surf to the correct internet address to play the songs. Spotify also has its own desktop program to play the songs. This program works under Windows, macOS and some Linux operating systems.

Tip 05: Network receiver

A network receiver is a very elegant solution for listening to music services. You don't have to switch on an extra device for retrieving audio streams. In addition, many people connect relatively good speakers to a receiver, which logically benefits the audio quality. The amplifier communicates with music servers on the Internet via a wireless or wired network connection. Spotify in particular is available for many network receivers. Usually you use a mobile app to choose the music you want. Some more expensive systems offer direct access, so you can dial the numbers on the device itself. Are you looking for a suitable network receiver for using Spotify? Always check in the specifications whether the device supports this music service. NAD, Denon, Onkyo, Yamaha and Harman Kardon, among others, develop suitable products. In addition to receivers, the better home cinema sets and sound bars also have a network function for streaming music. By the way, always install new firmware updates for sound equipment, because sometimes manufacturers add support for music services via this route. Those who prefer to use a music service other than Spotify can also consider a receiver with support for Deezer or Tidal.

Spotify Connect

Many audio manufacturers mention support for Spotify Connect in their specifications, but what does that actually mean? Audio systems and smart TVs with Spotify Connect independently stream music from an online music server. Although you use a smartphone to select the desired music, the audio streams do not come from this mobile device. The smartphone therefore only functions as a remote control. Compared to a Bluetooth connection, you limit the battery consumption of the mobile device. In addition, you are not bothered by distance limits and your smartphone remains available for incoming calls without the music playback stuttering. However, some Spotify Connect devices do require a Premium subscription. That costs 9.99 euros per month.

Tip 06: Bluetooth

Does your smart TV or audio system not support Spotify (Connect), but does it have a built-in Bluetooth adapter? In that case, you can stream songs from another Bluetooth device, such as a suitable smartphone, tablet or laptop. You are then not dependent on which music services the playback equipment supports. After all, you can decide for yourself which online music source you use via the web and mobile apps. There are also disadvantages, because when using bluetooth you have to deal with a distance limit of roughly ten meters. For example, if you walk to the garden with a smartphone, there is a chance that the connection will be lost. You can also easily add Bluetooth to a traditional audio system by connecting a suitable receiver to it. Examples of this are the Logitech Bluetooth Audio Adapter (39.99 euros) and the Maxxter ACT-BTR-03 discussed below. Think carefully about how you want to connect the receiver. The cheapest models only have analog outputs, while more expensive models are often also equipped with an optical S/PDIF output. If you value high sound quality, it is best to choose a model with aptx support. This bluetooth protocol offers favorable compression, which makes the songs sound better. The condition is that you use high-quality music files and a smartphone with aptx support for the audio streams.

Tip 07: Chromecast Audio

Instead of a Bluetooth receiver, there is another affordable solution for using classic audio systems as a music streamer. The Chromecast Audio from Google costs only 39 euros and can be connected directly to any amplifier as a sound source. The manufacturer supplies a 3.5mm audio cable as standard for this. If the audio system only contains RCA inputs, you can solve this problem with a 3.5mm adapter cable with two RCA plugs. The compact device is connected to the wireless home network, allowing it to independently retrieve audio streams from the internet. On a smartphone or tablet, you choose a suitable music service and point to a nice playlist. For example, you use Spotify, Deezer or Tidal. Some devices also have a built-in Chromecast Audio module, such as certain active speakers and receivers.

Tip 08: Wireless speaker

Active speakers have been on the rise in recent years. These are loudspeakers that already contain an amplifier. In most cases, you can connect these devices smoothly to the (wireless) home network, so that they can serve as an excellent music streamer. An advantage is of course that you do not have to use a separate receiver with speakers. It saves space and there are price-friendly models for sale. You place an active speaker somewhere, after which you use a mobile app to control the device. That way you stream the songs using your favorite music service. Certain manufacturers specialize in developing active speakers, such as Sonos, Bluesound, Raumfeld and HEOS by Denon. In addition, other renowned audio brands also develop excellent active loudspeakers, including Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Naim, Harman Kardon and Bang & Olufsen. Consider carefully whether the speaker has enough power to 'fill' the intended space. So don't place a small speaker in a large room. Also take into account the available connection options for connecting external audio equipment, for example a CD player or turntable. Many models also have a USB port, so you can connect an external hard drive or USB stick with music files.

Multiroom speakers

Active speakers are also known as multi-room speakers. As the English name implies, you use these speakers to listen to music in multiple rooms. For this you need different speakers, receivers and music streamers that communicate with each other via the home network. With the help of an app you determine which songs you play in which room. For example, you can play a Spotify playlist simultaneously in the living room, kitchen and garage, provided that multi-room equipment is set up in these rooms. To listen to music in multiple rooms, it is usually necessary to purchase devices from the same audio brand. Sonos, Bluesound and HEOS by Denon specialize in this.

Tip 09: Network player

You can also connect a network player to your audio system. That component is connected to the internet and then plays the songs from online music servers. Luxury network players have their own user environment to choose the desired music, but most devices are controlled using a mobile app. Check beforehand how you want to connect a network player to the amplifier. With a classic audio system, an analog connection is the obvious choice. If the amplifier is a more recent one, a digital S/PDIF connection (optical and/or coaxial) may also be possible. See also how you connect the network player to the internet. A wired connection is always preferred. Is there no network cable available nearby? In that case, buy a product with an integrated WiFi module. The Sonos Connect (399 euros) and the HEOS Link HS2 discussed below are two examples of well-known network players.

A network player bridges the gap between a classic audio system and online music services

Three buying suggestions

You can effortlessly use just about any network device as a music streamer. Don't have suitable equipment at home yet? The products below are worth considering.

Maxxter ACT-BTR-03

A bluetooth adapter is a very affordable method to prepare an older audio system for the reception of music streams. This copy of budget chain Action costs barely eight euros. You connect this small device as a source to the amplifier via two RCA plugs or a 3.5 mm plug. Thanks to a battery of 250 mAh, no mains power is required; handy in case there is no socket available anymore. A full battery offers a playing time of about six hours. The supplied cables for connection to the amplifier are very short, so check carefully whether this is an objection with your audio system. The ACT-BTR-03 does not take up much space, because the box measures only 6 × 3.6 × 1.5 centimeters.

Price: € 7,99


If you have an excellent audio system without a network function, you don't just trade it in. The HEOS Link HS2 bridges the gap between your classic stereo set and online music services. You can connect this compact network player to the amplifier as an audio source. This can be analog or digital. You can also connect the device to the internet via Ethernet or WiFi. Using the HEOS app on the smartphone, you can stream music from well-known services such as Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, JUKE, Napster and SoundCloud. You can also use this network player in combination with other HEOS multi-room equipment. Finally, there is also a Bluetooth adapter and you can play audio files from connected storage carriers via the USB port.

Price: € 399,-

Yamaha RX-V485

The Japanese concern Yamaha has been known for years for developing affordable receivers. The RX-V485 is a recent example of this. It is a 5.1-channel receiver to which you can connect all kinds of audiovisual equipment. For network purposes, the device has Ethernet and a WiFi adapter. As for the support of online music services, this product supports Spotify, Deezer and Tidal, among others. You decide which songs you want to stream via a smartphone or tablet. You can also play music via a Bluetooth connection as an alternative. The Yamaha RX-V485's rated output power is 80 watts per channel.

Price: € 479,-

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