Streamers with best apps?


I tried this question on an Australian forum with no luck, so I'm hoping a more audio savvy community might do better. I currently have a Cambridge Audio CXN which as I discovered has 2 hopeless apps when you want to find classical albums saved on Tidal My Collection. So thinking of ditching the CXN and getting another streamer/server , preferably without a DAC as I will be running it through a Pure Audio Lotus DAC 5. Most reviews of streamers seem to focus entirely on sound quality but as I have discovered the apps used are of almost equal importance. I have considered an Elac Discovery DS-S101-G which is controlled by a Roon Essentials app. So first question. Does anyone know how the Essentials app lists classical albums in Tidal My Collection and does it have a search function for the albums saved? Second question what streamers can you recommend that at least are equal and preferably better than the Tidal app which does have a search function but very little logic as to how it lists classical albums. I have thought about the Bryston BDP Pi, Innous Zen mini or an Auralic streamer but know nothing about the usability of their respective apps. So anyone out there who can help.
mazian
Really good question, want to hear the answers. :)

Among those same lines, love to know who has good apps via Android. :)
I tested Aurender/Auralic/Lumin as a streamer recently at home (on iPhone/iPad )and must say Lumin has the easiest app to use , Aurender was OK but for Tidal I like Auralic( to me it’s very strange that via Tidal app, you don’t have any control over your streamer )If you go with Roon ready devices, IMHO Roon application is the best you could get right now.
Love this topic.
I only have experience with Bluesound Node 2i and "Bluos" going to my Chord Qutest via Coax.

Seems easy, elegant and intuitive to me.
Easy integration with Tidal and tons of content to choose from.

Just wish Apple Music could integrate.
I'm going to see how far I can get with Roon on my Pi. :)
I don't see how you can beat a Bluesound Node 2i.  Hook it up using 
RCA and enjoy MQA on Tidal.  Love the interface.
You could try a Cocktail Audio by Novatron. I have the X45Pro, but there are many other models depending on what you want and price. Oh, and I am from Aus too.
I find LUMIN, BluOS, and Heos to all be good. 
I don’t like PlayFi. 
Hi Mazian, I agree that the software side of streaming is incredibly important. Have you tried streaming via Chromecast with your Cambridge CXN? My understanding is that Cambridge incorporates Chromecast into their streaming hardware. Over Chromecast, you'll be using the software of the streaming service rather than the streamer. 

If you like classical music, the Idagio streaming service looks to have some of the best indexing. 

I use a Chromecast Audio with an ifi reclocker. It sounds great, but I don't know how it compares to pricier streamers.  
+2 LUMIN. I own a U1 mini and stream to an Ayre DAC.  The LUMIN unit runs Roon flawlessly, but the LUMIN app is also excellent with Tidal or Qobuz, just simpler with fewer capabilities than Roon. 
Your budget will certainly have a bearing on your choice as LUMIN and Auralic gear are far more costly than Bluesound and Elac.  Hopefully you can find dealers that will let you demo the various options. 
I would recomend Auralic. I recently upgraded from the Ariea G1 to the Aries G2. They are both great but if you can afford it I recomend the G2.

I was using a macbook pro to feed my Chord Hugo TT2 previously. I.can say without a doubt the the streamer mad a huge difference in the sound quality of my system. I was auditioning mscaler and imo the Auralic made a bigger difference in the sound. Rhe interface is great too it works with tidal, qobuz, roon, spotify, and it is airplay capable. You can also program it with a remote control so you don't need to have a tablet all the time either. My system is below for reference.

Auralic Ariea G2-> Chord Hugo TT2-> Hegel H360 -> Magico S1MKII or Abyss AB-1266 Phi TC. All of the cabling is transparent as well as the power conditioning. 
Innous Zen mini
I can't speak for a  Innous Zen mini's app.  I have an Innous Zenith MKII and it's app for setup, ripping CDs, and server management is very good to excellent not to mention it's excellent SQ.  For playing music, I use Roon; although when I first bought it I used Logitech Media Server (LMS).  With a NAD M12, I also once used the BluOS app; it's OK. 

IMHO, Roon is by far the best music management software available.  Next, I'd select LMS because it supports so many devices, the SQ is excellent, and unlike Roon you can group multiple protocols (e.g., RAAT and AirPlay) in the same zone.  LMS can be a bit challenging to setup, but once done it works very well.

I agree with the others that believe Roon to be the best music management software out there at the moment.  It is IMO well worth the price tag for the full version.  Unfortunately you are running a Cambridge device that doesn't play well with Roon.  Since you are considering a new device without a DAC there are several great ones out there that are Roon ready- Auralic, Bryston, SimAudio, LUMIN......
This may have been mentioned already and is not really a direct answer to your question; but, it may address your stated frustrations:


https://youtu.be/u6Xz-P_N_4U

I think the question you ask is very Timely, interesting, and important.  Right now, software development is lagging behind in a protean world of incredible music services leaving our gleaming electronic jewels underutilized.   
Please!  I just want a perfect noiseless streamer that will send all the music that out there to my favorite dac using software that just works.  
I don’t want to have to go through a complex workaround just to play a music file.  
I don’t want to buy your dac.
I sure don’t want to put red book cds on your machine when a 24/192 (or more over killed) version of just about any cd ever released is out there almost free. 

Maybe auralic is closest to getting it right.  But they can’t stream the world of music that’s on Amazon.  
I’m here waiting.  Playing lots of records.  Waiting. 
Another vote for the BluOS. Excellent, easy and works wonderful!
With auralic you could use airplay to stream from amazon I believe. 
Apple Music and iTunes before that are/were the gold standard. So far nothing else has come close.

I use a Lumin T2 and IMO the native software needs updating/overhauling. I'm hopeful Lumin will work with Qobuz & Tidal for a better interface. But even as is, the high res files are well worth the OS. Early days still.
wsrrsw
Apple Music and iTunes before that are/were the gold standard.
I couldn't disagree more. iTunes was bloated, restricted, cumbersome software. Once you tried something such as JRiver's Media Center, you'd never go back.

iTunes started as SoundJam. When Apple acquired it, the company actually disabled some of its functionality.
Aurender with their proprietary Conductor App...been a very happy user for 6 plus years. 
Define 'best'? So many different categories to own the title of best? Playing the odds, an app might be good in 1, or 2 areas and be mediocre in more and terrible at others too...
Sound quality, ease of use/navigation, free or pay, best in a particular genre, idle log off timetables, too many commercials, video availability, downloadable content... These are just a few categories of judgement that would be differently categorized on your priority list than say maybe mine and others. If you list say maybe 3 different categories to be best in, that would give us better parameters to abide by when making the BEST decision (lol, see what I did there in that last sentence?). 
Thanks guys for your contributions- some useful, some not so much because as far as I know Tidal is the only hi res streaming service available in Australia. Amazon HD and Qobuz are not yet available and may not be in my lifetime as I am 79. In terms of hardware most of the usual suspects were mentioned with their attendant software. However, like many streamer reviews available there was little detail about how the apps handle classical music. I don't know what "integrates well with Tidal" actually means - does it mean you can actually use the Tidal app from an iPhone? As for Roon I know it's reputation but I don't want to pay another annual subscription if I can help it as I don't want much of what Roon provides. My needs are simple, so let me pose more straightforward questions about apps only

1) How do the apps mentioned list classical albums saved in Tidal My Collection? A-Z, artists, soloists, composers etc and are the lists based on last names, first names or as I have seen the first letter that appears on the album? Listing by artist is fine for pop, rock or jazz but it tends to be more complicated for classical albums, as you have composer, soloist, orchestra or conductor to consider.  

2) Is there a search function for Tidal My Collection - not just for the whole Tidal library offering?

I don't think most software engineers have any idea about cataloguing classical music and would benefit greatly from the assistance of professional library cataloguers. If my ideal app is out there I would like to know.

Back to the actual streamers most of those mentioned are on my possible list, although I don't think Bluesound Node 2i quite cuts it even if it is good value for money. Maybe it doesn't matter if it is plugged into a good external DAC. I don't know but I'm sure someone out there has a view.

Finding a good streamer for Classical Music is well near impossible, imo.  The best classification for classical that I have seen turns out to be itunes.  I also use Bluesound OS, which looks terrible unless you compare with my latest streamer, Bryston BDP3, which has a barely useable app.
Hey Mazian, ditch Tidal for the Idagio streaming service. It has the best indexing for classical music and is available in Australia. Idagio also supports Chromecast as does your CXN. You won't have to worry about any streamer software as you'll be casting directly from the Idagio app. At least try this route before buying new hardware. 

 https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2019/07/the-best-classical-music-streaming-service-is-idagio/
Roon is the best. I happen to use it with my Innuos unit. 
At least mahler123 seems to understand the problem even if there is no solution as yet. I have never heard of Idagio but will investigate. Does anyone know at what bps rate it streams at or the size of its library? As for using Chromecast I would have thought it was a bit downmarket. I have a Chromecast attached to my TV and the sound is very average. Also re Lumin I have read elsewhere on Audiogon that it only lists albums saved by date added just like streammagic. How useful is that!??

@Mazian

The Cocktail Audio streamer I suggested, the X45 only a small part of that available models, also can come with a CD player with a Ripper function and Database to keep your sorted and CD’s backed up on a local hard dick (typically 2Tb) on board and can use Roon, Tidal, Qobus, Deezer, Napster, Spotify Connect, Amazon music and others. Plus internet radio (which opens up to a world full of classical stations (BBC). It can play from a NAS or other storage device. It has a 7" TFT colour screen to display the album cover and track playing and so on.

I was looking for a streamer with good sound, could play HD music up to 32bit/384khz, DSD, DXD, MQA, is a DAC, could play my CD’s and stored music. It also comes with a downloadable app for remote control.

I looked all over the web and this was the only player under $5k that could do everything and was a reference level player and DAC.

I had not heard of them before but after 6 months of use, I will vouch for its performance. Worth looking at. (I am also retired and am not affiliated with any product. (I was a civil engineer...)

From the above post by amg56

“...CD’s backed up on a local hard dick (typically 2TB)...”

His streamer offers more features than mine.

My experience with Idagio was that it had a very limited catalog.  For example, it may offer 5 versions of a Brahms Symphony, out of perhaps 200 currently available.  One can logically argue the necessity of having 200 versions of a piece, but if they are available on other services, it would be nice to have.  Tidal Classical offerings were described by another poster as “having been organized by a Chimp on Crystal Meth” and my trial suggested that might be an understatement.  The first movement of the Beethoven Moonlight Sonata would be followed by Dukas Sorcerer Apprentice—you get the idea.  I use Qobuz currently, which has a large catalogue and a reasonable search engine, although it can take multiple attempts to find something.
  My bigger frustration is having an App that can find CDs once burned.  The problem with Classical is that the algorithms designed for pop work terribly.
The Artist might be classified as the Composer, the Conductor, the Soloist, or the intern who fetched the recording engineer a cup of coffee.  I have better luck locating a CD on my shelves than finding it in a streaming App, so I stopped disposing of them after I burned them, which defeats the initial purpose of getting into streaming.  I get particularly frustrated with Bluesound and Bryston Manic Moose Apps because even editing the data in their app doesn’t do diddle—the program basically ignores the edits and stores it according to its own whims.  At least with iTunes, once I edited something it stayed edited.
  The best technique is to make a playlist.  This is relatively easy with Bluesound, and I had created 20 or so, but then I had to do a Factory Reset to fix a hardware issue, and it wiped out the playlists.
  I keep hoping that someone who enjoys Classical Music will invent a useful Universal App that can be used with any streamer.  Until then, I have basically gone back to CDs
@ Mazian

I agree that Chromecast, in its basic implementation, is downmarket. But I would point out that the the Chromecast hardware and the Chromecast software are different things that share the same name.

Cambridge says they now support the Chromecast software as a free download if your unit didn’t come with CC pre-installed. Because you didn’t want to purchase Roon, I figured you’d be interested in free. Chromecast works with Tidal too. You can try CC easily with your current setup. I would be interested to know whether you detect an audible difference between the CXN app and casting to the CXN directly from the Tidal app.

In a world were hardware manufacturers build their own software apps to capture market share (who wants to leave a manufacturer if it means loosing their favorited artists, songs, and playlists?), I find Chromecast refreshing. Implementing CC is relatively costless compared to programming, updating, and maintaining a separate app. Plus CC is super convenient for the end user.

I’m not married to CC. If I learn that CC is audibly inferior to other streaming softwares, I’ll start planning my next upgrade. Forum members here seem to indicate that BluOS, Lumin, and Roon have the most robust software. But right now, my priorities are inexpensive, convenient, and good sounding. A tricked out CC Audio seems to check those boxes for me.
For classical music I've found Primephonic to be a treat.  Fidelity via my Mytek BB is excellent.  I'm pretty ham-handed when it comes to the world of streaming, but I've been getting got lots of email guidance from their resident guru Marco.  As for repertoire, I haven't yet explored their opera choices but their selection of orchestral music/chamber music etc is like a trip to the classical music candy store.
Thanks classdstreamer I get the difference between Chromecast hardware and software so I will need to try and find out if Chromecast is on my CXN. However given that Chromecast is a Google product and Google and Apple don't get on will it work from an iPhone or only an android phone?
@mahler123Great pickup! One of those spell checker mishaps, but it reads well :)
The Lumin App is simple to use and does not require me to consider Roon or JRiver.  
+1 Lumin U1 mini
Upnp open home allows u to use multiple apps.....some better than others.
It’s a pity both BluO’s and Amazon HD can’t get on the same page and integrate properly together. Anyone else experience this? Anyone using the BluO’s app to stream Amazon Ultra HD is only able to stream only one track at a time before your selection just stops!! Forget about streaming a whole album! To do that you need Tidal. At least the BluO’s app integrates with Tidal well enough to allow you to do that. Think I will be going back soon...

I haven’t tried the Roon IOS app. It seems this fella opened up a real can of worms 🐛 with this thread. I’m quite disappointed in BluO’s for not having their act together when it comes to the development of their app and half baked integration with most streaming services. BluO’s doesn’t accept any responsibility and blames Amazon and of course Amazon blames BluO’s! The end user (ME) doesn’t care who’s fault it is and just wants it to work! 
Well at least Tidal works with BluO’s even if it is a rather clunky experience. 
I think Qobuz works well on the BluOS.  For me the experience is equal to using the Qobuz stand alone app on my Android phone
Somewhat clunky is right. I've worked around it some by using the Tidal phone app to do searches to save then go back to the bluos app to play them. Wish they could sort saved albums alphabetically  though like they do with saved artists.
  
I do have to state I'm reasonably pleased with the bluos app.

I've tried remote control apps from Lumin, Aurender, BluOs and DCS.  I agree with lots of folks that voted for Lumin - although the sound quality of the streamer is more important to me.  I'm thankful that DCS recently upgraded it's remote control app to Mosaic as it narrows the gap of the other mentioned apps and I find it's all that I need. It makes available a wide variety of high SQ source options such as UPnP, USB, Deezer, Qobuz, TIDAL, Radio and some low SQ options such as Spotify and Podcasts.
For years I have used a PC as my source.  I just moved to a larger office/listening room and it is not as practical.  I bought a Node 2i last week and the app is OK, not great.  Tidal integration is decent, but I find it frustrating that I can't click on an artist or album to go to that item.  You basically have to use search for everything.  I have some experience with the app on the Naim streamer and it appears better than BluOS.  I have been told by many people that Roon is the best right now.  That's my very limited 1 cent opinion.
@headspace The one work around with the lack of integration between BluOS and Amazon Music is to make all your favorite music selections in the Amazon Music app and then they will (eventually) show up in BluOS app. Seems to work better when the AM app is installed on the same device as the BlueOS app. But you can’t make favorite selections in BlueOS and have them appear in AM as you can do with BlueOS x Tidal.

From what I have read on forums, Blue Sound is not the one to blame for the lack of integration with AM as it was/is Amazon that did not share the integration specifications with the streaming device manufacturers with enough lead time to have it integrated. I have yet to hear one person say they are dropping BlueOS and Tidal because of the lack of integration with AM, it is always the opposite, they are staying with Tidal. So Amazon definitely hurt their rollout being so secretive.

I have both Tidal and Amazon Music HD hoping BlueOS comes out with a new sw update soon. In the mean time I can also stream to my DAC directly from the Amazon Music app on my Android tablet using Bluetooth.


@Mazian, Yes Chromecast will work with Tidal on both Android and iPhones. If you have at least one castable device (like the TV you mentioned), you should see the cast icon in the top right corner for most of you streaming apps. In fact, if you see that you can cast to the TV but not to the Cambridge, that probably means that you need to update the Cambridge software on their website. And like for all casting, your casting devices need to be on the same network. 
Well what can you make of all this? Basically all apps except possibly Roon are deficient in some way it seems. Bad as it is it seems the Tidal app is as good as it gets unless you want to pay for Roon.
Mazian

Perhaps I wasn’t sufficiently clear, Tidal app SUCKS with Classical which I had thought was a major interest of yours.  Every other streaming app is better 
No Mahler they are not. Cambridge Connect and Streammagic are way worse than Tidal. As I indicated Tidal is bad but at least you can search your saved albums. Incidentally I signed up for the Idagio free trial and while it seems quite good but it only has classical albums. I also play jazz and some rock.  Also there were some issues I encountered which I would hope are only prevalent for the free trial. For example I could only get standard SQ, there was no way to save albums as the heart icon just didn't appear and after each piece of music I get a sponsors message. Also communication is inadequate because when I sent a message to Idagio I got a standard message saying my queries would be addressed in 5 days
I use bubbleupnp on my Android tablet. It’s free (or<$10 if you want the ad free version) and works really great. I see people bitching about all these clunky apps all the time. It’s a professional product with great support. Honestly, I’d think it was worth it if it cost $100. Works with any streamer that uses the upnp protocol.
@mahler123

  " I also use Bluesound OS, which looks terrible unless you compare with my latest streamer, Bryston BDP3, which has a barely useable app. "

Hi there, I recently purchased a Bryston BDA-3.14 Streamer (a BDA-3 plus "Pi" Streamer in one box).  I have it hooked up and streaming fine, yes the GUI is on the ugly side, but it works for my limited searches.  I haven't created any playlists and I'm quite sure you know way more about the app "Manic Moose".  I want to add a NAS (2tb) or two or three.
My understanding is (not tested) the Bryston sees the entire NAS on the same network and will also search that as well as Qobuz which I'm using.

There is a Youtube vid, Gary from Bryston, a three part series where he goes into more detail than I wanted at the time.  You may find that helps.

Part 1 of 3:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkDPqzT9OyE

I'm guessing that you are beyond this vid, but it may help it some regard.

To the OP, I apologize for the slight hijacking of your thread.

Regards, Barts 


@cal3713 do you see any benefit to using Bubble if I only stream from Qobuz? My understanding is that Bubble might work best for those who play music from multiple sources. 
OP--Interesting  you would say that Roon has features you don't want when it's Roon that has exactly the features you do want and is the best library management app/software out there.  Pay the $119 a year--you can import all Tidal playlists and it manages them better than Tidal.
And yes it works on an iPhone
All I'm asking for is that classical albums in particular are listed with some degree of logic and that I am able to search for albums I have saved. I don't think I should have to spend $119 per annum to get that do you?