I’m writing from Trieste, Italy.
I was looking for a network player, a device capable of accessing both my NAS where I store my music and online streaming services. I want to be able to control the network player using a PC or a smartphone, preferably with a dedicated app. And I didn’t want to spend a fortune on this, I was looking for something more budget-friendly because I’m not an audiophile, I don’t have a big budget to spend, and I lack the hardware and expertise of those who consider themselves as such.
After searching and researching, I found several solutions, some better than others, but as you know, on internet there are a wide range of opinions… What I absolutely didn’t want to buy was a streamer, a device that receives data from a smartphone or PC, because if I receive a phone call, the music stops or some sounds may get transmitted to the device as well.
In the end, I made a decision. I found a good offer and decided to purchase the Cambridge Audio AXN10. I’ve never made a more regrettable decision… Not because the device didn’t sound good, but rather due to various connection issues, the primitive management app, and awkward queue management without functions like shuffle or random play.
I returned it back immediately and started to search again a second time; for me all other alternatives to the AXN10 had their own issues. So, I decided that the best possible solution was to get a Mini PC connected to a DAC (maybe with Bluetooth capabilities, just in case). There are many choices for this as well. In the end, I used an old Lenovo M93q and connected it to an Xduoo xq-50 pro 2 DAC with a dedicated linear power supply. Could I have chosen a Topping or something better? Maybe, but a Topping with Bluetooth capabilities must be at least a D50s, and as I mentioned before, there are many discussions both for and against it. However, the choice I made works well for my ears.
And what about OS and software to install on the Mini PC? I definitely didn’t want Windows (I don’t want to use a monitor, and I don’t want to deal with constant updates…), so Linux is the right direction… and, of course, I think Volumio is the best choice.