Looking for advice on options from folk who may have been in my situation.
I have a SuperUniti with Neat Iota Alphas for my main system, the one-box system with diminutive floorstanders is ideal for my small apartment and has a high WAF.
I now would like to listen to headphones on the opposite side of the living room from the SU but don’t want to run a cable across the floor or around the room mainly due to zero WAF. My only source is a Synology NAS and Asset uPnP server which is hardwired to the SU (the apartment has structured cabling).
My first thought is to use a UnitiQute that I happen to have laying around as streamer/headphone amp. However I have read that UQ headphone output isn’t up to much, there a better solution that is also reasonably cost-effective?
Some portable players are UPnP streamers in their own right, so can access music on your NAS. My Sony player does this very well, and I believe some A&K players can too. Obviously they have their own internal storage too. Perhaps something pocket sized would have the required WAF, although you would need to make sure it was able to drive your headphones properly.
I was also going to suggest a DAP which can access your NAS via WiFi as a UPnP server.
I have had a couple of A+K, the latest being a Kann Alpha. Superb quality sound, able to drive all sorts of good headphones, and the portability might be useful to you in other ways. It streams Tidal (for example) very effectively too. Not especially cheap but there are less expensive models with the AK Connect service, basically all those with WiFi built in I think. The original Kann is now superceded and some deals out there make it good value I would say. I had one before the Alpha and it was pretty good.
I have a first gen 'Qute in my office. I have occasionally used the headphone out socket but it is pretty ordinary. Not terrible but better ways of making a portable headphone source I would imagine. Even a pretty cheap dedicated headphone amp was better, and the AK Alpha is several classes up.
Thanks BruceW, this sounds like a sensible route to pursue. I am new to headphone listening so would greatly appreciate other thoughts in addition to Astell & Kern. In the meantime, will check out some prices!
Thanks ChrisSU, do you know of any others in addition to the Astell & Kern? From my quick search, it isn’t easy to narrow down portables that can also stream using wifi. A question - which Sony do you use, and is it wifi or does it rely on bluetooth?
Thanks NogBadTheBab, unfortunately the NAS is in a different room mainly due to the WAF. I could move it but there is no network point on the listening side of my living room, so that would mean running an ethernet cable around the room. A wifi solution would be ideal or else I have a pair of powerline adapters that I could experiment with if that is a way forward.
Quick search showed that several Sony, Fiio and iBasso DAPs have WiFi and can run streaming apps but I would suggest having a conversation with a good dealer like audiosanctuary who are experts, and nice people too. They might do a deal with some headphones too. Note I have not gone into the specs to see if these marques act as UpnP servers too.
I’d avoid a Bluetooth connection to the source unless you have to. Always degrades sound quality.
What is your budget for a possible DAP and headphones? I am sure the experienced folk here can suggest options. Closed or open back?
If WAF stands for what I think I really hate the expression by the way!
Hi, mine is a Sony NW-ZX2 which I bought a few years ago, mainly because I spend a lot of time away from home. So I use it to store a copy of the music on my NAS, and can also access Tidal, Qobuz etc. over WiFi.
At home it will find my server over WiFi and play from that too. Not what I bought it for, but perhaps a neat solution for you.
Thanks Bruce, I am now based on the west coast of Canada and not so easy to speak to or buy from a dealer in the UK. Is there an alternative term to wife-acceptance-factor? I would be happy if you could find a substitute that most people would understand!
You raise a good point about the streaming app, I am partial to having my albums organised alphabetically by artist and showing album art at the very top level of the tree. Sort of like a old-fashioned record shop. I would trade a smidgen of SQ for a nice UX like this.
Another option is to use an iPhone. Again, you can use its built in storage, but there’s an app called VLC that can access Asset on your NAS and play music from there.
An Audioquest Dragonfly would give you decent sound quality out of an iPhone (or an iPad or computer) although you need an adapter to connect it.