Item Audio
Verastarr, Wired 4 Sound, Burson Audio, KingRex, Adam Audio, Antelope Audio, HiVi, Swans, Locus Cables

Docks, Streamers & Media Players

Only noughts and ones, right? Such a plethora of ways to spit audio data at an amplifier: phone, tablet, iPod, media player, network streamer, laptop, desktop – all viable front ends for today's digital system. But they certainly don't sound the same: underestimate the complexity of digital transports at your peril.

Wadia, Onkyo, Pure, Sonos and Squeezebox all offer products that do the job, but in typical Item Audio fashion, we're considerably less interested in mass-market offerings than the efforts of those who fix noisy power supplies, reclock jittery output and generally fettle stuff for optimal audiophile performance – in fact, ridiculously good sound is now obtainable from these tiny, unassuming devices. The future starts here.

One final caveat: a number of these products have analog (RCA/phono) outputs. These are for emergency use only. For maximum listening pleasure, simply deploy these transports as library managers and bit transporters: even an £89 off-board DAC will outperform the D-A stage inside the average dock or streamer.

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