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iFi Neo streamer brings versatility, performance

iFi neo streamer

iFi Neo Streamer is the latest device to join iFi’s mid-level NEO Series is a music streamer/DAC that delivers class-leading versatility and performance

*From the iFi news release

Southport, England –Digital streaming is now the primary method by which music is consumed, whether from online services or locally stored files. There are various ways to invite network music streaming into one’s home, from Wi-Fi-equipped smart speakers tha tcan cost less than £50, to more expensive all-in-one streaming systems, to multi-component separates systems. As with physical formats like CD and vinyl, building a system from well-chosen separates–for example, matching a music streamer with an amp and a pair of speakers–will achieve the best sound quality.

iFi’s new NEO Stream is built from the ground up to deliver optimal versatility and sonic performance. It combines the latest version of iFi’s exceptional network streaming engine with a superbly engineered DAC stage; combine it with the amp and speakers of your choice and it will deliver a level of audio streaming performance previously unattainable without spending much more than its £1,299 price tag.

The NEO Stream is distinctly different from other music streamers on the market, thanks to its clean-sheet design and raft of proprietary tech. Most manufacturers ‘buy in’ streaming platforms and hardware to incorporate in their music streamers; this means there is little to choose between them in terms of functionality and performance. Some tie you down to a ‘walled garden’ approach, limiting you to a specific control app and/or partnering equipment. The NEO Stream completely removes these limitations, both functionally and sonically. It’s the ideal streamer for passionate music lovers who want to access their music through their choice of control app or music platform, and always experience exceptional sound quality, without the exorbitant price tags of other high-end streamers.

NEO by name –and by nature

The NEO Stream is the second device to join the NEO Series–iFi’s mid-level mains-powered range for home use, sitting between the ZEN Series and Pro Series. The name ‘NEO’ was chosen because the first device in the series, the NEO iDSD, featured an all-new design and several features new to its product category. The NEO iDSD –a DAC/headphone amp with USB, S/PDIF and Bluetooth connectivity –remains current, but while it may be tempting to assume the NEO Stream is a NEO iDSD with a streaming module added and the headphone amp removed, this assumption would be inaccurate.

The NEO Stream’s desktop-size chassis and aluminium casework clearly resembles the NEO iDSD. But while its circuitry builds on existing iFi designs, its internal architecture and attendant attributes are unlike anything else on the market. This is a new kind of music streamer, built by passionate enthusiasts, expressly for passionate enthusiasts.

Open-source architecture –audio streaming unleashed

Many audio streaming devices lock users into a specific platform. That is not necessarily a problem, assuming the facilities on offer are in line with the user’s requirements and they are happy with the interface. But, if they want to select their preferred streaming platforms and apps without restriction, with the ability to adapt and evolve as requirements change, a device with an open-source architecture offers clear advantages.iFi has developed its own streaming engine, purpose built to deliver flexibility and performance. Its open-sourcenature, built on a powerful quad-core ARM Cortex processor and Linux-based operating system,enables it to evolve over time, whilst ensuring users are not locked into a specific platform. You choose the way you want stream, select yourfavourite app or streaming platform, and rest assured thatmusic will be delivered at the highest possible sound quality, however your system is configured.Left The NEO Stream’s neat, compact form belies the sophistication of its purpose-built, high-performance circuitry and versatile design

3Crucially, iFi’s streaming engine has been designed from the ground up for the sole purpose of high-quality audio streaming. The hardware has been built to deliver the best possible sound quality, working in harmony with iFi’s in-house software development. From the device drivers, to the kernel (the heart of the operating system), to the shell (which interfaces with the kernel), to the applications and the user interface, everything is fully optimised for seamless operation and excellent sonicperformance.The firmwareat the heart of this bespoke streaming engine was first utilised inthe ZEN Stream–a ‘streaming transport’ that launched in 2021 –and has evolved significantly since. ZEN Stream users have already benefitted from updates to improve performance and functionality; the NEO Stream combines the latest version of this firmwarewith enhanced hardware to deliver something truly special.

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