I'm still very confused with all these streamers and rendered. After reading the Omnia's manual, I'm still not sure how it's going to work for me. Hope I'm not crashing this thread or writing out of context here. I'm currently using a laptop with winmediacenter, connected to dac 10 using USB. I'm looking for a component that will allow me to store my music and play it using a remote control or from a phone or a tablet without having the laptop connected. Is the Omnia the one?? If not does Nuprime has a component that does that?
Your question is very welcome and will help us to create a whole FAQ section on wireless audio.
The answer to your question is "it depends on your performance requirement". Let me explain here.
Lets go through some basic terminology (I am writing the FAQ as I compose this reply):Media Server
- It reads locally connected hard drive or network storage device for the music library and can send the decodced music format in PCM or DSD via physical USB, optical, coaxial or ethernet cable, or WiFi to the receiving end. All the so called media servers on the market are either Windows, Linux (Synology is also a customized version of Linux) or Android. They are all "computer". The media server is generally a DLNA server where DLNA is an industry standard. Apple has its own iTune server format. There are some variations in the DLNA formats (such as album, artist, etc) but we don't need to go into these here.Streamer
- this is technically a DLNA renderer but generally called a receiver.
So now you can put together the basic system: A controller (App on phone or tablet, or software running on computer) can locally or remotely control (ie. communciate) the server and streamer. It can browse the server for music and then ask the server to send the decoded music to the receiver. But there are more ways that music can flow from one place to another. Streaming services have their own Apps (Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, etc) that run on PC or mobile devices to send music from the cloud to your receiver. Obviously your mobile devices (they are all "computer") can also send local music from phone to receiver.
Just think of all the physical devices as "computer". Think of media server as a piece of software that retrieve local or network music. Think of streamer as the software that receives music. And think of Controller or Player as the software that "talk" to all these devices, including the stream services that reside in the cloud. Now we strip away all the jargon and confusing terminologies.
One last thing before I answer your question: Since media server and streamer are software, so they can BOTH co-exist on the same physical device. This is a very important concept. That's why some "streamer" can serve and receive msuic. And in some cases a single software (such as the Windows or JRiver Media Center) is both a server and receiver.
Ok, now we can discuss your setup. If you have a large library of DSD music, then using a PC (Windows or Mac) to connect via USB cable to DAC offers the best performance.
If not, then you can use a media server (hey, remember that it is still a computer in disguise, but with customised hardware such as better power supply etc). You can use Omnia S1, Raspberry Pi, Synology, or all sorts of so called media server to serve up your music libary (resides on a hard disk that is connected to the server device). Or you can still keep on using your PC or Mac.
Why use Omnia S1 ?
1) The main difference between Omnia S1 and all other media server is that it can run standard streaming services App like Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz etc on it. Oh, youtube too. You can not do that with Raspbery Pi or Synology and other media servers. Well, WIndows or Mac PC can do that too. This is important because the hardware no longer depends on the "mercy" of the streaming services. It is well known that Spotify has stoppped supporting those AV receivers that have built in service. The streaming services (Apple, Amazon, Spotify, Tidal, Quobuz etc) all want to control the user interface.
What if you say I don't care about running App on Omnia S1, I just want a device that can serve up my music? Then read #2 below.
2) Omnia S1 has a custom hardware that optimises the decoding, buffering and streaming of music. And it has the NuPrime styling and matches the 9 series. If you don't care about this, then you either go back to PC or buy Synology or other media servers.
Disclosure: Omnia S1 gives better performance when serving local music than straming App, and this is not due to the music format. Given the same format (CD quality for example), local or network music goes through Omnia renderer and custom audio firmware. The streaming App gets the music from the cloud and go through standard Anroid audio firmware so it won't sound as good. Illustration:
a) Spotify music from cloud --> Spofity app on Omnia S1 --> standard Android audio firmware --> output to DAC
b) Local or network music --> Omnia Renderer on Omnia S1 --> custom Android audio firmware --> output to DAC
We are working on replacing the entire Android audio firmware but that's a lot of work. Then a) and b) will have the same performance given the same music format.
Some of you technical savy guys might ask how can wireless be the same as local network ? Because Omnia S1 has large local buffer on the motherboard.
Omnia S1 connected to a small LCD display, with wireless keyboard and mouse. You need the display whenever you want to run the straming apps or administer the device. This allows Omnia S1 to function without a tablet or phone. You can run the streaming app and play music all day long without looking for your phone to control it. This is convenient if you have a household with several people sharing the music system.
Omnia S1 is connected by coaxial cable to DAC-10 for PCM 24bit/384kHz or DSD64 music. Omnia S1 i2S can send up to DSD1024 but you need a high end DAC such as Evo DAC with I2S input to decode (even Evo can only do DSD512).
You can use any DLNA compatible controller/Player (such as Bubble uPnP) to control Omnia S1 from tablet or phone. Nuprime app will come later, around October.
Note that you can't use Spotify/Tidal etc app on your phone to send streaming music from phone to Omnia S1. You need to run the streaming app on Omnia S1 instead. This is not the purpose of Omnia S1. NuPrime Omnia WR ($329 MSRP) is a streamer/receiver scheduling for October release that allows you to stream Spotify etc from phone to Omnia WR (it also comes with Bluetooth 5.0 for convenient)
Since Omnia S1 is a device with server and streamer software on it, you can stream from Omnia S1 to Omnia S1, each having different music library.