Being the unintended owner of some Linn speakers (the barn is kitted out with 6 pairs of wall mounted Linn Uniks), we decided to utilise the two pairs in the kitchen. It's a big space and I scouted around for something that would bring music to Ruth (who plays CDs), Izzy (who streams) and me (bit of both), as well as to feed the TV sound into.
I started by pulling out the big wad of unlabelled cabling and identifying each speaker run with a battery, labelling as I went and deciding on the sense of the layout (front, rear, left, right). I then dismounted each speaker, cleaned up the cable ends, sorted out sagging mounts and put them back up again.
Finally, what to buy to drive it all? Requirements are CD playback, network connection, streaming especially Spotify and internet radio, phones and tablets as controllers, and optical input for the TV. The output stage needs to be robust enough to drive two pairs of speakers with a combined 4 Ohm impedance. We settled on a Pioneer XC-HM86D which looks perfect for the job and features 65Wpc of class D amplifier.
It arrives today so I'll report back on how it works out.
The Pioneer is now all setup and working beautifully. These were my observations:
Setting Up and Connecting All the sockets are clearly marked. I plugged an Ethernet cable in from my BT Home Hub so didn't need the Wi-Fi capability. TV went in via optical. Speaker terminals require bare wire. The FM/DAB aerial is the usual dipole wire. Using the remote and selecting network: Ethernet just fired it into action and collected an IP via DHCP. All network functions just worked without any setting up.
CD The CD player just works with the CD controls on the remote. No titles or artwork are shown, just track numbers.
FM/DAB It tried its damnedest to receive some stations but really the signal here is too weak with the useless wire aerial. However, it doesn't matter because...
Internet Radio This works superbly, using the TuneIn service. There are hundreds of stations and categories so it's best to go through the pain of finding the stations once and then programming them into My Presets. The BBC, local and national stations we wanted were all there after a bit of searching. Station artwork and titles are displayed. I'm still looking for Radio Paradise!
Spotify Equally superb, the Pioneer is a Spotify device with no setting up required (it's all done from the controlling machine). Play Spotify from a premium account on any tablet and select the Pioneer from the blue bar at the bottom and it works, the bar turning green and the Pioneer streaming direct (even if the controlling device goes to sleep). Album artwork and titles etc. are displayed. Hi-bitrate works and sounds good (in as much as I could tell - see below).
Bluetooth This also works and allows music to be played from our phones, also showing album artwork in some cases.
Tidal/Deezer/AirPlay Not tested.
All in all, this is a slick, very nice looking and comprehensive one-box hi-fi system for the modern multi-source family.
Linn Unik I mentioned that these speakers were installed in the barn. I'm not at all surprised that the previous owners had left them behind. They sound little short of execrable. I note that they list for £150 each on some websites. I honestly wouldn't pay a tenner for them. Unadulterated shite. Sometime much later we'll replace them with some good, less expensive (!) speakers.
Does the fascia have the horrid shiny brush finish like the remote or is it matt finish? Secondly i do not want to stream anything, I cannot rely on Any internet connections around our parts. Thirdly i want to play FLAC files from an outboard Hard drive, is this possible or is the whole thing the wrong thing for what i want?