London - It might not quite be worth a thesis, but there's been an interesting evolution in the way in which we've adapted digital music players to work in a hi-fidelity world. Almost as early as the iPod became ubiquitous in the early-mid Noughties iPod docks flooded onto the market. Some were battery-powered, cheap and plasticky, some, were from sound specialists such as Bose and Bowers and Wilkins, boasted high quality sound, even working with the condensed MP3 format.
But what about those who'd invested in amazing stereo systems? Well, the obvious option was to buy some decent cabling and plug your device in through the audio jack. Fine, but if you're using a smartphone or an iPad for online streaming services such as Spotify, chances are you might not want to have your phone tethered to your hi-fi. So whaddabout a Bluetooth speaker then? Great - but it means you're restrained to a new speaker (like the lovely Ruark MR1 system). So, if you own a great-but-analogue hi-fi, or a nice dock without wireless capabilities, here's your answer.
How does it work?
The Streamport by Bayan Audio circumvents most of these problems by connecting to your stereo and then picking up a sound signal via Bluetooth 4.0 (which will work with most post-2007 devices) or near-field communication (NFC). It's beyond easy to set up, either plug in RCA inputs or an audio jack (both are provided) to your hi-fi's output and plug them in to the device. Switch your stereo to its auxiliary function and pair it with Bluetooth or NFC. You can then wirelessly play either music via your digital library on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet through your big, old, speakers.
My preference was to run Spotify Premium on my iPad, connect it to my battered old JVC hi-fi (with a MiniDisc drive!) and wander around the room like Patrick Bateman. Except I didn't play “Sussudio”.
Does it work?
With ease. My only qualm was that it might look a bit messy with the mains cable and audio cable, but you could probably hide it somewhere around the back without disrupting your signal (there's a 10m range). Another shame was that it runs on the mains, so I can't use it in my car (though keep an eye out for Paul Cocksedge's elegant The Vamp - currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, which can do this through batteries).
Is it worth the money?
It's £60 (about R800), which does seem like a fair whack for what is essentially an adaptor, but if that's the price of modernising a vintage of modern-analogue hi-fi system you splodged a load of money on, then it's probably well worth it. There are other, cheaper devices which do the same thing - such as Logitech's Wireless Speaker adapter - and the more expensive, but handsome Jongo A14OB - so it will depend on just how pure you want your sound to be. But as a mid-high range product, it's certainly worth a look.
Power: USB mini B to mains
Dimensions: 74mm x 65mm x 26mm
Input: 3.3mm or RCA audio - The Independent