Showing posts with label Podcast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Podcast. Show all posts

iFi Audio NEO Stream... Reviewed!

Before I jump in, shout out to the iFi audio team for sending over this product for review.

Build Quality + Ease of setup: In terms of quality, as soon as you hold this product in your hands... you feel the quality of the build without question. The NEO Stream has some weight to it despite its neat compact form. Even the OptiBox has the same thick aluminum body as the NEO Stream and has a similar design.

The ports are stable, and nothing feels loose (no wiggles here)... which is great for a nice solid connection, and I love the clickiness of the knob when you turn it (feels almost like a really nice combination lock on a safe).

You're able to position the NEO Stream in two ways, flat down with the rubber feet that came packaged with the product, or... standing up by way of placing it on the sturdy aluminum base. In terms of the quality, I believe the iFi Audio team takes pride in the product quality + presentation and even placed this thick rubber wedge over the wifi antennae port to avoid it being compromised because of damage. 

The same applies to the SilentLine retina-grade TFT screen, it has a screen protector on it, and as you'll see in the unboxing below... the padding is even thick and durable in the package... so your product is safe and sound en route (unless something just supernaturally crazy happens during shipment).

The quality doesn't stop there, because the power supply is also solid. This particular plug is the iFi iPower X low-noise power supply that removes electrical noise due to the potential interference from other devices. You'd be surprised of the type of interference you can get from one device to the next, and extreme audiophiles can tell.

I won't lie, in terms of the setup... the OptiBox would've thrown me for a bit of a loop without the instructions, so I'm including them in this review for you. iFi did a great job with the step-by-step instructions not only for the ethernet setup but also the wifi setup... and they're both super easy.

As you see, the back of the iFi NEO Stream, you notice the various options for connection. Below is the video to Wi-Fi Setup (my connection status is white), which I'm currently using with a temporary RCA connection. I'm going to totally switch up my connection once I find or order additional cables. So the current setup is just temporary. I'm wavering between using a 4.4mm cable or AES (for a long-term connection). No need to follow my desired setup if you grab this product, go with the connection that works best for you.

On the digital side, I connected via the USB output to USB-C. You can switch back and forth in the settings.

It's great to have the wifi option, because if you don't have the option of going hardwired... or you simply need that port for another device, you're good to go. If you prefer 5GHz, just make sure that your device isn't that far away from the wifi. For those who don't know: 5GHz delivers faster speeds, but... it doesn't have the reach of the 2.4GHz connection.

Sound: In terms of sound, you get some really nice sound separation without the meshing of sounds (I will give more on this in the next section). Hi-Res audio isn't necessarily a concrete term, because there are no specific defining standards, but... most products labeled as Hi-Res Audio often deliver quality that exceeds cd-quality audio. 

CD quality is 16-bit with a 44.1kHz sample rate.

Hi-Res audio is 24-bit or higher (i.e. 32-bit w/ a 384 kHz sample rate). The NEO Stream supports 32-bit/768kHz PCM.

I'm not an extreme audiophile, but... I have a deep appreciation for great audio, and I think a good portion of people are the same way. They might be able to shrug off the output from a decent pair of headphones or shelf speakers, but... when the sound is hitting in a high-quality way... you get a different reaction because the enjoyment is on another level (the audio is clean).

Loud and rich are two different things. Live in concert won't give you the same feel as the studio, but there's nothing wrong with the experience for what it's worth... it just doesn't sound as good most of the time. At times the speakers are just on full blast at some concerts, and you can't really appreciate the various aspects of the music being performed. This is a similar feeling I have when the volume is high and the quality is low or... average at best from speakers or headphones.

That's the long way of saying the sound separation is quite noticeable with the NEO Stream and it greatly increased my enjoyment. I listened to a variety of audio, including:

Gerald Albright - What You See Is What You Get

Blu + You Podcast Episodes

Listening to episodes of the Blu + You Podcast through the NEO Stream, sounded like I was listening to a live recording taking place. That was freaking cool, and while listening to Gerald Albright's track... I got an even deeper appreciation for his talent on sax and in addition to the other instruments being used in the studio (how can I describe it other than being... clean?). I'm excited to replace the RCA cables... and I'm probably going to go with a 4.4mm cable. Wait until I get into the specs, I found out the why behind it the great audio.

When it comes to the lows, mids, and highs... nothing jumped out as far as bringing more oomph (the bass didn't swallow up any of the other sounds), there was a balance. When it comes to the actual music streaming, you can use various options like... Tidal, YouTube Music, Qobuz, Signalyst, Roon (which works with Tidal, and Qobuz), DLNA, AIO (which is the setting I have), iFi Audio app, and Spotify... which is what I used to play the podcast & music. In the image, you see here, I have the music playing through "SDGT-IFI'S STREAMER".

The iFi Audio app gives you access to a slew... of different radio stations, your own server, music you have on your phone, connected storage, etc. It still needs some work, it's a rigid app, and but when you check out the radio... you will be surprised of all the categories there are. There's even anime radio, and comedy.

By the way, anything you play on the NEO Stream... will appear on the screen. As you see, there's a thumbnail of the Rock Antenna radio station. (I wasn't listening to Nickleback, but it's all good.)

In the box + Features:  This unboxing will show you everything you will receive in this product.

Ultra-Res Wi-Fi/Ethernet network audio streamer with integrated DAC

  • By the way, DAC is an acronym for Digital (to) Analog Convertor... which allows you to enjoy your MP3 files + digital vids through analog (wired speakers + wired headphones).

Open-source architecture - works with multiple control apps, constantly evolving platform support

  • I want Amazon Music to be an option because I use the app more so than other platforms, followed by Spotify (which is compatible).

Stream the way you want - Tidal Connect, Spotify Connect, Roon Ready, AirPlay, DLNA/UPnP, NAA and more.

  • DLNA also provides plenty of options via certified products/services that allow you to playback recorded audio and music files. Get familiar with these types of services before you jump in to set anything up... because it will ensure a win over the assumption that the product doesn't work.

Supports 32-bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512 - not just via USB/LAN cables but Wi-Fi too*

Full MQA decoding and true-native DSD

  • When it comes to MQA decoders, they don't rely on anything else to unpack a file to a certain bit or kHz, but some will (literally) argue that you need an MQA compatible product. Other's will argue back that "full" MQA decoders don't need any help from a secondary device (I'm standing back at this point).

    I'm not giving any input of my own on this one, but... I do have something to touch on before we wrap up the review. Before that, let's see what MQA actually has to say about this:

    MQA reveals the original master recording. How sweet is that? My first thought was... "daammnnnn", but I listened first before getting into the details.

    How does MQA make this possible? They describe it as 'Music Origami'. The music file is folded into 3 parts to make it small enough to stream, during playback the full MQA does the full unfold. The MQA core decoder does 1 unfold, combined with the MQA renderer that unfolds the other 2 parts of the file.

    The iFi Audio NEO Stream is a full MQA decoder with the true-native DSD(512).

    True-Native DSD delivers hi-res master studio quality sound that allows you to enjoy not only stereo, surround, binaural and all that good stuff (I.e. ASMR binaural experiences). Underhood, you get the True Native DSD Bit-Perfect DXD/PCM thanks to the Burr-Brown chipset that some of the biggest audiophiles prefer.

Custom-designed hardware and software - built for exceptional sound

Fully balanced analog circuitry delivers maximum sonic purity

Four user-selectable digital filters - tailor the sound to suit your music

'Exclusive' streaming modes - dedicated Tidal, Roon, NAA and DLNA modes for optimised performance

USB and S/PDIF interfaces regulated by femto-precision clock to eradicate jitter

Active Noice Cancellation and iPurifier technologies remove distortion from the audio signal

Optical LAN input isolation technology - enhanced sound quality over cabled network connection

Silent Line retina-grade TFT screen with album art display

LAN optical isolation technology - superior sound over Gigabit Ethernet connection

  • Enter... the OptiBox.

Ultra-low noise power supply and LAN optical transmitter/receiver

  • *Full-strength 5GHz signal required for 385kHz/DSD256 or above over Wi-Fi
Limited 1 Year Warranty

Price: Pricewise, the NEO Stream comes in at $1299, which... for the average person might be quite pricy. For audiophiles craving the highest quality sound, the cost will be a goal to save up for. I understand because while some people are willing to spend big on a PC rig, or more so a TV, audiophiles seek the best audio. There are MQA Core Decoders that far exceed the price of this device, doesn't make them bad... but I don't promote breaking the bank to pay more for less.

I must say that if you're getting your hands on something like a hi-res audio streamer like the iFi Audio NEO Stream, make it make sense by using hi-res headphones or speakers in order to truly hear what the artists created in the freaking studio. A pair of $10 headphones from el Cheapos might sound a tad better than they did before connecting them to this audio streamer, but... you that doesn't give the audio justice. Overall, make your investment worth it... and rock on!

Build Quality + Ease of setup 5

Sound 5

In the box + Features 5

Price 5

5 out of 5 Cool Points

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Is Epic Games giving Content Creators easier access to Game Development?!

Let's go ahead and get this answer out of the way, by saying... yes & no. How can it be both? Well, they're making Unreal editor for Fortnite later this year. My guess is that it won't have all the bells and whistles of the full-blown Unreal Engine... as far as options go, it will likely be exclusive to the parameters of Fortnite, but... that isn't a bad thing.

This could actually be a good thing, and suggestions should be made in the areas where it should give more room for flexibility. The full Unreal Engine is geared towards developing your own games. Unreal Editor: Fortnite Edition breathes new life into a game that the developers have already thrown a lot of content into... for your enjoyment (and their gain). 

Fortnite has a huge fanbase... which would allow for the content creators with an interest in game development to increase business opportunities if things work out in that way. CEO Tim Sweeney, actually said that creators can monetize their work (during an interview with Fast Company). So whether or not it's limited or you get access to more options than I assume, there's money to be made (I won't say it's for sure money, but it's another avenue if it makes sense). Does anyone else get that Roblox vibe right now?

Anyway, I love this, and it's actually a bridge that we've spoken about in the past... which opens the door of opportunity for gamers. Not only does Epic Games win as they pursue their metaverse, it looks like you will be able to as well (financially). One thing I will say is that if you wanted to save something for your own IP, don't get excited to where you're contributing it to another game like Fortnite, because once it's out there... it's out there. You can also use the content you've created as a part of your portfolio, so keep an eye out to see when they launch this.

For those who would rather go the IP route in Unreal Engine 5, you still have time to get 8 UE5 training courses for $25 ($1500 value).

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Mask Up Mondays: Muse Dash - Milk


Muse Dash

Come and fix the world score tampered with by the mirror code with three heroines!

This is a world of the perfect combination of a traditional music game and a cool parkour game —— Muse Dash!!


You’re destined to be our Master!

What? You don’t have nimble fingers? Meow~ Don’t be too humble!

So, don’t worry! If you do not excel in playing action games,

you can still overcome the difficulties by dancing to the music!

Choose your favorite heroines to go through the fairytale-like stages. Now let’s get started with our journey to wipe out all the adorable monsters!!!


Dance to the music and beat enemies in the air and on the ground with simple two-button control. Also, watch out for the obstacles! Inherited from both genre, Muse Dash possesses high difficulty options. With the rich collection of songs and music, Rhythm game players will find depth and challenges in Muse Dash.

【Game Features】

You will go through an unprecedented experience of the perfect visual effects of a parkour game and the traditional gameplay of a music game.

◆ Unique and fashionable art design.
97 initial popular songs. Stay tuned for continuous free updates!

◆ Different music genre is matched to different scenes, enemies and Bosses.
We have heroines, adorable pets, and even adorable enemies! Believe me, you will even be impressed by how cute the Bosses are!
And collecting pan... Well, let’s keep that as a secret for now!
◆ Well-designed scripts and Japanese VO.

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Ps5      ps4      Xbox      pc/Steam

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