Great for sending wireless audio from your phone to your hi-fi, but a 3.5mm cable is still cheaper, albeit less stylish
Everyone wants wireless audio at the moment, mostly because no one’s worked out how to get a half-decent speaker into a mobile phone, or even a laptop, and this way we can stream anything we like, from actual music, to radio from iPlayer and even music tracks from Youtube.
We’ve reviewed many wireless Bluetooth speakers, and even USB transmitters that wirelessly stream audio from your computer to a stereo, but the Streamport Universal is a little different. It’s a wireless receiver that receives music wirelessly and then outputs it to a set of speakers via its RCA or 3.5mm stereo outputs.
The Streamport uses Bluetooth as its wireless communication method. Although you can pair the Streamport manually, as you would with any other Bluetooth audio device, it also supports NFC. This means you can simply wave an NFC-capable phone or tablet over the Streamport to pair it. This is particularly handy if more than one person wants to connect their phone to the living room hi-fi. To use NFC, you must turn on the StreamPort by pressing and holding the power button for 8 seconds while the Streamport is switched off until a flashing light appears. Then you simply touch the device to the Streamport to pair it. After that initial pairing, you only need to touch the two devices to reconnect. The Streamport can remember up to four different Bluetooth sources, but that should be enough for a family.
The Streamport supports both the lossy A2DP Bluetooth audio standard, which is lower quality but more common, and the lossless apt-X standard, which provides audio quality that’s as good as you’d get transmitting audio over a wire. The Streamport Universal is built around the CSR8645 System on a Chip (SoC), a single chip Bluetooth audio processor with an integrated audio CODEC. The Streamport has a mini USB power input, but this doesn’t double as a USB data port for connecting the audio device to a PC, even though the CSR8645 supports it as an option.
The Streamport Universal works really well. It couldn’t be simpler to use and both its audio transmission standards and hardware are up to the task of making our high bitrate audio files sound great. We’re sure many people would be happy connecting their smartphone to their stereo with a 3.5mm lead, but if you want the convenience of streaming audio wirelessly, this is a great way of doing it.