It isn’t normally that I’m impressed by the best way through which a music streamer appears, nonetheless the minimalist Gramofon truly caught my eye the first time I bought right here all through it. This stark, sharp-edged gloss and matte discipline wouldn’t look misplaced in a boutique hi-fi retailer, and its huge spherical LED ring lends it an air of hi-tech cool I’d normally affiliate with premium producers like Bang & Olufsen, Naim and McIntosh.
First impressions might be misleading, however, and it didn’t take prolonged to search out that this slick-looking merchandise of what looks like audio exotica the reality is costs a reasonable €59 – spherical £42.
What does Gramofon do?
For this piffling sum of cash you’re getting a Wi-Fi music streamer that’s primarily designed to stream Spotify tracks over a Wi-Fi connection to an current hi-fi or standalone speaker.
It makes use of Spotify’s proprietary streaming protocol, Spotify Be part of, which is barely obtainable to Premium subscribers, and works in the identical technique to Chromecast streaming: the music isn’t streamed by the use of your phone or tablet, nonetheless direct from Spotify’s servers; your cell machine acts principally as an advanced distant administration.
Within the meantime, for these with a library of tunes saved domestically, assist for Qualcomm AllPlay means you possibly can too stream shared music over your native group – each direct from a phone or tablet, or from a DLNA-compatible music server.
It’s moreover attainable to stream net radio to the Gramofon by the use of the AllPlay Radio app, and even take administration of plenty of Gramofons for a low-cost Sonos-style multi-room audio setup. Music might be synchronised, with the equivalent music streamed all through all players, or zoned, with completely totally different tracks tracks carried out in a number of parts of the house.
The Gramofon’s final trick is its means to double as a wi-fi extender, thus (most likely) extending the range of your personal dwelling Wi-Fi group as successfully. This isn’t a operate distinctive to the Gramofon – there are various Wi-Fi extenders out there in the marketplace that present some type of music streaming – nonetheless the Gramofon is the one one I’ve come all through that gives Spotify and multi-room music administration as successfully.
Setup, effectivity and usefulness
Given its keen price, it isn’t beautiful that the Gramofon isn’t exactly replete with connections. On the rear of the sector you’ll uncover a single 3.5mm analogue stereo output, alongside a pair of Ethernet ports and a DC vitality enter.
Owners of vigorous audio system might grumble in regards to the lack of balanced outputs, and traditionalists will nearly truly balk on the dearth of phono connections, nonetheless whatever the high-end appears the Gramofon is a device focused on consolation fairly than extraordinarily extreme fidelity, and that’s one factor it delivers with aplomb.
Establishing the Gramofon is as simple as you’d anticipate inside the interval of the Internet of Points. After plugging the Gramofon into the mains and connecting it to your amplifier or audio system immediately, you get hold of the Gramofon app to your Android, or iOS smartphone or tablet, and run by the setup routine. The Gramofon might be linked to your group each by the use of Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and in addition you’ll be up and working in decrease than ten minutes.
With that accomplished, it’s a little bit of cake to utilize. Merely fire up the Spotify app, go to Settings and select the Gramofon from the Spotify Be part of menu merchandise. One thing then carried out in your phone is streamed to the machine and via to your audio system, with the huge, spherical LED on excessive showing as a standing indicator.
It glows darkish blue when it’s linked to your Wi-Fi group, inexperienced when it’s streaming from Spotify and lightweight blue when AllPlay is linked; and in case your phone or tablet isn’t at hand, the realm all through the LED acts as an infinite pause/play button. For these delicate to vivid lights, the web-based admin pages allow you to flip the LED off absolutely.
Participating in music from plenty of devices works nearly along with streaming from just one – as long as you stick with the equivalent Spotify account. You probably can regulate the quantity on one machine, then one different, with out a hitch, and it’s moreover attainable to queue up tracks from plenty of devices as successfully.
It’s not so very good for creating impromptu get collectively mixes, however. As shortly as one different machine with a particular account connects, the current playlist is rudely interrupted in favour of the model new connection. I’d moreover favor not having to delve two ranges deep into the settings menu to switch from the phone to streaming playback and once more as soon as extra, nonetheless these are the one grumbles.
As far as sound prime quality goes, however, the Gramofon is pretty respectable. I hooked it up on to my Adam A7X vigorous audio system, which might be normally linked by the use of balanced XLR outputs to an Asus Xonar Essence One DAC, with my good LG TV showing as a result of the Spotify provide, feeding the DAC by the use of optical S/PDIF.
The Gramofon, surprisingly, held its private in direction of my commonplace setup. It lacked just a bit when it bought right here to factor and readability on the extreme end, nonetheless in another case I found it utterly musical; it truly presents increased prime quality than you’ll get with Bluetooth streaming, with an altogether additional articulate effectivity.
In a extremely good world, we wouldn’t need devices identical to the Gramofon. Spotify would work over plenty of protocols and devices, equal to Google’s Chromecast. It wouldn’t insist on foisting its private streaming experience on clients already paying for a premium service, each.
Nevertheless that isn’t the Gramofon’s fault. It actually works with the state of affairs, and it does so very successfully.
For many who need a music streamer for Spotify, the Gramofon is what you want: it’s a well-priced music streamer that does the job with out fuss, and the reality that it supplies multi-room and wi-fi extender assist into the low cost is simply a bonus.