iFi’s NEO Stream Is Streaming Platform Agnostic


iFi Audio is celebrating a significant milestone in 2022 and ten years into its fairly distinctive journey, it’s providing one thing liberating to music listeners who want the power to stream how they need with out being tied to any particular streaming platform or OS. The iFi NEO Stream makes use of an open-source structure to make {that a} actuality however the way it truly accomplishes that requires better clarification.

One declare that we expect must be talked about is from their very own press launch.

Music listeners are able to access their music through their choice of control app or music platform, and always experience exceptional sound quality, without the exorbitant price tags of other high-end streamers.”

We are huge proponents of the open supply structure idea and would agree with iFi that streamers just like the Naim Uniti Atom, Andover Songbird, Cambridge CXN V2, Bluesound NODE, and others do use their very own working OS and do promote particular streaming platforms.

But right here’s the factor — for essentially the most half they work fairly effectively.

Some of us already use Spotify Connect and TIDAL Connect as an alternative of going via the respective apps constructed into the streamers.

App improvement is a really costly and time consuming endeavor; throughout our go to to the Focal Powered by Naim location in Houston, we met with members of the Naim crew and the corporate has invested some huge cash into the platform that drives their present (and future) era of streamers and community amplifiers.

iFi Audio NEO Stream

Let’s be taught extra about what makes the IFi NEO Stream a really totally different sort of streamer.

iFi’s new NEO Stream is constructed from the bottom as much as ship versatility and sonic efficiency. It combines the newest model of iFi’s community streaming engine with a brand new DAC stage; join the NEO Stream to a pair of powered loudspeakers or your present amplifier and you might be able to go for $1,299.00 USD.

iFi believes the NEO Stream is distinctly totally different from different music streamers in the marketplace as a result of it isn’t tied all the way down to any particular streaming platform and is constructed round their proprietary expertise.

NEO by title – and by nature

The NEO Stream is the second machine to hitch the NEO Series – iFi’s mid-level mains-powered vary for house use, sitting between the ZEN Series and Pro Series.

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The title ‘NEO’ was chosen as a result of the primary machine within the sequence, the NEO iDSD, featured an all-new design and several other options new to its product class. The NEO iDSD – a DAC/headphone amp with USB, S/PDIF and Bluetooth connectivity – stays present, however whereas it could be tempting to imagine the NEO Stream is a NEO iDSD with a streaming module added and the headphone amp eliminated, this assumption wouldn’t be correct.

The NEO Stream’s desktop-size chassis and aluminium casework clearly resembles the NEO iDSD. But whereas its circuitry builds on present iFi designs, its inside structure and attributes are not like the rest in the marketplace.

What’s up DAC?

The iFi NEO Stream’s digital audio circuitry relies round a 32-bit Cirrus Logic DAC chipset with superior multi-bit modulation. This is coupled with a customized digital filter to minimise pre-echoes and ringing artefacts, and that iFi’s GMT (Global Master Timing) precision clock system to make sure ultra-low jitter, thus lowering errors and distortion within the digital audio sign.

The DAC is fed by a robust 16-core XMOS microcontroller, which processes the audio information obtained on the USB enter. iFi’s in-house digital improvement crew has programmed the XMOS firmware to optimise sound high quality and guarantee an ideal partnership with the Cirrus Logic DAC.

Hi-res PCM is supported to 32-bit/384kHz, alongside DSD64, 128 and 256, and single- and double-speed DXD. The DAC’s structure maintains DSD information in true native type, not like different DACs that convert DSD to PCM.

Open-source structure – audio streaming unleashed

Many audio streaming units lock customers into a particular platform. That just isn’t essentially an issue, assuming the amenities on supply are in step with the person’s necessities and they’re proud of the interface.

But, in the event that they need to choose their most well-liked streaming platforms and apps with out restriction, with the power to adapt and evolve as necessities change, a tool with an open-source structure gives clear benefits.

iFi has developed its personal streaming engine, goal constructed to ship flexibility and efficiency. Its open-source nature, constructed on a robust quad-core ARM Cortex processor and Linux-based working system, allows it to evolve over time, while guaranteeing customers aren’t locked into a particular platform. You select the way in which you need stream, choose your favourite app or streaming platform and let free the streaming canine of struggle.

From the machine drivers, to the kernel (the center of the working system), to the shell (which interfaces with the kernel), to the purposes and the person interface, every little thing is totally optimised for seamless operation and wonderful sonic efficiency.

The firmware on the coronary heart of this bespoke streaming engine was first utilized within the ZEN Stream – a ‘streaming transport’ that launched in 2021 – and has developed considerably since. ZEN Stream customers have already benefitted from updates to enhance efficiency and performance; the NEO Stream combines the newest model of this firmware with enhanced {hardware} to ship one thing actually particular.

Supported Platforms

Roon Ready

The Roon platform has develop into the standard-bearer for high-quality digital music administration and streaming, because of a fantastic interface, robust flexibility and high-quality sound. The NEO Stream has Roon Ready certification, which suggests it’s prepared to fit straight right into a Roon audio atmosphere and work seamlessly with Roon software program.

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Any DLNA/UPnP-compatible streaming app (for instance: BubbleUPnP, mconnect, Audirvana and so forth) can be utilized to manage the NEO Stream and entry audio content material from on-line providers and DLNA-certified community storage units.

Integrated Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect

Users of those massively in style on-line music providers can stream straight from the Tidal and Spotify apps – easy, seamless and efficient.

Apple AirPlay

Integrated Airplay ensures simple streaming from Apple units.

NAA operation

The NEO Stream can function as an NAA (Network Audio Adapter) together with Sygnalist HQPlayer software program – favoured by many severe music streaming fanatics. This means it could actually direct packets of audio information obtained over Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable straight to the linked DAC with out making use of processing.

Streaming from native storage with Stream-iFi app

iFi’s ‘Stream-iFi’ app is easy instrument to assist preliminary set-up of the NEO Stream and provoke streaming from native storage units – a NAS drive, for instance.

Ultra-resolution digital audio

The NEO Stream can be utilized in two methods: connect with an amp and audio system by way of the onboard DAC stage and analogue outputs, or join one of many out there digital outputs to an exterior DAC. In the latter mode, the NEO Stream acts as a ‘streaming transport’ or ‘network bridge’, just like the ZEN Stream however with a better stage of ‘ultra-resolution’ efficiency.

Whether the onboard DAC is engaged or not, the NEO Stream’s hi-res audio help is state-of-the-art: PCM information to 32-bit/768kHz, all ranges of DSD as much as DSD512, and single- and double-speed DXD. Remarkably, this stage of hi-res audio just isn’t solely supported over the LAN and USB cable inputs however over Wi-Fi too. (A secure, full-strength 5GHz Wi-Fi sign is required for 384kHz PCM, DSD256 and above.)     

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MQA ­– the hi-res streaming expertise, as utilized by Tidal’s ‘HiFi Plus’ tier – is comprehensively supported, with full decoding of MQA information as much as 384kHz. This signifies that the total ‘three unfold’ decoding course of may be carried out internally, versus solely the ultimate unfold within the method of an MQA ‘renderer’. When the digital outputs are used to attach an exterior MQA-supporting DAC, each MQA passthrough and ‘first unfold’ are supported.   

Custom DAC stage for distinctive sound

The NEO Stream’s integral DAC stage relies round a Burr-Brown chipset that iFi makes use of extensively, chosen for its natural-sounding ‘musicality’ and True Native structure.

One such essential element is the XMOS chip that iFi makes use of to course of audio information obtained over the digital inputs. The NEO Stream incorporates a 16-core XMOS microcontroller, programmed by iFi’s in-house crew to optimize sound high quality and guarantee an ideal partnership with the Burr-Brown DAC.

Thanks to the DAC chip’s four-channel True Native design, PCM and DSD take separate pathways and stay ‘bit-perfect’ of their direct-native type, proper via to analogue conversion. In the case of DSD, there is no such thing as a conversion to PCM or software of multi-bit processing – that is uncommon and makes the NEO Stream a superb selection for DSD purists.


The NEO Stream gives a connectivity array that’s distinctive in a community music streamer at its worth, each in breadth and specification, offering unparalleled versatility throughout a spread of system configurations.

iFi Audio NEO Stream rear


  • Dual-band Wi-Fi reception (2.4GHz and 5GHz) with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac help
  • Gigabit Ethernet (LAN) – 1x RJ45; 1x M12; 1x Optical LAN (see under for extra info)
  • 2x USB-A (USB2.0 and SuperSpeed USB3.0 supported)
  • 1x USB-C system replace port (OTA – Over The Air – updates additionally out there)


  • Analogue – 1x stereo RCA; 1x 4.4mm balanced
  • Ultra-res digital (PCM 768kHz, DSD512) – 1x HDMI-I2S; 1x USB-A (USB3.0)
  • Hi-res S/PDIF digital (PCM 192kHz) – 1x optical; 1x coaxial; 1x AES/EBU

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Several totally different settings enable customers to tailor the NEO Stream’s efficiency to go well with their system and the way in which they wish to stream. For instance, customers can choose between Exclusive Modes – particular person settings that optimise efficiency by focusing operation on one mode of use. There are particular settings for Roon, Tidal Masters, DLNA and NAA, in addition to a basic mode for multi-platform use.

Further private tailoring is offered by 4 user-selectable digital filters, every of which has a delicate however clearly discernible impact on sound. Users can swap between Bit-Perfect, GTO (Gibbs Transient Optimised), Minimum Phase and Standard, in line with private style and whichever setting most closely fits their selection of music.

Look for a evaluate of the iFI NEO Stream in This autumn with quite a lot of new energetic loudspeakers and our present programs.

For extra info: ifi-audio.com

Where to purchase: $1,299 at Audio46

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