I have been observing the situation with UPnP AV / DLNA as a standard for network-based music distribution and have noticed something which may be considered unusual in the world of “serious hi-fi”. A few boutique hi-fi manufacturers, Arcam, Linn, Naim, T+A and Revox, have spent a lot of time in technical research in to achieving the best sound with good music provided via FM radio, records, tapes and CD, have taken their expertise towards music distributed via the home network.
Their solutions have been based around the UPnP AV / DLNA media-delivery protocol over common IP networks and using common codecs like MP3, FLAC, AAC and, in some cases Ogg Vorbis and WMA. Because they don’t need to develop client and server software and that the DLNA media server is available in standalone devices like NAS boxes, therefore, it has become easier for the manufacturers to concentrate on high-quality decoding, digital-analogue conversion and reproduction of the music through their equipment. A lot of these units support the DLNA standard to full expectations such as support for “three-box” operation as mentioned in this feature article.
Some manufacturers have built the functionality in to a receiver(Arcam FMJ AVR600) or music system supplied with or without speakers (Naim Uniti, T+A Caruso, T+A Music Player) or have supplied it as a component (Linn Akurate, Klimax or Majik DS) or retrofit kit for existing equipment (Revox Module Multimedia for M10 or M51 receiver).
Other manufacturers in this league haven’t yet supported UPnP AV / DLNA because of investment in a multi-room audio distribution system or network audio technology they have invested in; haven’t yet developed such equipment or simply that they want to stay away from the field of network audio.
I have written up an article about integrating classical music in to your network music collection and have made suggestions regarding optimum codec setups for your digital-audio files. This is worth reading if you intend to use any of these products with your home network and want to get the best value out of them.