iEAST StreamAmp AM160 Wireless Stereo Amplifier Review
Time to dust off those speakers and put them to good use!
What is the iEAST StreamAmp AM160?Multi-room is very much the buzzword in today’s audio technology. The days of that ‘special’ room in the house that had the Hi-Fi system in it along with the home computer, thus rendering all other rooms quiet, boring and scary are long gone. Nowadays you can have anything you want in every room of the house. From Sky TV, streaming video and music, these can all be played independently in several rooms across many devices. If the goal was to ensure no one talks to or even looks at each other when you are all at home, then we have well and truly succeeded.
One manufacturer looking to take a slice of the streaming market pie is Chinese brand iEast. The company started in late 2015 and is part of a much bigger Chinese company UYESEE that specialises in wireless audio streaming. iEAST offer a range of products that allow you to easily stream audio to multiple rooms in the house. Their StreamAmp AM160 that we have for review here is a wireless multi-room stereo amplifier that offers all the features you would expect from a multi-room streaming device such as wireless connectivity and USB storage playback but with the addition of an amplifier for connecting to an existing pair of passive speakers.
iEAST's philosophy is to offer Sonos level products at an affordable price. Due to be launched in September 2017 with an RRP of £239, this could breathe new life into those high quality but redundant speakers that you might have laying around the house. Read on to see how the StreamAmp fares during our tests...
Design, Connections & ControlThe StreamAmp AM160 is all black with a nice brushed black aluminium effect to all sides. It’s compact in size, similar to a small paperback book or external hard drive, measuring just 200mm deep x 115mm wide x 33mm high (excluding the Wi-Fi antenna) and weighs 650g. It’s small enough that it won’t look out of place next to a pair of speakers or can even be hidden behind them if needs be.
Features & SpecsThe StreamAmp has (for such a small device) an impressive 80W per channel amplification. It does not have any internal fans so is completely silent during operation and it also does not get hot during use. The wireless as previously mentioned is 802.11 b/g/n on the 2.4Ghz band, which should be sufficient for audio streaming purposes. It has an SNR of 87dB and decoding is up to 24bit, 192kHZ. The audio formats supported include FLAC, WAV, AAC-LC, HE-AAC, MP3 and WMA.
The streaming options via the iEast App are quite generous including Spotify, Pandora, Napster, Tidal and several others that we’ve never heard of, although sadly this doesn’t include Amazon Music. Internet Radio is also available through the app and this appeared to include all the BBC stations and hundreds more. Via the USB port you can connect a flash drive or external USB, you know that one you pre-loaded with your favourite Britney Spears albums that you keep hidden away – for example .
Plus, as it also supports AirPlay you can simply stream the audio of whatever is on your Smartphone, be that YouTube, Amazon Music and anything else that takes your fancy. Pure Direct is also supported and it works with DNLA compliant NAS storage. A lot of bases covered here.
How was it setup and tested?The setup is very quick and easy, you firstly get the iEast app onto your smartphone or tablet, then follow the basic instructions in the app to get it all set up. It wasn’t the quickest of processes as the Wi-Fi seemed very slow to get connected and we had to force close the app and then retry it to get it to connect. Continuing with the Wi-Fi setup issues, we also had a period where it just would not connect to any Wi-Fi network, this issue seemed to resolve itself but this area could do with a bit of tweaking to remove these issues. Once this was out of the way, during our testing it didn’t lose connection at any time. There is no Bluetooth, it’s purely a Wi-Fi connection.
For our testing we set it up with a pair of SVS SBS-01 speakers, oldies but goodies still in our humble opinion. Unlike the KitSound Reunion system we reviewed recently, there are no independent bass or treble controls here, just the volume control. We tested with a variety of music covering orchestral, pop and heavy rock to see how the system coped together with the audio via the USB port, RCA cables and wirelessly from our Smartphone.
PerformanceGiven that the StreamAmp has a retail price of £239, it needed to perform well and it certainly did. Firstly, don’t try and use this system as the audio source for video playback from your Smartphone as it has an audio delay of about 2 seconds, plus when pausing and playing a video it has a similar 1-2 second lag before anything changes. There is no delay when using the app however.
Putting the audio quality aside for one moment, the ease of playing back audio from multiple sources cannot be underrated here. Whether it be from your Smartphone, via the app using Internet radio, the supported streaming services or simply from a connected USB drive or via the RCA cables it was effortless. The iEast app offers easy access to all these sources without any hassle whatsoever.
Moving onto the audio and this is clearly a subjective area and as mentioned previously is obviously dependant on the quality of the speakers you have connected to the StreamAmp. It also was very noticeable when playing back a lower quality MP3 for example, but than that would be expected. Overall we were very happy with the results, a decent quality source was played back as we expected and the quality was excellent with no noticeable deterioration or any other unwanted issues. The StreamAmp performed as we hoped and did everything it stated it would do and did it very well, no complaints here.
iEast StreamPro M30 Multiroom StreamerIf £239 is too much for your budget and you either have no spare passive speakers or have an existing (but not wireless enabled) audio system then the Stream Pro at £115 may be one to look at. It offers exactly the same functionality via the iEast app and the same features and connection options as the StreamAmp, but without the amplifier.
Connect to an active speaker system or an amplifier that is currently not wireless enabled and you can easily stream audio from your Smartphone or by a connected USB drive. For outputs it has the standard analog stereo port plus a SPDIF optical output. Out of the box it comes with a remote control, RCA and line-in cables together with a USB cable and USB power adapter.
As the Stream Pro works with the same iEast app we experienced the same excellent results as we saw with the StreamAmp, it worked perfectly and any audio we streamed was played back without issue. Following on from the easy to use App, with both the SteamAmp and Stream Pro connected, it was a piece of cake to select the different devices and have different audio playing on each device. Multi-room at its finest.
- Good powerful sound
- Easy to setup and install
- Huge range of streaming options
- Excellent features
- Wi-Fi set up a bit flakey
- No remote control
iEAST StreamAmp AM160 Wireless Stereo Amplifier Review
Should I buy one?Due to be released in September with an RRP of £239, the StreamAmp AM160 offers a lot in such a small package. Helping to breathe new life into a pair of old but high-quality speakers you might have stored in the loft, the 80W per channel amplifier certainly packs a punch.
The iEast App offers quick access to a multitude of audio streaming options plus any connected sources in one very easy-to-use package. With AirPlay supported the options are almost endless. The Wi-Fi network took a few attempts to connect via the setup in the app, but once confirmed it remained connected, that’s about the only negative we could think of.
What alternatives are available?As for alternatives, there are a huge number of devices that will stream audio from your Smartphone or other connected devices, but to closely match the StreamAmp the most likeliest candidates are the Yamaha MusicCast WXA50 which is available at a significantly higher price of £395 but does have improved connected abilities and a few more bells and whistles. There are of course cheaper all-in-one solutions, but if you already have a good quality pair of speakers that you want to utilise for audio streaming, then the StreamAmp AM160 is definitely one worthy of your consideration.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £239.99
Ease of use8
Value for money8
Our Review Ethos
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