What’s the very first thing you consider when somebody says the phrase ‘multi-room’?
For many, we think about it is a devoted set-up from a single producer similar to Sonos or Bluesound, with its related ecosystem of audio system, soundbars, soundbases and hi-fi elements. Or maybe you’d consider AirPlay 2, a gateway for an iOS supply (Apple gadget) to stream music to a number of appropriate merchandise.
If you wish to combine and match from a number of producers, cherry-picking gadgets as a way to get the most effective efficiency and match for every room, DTS Play-Fi may very well be an possibility value wanting into. The app-controlled, wi-fi, multi-room platform has been licensed to a number of hi-fi manufacturers and consequently sits on the performance core of wonderful streaming merchandise such because the What Hello-Fi? Award successful Audiolab 6000N Play (pictured under) and five-star Arcam rPlay music streamers.
It claims to offer “premium wi-fi audio for each room of your own home”, and works throughout a big selection of merchandise. So, let’s check out what it does, the way it does it and what merchandise utilise it…
What’s DTS Play-Fi?
DTS Play-Fi is, on the most elementary degree, a platform and app that allows you to join and management numerous hi-fi gadgets collectively as a way to stream audio from one to a different. This may be inside one room for a multi-channel set-up, or throughout a number of rooms in your house. Multi-room apart, it may possibly simply be used to facilitate community streaming in a single standalone product.
The vary of appropriate gadgets consists of transportable wi-fi audio system, stereo programs, A/V tuners, preamps, amplifiers, music streamers and media servers – all of which could be managed in your smartphone, tablet, PC or TV through the devoted app. DTS Play-Fi launched in 2012 and initially its app was solely out there solely on Android. However now its devoted management app is obtainable on iOS, Kindle Hearth (the working system on Amazon’s Hearth tablets) and Home windows PCs too, in addition to on TVs.
On Home windows, nevertheless, there are two styles of Play-Fi app: a free model and a “Play-Fi HD” model. The latter prices $14.95 (roughly £10), which buys you a code for from the DTS on-line retailer and in the end offers you better management over your audio in addition to greater high quality.
How does it work?
Obtain the app and you must shortly see an inventory of obtainable gadgets. Faucet to pick it, then select audio from plenty of sources together with Amazon Music (together with Amazon Music HD), Tidal, Deezer, Spotify and Qobuz, in addition to web radio stations through iHeartRadio, SirusXM and Radio.com. Apple Music is just not out there on the service in the mean time.
Some DTS Play-Fi-compatible merchandise may even assist AirPlay and AirPlay 2, Apple’s easy methodology of streaming audio and video immediately from iPhones, iPads and different gadgets. Nevertheless, this isn’t out there in each DTS Play-Fi product; it is the producer’s determination whether or not to implement it or not. Equally, that is the case with Google Chromecast and Spotify Join.
You possibly can configure two separate audio system right into a stereo pairing – one enjoying the left channel audio, the opposite enjoying the fitting – utilizing the app, or (you probably have at the least six DTS Play-Fi appropriate merchandise) create a 5.1 surround-sound system.
These speaker teams can then be designated as ‘Zones’, which lets you delegate music to completely different rooms of your own home. For instance, you could possibly have a Tidal stream going to the audio system in your front room whereas a Deezer stream performs within the bed room.
A brand new companion app, referred to as DTS Play-Fi Headphones, additionally allows you to stream audio from choose DTS Play-Fi-connected merchandise (soundbars, stereo amps and audio system) to a pair of headphones over wi-fi. DTS claims the wi-fi connection is best than Bluetooth headphones (which might introduce latency points) and its AV synchronisation know-how means there should not be any syncing points between image and audio when watching TV.
To make use of it, you must join your wired headphones to your smartphone or pill with the app on it, as much as 4 individuals could be related to at least one stream, and customers may even pay attention at completely different volumes. The free app is obtainable on iOS and Android.
Does DTS Play-Fi assist hi-res music?
DTS Play-Fi will play MP3, M4A, AAC, FLAC, WAV and AIFF recordsdata. They are often streamed as much as a 16-bit/48kHz decision restrict with out compression – something larger might be compressed by default.
Nevertheless, this may be modified utilizing the service’s Essential Listening mode, which helps you to stream 24-bit/192kHz music throughout your wi-fi community. A phrase of warning, although: since these recordsdata are usually fairly giant (a lot of our hi-res music recordsdata are between 30MB and 70MB per monitor, in comparison with 3.5MB for the common MP3 file) and thus require better bandwidth to stream, DTS advises utilizing a wired connection for extra dependable efficiency.
Which merchandise assist DTS Play-Fi?
Among the many huge array of merchandise supporting DTS Play-Fi are soundbars, programs and audio system from – deep breath – Audiolab, Anthem, Arcam, Aerix, Definitive Expertise, Integra, Klipsch, MartinLogan, McIntosh, Onkyo, Paradigm, Philips, Polk, Quad, Rotel, Phorus, Pioneer and Sonus faber.
You possibly can see the complete checklist of supported brands here.
What number of merchandise are you able to join utilizing DTS Play-Fi?
Within the phrases of The Infamous B.I.G., the sky’s the restrict. You possibly can theoretically join as many merchandise as you want collectively, however DTS recommends a most of 32 Play-Fi gadgets per house community, lest efficiency begin to endure.
As much as 16 Play-Fi merchandise can stream the identical tune, whether or not that’s out of your telephone, pill, or Home windows PC. You possibly can designate a most of 4 zones, with every zone streaming audio from a unique supply.
As much as eight individuals can use the identical wi-fi community to stream songs utilizing DTS Play-Fi (offered they’re all utilizing completely different gadgets).
Does DTS Play-Fi assist voice management?
In a phrase, sure. DTS Play-Fi helps voice management most exhaustively through Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. This performance is obtainable in two methods: “integration of Alexa Voice Providers” (which is for merchandise with the Alexa voice assistant built-in) or, mostly, “Works with Alexa” (which suggests you’ll be capable to management Alexa-based music streams on DTS Play-Fi merchandise through an Echo gadget).
Play-Fi-connected sensible audio system such because the Onkyo P3, Pioneer F4 and Phorus PS10 have built-in Alexa, so you possibly can shout instructions at it simply as you’ll Amazon’s personal Echo audio system.
To make use of Alexa with different Play-Fi merchandise (similar to these from McIntosh or Martin Logan – mainly something with out microphones inbuilt) you will must ask any of the above sensible audio system or an Echo or Dot to play music, which it would then do throughout the remainder of your Play-Fi merchandise. There is a lengthy checklist of Works with Alexa-supporting DTS Play-Fi merchandise, which we can be found here.
Talking of Alexa, DTS Play-Fi merchandise now assist Alexa Forged, permitting customers to ship and management music immediately from the Amazon Music app to them. See appropriate merchandise here.
How about Apple’s Siri voice assistant? Music playback on Play-Fi merchandise that assist AirPlay 2 could be began through voice instructions to Siri or to a HomePod. Alternatively, customers can use spoken instructions so as to add AirPlay 2 audio system into a gaggle with a HomePod and even switch music playback from the HomePod to different AirPlay 2 merchandise within the house.
What are the DTS Play-Fi options?
Many different corporations supply their very own companies to attach up audio equipment – managed by bespoke apps. Sonos is the apparent standout in that respect – its multi-room audio system routinely win What Hi-Fi? Awards for ease of use and wonderful assist of quite a few streaming companies, plus unique options similar to Sonos Trueplay.
Streaming merchandise from the likes of Naim, Linn, Audio Pro, B&O and Bose (and lots of extra) use their very own streaming apps, whereas Bluesound, NAD, Dali use the shared BluOS platform, and Denon and Marantz use the shared HEOS platform.
Then there’s arguably probably the most ubiquitous platforms: Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast, which have been built-in throughout an enormous number of wi-fi merchandise, permitting you to mix-and-match merchandise in your streaming family.
One factor’s for positive, it is now not tough to make a multi-room audio system. If something, it is simply tougher to decide on which of the numerous paths to go down.