Between vintage audio systems and a large collection of wireless speakers that support Bluetooth only, I’ve sometimes gone to considerable lengths to add higher quality, whole-home Wi-Fi streaming and Apple AirPlay support. For one of my systems, I bought an old (2008-era) Apple Airport Express router off eBay, using it to add AirPlay compatibility. That was a little fussy. Andover Audio (maker of the Spinbase turntable speaker I reviewed last year) has a much more elegant solution in the Songbird music streamer.
A Tiny Streaming Box
The Songbird is a tiny black box, measuring about three inches square and just one inch thick. It weighs just several ounces. It will likely be the smallest part of your audio setup. The streamer is powered by USB, with a 5V power adapter included—but your audio source may well have USB power output so you could connect directly. It’s equipped with a 3.5mm audio jack, Ethernet, and an optical TOSLINK port. In terms of wireless, it supports Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.
Everything You Need Is Included
Andover Audio includes everything you might need in the box. This includes a 20-inch TOSLINK cable, a three-foot 3.5mm to dual RCA cable, a USB cable, a 5V power adapter, and even a Velcro strip so you can attach the streamer out of sight.
Setup was straightforward and guided by the mobile app (available for iOS and Android). Connect the Songbird to your audio system, plug it into power, then follow the app instructions to connect the streamer to your Wi-Fi network—or go with a direct connection to your router with Ethernet. Setup took me roughly 30 seconds, but a few minutes extra was needed for a firmware update to install and download.
After the setup, I could select Songbird to stream music to the system from my iPhone, using either Bluetooth or AirPlay.
AirPlay is ideal as it is higher quality and able to take advantage of the Songbird’s CD-quality 16bit/44.1kHz output. Because it was AirPlay over Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth wireless, I could also wander around the house and still have full control over playback on the audio system.
For non-Apple users, the Songbird can stream audio from any DLNA-compatible device and you can play music directly from the Android app. That app also lets iPhone and Android devices stream high-resolution music directly from a range of services (assuming you have a subscription) including Spotify, Tidal, and Amazon.
Supported codecs include MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, ALAC, FLAC, APE, and WAV.
Music streamed from a high-resolution source like Apple Music lossless sounds fantastic, although it is resampled to 16bit/44.1kHz for playback. Mind you, the system you are streaming to needs to be of decent quality in order to make the most of the ability. Andover Audio’s own Spinbase speaker would be a great candidate, although it already has Bluetooth built-in. Stream CD-quality music into a single-driver portable speaker and it’s still going to sound subpar… Bluetooth is a nice extra, making it easy for visitors who may not have access to your Wi-Fi network to also stream to the connected system.
If you have an audio system that sounds great but lacks the ability to stream audio over Wi-Fi, the $149 Andover Audio Songbird is a compact, easy-to-use solution that delivers the high-quality streaming audio you’re craving.
Disclosure: Andover Audio provided a Songbird for evaluation but had no input into this review. As an Amazon Associate, I earn affiliate fees from qualifying purchases.