I got a request from one of my readers to post a few columns on streaming audio and so this will be the first of several that cover that much talked about subject.
First let's cover what is streaming audio because there's a lot of misconceptions about it. In its most fundamental definition streaming audio would be any digital signal sent from a source to a player. This definition would include a CD player or a transport/DAC combo as we stream the digital audio data between the two pieces of source and player. If we broaden the definition to include a computer then the same applies when you play a track of a CD on your computer's disc drive and render (play) it on the internal or external DAC of the computer.
I think most people would define streaming as coming from some sort of computer and being delivered to some sort of DAC. Examples would include everything from a Sonos system which streams audio from either your computer, the computer in a NAS or the giant computer in the "cloud" (internet) to their network enabled DAC/loudspeaker combo, to a USB connected DAC or the PS Audio Bridge.
However you officially define streaming it's clear that what it means to most people is a DAC connected to either a computer, NAS or the internet.
Tomorrow we'll cover the world's lowest cost, simplest streamer.