Stack Audio LINK streamer

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Stack Audio LINK streamer
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Stack Audio’s LINK is described as a fully featured, streamer designed to add file streaming capabilities to existing two channel hi-fi systems. What you can tell from the pictures is that is has high end build quality that’s unusual when the price is only £695. Stack Audio is a British company that makes of both analogue and digital source components. Its first digital product the LINK is a music streamer that claims to offer flexibility and ease of use, it can be controlled with a range of UPnP apps (eg Kinsky, Bubble UPnP) as well as Roon although certification for the latter is still pending. It supports Apple devices andSpotify Connect and offers access to Tidal, Qobuz and Spotify streaming services. Connection to sources can be via ethernet cable, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB. Unusually  and the LINK can manage bit-perfect ripping of CDs when connected to a CD drive. Which seems like an awful lot for the price but the LINK is being sold direct to keep the value high.

This is what Stack Audio says about the LINK:
The LINK has been built from the ground up to counter noise and interference. In particular, Stack Audio has spent the last five years investigating the effects of phase noise, working with legendary engineer John Westlake who has extensively researched phase noise and its effects on timing accuracy. 

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At the core of the detox system is an ultra-low phase noise USB audio clock circuit. The ethernet input is synchronised to the audio clock toreduce the small variations in the timing of the digital signals.A dedicated USB audio output buffers the signal to purify it and EMI filter circuitry removes remaining interference.

The LINK is powered by an extremely low noise, multi-stage power circuit. Three independent switching regulators are synchronized to the audio clock ensuring that the fluctuations of the switching circuit are in time with the clock, reducing fluctuations and noise. The LINK’s bank of 9 low ESR capacitors and a triple linear regulated circuit further help to ensure the power source is clean.

The LINK’s sensitive electronics are protected in a high-mass case machined from solid aluminium. It features EMI shielding and is designed to absorb physical vibration. The LINK is finished in anodised black or silver because Stack Audio loves hi-fi and believes it should look as good as it sounds.

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Convenience and flexible user control are essential requirements for a refined music streamer. Stack Audio has partnered music streaming specialists Volumio for the custom software built into the Link. It is powerful, flexible and intuitive, enabling the LINK to be operated in multiple ways:   

Audiophile USB connection for a PC or laptop
Qobuz, Tidal amd Spotify streaming 
UPnP and OpenHome endpoint
Shairport-sync (Apple Devices)
Roon endpoint (in progress)
CD ripping manager
Bit perfect playback ensures MQA playback (where DAC supports MQA unfolding)

The LINK is manufactured in the UK sharing production facilities with products for aerospace, medical and military applications.  It is available to pre-order now in silver or black on the Stack Audio website for £695 with a re-fundable £25 deposit. First deliveries are expected end Jan/early Feb 2019.