A tube-based music streamer for the price of a song? Tell me more…

March 20, 2024
3 mins read
Start
10/10

Summary

Advance Paris WTX-StreamTubes Music Streamer

GRANT FAMILTON gets acquainted with a diminutive tube-based music streamer that seduces him into listening to more music.

 $799

I love tubes. In my current setup, I have a streamer, a low-wattage tube amplifier and a DAC with a tube rectifier. I’m also having a vinyl revival and am using a tube phono stage so when a network player became available with digital and analogue tube outputs whose makers claim that I “could enjoy the warmth of vinyl with my streaming content” I merrily jumped onboard.

I’m sitting down to write some thoughts on the WTX-StreamTubes just before heading off to Hutt Sounds featuring 1980s hitmakers Rikki Morris, The Choirboys, Nik Kershaw, Go West and The Human League. I found myself wondering what sort of hi-fi Phil Oakey might have and how back in the early ‘80s CDs, let alone streaming, were a far-fetched electric dream. I still have Human League’s Dare album from 1981 (and ‘Love And Dancing’ on vinyl) and was about to wax lyrical on how much I loved and rotated these albums, but we are here to find out if a network player could possibly live up to my rose coloured vinyl memories.

The WTX-StreamTubes is a carefully crafted product from Advance Paris, a company started in 1995 as Advance Acoustics, and they’re attempting to push the limits of high-fidelity audio at a price that’s a whole lot more affordable than most gear of its type. Advance Paris offer a range of products including CD Players, preamplifiers, amplifiers, speakers, streamers and more. Their aim is to stir the soul with music and innovations and their products are available in over 40 countries around the world.

The WTX-StreamTubes arrived in a well-presented box with the quote, “In less than 5 minutes, you will set-up the WTX-StreamTubes via our Advance Playstream app  downloadable on the AppStore or Google Play.” I have been known to install items off-piste but decided to follow their instructions and headed over to the Google Play Store. The app was installed in moments and the same can be said for the network player.

 


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You have three options to connect your WTX-StreamTubes. The first is via Wi-Fi WPS, the second connects your Wi-Fi device to the WTX-StreamTubes hotspot before joining your own Wi-Fi, and the third is via an Ethernet cable.

The player features analogue RCA line out, digital coax and digital optical. The inputs include USB, Wi-Fi and Ethernet. Bluetooth is enabled with an additional Bluetooth adapter which is not included. The unit houses two Raytheon 5703 tubes and is powered by the TI PCM1796 DAC which is capable of conversion up to 24bit 192kHz.This allows you to play your own music supporting audio formats APE, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AAC, AAC-LC, HE-AAC, HE-AACv2, MP3 (CBR/VBR 32 to 320 kbps) and also the streaming services provided by Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon, Deezer and more than 100,000 worldwide internet radio stations..

I also noted a wreath on the box lid and decided to investigate further. The WTX-StreamTubes received a prestigious Diapason d’Or Hi-Fi award in 2022. The review panel states, “The impression is of moving into a higher category in terms of subtlety of ambiances, finesse of timbres and depth of the soundstage. All qualities magnified through the conversion stage with its output tubes.” High praise indeed, but how does it sound, really?

For the soundstage test I’ll be playing ‘Six-Eight Instrumental’ from the 2019 Special Edition album by Fat Freddy’s Drop. This track can sound like it’s projecting six feet from the speakers. The bass track is Reb Fountain’s ‘Iris’ from her 2021 album of the same name. Just for fun I’ll be playing ‘Love Action’ by The Human League from. I have all these on vinyl and can easily do an A/B comparison.

Starting with Fat Freddy’s Drop, I find the WTX-StreamTubes is a warm, tube-like sounding network player that’s able to project the soundstage past my listening position. I’m more than happy with the detail retrieval, and the track sounds like it’s floating music around my ears.

Reb Fountain’s ‘Iris’ is my favourite track from this album and the bass is full and room-filling. I’m really enjoying the WTX-StreamTubes so far and it will have further potential once it has been running for a longer time.

The last track from The Human League is better than the thin ‘80s digital production I expected and have heard on so many songs from that era. But the WTX-StreamTubes has just the right amount of balance to get my toe tapping, a true gauge of any system.

Will I be buying one? You bet. Does it sound like the warmth of vinyl? I’d say it’s closer than any I’ve heard so far. I’m really enjoying this network player as a fun, music-loving device, and at this price point it’s a true winner. You can just turn it on and enjoy, switch off your brain and get caught up in the music, close your eyes and before you know it, you’ve listened to a full album.

www.pqimports.co.nz

www.advanceparis.com/en/produit/wtx-streamtubes/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grant suffers from Neophilia, his self diagnosed condition leads him to explore the worlds of music, painting and writing. In his natural environment he can often be observed seated in a listening position, enjoying coffee.

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Advance Paris - Designed with French flair. Amplifiers, Streamers, CD players and more www.pqimports.co.nz
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