Linkplay Muzo Cobblestone Internet Music Player

Linkplay Muzo Cobblestone Internet Music Player

Equipment report
Categories:
Music servers and computer audio
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Products:
Muzo Cobblestone
Linkplay Muzo Cobblestone Internet Music Player

Ergonomics
In the several months I’ve had a Cobblestone in one of my systems I have yet to discover any serious shortcomings in its operation. There are, however, several changes I would like to see in the next version of the control app. The first issue I had with the Cobblestone app is with its sleep function. I’m in the habit of putting on music in my bedroom as I fall asleep, and with the Sonos system when it’s time for the music to turn off it does so with a gentle fade-out. At the end of the allotted playing time the Muzo shuts off abruptly with no fade-out or warning. That should be fixed.

The second minor, but at times vexing, ergonomic issue was with the Cobblestone’s implementation of Tidal. Unlike the iOS and OS Tidal control apps, which allow you to display your music library in several different ways, the Cobblestone app has only one way to display “My Music” albums—alphabetically by album title. If you can’t remember the title, you will find it difficult to find a particular album. On my Mac, using the Tidal app, I can choose to have my albums displayed by “newest first” which I find far more user-friendly.

Near the end of the review period I acquired a second Cobblestone to see how the system would handle multiple units. Once more the app proved to be reliable and the setup was glitch-free. It immediately recognized the second Cobblestone and walked me through the install in less than two minutes. With two Cobblestones I had the option of using them independently or ganging them so they played the same source in sync with one another.

Robert Harley on the Cobblestone
The Cobblestone sounded almost too good to be true, so I asked for a sample to try myself. It was as easy to set up as Steven described; within minutes I was streaming music from Tidal to a Riva TurboX portable system. The Cobblestone is the perfect solution for listening to music in other rooms in your house, or if you want background music or Internet radio without turning on the main system.

But the Cobblestone solves a much bigger problem for many listeners like my neighbor. He dropped by one day and saw me selecting music from my iPad via the Aurender Conductor app. My neighbor was not familiar with streaming audio, and was astounded by my ability to instantly play any piece of music he named. He immediately wanted streaming music in his life, but had no idea how to go about getting it, or making it work with his existing home-theater receiver and speakers. The Cobblestone to the rescue. For $59 my neighbor could add a Cobblestone to his theater system for music in his living room, and for another $59 add streaming music to his outdoor patio system. As Steven said in his review “the Muzo offers ‘late adopters’ a way to enjoy the latest in Internet music interoperability.”

The Cobblestone is an amazingly simple, useful, and inexpensive device that expands the possibilities for enjoying music.

Sound
If you’re hoping to find out the Muzo Cobblestone produces the same level of sonic excellence as even a $2k digital hub/player, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but that isn’t the case. I will state, without equivocation, that the Cobblestone does sonically out-point the Sonos player’s analog output sound-quality-wise. Considering that the Cobblestone is 1/7th price of a Sonos Connect that is something.

The Cobblestone produces listenable, if not riveting, sound. Lateral focus is decent, but depth and dimensionality are lacking when compared with the Sony HAP-Z1ES network player ($1995). The Cobblestone’s overall harmonic balance is slightly dark, with forgiving highs and a warmish upper bass and lower midrange. Despite this forgiving harmonic balance the Cobblestone does not lack midrange detail or decipherability. Dynamics are fair, but lack contrast.


When the Cobblestone was compared in a direct A/B with the Sonos Connect’s analog output, I found that Cobblestone was the Sonos’ equal in every sonic respect except one—the Cobblestone could play 96/24 files while the Sonos could not.

One area where the Cobblestone’s sonic performance was equal to a far more expensive player was in Internet radio. When I compared Cobblestone’s TuneIn Internet radio with the Sony HAP-Z1ES TuneIn radio, I could hear no difference between them on the two stations that I listen to the most—KGNU and KOTO.

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