Looking for an all-in-one just-add-speakers streamer for my son to take to college

Cambridge Audio Evo 75 is probably the top of the range, but maybe a BlueSound Powernode is good enough? Maybe there is something cheaper that fits the bill?

My son is not (yet) an audiophile, so sufficient volume may be the most important, but interested in any thoughts folks have on this topic.


My thoughts tend towards a PowerNode for a first one. It should be easy to sell if he decides to move up. I bought my son a nice biwired rig that he kept all through school. Now that he got PhD ed (& married?) he doesn’t even want that or any hifi.

If you are just streaming, check out a Wiim Mini or Pro as the streamer and look into AudioEngine speakers. Good performance at a great price. I set up an office system with a Mini and the AE B2 and connect them with Bluetooth. The B2 is a one-box speaker so is great for a dorm room or small bedroom. The also have several other stereo pair options that you could use. 

The Yamaha R-N800A would be a better buy/all in one solution (1200 bucks) for a kid going to college at half the price of that Cambridge.

The Yamaha is a Class AB grunt that can drive any speaker he’s gonna haul without breakin a sweat.... clean DAC, full featured streamer with its MusicCast Eco system and room correction (if he’s gonna have a crappy room), etc

He may very much become a audiophile convert after he’s lived with it.



The new Marantz Stereo 70s would fit the bill. An added bonus is he could run his TV audio through it as well. Has HDMi ports.

Around $1000.

Hi there.First you didn't mention what speakers he has but my recommendation will drive pretty much any you might choose..Second since you said he isn't an audiophile it's doubtful he need a full on Streamer that's Roon ready(among others).What he does need is USB input, a good BlueTooth circuit. & decent headphone circuit would be a good idea as well..
 The $600.00(from HiFiHeaven)Audiolab M-One is absolutely hands down bargain of the century..I use one to drive Dynaudio Excite X-14's in my bedroom system streaming BlueTooth with excellent results.The M-One DAC is superb & music comes from a dead silent background.Headphone is also MUCH better than an afterthought & will drive any can you can plug in..The ONLY reason to spend more would be to feed a need to waste $...

If you want your son to be cool, send him with seperates.  If you want him to be bland, send an all-in-one.

I remember when I was in college salivating over Nakamichi tape decs, Marantz amps, separate turntables and FM tuners.  And oh the equalizers.

I had a Radioshack all in one.  It wasn't cool.


+1 on AudioEngine.  I used their A5+ powered speakers in my home office for years with a Raspberry PI Logitech Media Player streamer/music player.  That combination sounds surprising good.  I think their powered speakers would also work well with either their WiFi or Bluetooth streamers. And they also have a fairly decent subwoofer that can also connect to the speakers.

How about dusting off that pair of speakers collecting dust in the attic or garage and getting a pair of Vera-Links for $200 https://www.verafiaudiollc.com/products/best-audio-products/vera-link-53126868, your kid can use their phone to send music via Bluetooth and be happy! The Vera-Links are a pair of amplifiers small enough to be affixed to the back of speakers and with 50 watts each are powerful enough for almost any speakers, send them a Bluetooth signal from a phone or tablet and you have a simple affordable stereo system.

If you can find a good deal on a Yamaha WXA-50, it is a great little unit if a little dated. The Yamaha MusicCast app is very user friendly.

Easy recommendation:  WiiM pro plus (there are also two other less expensive WiiM models).

 Purely based on reviews and Sterophile naming it “component” of the year a bit ago, I just ordered the NAD Masters M33 BluOS Streaming Integrated Amplifier  for Hanukkah for my daughter. Not college, but her room.

She streams but also wanted my old pro-ject turntable. Will stick with some bowers 702 that never really did it for me.  

has everything in a neat box, just add wires.

I picked up an Arcam Solo Uno for my office for £300 (new) a couple of months back (originally about £650). Apart from an Aux-In all it does is stream. 

The Harmon Kardon / Arcam app is appalling (I could not get it to work and stay working) but for this purpose, Google Home suits my needs perfectly well and it streams Qobuz in HR very nicely indeed.

I would not invest a lot of money in a stereo system if my kid was living in campus housing.  Theft is always an issue, not to mention abuse of the equipment by drunk roommates.

I'd be looking at cheap bluetooth powered speakers, or one of the bluetooth Chinese amps and a pair of cheap Dayton Audio speakers.

I know I sound like an old crabby fart, but the kids should be focused on their classes and other activities and shouldn't be spending all their time in a comfortable dorm room.  In fact, the more the dorm room looks like a prison cell, the better.😁

Like Dino and rbertalotto above, I suggest going cheap.  A Fosi BT120A has Bluetooth and ample power output to drive speakers to dorm room levels.  Give him a household chore to complete so he earned it himself.  For speakers, Find a good used pair that fits his room size and musical tastes. 

I'd recommend any of the Edifier powered Bluetooth speakers. I've compared them to the Audioengine speakers and thought the Edifiers sounded much better. https://www.edifier.com/global/product-category/bookshelf-speakers

+1 for Bluetooth speaker. It kind a complicated to build and maintain audiophile environment with in college style of life. I suggest something like Harman Kardon HK SoundSticks 4-2.1 Bluetooth Speaker System. Nice build high quality BT system, pretty universal. Could be used with phone streaming or hardwired with computer, provides deep reach regulated bass. 

OP didn't mention budget, but I am very pleased with Arylic for my "not the main system"  $153 on sale

i have their streamer on a PA system in the garage.  I also have their bluetooth 50W amp driving some Boston Acoustic CR7 on the porch .  The link above is streamer plus amp.  I don't have the latest BT source (iphone) so when I say that  BT sound is just "ok", maybe that is dated.  The 50W amp sounds very good with an ifi DAC on the iphone and its analog inputs.

Streamer + powered speakers, or streaming amp with passives.  

Depending on your budget, I’d consider the Bluesound Power Node.He can use Internet Radio, Pandora, TuneIn, Radio Paradise,(Allfree) and Amazon HD, Qobuz and Tidal and a bunch more.

And as far as speakers, The Klispch RP 600m ll’s get great reviews are very reasonable priced.

All the best.

KISS - keep it simple and inexpensive.  My daughter is running KEF LS50s off a BlueSound PowerNode and is very happy with the setup.  I would keep the investment as low as possible, unfortunately theft is always a concern.  Keep the system as minimal as possible, there is never enough space in a dorm room.  A pair of active speakers that the user could cast Spotify to would be a good consideration too.  Good luck and cheers.  

I was in the market for a convenient system this year. I was looking hard at the streaming-amp options. I too had about settled on the Cambridge Evo when I realized I could go with active smart speakers. I ended up purchasing the KEF LS50 Wireless II's. The value for money they offer is incredible. I estimate that I would have spent an additional $1500 if I had purchased the Cambridge Evo + KEF LS50's. 

I will say that software and feature set is very important for this type of purchase. And the KEF app has been rock solid. 

i sorta agree with sfar--a pair of edifier bt speakers are cheap, easy and sound surprisingly pretty good. your kid has plenty of time to evolve and overspend on gear like the rest of us.

For $199, the Vera-Link sounds very good. Streams any service from your phone via Bluetooth. Just add passive speakers.


my 2 cents (unless money is no object): don't waste money on these compromises. Get him a decent used amp and speakers with a bluetooth streamer

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The M20 powered speakers by Q Acoustics are good choices, add a WiiM streamer for WiFi and Apple 2/BT connectivity.

The KEF LSX II is another option. No streamer needed. Connects to a WiFi network directly. More expensive than the Q, but more comprehensive.

A headphones-capable amp might be nice, but most college students are using earbuds and their phones.

Keep it all small.


I second the commentary that a dorm room can be tricky from a left, abuse standpoint.  Also isn’t likely that the environment will allow for the type of listening that would turn your son into an Audiophile.

I’d go on an entirely different direction, find a good Bluetooth speaker or speakers that connect to his phone.  Another option would be the JBL Boombox, rugged, water proof, built to withstand the elements, portable but definitely has the power to light up a dorm room.  Around $ 450 but will likely be on sale this holiday season.  I have one that we use when on the deck, around the pool.  Everyone that hears it is surprised at the fullness, bass it pumps out, not saying it is audiophile in sound quality, far from it but likely has a sound almost all College kids would love.  

I’ll third the Vera Link class D amps you velcro to the back of a pair of passive speakers.  If you also buy a Wiim Mini, you’ve got a perfect first system for less than $300.  And if the speakers are pretty good, it can sound great!

I have a Bluesound Powernode,  it is compact and fantastic. I use it with Spendor S3/5R2 speakers, sounds great 

Squarely in the "budget" camp... if they are musically inclined, get them a nice harmonica. If not, a kazoo.

Or, splurge on one of these:


Audiofactory has occasional sales at 15% off.

One thing to ask is whether he will be in a dorm or in an apartment? If in a dorm, I’d opt for the cheapest option discussed here - maybe the Bluesound Edge or Powernode (or even cheaper, one of those class-D streamer/amps by Arylic). My reasoning is that if you get him something "too good" or "too expensive and flashy" looking, it is very likely to be stolen if in a dorm room.

Been there, done that. Won’t do it again. Unless you consider $1200 "disposable chump change", it is worth considering.

Easy... I highly recommend the Cabasse Reilto.  Spectacular in a small package that will fill a shockingly large space and play college LOUD.  Stream from your phone and your done!

May I humbly suggest this solution 

The Vera-Link 

Thanks - Mark 

BF Deal $149 shipped 


Connect to any speaker - Wireless Streaming with any phone or tablet

Be aware that wifi hookup may not be easy as school wifi won't have an easy option for connecting non-popular devices. Everything connected needs to be authenticated so they know who is using the network. Makes sure you can send via bluetooth from a phone. My son has the KEF LSX II. They sound great for the size and price but he is limited to bluetooth only in his dorm room. Someone mentioned Sonos Play 1...we have a Play 5 and couldn't get it to work as it must have internet.