High End Streaming Devices

rebulx

rebulx

Audioholic Intern
Are these high end streaming devices worth the money? I'm guessing the DAC is better on the high end streaming devices vs an Apple TV? When you have a decent receiver with a good DAC do you need to spend the extra money?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
I'd just use a phone/tablet/whatever as most of the streams are now from the service's server direct to your renderer in any case. Keeping everything digital until the end is more palatable to some, but probably really doesn't matter. I'd look for measurements on audiosciencereview.com for verification of specs claimed. If the device offers you something you like in the way of appearance/functionality, tho....
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
Hi-End streaming devices. No other words, well except hi-end audio cables, met with more pure horse crap and snake oil salesmen.
If you're interested in serious education on the subject and prefer to stick to facts, not fantasies, strap in yourself in your chair and start reading this guy: http://archimago.blogspot.com/
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Hi-End streaming devices. No other words, well except hi-end audio cables, met with more pure horse crap and snake oil salesmen.
If you're interested in serious education on the subject and prefer to stick to facts, not fantasies, strap in yourself in your chair and start reading this guy: http://archimago.blogspot.com/
Thanks for that, I will have to peruse his site when I have some time. I see he does address some RPi options too.
 
davidscott

davidscott

Audioholic Field Marshall
Hi-End streaming devices. No other words, well except hi-end audio cables, met with more pure horse crap and snake oil salesmen.
If you're interested in serious education on the subject and prefer to stick to facts, not fantasies, strap in yourself in your chair and start reading this guy: http://archimago.blogspot.com/
Thanks for the link. I will definitely read it before I even think about a purchase.
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Audioholic Chief
When you have a decent receiver with a good DAC do you need to spend the extra money?
Not really! Most new high end receivers will support UPnP which offers quality without compressing the audio. With UPnP it sends the audio to your device as recorded on your computer or from the streaming service.
 
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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Not really! Most new high end receivers will support Airplay2 and UPnP which offers better quality as Airplay is compressing the audio. With UPnP it sends the audio to your device as recorded on your computer or from the streaming service.
The avrs are more about using DLNA, more an expansion on the UPnP concept.....
 
John Parks

John Parks

Audioholic General
Are these high end streaming devices worth the money? I'm guessing the DAC is better on the high end streaming devices vs an Apple TV? When you have a decent receiver with a good DAC do you need to spend the extra money?
For me, it really comes down to the UI, capability and ease of use. I have the Bluesound Node 2i, which is a great all rounder. The Bluesound app is great, but if one wants more, Roon is even better. Other streamers have their own OSs (most with Roon capability) so it is up to user preference. I recently had a test drive with a Lumin streamer and really liked it, though Lumin comes in at a much higher price point than Bluesound.

As far as built-in DACs are concerned, you are correct: connected to a receiver via digital input, it does not really matter and comes down to what OS the user prefers. Is there a difference between streaming devices using their analog outputs (chip/op amp/power supply, etc.)? Um, yeah.
 
rebulx

rebulx

Audioholic Intern
For me, it really comes down to the UI, capability and ease of use. I have the Bluesound Node 2i, which is a great all rounder. The Bluesound app is great, but if one wants more, Roon is even better. Other streamers have their own OSs (most with Roon capability) so it is up to user preference. I recently had a test drive with a Lumin streamer and really liked it, though Lumin comes in at a much higher price point than Bluesound.

As far as built-in DACs are concerned, you are correct: connected to a receiver via digital input, it does not really matter and comes down to what OS the user prefers. Is there a difference between streaming devices using their analog outputs (chip/op amp/power supply, etc.)? Um, yeah.
John would you mind elaborating more on that topic? I was looking at getting a Bluesound. I'm currently using an Apple TV and wasn't sure I would be able to tell a difference in sound quality.
 
P

pcosmic

Audioholic
Cambridge units look good, but, the DAC implementation in them is bad ( built by low iq dudes)
Are these high end streaming devices worth the money? I'm guessing the DAC is better on the high end streaming devices vs an Apple TV? When you have a decent receiver with a good DAC do you need to spend the extra money?
I will try and simplify it for you before some guys give you advice that will empty the bank account. In some cases, a good streamer/networkplayer+DAC combo unit can sound better than its implementation in a receiver. But, this may not always be the case for you, depending on how resolving your system may be.

Let's say you have a very good receiver like a Yamaha RX-A3080. It already has a phenomenal streamer/DAC implementation. Some Pioneer Elite receiver models used to have a phenomenal DAC implementation as well when you get higher on their chain. So what do you do without wasting cash? I think you're looking at a streamer/DAC combo because you are trying to setup a 2 channel system and you bought some 2 channel integrated amp?? Don't buy a separate streamer yet. Convert your receiver into a streamer and see how it sounds!!
Do you know that your receiver has a feature called ZONE 2? Connect your zone 2 lineout to the integrated amp. There should be an option to set the zone 2 lineout to a "fixed" output. Now, shut down your main zone and keep your zone 2 on....Eureka! Now, your receiver just got converted into a great streamer+DAC feeding your integrated amp. If it sounds really good, don't buy a streamer!!

But, you could be a unsatisfied guy. And this is the time when all the large fat snakes come out and start soakin you in snake oil. Guys like Kevin from Upscale Audio will show up dressed like a gimp and start giving you a nice sensual snakeoil massage! He will try to sell you a "music server" for 5000 dollars! bwaahahaha , If you were smart, you'd btchslap him all the way to Chinatown.

Now, keep in mind that diminishing returns will hit you like a brick pretty quick when it comes to DACs. But, there are some standalone DACs that will definitely sound better than the one on your high end receiver. But, they will cost a lot on their own. Try something like a Denafrips. Holo, etc R2R DAC (3k to 5k dollars). Yes, you will have to spend that much to see a 'significant enough' jump up from your good ol' receiver with its DS Dac. Plug your laptop into a Denafrips through the USB or a better idea is to get a optical from your PC (if it has one) into your DAC. It will sound pretty good.

Now, if you are still unsatisfied and you want to get that laptop or pc out of the chain because somebody told you it is noisy as fck (even though your ears may not have quite heard it). In that case, you can get something like a cheap Yamaha WXC-50 streamer TRANSPORT for 250 bucks. You are using it as a TRANSPORT only i.e connecting any one of its digital outputs to the DAC. The DAC itself on a WXC 50 is weak, it's intended design is to solely serve as a transport.. There is absolutely nothing i have seen that is able to beat a Yamaha WXC-50 used as a transport (for the quality and features it offers for a 250 to 300 dollars) IF you are only using it as a transport.

If you spent more on something like a Bluesound or a Marantz NA6006 or a Cambridge whatever.. and using it as a transport into a good DAC like the Denafrips, you are wasting cash because you're dropping money for the bluesound/marantz/cambridge etc built in DAC which you won't use.

Hope that gives you an idea.
 
rebulx

rebulx

Audioholic Intern
Thank you for the detailed response Cosmic. As I dive deeper into this hobby, I'm trying to understand this stuff. So stacking up DACs makes no difference as my receiver (RX-A1080) has one built in and will always use that one? Is that right? I almost purchased a dragonfly to improve sound quality when listening to music from my phone connected to my receiver. So that would of been a waste? The RX1080 will be replaced shortly, thinking of going pre/pro in the near future. I'm also using an Emotiva 5 ch G3, in a 7.2 setup.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
A receiver may take an analog signal from a dac and leave it unmolested, like with D&Ms multi-ch inputs or some units in a pure direct type of mode. If you want the avr to do some eq/dsp functions then the avr will need to convert the analog signal back to digital for the manipulation....and then back to analog. Some prefer not to have the extra conversion and just leave the digital to one final process. An external dac with an avr isn't needed. I sure as hell wouldn't buy anything from Fraudioquest, there's better if you need that type of device. I just use wifi to play back thru my avr from anything I use the phone for (either in the phone's memory or just using it as a remote for streaming services).
 
P

pcosmic

Audioholic
A receiver may take an analog signal from a dac and leave it unmolested, like with D&Ms multi-ch inputs or some units in a pure direct type of mode. If you want the avr to do some eq/dsp functions then the avr will need to convert the analog signal back to digital for the manipulation....and then back to analog. Some prefer not to have the extra conversion and just leave the digital to one final process. An external dac with an avr isn't needed. I sure as hell wouldn't buy anything from Fraudioquest, there's better if you need that type of device. I just use wifi to play back thru my avr from anything I use the phone for (either in the phone's memory or just using it as a remote for streaming services).
What analog signal and ADC are you talking about??? If i am playing digital flac or dsd files from my NAS, streaming tidal/Qobuz (digital), etc, there is no ADC anywhere to molest anything. The zone 2 tip i described on my comment above to convert a high end receiver into a streamer/network player/DAC gives me just that. The receiver provides me with a clean streamer/network player/DAC front end to a integrated amp and that's about it. If my integrated amp is a cursed purist piece with no tone controls etc, i gain all of that through my repurposed receiver.

If i want to use a turntable, i would just plug it straight into the phono pre on a good integrated amp.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
What analog signal and ADC are you talking about??? If i am playing digital flac or dsd files from my NAS, streaming tidal/Qobuz (digital), etc, there is no ADC anywhere to molest anything. The zone 2 tip i described on my comment above to convert a high end receiver into a streamer/network player/DAC gives me just that. The receiver provides me with a clean streamer/network player/DAC front end to a integrated amp and that's about it. If my integrated amp is a cursed purist piece with no tone controls etc, i gain all of that through my repurposed receiver.

If i want to use a turntable, i would just plug it straight into the phono pre on a good integrated amp.
Was referring to the use of a dac before the avr with a digital file like rebulx mentioned.
 

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