High End Streaming Devices

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pcosmic

Audioholic
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.
- 99% of receivers don't have a digital out which would let you bypass its internal dac.
- NEVER add more than one DAC to a chain (i.e additional ADC/DAC to a chain).
- Compared to the DAC implementation on the aventage line of receivers (especially the Yam RX-A3080), a DAC like the dragon fly is a piece of sht.
- As i said earlier, you would need to spend 3k to 5k on a good R2R DAC to hear a sonic improvement that's of any significance over the quality of Delta Sigma DAC implementation on flagship receivers like the RX-A3080, Pioneer Elite SC-LX904, etc.
- Pre/Pros cost a lot more simply because they sell in much fewer numbers than a flagship receiver (economy of scale). You won't hear any sonic differences between a high end Pre/Pro+multichannel amp combo and the equivalent flagship receiver.
- If you buy a flagship receiver, the receiver will do your hometheater chores for movies. After you repurpose it into a streamer/network player/DAC (as i described above) to feed a high end integrated amp, you have a dedicated 2 channel system as well. IF the integrated amp has a poweramp direct in, you can also use it to power your 2 fronts when you are watching movies (a.k.a relieve some load from the receiver running multiple speakers). I like to refer to it as a Hometheater/2 Channel Hifi SYMBIOTIC HYBRID setup.

Think it through, save cash and don't fall into rabbit holes. There are many threads out there with half baked advice that can shove you down the rabbit hole. Good luck.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
A rabbit hole like a $3-5k dac of a specific type will be audibly better?
 
P

pcosmic

Audioholic
A rabbit hole like a $3-5k dac of a specific type will be audibly better?
The point is...the DAC on a good receiver should be good enough for most guys out there. But, there are dudes out there who spend 50k 60k etc on speakers and 20k on room treatments. For those dudes, a 3k to 5k dac should be ok. You can even get a dac for 20k. But, after 3k to 5k on the R2R dacs i mentioned, diminishing returns are 300%. Lol

P.s Take a listen at a Denafrips Venus....i sht you not....it is layers and layers of sophistication man
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
The point is...the DAC on a good receiver should be good enough for most guys out there. But, there are dudes out there who spend 50k 60k etc on speakers and 20k on room treatments. For those dudes, a 3k to 5k be ok. You can even get a dac for 20k. But, after 3k to 5k on the R2R dacs i mentioned, diminishing returns are 300%. Lol

P.s Take a listen at a Denafrips Venus....i sht you not....it is layers and layers of sophistication man
I understand the denafrips measure well but I don't have any desire to go find one to "listen" to.....let alone what guys with more money than sense do based on percentages.
 
P

pcosmic

Audioholic
I understand the denafrips measure well but I don't have any desire to go find one to "listen" to.....let alone what guys with more money than sense do based on percentages.
R2R dacs don't measure well. Some things cannot be measured. The soundstage depth/layering of a Venus is a psychedelic trip. Tell me what variable you measured points to that. Nothing! It shts all over every 20k+ MSB & Vermeer i've heard...which is why i said diminishing returns are maxed for a dac at 3 to 5k.
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Audioholic Chief
I looked at buying a streamer, but once I auditioned Audirvana and realized this $100 software does everything a streamer could do ONLY better on my computer! It's so easy to use, great interface on the TV and even comes with a mobile app to control the computer remotely.

I have not found a single thing I want from a streamer that Audirvana can't do better and at a lot lower cost.
 
P

pcosmic

Audioholic
I looked at buying a streamer, but once I auditioned Audirvana and realized this $100 software does everything a streamer could do ONLY better on my computer! It's so easy to use, great interface on the TV and even comes with a mobile app to control the computer remotely.

I have not found a single thing I want from a streamer that Audirvana can't do better and at a lot lower cost.
If you're truly enjoying your music (sucked into audio nirvana) and finding it hard to make it to work with gear that cost a 100 dollars...that's it...stop right there...don't buy anything else...that's the discipline.
 
rebulx

rebulx

Audioholic Intern
Cosmic, I love your explanations, really helps break it down for me. But I don't understand, why are you suggesting the "hybrid" work around on my receiver? What is that giving me? Forgive my slowness here.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Cambridge units look good, but, the DAC implementation in them is bad ( built by low iq dudes)


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.
The streamer options and the DAC hats for the RPi are are very high quality, at a mere fraction of the price of any of these DACs/Streamers you are talking about here!

It should be noted that the RPi transmits the data to the DAC via GPIO pins, using the I2S protocol. (Try to) Find a commercial product that does this (and if you do, it won't touch the RPi price point).

There is just 1 big catch using the RPi.......it is NOT plug and play. You will have to put the pieces together, image the software, then configure it. It's not rocket science, and there are various excellent guides online. As long as you are OK with some DIY and learning a bit along the way, the RPi is ideal in this application.

I am working on some RPi zero NES PiCarts now, and as I was taking inventory and gathering parts, I realized that I had a spare RPi Zero (I usually use the RPi 3 or now 4) and a DAC HAT just sitting in the drawer. So, now I have an RPi streamer for the garage too :cool: :cool: :cool:
 

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