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Streamers that stream better

Discussion in 'audio' started by yuckyamson, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. yuckyamson

    yuckyamson pfm Member

    okay friends.

    So I've finally given into the forces of social pressure and media constipation and sat down on the great toilet of technology, given a good old shove and am now cathartically listening quite a bit to Tidal.

    (if the above sounded a bit crass.....tee hee.)

    What I've noticed is obviously the differences between DAC's doing the work but also even on a PC that running the tidal app is much better than using the web interface. Dunno why. Don't care why, but care about what else.

    I also have a Sonos connect elsewhere in the house. Now forgetting anything to do with interface for a second, what would be some reasonably priced (in steps), for sound quality improvements?

    Think under 400
    1000 and up.

    Thoughts and suggestions welcome. I want to know what will be a notable improvement from the S. Connect but in between, say, an Innuous or something like that.
  2. manicatel

    manicatel pfm Member

    Bluesound Node2i, usually £499, currently £399. I've yet to hear anything significantly better (& better to use, as a LOT of Other stuff have rubbish apps) under £1k.
    Above that, choose your flavour, Naim, Aurelic, Innuos etc etc.
    Some people might suggest concentrating on the DAC for more SQ improvements, so as a mid-long term plan, keep the Node2i, go out digitally from it to a higher quality DAC.
  3. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    I am more of a Mac guy nowadays. The macOS version of TIDAL includes options which help to optimise the path audio takes through certain macOS subsystems. Maybe the WIndows version does something similar? Both the Mac and Windows TIDAL apps perform partial unfolding of MQA content, whereas the web app probably does not.

    I have options at each of the price points you mention, but I would really like to know more about your other equipment and requirements before making any recommendations.
  4. James

    James Lord of the Erg\o/s

    I'm about to head off to pick up a new Bluesound Node2i to bust my streaming cherry.
  5. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    Got a Node 2i earlier this week and I’m delighted with it.
  6. yuckyamson

    yuckyamson pfm Member

    Well firstly, I'm not in the UK. So I'm not really a customer per se.

    Second I'm going into an Arcam DAC-R and then a Linn pre/power and Tannoy R3's.

    I really don't wish to use a mac computer. I want to know what the Rega Planar of Streamers are. I like the bluesound option, are there others? Like an Allo?


  7. orangeart

    orangeart KJF Audio Ltd.

    Have you tried looking at the Arylic s50pro? Most of the functionality not the above ,half decent DAC great prices
  8. Marchbanks

    Marchbanks Hat and Beard member

    How does it compare in SQ to your Squeezeboxes?
  9. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    Can’t really say as I’ve also swapped amp since. I *think* it may be slightly better but I can’t be sure...
  10. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    I am still happy to offer recommendations if that is helpful and I can answer any questions you have about the products I sell or the other products I have tried. They might also help someone else, who might be based in the UK and might as a result decide to shop here in future. I sell streamers and music servers from Auralic, Innuos, Matrix Audio, Aurender, Hegel, miniDSP, Mytek, Exogal, Roon and Bluesound. I have also tried most of the other recognised brands in this space.

    I am not suggesting that you need a Mac. I was just speculating that the Windows version of the TIDAL app might have audio optimisations equivalent to the ones in the Mac version, none of which would be available from the web app. That might account for the quality difference you experience between native Windows app and the web app.

    The Bluesound Node 2i is a great budget option. It is currently £399 (20% off) in the UK but I have no idea if that promotion is available where you are. For £949 you can have a terrific little streaming DAC from Matrix Audio called the Element i. £1,149 gets you the miniDSP SHD Studio, which is really an audio processor designed for room correction and/or subwoofer integration, but also happens to include a feature rich music streamer. You would need an external DAC for the SHD Studio, but there is also a full width SHD model with built-in DACs for £1,599. For £1,695 you can have the Element i's larger sibling the Element M. £1,999 gets you the Auralic Altair G1 and there are plenty of other options over £2,000.

    You mentioned Innuos in your original post. If you are looking for a really excellent turnkey music server with painless CD ripping and library management then this is a great option. The entry level Zen Mini has the same software and features found on the pricier models, plus a few extras like a built-in DAC and S/PDIF outputs. As you move up the range the built-in DAC is removed but you get additional audio optimisations, such as better power supplies, better clocks, custom boards and SSD storage (for silent operation). All models support a range of integration options including Logitech Media Server, UPnP and Sonos, and they work with TIDAL, Qobuz and Spotify music streaming services. By flipping a switch on the settings page, you can easily turn your Innuos server into a Roon Core.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
    monya likes this.
  11. JemHayward

    JemHayward pfm Member

    I'm firmly of the belief that the actual streamer itself makes no difference to the sound, so, what you are looking at is convenience and interface. My system is Squeezebox based and in 'public' facing rooms I use a Squeezebox touch as everyone can understand it. In the main system we wouldn't interface with the box itself, so I use Volumio/Squeezelite on an RPi and control via the interface on my phone / laptop.

    Decent DAC you like the sound of, and you are up and running.
    Del monaco likes this.
  12. James

    James Lord of the Erg\o/s

    Better late than never, they say. I'm streaming wirelessly from Tidal (Hifi service) now to a very nifty Bluesound Node 2i. It sounds surprisingly good. The next step is to use the DAC on my Densen B-440XS. Can anyone recommend a good but cost effective RCA terminated digital interconnect? I understand they need a specific impedance (75R?) to minimise transmission errors/reflections, which is why I shouldn't use audio interconnects. Apparently.

    I'm also curious how a stereo signal passes along via a single digital interconnect.
  13. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    Get a Belkin or Amazon Basics if it achieves the correct spec. Well made and sound as they should. Or Qed which are also good vfm. Don’t fall for the claims of other wallet rumbling cables.
  14. Yomanze

    Yomanze pfm Member

    There is no such thing as a true 75R connection using RCA plugs and sockets, due to the geometry of the connectors. For this, you need to use BNC. Back in the real world through, where RCA is mainly used, these are your best bet: (Belden 1694A with Canare connectors).

    As for how the data is sent in stereo, there are preamble bits at the beginning of each word, which will mark them as channel A or channel B.
    James, Amber Audio and Del monaco like this.
  15. JemHayward

    JemHayward pfm Member

    I had some leads made up using Belden 1694A with Canare connectors, and they worked nicely, but so did other RCA leads I had so I suspect it's not a big issue.
  16. SteveS1

    SteveS1 I heard that, pardon?

    I wouldn't blow a large amount of money on a streamer unless an on-board DAC was pretty special - even then I'm not fond of 'all in one' anything, I like the flexibility of stand alone DACs and there are many fabulous options for much less than people routinely spunked on CDPs. Things get pretty marginal with DACs and diminishing returns kicks in very early. The streaming side should make no difference unless something is wrong, so pick an interface that you like. This is all good news for the wallet.
  17. flatpopely

    flatpopely Prog Rock/Moderator

    Not a troll post, I listen to a lot of Tidal and Spotify. What, in terms of SQ, does a streamer give over a PC connected to a good DAC?
    Vincent52 likes this.
  18. HiFiman

    HiFiman Don't tell him Pike

    Hi James. I use Mark Grant cables, quality and price is excellent.
    Strictly Stereo and James like this.
  19. Dozey

    Dozey Air guitar member

    The Lindemann Network bridge and player are excellent, less than £1k and small and unobtrusive.
  20. James

    James Lord of the Erg\o/s

    I like in-built, quality DACs too. In fact, I've never once owned a separate, stand-alone DAC. My opportunity is to simplify connections to my preamp, which has only two line level inputs (used for CD and LP) and one tape loop (for the cassette deck). If I feed the digital output of the streamer to the digital input of my CD-P, it can share the same line-level preamp input, and get the use of a pretty damn good DAC of the Densen.

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