that's not really a problem. Laptop plugged into DAC with short USB cable, laptop display to TV via HDMI and operated by wireless keyboard and mouse. Laptop music and all other stuff backed up to seperate HDD
And that's precisely why I would prefer a dedicated streamer - I don't want the telly on in any way or form when I'm listening to music, it's acceptable for parties with friends but otherwise no. And faff around with a keyboard? Blasphemy
I think the point was that a laptop can be a complete media player and not just a music player.
Keyboard? What's wrong with a tablet?
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
No-one's disputing a laptop can be a complete media player - but it doesn't offer me the remote convenience of a dedicated device. Also, if I want to dabble in hi-res audio the laptop is out of the window - I don't want to manually change bitrate settings etc, or purchase expensive software to do so automatically. And how will a tablet communicate with the PC? I belive Foobar has such functionality. But I'd still prefer a streamer. And I have a laptop I use for my work and pleasure and would use it for ripping - I'd just copy them to a NAS.
Arcam Solo Mini/Monitor Audio RX1/Cambridge Audio 751BD/Samsung 37” LCD
Who's to say the computer isn't dedicated as a streamer? Laptops are cheap enough. A streamer is a basic computer and there is no reason why a computer cannot deal with varying bit rates on the fly. In addition, there are plenty of apps available for mobile devices such as tablets that act as remotes for computer based media players. XBMC and its remote app spring to mind, there are of course others.
There is nothing wrong with streamers or indeed the choice to use one, but they don't offer anything over a computer and this fact is important if you are new to streaming and already have a computer, which is quite likely these days.
Take the Mac min as an example. I use it to play DVDs, stream video, music and use it for a variety of other computer type jobs. It is accessible and controlled by any other device that I have linked it to in the house, so three laptops, iPhone and iPad all have access to it's drive content, all can remotely control it and stream from it or control its streaming. Its music library and any other content is accessible from anywhere in the house. Ignore the fact that its attached to active speakers, it could be on the end of some very expensive DAC.
So to answer the OPs question again, a streamer offers nothing over a computer because it is only a limited computer in itself. A laptop or dedicated Pc however, have not been neutered and retain the full potential of a truly multi media device, amongst other things.
Regarding the front end in question, it is the DAC and in particular the analogue output section where the magic happens and this could just as easily be in an external DAC as built into a streamer.
I like to think of myself as being open to new ideas.
I was a newly minted engineer when CDs came out (I am that old), and I remember reading laughably inaccurate articles in HiFi magazines about digital, complete with diagrams that looked like staircases, and post after post from readers about how they would never buy a CD...
I was an early adopter of streaming, back in the days when it was still 'Slim Devices' and mainstream HiFi magazines wouldn't even review network based players - post after post from readers that they would never give up their CDs...
I think we are close to another significant change - I have been posting about this for a couple of years, but it would seem that things are finally moving in that direction.
It makes no sense to have a separate streamer. The circuit board real estate is tiny, you end up with an empty box. There are real engineering reasons why it is dumb to have a streamer and DAC in separate boxes. OK, so lets put the streamer and DAC together (DAC's are also empty boxes these days). OK, so you still have a (nearly) empty box, why not put the amp in there as well? Finally, a bit of DSP magic and another amp, and you have a bi amped system. Still not much real estate used up, so why not put the whole lot in the speaker enclosure?
I am convinced that active, wireless, streaming speakers are the way of the future. Sonos already make them. Actives are already becoming more commonplace.
I am sure there will be post after post from readers about why they will never give up their separates, but there are real advantages in buying a complete solution. The chances of a home user being able to assemble a collection of separates to match a well engineered single box solution are small. When I last bought a car, it came with engine, gearbox and suspension already installed - each designed and optimised to work together.
Why not speakers / amps / dacs / streamers ?
You're probably right. But I went completely the other way. I want to use existing equipment (my stereo) and stream to that. For us the most convenient way is an Airport Express and a DAC. The great thing about the DAC is that it can also be used by our TV with optical out.
Our music is stored on a HDD that is connected to my MacBook. I can use an iPad as a remote control and we can stream Spotify from the iPad as well. Almost all of our CDs have been ripped to ALAC. The music streamed through the Airport Express and the DAC sounds as good or better as the last dedicated CD player I had.
I'm not sure if a Sonos set would sound as good as our stereo setup. It certainly wouldn't play our vinyl.
The Airport Express is a rather nifty device. We have used it in hotels where there was only wired internet to set up a wireless network. I don't think there is competition for that on the market. The only thing I don't like about the Airport Express is that it's limited to 16/48. If it could stream hires files it would be even better.
Mac Mini (2013), iTunes (ALAC), Airport Express, Cambridge Audio DACmagic, Yamaha R-S500 stereo receiver, Infinity Overture 1 speakers, Sony KDL40HX750, Sony BDP-S-590, Humax iHDR 5200c, Pro-Ject 1Xpression III Comfort with Ortofon 2M Red, Logitech Harmony Touch, Atacama Eris Eco HiFi stand
Overdose and andyjm - yes a PC is all very well and good but you did not really address my concerns. Overdose - with the money I spend on a Mac Mini I'd rather put that down to a dedicated streamer. I already have a laptop, a Blu-ray player, a LCD, so what else would I do with another computer? Yes, a Mac Mini could bring me remote control but I don't want the sonic compromises of Airplay etc.
It's not a matter of technical superiority of one option against another, it's down to personal preferences and needs. And I prefer a dedicated streamer or a variation thereof ala Sonos, or Cyrus - who give a myriad of options. Pricey yes, but I'm willing to save up even over a number of years to get the system I want. I just don't see a PC in that system - yet. You could say I've burnt my fingers yes, but I see a good hifi as a long-lasting emotional and lifestyle investment and I'd be willing to spend on something that's right from the get-go.
It's just horses for courses really.
Yes, a Mac Mini could bring me remote control but I don't want the sonic compromises of Airplay etc.
Store your music on the mini's internal drive and pipe straight into the dac of your choice. No need to use Airplay, nice to have the option to click on a Spotify or Youtube etc. link, for example, on your laptop and stream via Airplay to your hifi at the touch of a button, though.
The only benefit to me of a streamer would be the potential to buy something that matched the rest of my kit visually. But that would mean owning a load of Cyrus, Naim, Linn, etc.
Synology NAS + ATV2 > ADM9RS
Get a Sonos Connect, plug it into your DAC, it'll sound the same as your Airport Express.
Neither will your Airport Express, what's your point? You could plug an output from your amp into the Connect's line-in, play a record and then send that audio to any other Sonos unit in your house.
What you've described here is my ideal HiFi solution.
PC > AVI Neutron Five 2.1
Sony NWZ-A847 64GB Walkman > Westone UM3x
Ok, and how much would such an active system cost? Not much less than 2k right? I believe ADMs are around 3k? What I'm looking at to save up for is a Cyrus 8 DAC Qx and Stream X - that's 2 boxes with a 70w amp, top notch streamer, top notch DAC for just under 3K. Yes it's not active but it allows for much flexibility. I can even go cheaper if I forego the Qx dac upgrade. Or I could spend 300 quid more and get a X Power amp, and the top-range Stream XP Qx - this allows for immense flexibility still if I want to upgrade amplification - and still 2 boxes.
Yes it's not an active system but this example allows for great upgradeability if I choose. And I get to choose the speakers I want. Ideally I would not want to upgrade for a long time, but at least I know obsolescence would be far away, assuming Ethernet is still the gold standard for high-end streaming.
And equally important to me is being able to choose my music remotely, without Airplay etc etc. I want uncompromised streaming.
Ok, and how much would such an active system cost? Not much less than 2k right? I believe ADMs are around 3k?
The floorstaders. The standmounters are less than half that, if I'm up to date.
Formerly known as al7478...
HC: Panasonic PXP 42 V20; Panasonic DMP BD35; Humax Foxsat-HDR
Music: Optical out from Asus P7H55-M Motherboard into AVI ADM 9.1 speakers.
"Music will provide the light you cannot resist"
Well look I'm open to all options, but I don't think it would be feasible for me to import ADMs, since I'm not in the UK. I would have access to the mainstream brands like Dynaudio etc, so I might be able to audition their wireless speakers.
Beg your pardon, I missread and so replied with nonsense. The standmounts would be around 1300, so not that near 2K. Anyway...
I think I will stick to my stereo system. I'm not going to invest in a Sonos system.
© 2014 Haymarket Publishing