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.
I'm not advocating that you go out and buy a Mac mini, in fact, given that you already have a computer you don't really need much else. You could simply add a Sonos Connect or Apple AEX and you're good to go. Airplay is not a compromise by the way, but the equipment that it is employed within might well be at the moment.
I would say that a good DAC with an AEX/ATV or the Sonos would give you a better solution than a dedicated streamer in all respects. A streamer would just double up on what you already have.
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
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.
The ADM stand mounts are £1,250 which inc. DAC as well as amp/speakers. The floorstanders are about £3,250.
Yep, I was talking cobblers, as I said.
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"
Very few people mention expandability/upgradability during debates like this. That's where a computer wins hands-down.
I considered buying a streamer, for all of five minutes or so last year, but one major reason why I didn't choose one is they seem very 'closed shop' compared to computers. There's no guarantee that something you buy today can be easily enhanced to embrace technologies which haven't yet been thought of.
Technology is changing and advancing all time time with new functionalities and new ways of enjoying music, such as HD audio downloads and on-demand streaming-services like Spotify. Similar revolutions have occured on the AV side too (on-demand streaming from Netflix etc, online film rentals, HD film downloads), all of which a computer can take advantage of.
Unless you have a hopelessly outdated computer, then no matter what's round the corner, there's nearly always an 'app for that'. Or a free upgrade. Or some kind of downloadable hack or bodge.
Main system: Mac Mini 2011 • HRT II+ DAC • Marantz CD 63 mkII KI & PM66 KI • MS 10i speakers [borrowed]
In storage: Thorens TD160 (no cart) • Cyrus 2 & PSX • Cyrus tuner • Technics SL-P777 • Nakamichi DR-1
Good points, MF, though interestingly my SBT has endless upgrades and hacks available. Apparently something to do with a Linux kernal. I think that is an OS for nerds/experts - which I'm not.
I know people who say that even different server softwares sound different on some streamers... That's a bit beyond me at the mo!
Hi-Fi: Krell KAV-300cd, Michell TecnoDec/RB250/Grado Prestige Black1, KAV-300i amp, Transparent balanced interconnects and bi-wire to Sonus faber Concerto grand piano speakers, Nakamichi ZX-7 cassette deck, Logitech Squeezebox Touch, Hitachi FT-5500 and Sony S570ES tuners, BCD Engineering stand, RA Powerlink, Chord powerchord, Grado SR60i cans.
AV: Sony Bravia KDL-32EX503 telly, BDP-S370 player with QED HDMI. Currently unused: Denon AVR-1705, DVD-1710, KEF KHT1005.2
That sounds similar to the debates about different 'HiFi' audio players like Amarra, Pure Music, JRiver MC and Foobar2000 (no relation btw) and I agree it is a whole 'interesting' topic (or rather a topic ) in itself.
Generally I find in this debate, the views expressed are mostly based on speculation, rather than the actual comparison of a good Streamer vs "Mac 'n Dac".
If someone has actually done a back-to-back comparison of something like a Linn DS vs the alternative, it would be good to hear about it.
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
Gotta admit, CNO, you're one of the true believers, in the Australian sense. That's a compliment - I doffs my cap!
Sorry if I've missed a FAQ
Does a streamer offer any SQ or usability benefits over a laptop, with hi res audio files and internet radio connected by USB cable to a good quality DAC?
Many thanks for the info and comments. This has shown that for me there is no benefit of having a streamer as part of my long planned but still a long time in coming upgrade; which will probably include DAC, amp and speakers (or sub to go with GS10s). For the forseable future I would keep my CDs and player. However a DAC would allow me to benefit from high quality internet radio and to start collecting high resolution downloads via my laptop.
In the long term I can see that a streamer would be a must have if I ever have the time and inclination to rip all my CDs to a NAS
Musical Fidelity A3.5 CD, A3.5 int amp and A5 FM/DAB tuner, Monitor Audio GS10s, Chord Chorus 2 and Odyssey 2
Edit: I've been away a while but I see the forum still suffers from duplicate posts/operator error.....
What I believe is pretty much irrelevant.....it's just I think sweeping definitive statements should (ideally) have some basis of experience behind them.
Do any of the Linn streamers have balanced pre-outs? Might consider a comparison if he promises to turn off the Klimax Aktivs before I get there!
Synology NAS + ATV2 > ADM9RS
Yes, Akurate and Klimax have them.
FWIW. I will be interested in what you think.....either way.
What are you there to listen to?
I would be going purely to listen to the streamer. No real point in me listening to the Klimax as it's way out of my price range. Tbh, the Akurate would have to sound like a choir of angels to consider spending that much on a source. I've demoed the Sneaky before, but it was a few years ago - my memory of it was 'nice' and inoffensive, if that's not damning with faint praise, I'd have been happy to own it on SQ but not the control interface. I went in a couple of weeks ago to look at TVs and noticed he had most the Linn range in there, including the Klimax speakers which must be in the running for worst value product ever - I was genuinely shocked at how poor they were.
Anyhow, I'll pop in to satisfy curiosity if/when I have a free weekend.
Some things are worth experimenting with despite science telling us that there is no point - hence me spending a fortune recently on speaker cable & not regretting it. I know my brain can play tricks & subconsciously tell my mind that something's better (expectation bias) where ABX testing would undoubtedly "prove" otherwise. If I then state my own doubts about the veracity of ABX testing relying on short term memory, I'd be open to the accusation that I'm merely attempting to adjust reality to suit my own belief system.
On the other hand, having been trained as an engineer, I do not discount years of experience of using logic & knowhow to either fix stuff or think through technical stuff. Sitting in both camps enriches rather than confuses. So just what IS the difference between music streamed from a laptop to that from a dedicated streamer? The engineer in me tells me probably nothing for the simple reason that both are essentially the same damn thing packaged differently but running Microsoft Windows either overtly or covertly! We are not comparing vinyl to CD, afterall. They both have the same technology but the streamer is dedicated to playing music so cannot send emails. A a laptop/PC is a universal maching that can be configured to do any number of tasks simultaneously: a Jack of all trades but master of none? I'd speculate that a laptop not optimised for music delivery may sound worse but one could build a PC to match the best streamers. I cannot connect my Sony Vaio to my M-DAC using async USB due to the former's noisy switch-mode PSU - I'd have to fit a galvanic isolator or run the Sony from its battery. Fortunately, using Airplay is more convenient & just works but it does point to some, if not all laptops' PSUs not being fit for music replay over a wired connection.
I really don't see what the problem is. People have the option to go the streamer route or adapt their existing PC/laptop or even buy a shiny new one for the task. We collectively seem to be arguing that red is a better colour than green or whisky tastes better than gin. So some people prefer as few boxes as possible where others prefer many, stating that if their CDP breaks, they simply replace (or have repaired) with another that may well be better, then pointing out that something like a TV with built-in DVD playback just ain't that sexy. If a car's engine blows, we get a new engine. If a single solution box looses one function, we may or may not be able to get it fixed. The active speaker route with airplay, various wired digital input with remote volume control & function switching is an extremely elegant solution for those starting from scratch or for those willing to dispose of their existing kit. Many people prefer separate boxes for the sheer flexibility it gives them. Perhaps we should start respecting other's choices, afterall, we all consider the hardware secondary to out shared love of music, don't we?
"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds - the pessimist fears this is true."
James Branch Cabell
MAIN: Apple TV2, Mac Mini (controlled from various iThings using Remote), CA Azur 751BD & Panasonic P42V20B into audiolab M-DAC, feeding a Primare A34.2 class D power amp via XLRs, 2x 5m of Atlas Ascent 2 firing up Totem Arros. DALI Kubik Free in my kitchen
ON THE HOOF: iPhone 5S/Sennheiser MM450.
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