I recon this all depends on what you want out of your set up.
I have streamers in 2 rooms that are fed by a NAS which I can remote access from the office etc. So for me all my tunes are in one place and I can access them from everywhere. If I wanted to put more tunes in the bedroom I could just add a streamer up there and so on.
If I only wanted Music in one place them maybe yes a DAC "n" MAC is a good solution but still in this case external storage is so cheap and good streamers are not that expensive so why not? What if I want to browse the internet on my Laptop and listen to music at the same time you cant unless you have a cable from the Laptop to the Hi Fi , you have a load of Laptops knocking about or you go wireless and personally I dont think Airplay type solutions are that great for the enthusiast much in the same way as I dont think a Tesco £2.00 chicken is that nice but I can appreciate that the vast majority of the population would find it acceptable.
Hi Fi - Cyrus Stream XP, Cyrus Pre DAC QX, 2 Cyrus X Power in mono with PSX-r
AV - Arcam AVR 400 ARCAM BDP 300, Apple TV , Rel T2
Speakers - Kef R300, Kef R100, KEF R200c
Wires - Chord Signature digital interconects, Chord Signature Speaker Cable, Chord Signature Tuned Aray Analouge interconects, Russ Anderws Power Max Plus Mains Leads
Home Office- Cyrus Streamline , Chord Signature Speaker Cable, PMC Twenty21
What do you find wrong with Airplay?
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
I'm really not sure of the benefit having read a load of opinions on the Cambridge Stream Magic 6, mostly complaints about it not working and this is product of the year and costs £700, I really can't see the point. Why not just plug a PC/Laptop into a dac and away you go.
I turn on my computer and activate the remote, which also opens iTunes, I then browse my library, select music and play. I'm not sure what is more difficult about that than using a dedicated streamer. The looks are a non issue with the Mac mini, it's a non descript small silver box and can be completely hidden from view if need be, no aesthics issue.
Straight out of the box is how I use the Mac and iTunes BTW. No faff.
I agree with you entirely as I use the same set-up (headless mostly as well, expect when it's streaming iPlayer etc), but I do appreciate that some people are going to prefer something which is more like a traditional piece of hifi, both in appearance and operation.
Main system: Mac Mini 2011 • HRT II+ DAC • Lacie 3TB Cloudbox NAS • Marantz CD63KIS • Marantz PM66 KI • EB Acoustics EB2
In storage: Thorens TD160 (no cart) • Cyrus 2 + PSX • Cyrus tuner • Technics SL-P777 • Nakamichi DR-1
You can't browse the internet on your streamer either, at least the option to do so is there with a computer, even one which has been purchased solely as a media server, should you desire. Hopefully your bullet lodged between your toes and didn't hurt too much. (Just messin')
Another factor is cost. I can buy a £1,000 DAC, a cheap Windows computer with a 1TB drive and have change from £1,500, even if I factor-in the cost of some fancy audiophile music player. Will a streamer of the same price give me the same sound quality? Genuine question not a p*sstake...
I think another reason some might prefer a streamer is the perception that they're buying a product which has been optimised for one purpose right out the box. There is still a fear among many when you mention 'computer': the room's going to be a plethora of wires, keyboards, monitors, mice, need to buy virus checkers, register software, download updates, oh my goodness a big red X has appeared on screen, what do I do crikey I only wanted to play Lina Zaveroni's Greatest Hits!
And if not a fear, a belief that computers are somehow a jack of all trades but master of none unless you have a Masters in computer science. Bits, bytes, bit-perfect rips, hifi audio players, FLACs and ALACs. Blimey where's the big button on the front which says "Rip the CD I've just put in, tag it and store it?"
The (streamer) manufacturers of course love all this and emphasise how streamers are so easy to use, one touch rip, one touch play, does everything for you, all in a box, no nasty Windows/OSX updates, nothing to bite you and no viruses. Then to cinch the deal some of them have spin-doctors who are highly-trained agricultural-grade sewage-spreaders, spewing such odorous claims that rips made by their streamers sound superior to those made by computers, even though it would be probably possible to prove at bit-level that the rips are immaterially different, and maybe even completely identical.
Excellent last two posts chaps, that just about sums up the two sides. The major's last para is spot on and shows the solution to the two sides coming together (see through the sewage).
HiFi / A/V / Bedroom
I still think the benefit of a streamer is in how you consume the data.
So the set up for digital music reproduction is Data Storage > Data Presentation > Data Conversion to Analogue > Analogue presentation to listener. In many cases this can be done all in one device or each element can be spit out in a number of different configurations.
For those users who store and present their data on a personal computing device I would certainly recommend backing up somewhere, either locally on a external hard drive or on a cloud based solution.
For those users that want to have one central data storage device, which I would also recommend keeping a back up, and any number of data presentation, data conversion and analogue presentation devices it may well be that the NAS > any number of streamers > DAC ( internal or external) > Amplification is the answer. For a user like me for example that has a large amount of Data (Audio and Visual) and would like to view that data in a number of locations on all my devices - Apple TV (hacked), Streamers, Tablet Devices, and Personal Computing Devices in locations both local and remote this kind of set up works.
So essentially you split the front and the back end of your system into one central (backed up) data storage area and a number of access devices feeding from that.
I still maintain, if at some point you build a hi-res library a standalone streamer is the way to go, otherwise you'll be doing a lot of faffing on a PC. I too don't disagree that in SQ terms there may be no difference, but personally I'd be more comfy without a PC.
Arcam Solo Mini/Monitor Audio RX1/Cambridge Audio 751BD/Samsung 37” LCD
I agree 100%.
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
I think what I agree with is it's all down to whatever solution you personally are more comfortable with. Even with hi-res audio I don't find using my computer to be an issue, BitPerfect running behind iTunes does all the bit-depth and bit-rate switching without any intervention from me, but I can very easily see why others would find even setting that up to be a hassle compared to the 'plug-n-go' solution theoretically offered by a dedicated streamer.
Probably the most entertaining and best-written comment I've read on this forum. Hilarious, and true! Thank you MajorFubar!
Study: Synology ds212j (+ DS Audio) & Sonos ZP90 (Spotify & Tune-In Radio)→ Metrum Acoustics Octave DAC→ Cyrus Pre-XP (with PSX-R) + 2 Cyrus X Power → Vienna Acoustics Hadyns (Study) & ATC SCM11s (Kitchen), Beresford TC 7220 speaker switch, HiFi Racks Podium
Living Room: Macbook Air (2012 - iTunes + Bit Perfect) → M2Tech HiFace 2→ Metrum Acoustics Octave DAC →Cyrus DAC XP with PSX-R + Cyrus Mono Xs→ Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Baby Grands
To be fair the PC / MAC to dac solition is the more basic set up and better for the less tech savy.
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