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Benefit of a streamer?

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Kevin Stephens's picture
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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? 

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Overdose's picture
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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

Kevin Stephens wrote:

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? 

No.

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

Usability - yes, because you don't need your laptop in the same room, or at all, depending on where your music is stored.  And you don't need a set of cables to trip over either!  You might prefer to use a NAS or set of USB pens for your music, bearing in mind hard disks are not for life.  You can usually control a streamer from a remote or an iThingy app.

SQ - debatable, but I doubt that my mate would have bought a Linn Klimax DS (c £12,000) if a £300 laptop would have sounded as good.  Ditto for any Linn or Naim streamer probably.  

My used Squeezebox Touch was cheaper than most DACs worth using, and that's is a streamer with DAC combined.  You can use an external DAC too if you have the money, and can find a better sounding one.

 

 

 

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Kevin Stephens's picture
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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

Thanks nopiano

nopiano wrote:

Usability - yes, because you don't need your laptop in the same room, or at all, depending on where your music is stored.  And you don't need a set of cables to trip over either!  You might prefer to use a NAS or set of USB pens for your music, bearing in mind hard disks are not for life.  You can usually control a streamer from a remote or an iThingy app.

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

Quote:

SQ - debatable, but I doubt that my mate would have bought a Linn Klimax DS (c £12,000) if a £300 laptop would have sounded as good.  Ditto for any Linn or Naim streamer probably.  

Hmmpuzzled ; looking forward to the debate....typing away

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

Kevin Stephens wrote:

Hmmpuzzled ; looking forward to the debate....typing away

You won't hear anything new if that's what you're hoping

 

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

professorhat wrote:

Kevin Stephens wrote:

Hmmpuzzled ; looking forward to the debate....typing away

You won't hear anything new if that's what you're hoping

+1

If you are looking for a debate to make your decision, I will save you the bother. There is only one way to know for sure and that is to listen to several options. If you cannot get to listen to the various options, then it's down to what marketing spin you believe.

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Kevin Stephens's picture
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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

Kevin Stephens wrote:

Sorry if I've missed a FAQ

Oops, should have searched properly:

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/what-is-the-point-of-a-streamer

 

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

A dedicated streamer is great for those who don't want to mess with either a PC or laptop. The most important issues are the file format (MP3, flac etc) & the quality of the D to A conversion. A stremer isn't processing other tasks, doesn't threaten to reboot to load updates but may well be running an embedded version of Windows.

Some streamers just require a pair of active speakers to complete the system so are attractive to some for that reason alone. Some very popular solutions such as the Logitech SBT were dropped, leaving a big hole in the market.

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

busb wrote:

A dedicated streamer is great for those who don't want to mess with either a PC or laptop. The most important issues are the file format (MP3, flac etc) & the quality of the D to A conversion. A stremer isn't processing other tasks, doesn't threaten to reboot to load updates but may well be running an embedded version of Windows.

Some streamers just require a pair of active speakers to complete the system so are attractive to some for that reason alone. Some very popular solutions such as the Logitech SBT were dropped, leaving a big hole in the market.

If using a computer as a streamer, all non vital processes can be turned off. A computer can play ALL media file types.

The computer is a streamer and more besides. A streamer is just a media player.

My computer has never auto rebooted or had any kind of playback issues related to concurrent running processes or updates.

 

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

The OPs question was whether or not a streamer offers anything over a computer/DAC combination. It doesn't, they are one and the same thing for streaming purposes, if anything the streamer is less versatile.

The argument that the computer needs to be on to stream is not valid, how well do streamers work when switched off?

When using a price comparison with high end streamers, as if it is actually relevant, then the counter to that is there are many very expensive DACs to choose from, so a computer audio set up can be just as expensive as any other high end system.

 

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

Overdose wrote:

The OPs question was whether or not a streamer offers anything over a computer/DAC combination. It doesn't, they are one and the same thing for streaming purposes, if anything the streamer is less versatile.

The argument that the computer needs to be on to stream is not valid, how well do streamers work when switched off?

When using a price comparison with high end streamers, as if it is actually relevant, then the counter to that is there are many very expensive DACs to choose from, so a computer audio set up can be just as expensive as any other high end system.

 

I have not & probably never will buy a streamer myself but forums covering the topic are filled with posts arguing over what version of firmware, whether or not to use WASPI drivers, whether or not the stream is bit-perfect or not. It ain't difficult to work out why many can't be doing with audio under windows. Mac users seem to have an easier time! The streamer option may not give any advantages regarding SQ but convenience, YES!

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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

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

busb wrote:

Overdose wrote:

The OPs question was whether or not a streamer offers anything over a computer/DAC combination. It doesn't, they are one and the same thing for streaming purposes, if anything the streamer is less versatile.

The argument that the computer needs to be on to stream is not valid, how well do streamers work when switched off?

When using a price comparison with high end streamers, as if it is actually relevant, then the counter to that is there are many very expensive DACs to choose from, so a computer audio set up can be just as expensive as any other high end system.

 

I have not & probably never will buy a streamer myself but forums covering the topic are filled with posts arguing over what version of firmware, whether or not to use WASPI drivers, whether or not the stream is bit-perfect or not. It ain't difficult to work out why many can't be doing with audio under windows. Mac users seem to have an easier time! The streamer option may not give any advantages regarding SQ but convenience, YES!

But that is assuming that people want to bother with settings in the first place. You can just play any media without touching any settings, it's not mandatory to tweak.

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

Overdose wrote:

busb wrote:

Overdose wrote:

The OPs question was whether or not a streamer offers anything over a computer/DAC combination. It doesn't, they are one and the same thing for streaming purposes, if anything the streamer is less versatile.

The argument that the computer needs to be on to stream is not valid, how well do streamers work when switched off?

When using a price comparison with high end streamers, as if it is actually relevant, then the counter to that is there are many very expensive DACs to choose from, so a computer audio set up can be just as expensive as any other high end system.

 

I have not & probably never will buy a streamer myself but forums covering the topic are filled with posts arguing over what version of firmware, whether or not to use WASPI drivers, whether or not the stream is bit-perfect or not. It ain't difficult to work out why many can't be doing with audio under windows. Mac users seem to have an easier time! The streamer option may not give any advantages regarding SQ but convenience, YES!

But that is assuming that people want to bother with settings in the first place. You can just play any media without touching any settings, it's not mandatory to tweak.

Consider this.Someone uses their laptop to play music from without messing with the settings. They are persauded to try a streamer at home & finds it sounds suffiently better to consider buying one. You are rightly saying that computer audio can sound just as good as a streamer but unless that installation is optimised, there's a good chance a streamer will sound better because it's already been optimised for its single task. Whether or not either of us have the technical skills to optimise an installations mean Jack to someone who doesn't. Some people just don't like PCs or laptops so a streamer is ideal for them - the fact they are paying more than we would is their choice. If a dealer tells a potential customer that a streamer is always better, he/she is lying or mistaken. If the dealers says streamers need less configuration, I'd nod without buying one. Besides, some like their stereo system to look like a stereo system with nicely matching bits.

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James Branch Cabell

 

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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.

Overdose's picture
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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

I agree with some of your points, but it depends on what you want a digital streamer to do. If it is simply to stream music from an online source, then that is fairly straightforward. If however, it is for replay of ripped music, stored on a NAS, I'd argue that the majority of people tech savvy enough to rip and store said music in the first place, would be completely 'au fait' with either technology and of course, there is also the contentious issue of the real need for bit perfect playback anyway, ie how much difference does it make in the grand scheme of the whole system?

Given that most people have a computer of some description in their house, a streamer is going to offer no more than what the owner currently has. I would agree that they are easier to use in some circumstances, but would not offer any more than this marginal benefit, of course, there does not need to be a benefit for someone to want to buy something. Many other factors come in to play, such as you mentioned, the aesthetics and brand name even.

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

Kevin Stephens wrote:

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 Tongue

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RE: Benefit of a streamer?

Saying a dedicated streamer is no better than a PC is the saying the same about a dedicated CD player. There are some of us who don't want to faff around and want to choose the music from the sofa - sure enough this may be possible with a PC, Airplay, ATV etc, but I'd prefer a device devoted to the duty, and a NAS can be hidden out of sight. This would include a Sonos.

And sure enough my aim at year-end is to get myself a streaming sytem, circumstances permitting.

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