But the bit of the streamer that makes the difference sound quality wise is the DAC anyway - witness the number of Naim users who first buy a £3000 streamer and then feel the need to add a £2000 DAC (plus a £3-6000 power supply). To me a typical streamer is an internet tuner which can also get music from file storage which I don't actually have. If I want to play music on computer I'd plug a laptop into a DAC. The internet tuner bit is usually well-implemented with vTuner and thus easier to use than a puter but that's about it. Expensive streamers = large white elephants. I've owned a couple and have often felt 'what's the point?'
IME. A streamer is the sum of its design, including quality of power supply; clocking, how well upsampling is handled; order / quality of noise filters / shapers etc. Get this right, and the streamer will more than hold its own.
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
Are a lot of things you mentioned not handled by the DAC, especailly when connecting via USB as the DAC syncs the clocks both ends?
@ CnoEvil - it was reading your previous posts and enthusiasm for Linn streamers that pricked my interest today and led me to their web site and to start this thread.
All I want to do, is to bring different options to the table, so as people can listen for themselves and make up their own mind.
With Hifi, it's very easy to get tunnel vision or let old prejudices steer the decision (often wrongly).
If the dac is asynchronous, it will (I believe) deal with the clocking.
Here is Linn's description of what their DS does, which leaves the Dac playing a relatively small part, as they take over the processing (post.2): http://forums.linn.co.uk/bb/showthread.php?tid=15456
If you take the view that its all just a bunch of 1s and 0s and nothing really makes a ounce of difference to the SQ until you get to the DAC I am sure you will very happy with a home computing device to DAC set up.
I would only advise anyone looking at a digital HiFi set up is to go and check out what is available with a open mind and make your choice based on how you feel about the music.
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Cyrus Stream XP, Arcam AVR 400, Cyrus Pre DAC QX, 2 Cyrus X Power in mono, Apple TV, Kef R300, Kef R100, KEF R200c , Chord Carnival SilverScreen, Rel T2 with Chord Cobra Plus, Chord Signature digital interconects, Chord Signature Tuned Aray Analouge interconects, Russ Anderws Power Max Plus Mains Leads, Sky HD, Denon 2010 Blu-Ray.
Home Office- Cyrus Streamline , PMC Twenty21
How is it possible to improve on any hifi streamer or computer that can output a BIT PERFECT data stream to an external DAC?
It's already BIT PERFECT (the clue's in the name BTW).
PC > AVI Neutron Five 2.1
Sony NWZ-A847 64GB Walkman > Westone UM3x
By a cheap dac and be happy.........why look further, as companies like DCS, Linn, Devialet and Naim are simply taking the P......Foo merchants, the lot of 'em.
Listening for yourself is way over rated, as anything that defies science can't possibly be right.
I'd be up for checking out a Linn DS to see how it fairs against my Sonos and Leema dac which btw, sounds superb with the coaxial output!
Synology 212j, Sonos Connect, Leema Elements Dac, Pro-Ject Debut, Arcam A38, Kef R100, Chord cables
...and I'd like to hear your verdict (no matter what it is).
Can't imagine it is anywhere near as good as a laptop and some AVIs though...
It's just a matter of time until every other manufacturer flies a white flag and surrenders.
Steve, I know you are passionate about fighting "foo", but there's no need to SHOUT.
You can improve the SQ of a streamer by addressing noise (chiefly from the PSU) and jitter (which has several origins, some negligible, some not).
These effects are measurable.
What classical music are you listening to?
I have a Stream X2 and a Mac mini using Audirvana Plus.
The Stream X2 can be switched on quickly, controlled via an app. You can browse, stop and play at the whim of your index finger.
The Mac mini sounds just as good. I can use the Remote app to control I-Tunes just as I would to control the streamer. But I have to sign into the Mac mini (or leave it on / sleeping). The Mac mini has to be connected to a monitor if you don't have a tablet device. The Mac mini is often getting up to other things like back-ups, software updates.
The purist in me says the streamer is best.
Both options need a decent DAC.
LOUNGE - Cyrus CD Transport, Cyrus Stream X2, Cyrus 8xpdQX with PSX-R in pre-amp config, dual Cyrus Mono X in bi-wire configuration with dual PSX-R / VdH The Wave interconnects, PMC Twenty 22 and matching stands.
MY DEN - Mac Mini with Audirvana Plus, Audiolab 8200CD, Audiolab 8200A, Pathos Aurium / Sennheiser HD800, Monitor Audio GX50 / GS stands
SURROUND - Marantz BD5004 / NR1601, Monitor Audio RX centre / RX2 front / B&W 685 rear / Velodyne mini BVE
I think big ticket streamers are a rip off, although it doesn't suprise me at all that some of them cost what they do. That's the hifi market for you. Bit perfect streams are easy to achieve, jitter can be reduced way below audible levels by any decent dac.
By decent dac, I mean something that has a variety of digital transports in mind in its design - if it needs a very low jitter transport to sound good I wouldn't consider it. The only dac I've personally heard that seemed jitter sensitive was a Cyrus dac-xp - sounded good with the matching CD transport, sounded like a cat being sick with my Mac mini.
Synology NAS + ATV2 > ADM9RS
Am I missing the point?
I'd be interested to hear different views....
no, you're not missing the point. A streamer is basically a computer, probably running a version of linux in a box without all the keyboard and mouse gubbins and only does one thing.
Some people have computers that sound like jet enginges when they turn them on, so it's understandable they don't want them running to listen to music. For some people it's conceptual barrier - ie computers don't play music, that's what stereos do. For others they may use both, for some it's costs etc. It just all depends on what you want and how you want to do it.
As far as I can tell, it is not clear whether any streamers use Linux, or Windows or Unix blah blah blah - it's meaningless if they do or don't. And Linn's streamers are decidedly different from all others in that it commands the media server to push the data towards it, whereas the others pull the data from the media servers.
To simply equate streamers as PCs without external interfaces is patently rubbish - because this would be true of any electronic device. You just equate them for your own expediency. Companies like Naim have written specialised streaming software for their products. The most expensive Alienware and DAC pairing would not contain this.
And if you want to play hi-res audio the PC is the pits, because you have to manually fiddle with the settings to change back and forth. Oh there is software to automate this but you'll pay through the nose for it.
Also, would you also equate Cyrus's Stream X streamer as a PC? It has no DAC, no preamplifier, so what would you describe it as? According to all detractors' logic here modern amplifiers would also qualify as just 'stripped down PCs'.
NAD to all their fanboys offer great VFM, yet in their new digital range they reserved streaming for their more expensive amplifier. The D 3020 offers only poor old Bluetooth which even in AptX guise will not be the best in audio quality. And even the more expensive model handles only the half-fat 24/96 format for streaming. And it doesn't just come down to the DAC cost - as LG have proven with their new phone, and as WHF's review has proven it's not just the DAC that dictates quality.
Streamers also offer the convenience of dedicated remote controls. Yes this can be achieved via PC but again it's a pain. My main beef is just with those who summarily dismiss good streamers as offering no value whatsoever, when they clearly do for many people.
Arcam Solo Mini/Monitor Audio RX1/Cambridge Audio 751BD/Samsung 37” LCD
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