No value in sound quality if you gave a good DAC. It just depends what is best for you in terms of convenience and user interface.
I’ve tried a few combinations of computer, Apple PC and DAC and the best to date, both in sound quality and simplicity is storing all my music on a NAS drive with dual mirrored drives using RAID config and use a Blusesound Node 2 to stream content from the NAS and the internet
Why the NAS drive? - if a drive fails you simply replace it and the RAID takes care of copying everything from the old drive to the new drive - but you do need server quality drives for longevity. I tried using regular drives and one of the drives failed in 6 months - but the recovery was so simple - the server grade drives are like build like tanks
Why the Bluesound and not the MAC? - I got fed up with the software upgrades creating incompatibility. Also - the onboard DAC was better than my upgraded/tweaked Schiit Bifrost - much better!
I now have Bluesound Node 2 on my audio system, A Powernode 2 on my TV and a Pulse Mini for outdoor music
The Bluesound Interface is one of the easiest and most intuitive I have tried ( even my Wife can work it ) and their software updates always work.
Their support is top notch also - never failed to resolve a problem yet
Hope that helps - Steve
John Atkinson's recent Stereophile review of the Ayre QX-5 Twenty Digital Hub suggests its digital-to-analog processing is superb, and when couple with the KX-5 Twenty preamp so is the resulting sound.
Files from the iMac are backed up daily by Time Machine to an external hard disc, so I assume the music files are among them. I pay a fee for Cloud space, but I don't know if files are stored there or if I need to direct then there. I haven't bothered learning about the Cloud, and may be missing a lot.
A Bluesound Node 2 is inexpensive enough I might try it as a option; the same cannot be said of an Aurender N10.
I suspect my current setup is all I need if I can get the Roon remote app to run on the iPad.
Tremendous difference between a laptop and a purpose-built music server. Those who say no just don't know. My server beats any laptop, the differences are undeniable and obvious.
Be sure to check the Stereophile review of the Aurender. Middling at best, they say.
I find the server/player/renderer to be more important than the dac. The true source is usually most important. Amazing what digital can deliver when done right. Often times the weak link is ahead of the dac in computer based audio.
Wrong. Moving or serving digital files is very simple and every working computer and every router moves digital data around at high rates day in day out with no errors (error correction and detection algorithms ensure this). The critical technology is in the D to A conversion.
Of course, the server has huge impact on how you view and access your library - the interface can be feature rich or very basc like iTunes. Unless the digital files are being processed then any properly functioning device can deliver a bit perfect digital file to your DAC. Of course if your DAC cant handle jitter rejection then no two devices will sound the same ever - even a different cable could make a difference - but that is a DAC issue.
Yes guys, if you have a Benchmark DAC, your system will defy all known audio reality. It is also imperative not to actually listen to new/different things before forming your opinions.
it is unlikely that it will improve the SQ given that you have an Ayre
you could try it, but I'd look elsewhere for any SQ improvements
Either the music file delivered by the server (laptop or whatever computer chip) device is bit perfect or it isnt.
If it isnt bit perfect then there is an incorrect software setting, additional processing or conversion being done, digital volume manipulation, a bug in the code or a hardware problem etc.
If what reaches the DAC is bit perfect then it should sound the same irrespective of where the digital file originated or there is a problem with the DAC (noise from laptop, jitter, ground loop, software bug, hardware failure etc. but for sure something is adversely affecting the DAC and the DAC has failed to do a proper job)
Blaming other equipmemt for a DAC failure to do a proper job is just making excuses for the DAC poor performance.
I’ve gone both routes. Mac&DAC, Bluesound.
it come down to whether you would rather use a dedicated audio component—a server, with or without a DAC— or make a computer
There are many theoretical reasons why a computer, with all of the other electronic tasks that it is required to perform, shouldn’t sound as good as a server.
The truth, for me, is that both solutions can sound damn good. It’s more work to make Computer Audio succeed. I would rather pay a little extra for a dedicated audio component that does much of the work for me. Bluesound isn’t that expensive, is reasonably simple if not perfect, sounds great, and can be used for whole house Audio.
In my main system it plugs into my DAC and sounds like any other digital source.
The Aurender reviews are interesting. Compare Serenius in Stereophile to Quint in TAS. I tend to believe Serenius. I don’t know why any company would release a $5K component that is so buggy that even high profile magazine reviewers, who deal with this stuff all the time, have to struggle with it. For 5 grand the thing should work at near perfect levels, not be worse than a $300 laptop
I suppose a Bluesound Node 2 could send files to the Ayre QX-5 Twenty via ethernet, but would I need to move files from the iMac to the Node 2 disc? And would I download files purchased from Acoustic Sounds directly to the Node 2? Finally, could a Node 2 also send files to the Bryston SP3 in our surround setup, perhaps via ethernet?
Sorry if you don’t have the experience and knowledge needed on this subject, but what I said above is certainly true. Everything matters in this equation....everything. Until you have experimented, tested, and listened to all manner of options before the dac, then your comments are made in ignorance. I sense in your comments that you have not done such testing and experimenting. You are just relying on conventional book knowledge and this will not suffice on this fast changing sound medium. You could not possibly be more wrong.
The quality of power feeding the SSD and HDD drives matters. The quality of power feeding an upgraded usb card from the likes of SOtM matters. Do not use the standard SMPS found in all PCs etc...The low voltage power cords used on high quality LPSs to power the devices above matter. Turning off unneseccary computer functions/programs not needed for audio play back certainly matters. Using a high quality reclocker and LPS on your router or switch also matters. I could go on and on....All of this plays a very significant role in sound quality BEFORE the dac.
Please open your mind to others who actually have more experience then you on some matters. This would serve you well on this forum and in life.
Bluesound Node 2 doesn’t have a Hard Drive storage. For storage and CD ripping the Bluesound Vault2 is required. The Node 2 is a network player with a bypassable DAC.
The Node 2 should be able to recognize your NAS or PC and play it. There are many happy Audiogon users if you check the Forums.
i’ve only Used the Node in combination with the Vault so I can only speak to the abilities of the combo
I think I've decided to skip the server, but move Roon core to an unused Mac Mini that could run near the Ayre QX-5 Twenty, perhaps in the same rack. File transfer would still be via ethernet. I plan to take the Mini to the shop tomorrow to have the memory expanded and most of the apps except for Safari stripped out. Is there a problem with that plan? Don't know how to move Roon core from the iMac to the Mini, but I expect to find out.
Hi williewonka: Which server grade hard drives did you upgrade to for your NAS? Are they as quiet as the hard drives that are sold as "NAS drives?