Another person going digital and full of questions

I'm yet another new member trying to figure out the digital streaming world.  I've been streaming Tidal and Idagio from my desktop computer through an RME ADI-2 dac and into various headphones for a while.  Now I'd like to add digital streaming on my main system.  I'm just looking for a source that would provide streaming services to my existing preamp (Audible Illusions) amp (Audio Research) and speakers (Wilson Benesch Act 1).  I'm looking for something to complement my other sources, a VPI turntable and a Rega CD player and Benchmark 1 DAC.  I don't want to rip my CDs or play any stored music files.  So far, I'm learning that there are more recent and better DACs out there than the old Benchmark, and that I should consider a quieter box than my computer to connect to ethernet.  But I'm lost in a sea of streamers, servers, reclockers, power supplies, etcetera, most with unfamiliar brand names.

I'd appreciate any suggestions.  budget in the $5k range but can stretch a little.



I have no experience with Orchard, so I cannot comment on it's performance, but I will say that if you do compare your DAC paired with a BS Node, Aurender or Innuos, you will hear a difference in sound reproduction. Whether this is 'better or worse' will depend upon your taste.

Thank you. I'd try it to see, for sure. It would be weird, wouldn't it, that the technologies which should be present in a streamer costing $6k would not immediately be better to my ears than a $500 streamer? I agree about taste being likely to vary within a price level -- or even two -- but a streamer that that costs nearly 12x more should....just be better for whatever it is that I listen for, no?


@mattchanoff, save yourself the time and frustration of hunting around and get a Roon Nucleus music server and a Chord Qutest DAC and be done with it. That way you’ll have the best user interface in music streaming software, and the best DAC at its price point on the market today. So for about $4K with decent cables and interconnects you’ll be listening to your favorite jams in no time. Everything is totally plug and play. 

@mattchanoff - I followed a similar path recently getting into streaming.  I started with a Node2i (at the recommendation of Bes at Music Direct).  It does have a well-executed user interface and lots of connections.  Works well as a streamer.  But there was a very noticeable improvement in SQ when I bypassed the Node 2i's DAC in favor of the DAC in a Cambridge CXA81 amp.  IMHO, using a Node 2i as a streamer and adding a better DAC is a good option.  But also, based on my experience, the recommendation earlier in this thread to consider a Cambridge CXN v2 streamer/DAC would probably work nicely for you, too, and save a big portion of your budget for other upgrades.  Best of luck.

@mattchanoff Ditto on the long and winding road. Someday I will sit down and post  the whole story, just not today. Many DAC's and streamers bought/sold, bought/returned priced up to 10k, auditioned 30 days at a time. I landed with a DAC  that focused on the latest in USB design, kept my desktop as the streamer and am very pleased with the music.

Thanks everyone.  @manogolf, what DAC did you end up with?  Also, interesting that you left your desktop as a streamer, given so many comments and reviews that stress all the noise and competing clocks in a regular desktop, as well as problems caused by the power supply.