Basic Digital questions


For a short time I had a computer running JRiver through a little iFi DAC and accumulated digital files of various types. Not long after I got everything working the computer crashed and I have not replaced it. I now want to start again and get another computer, mainly dedicated to my audio system, but used for work when I need it. I also want to stream, as it could possibly be the only way to hear some music in the future. Furthermore, want to be "done" as soon as I can in this process, or at least as "done" as one can with digital audio. I thought I would ask a few questions before I start spending money and would appreciate suggestions any of you might have.  

If I have a laptop (PC, fanless) that has Wifi, Bluetooth, etc., would there be any point in having a DAC with those features? I imagine that if I want to use my phone I might need a DAC with Wifi. I don't need a DAC with a line-level or phono preamp.

 

I have been told that signals are best through Ethernet, not Wi-Fi. Have people found this to be true?

 

If I watch a movie through Netflix or Amazon (or, ahem, a disc) will I be able to run the digital information from the device to the DAC? I do not have an actual TV and do not use cable.


What are people's experiences with and preferences for Tidal, Qobuz, Roon, etc.? I know almost nothing about streaming.
john_r_palmer
Personally, I don’t like laptop anywhere near my audio system. I understand you have a need for laptop for office use so I would buy one and use it for that purpose and for streaming video content off Netflix and Amazon.

I recommend Bluesound Node 2i for streaming to your audio system. You could also use iFi DAC to see if you like the sound of Node 2i better through iFi vs it’s internal DAC. It’s a great startup value priced streamer with a internal DAC and gives lot of option to stream files off Tidal, Qobuz and FM stations. I suggest you read up on Node 2i on their website.

And by all means use Ethernet connection with Node 2i as it will sound better than WiFi.
John, Lalitk gave you solid advice. You need a streamer to mate with your DAC and that physically connects with your audio hardware (amp). Wired ethernet cabling connection is always better IMO. I use Roon software interface to manage my Qobuz streaming service library and my solid state drive is connected to a dedicated Roon server. I only stream now. If you go to the Roon website you can see some system configurations.
Ethernet is the best way to go.  In my mind for two reasons:

  • EMI/RFI noise
  • Reliability
Especially in densely populated residential areas, getting a reliable signal can be a PITA. I often have to change router channels to get a reliable signal. So, for either of these two reasons, Ethernet is preferred. When it works well though I can't hear a difference.
Try the Auris BluMe HD. At around $100 it gives you CD quality when you stream from Tidal etc. The Bluetooth connection is solid and sound is excellent and you will save a lot of money
A few months ago.  I didn't even know what questions to ask.  So I ended up with a Bluesound Node 2i streamer.  Almost unlimited music at your fingertips is great.  And with Hi Rez music it sounds good too.  Even by itself without a DAC it sound better than my old Rotel CD player.  I have Amazon HD music and they have not spent any time making it mesh well with the Bluesound.  Tidal, I hear, works better and has better sound quality.
I “stream” using a dedicated laptop which has an Ethernet/usb  that runs to my tube Dac. I tried the Bluesound Node 2i and wasn’t impressed. Purchased that through a place where I could return it easily thank God. I don’t do anything over WiFi that’s important. When I first started I used WiFi and the difference was very noticeable in my case when I switched to Ethernet. The laptop I use sits next to me and my stereo equipment is 15 feet away. Had to buy a usb/Ethernet kit due to usb limitations. Hope this helps. 
OP,
I have a very nice stand alone DAC and I use my laptop to stream Qobuz using the software "Audirvana". At some point I will upgrade to a higher end Transport/Streamer but with a quiet SSD drive Laptop and only $75 for the Audirvana package I’m fine right now using USB to my DAC. I tested the software for free for 30 days and the sound was a big improvement over wifi streaming to my endpoint. (Dstream). Others may disagree but I think a nice DAC with a quality analogue stage is a worthy investment. Qobuz and Audirvana work well together.

john r Palmer
Your questions

1 No I think the only DACs you should consider do NOT have BT or WiFi or other crap "features."

2 Ethernet better than WiFi.
Unless you enjoy rebooting often.

3 Device dependent.
No answer available to a non question.

4 Qobuz is the best value in high SQ. Roon is only a player enhancement (interface) @ $20/month with frequent (sometimes bad) updates. MQA is an obsolete compression scheme designed to enrich the inventors.

I too keep my computers and HiFi on seperate floors. The first response from lalitk was best.
Fuzz, loved your comment #4, last sentence....my thoughts also.
^^^^You got my 👍 on #4 as well!