Best digital stream player

No matter how expensive any cd player is, it is just do a best guess of what is on the cd. I don't think cd player will be completely gone in a couple years because LP is coming back. But I feel the digital stream player have big advantage over cd player and all audio company will come up with their new digital stream player in the coming years. Digital stream player either use usb or network cable to directly read music file from PC/file server and are slowly adapted by audiophiles.

Digital stream player is still new to lots of people. Which one is the best digital stream player in the market?

1)DCS Scarlatti upsampler
2)PlayBack Designs MPS-5
3)Linn Klimax DS

Or is there any other newcomers better than those three?
Do any of these sound better than an Olive or a Mac coupled with a good DAC? More expensive certainly, but better sound-wise? Just asking, I'm not being rhetorical here.
On a realted note, is it possible for any traditional transport to be as good as something like the Olive HD feeding a high quality DAC?
Recommend you audition the Naim HDX. It is hands down the closest thing to a good quality vinyl front end I have ever heard.
Aside from the DAC implementation, what are these products doing to the digital stream that could impart their own sonic signature? When you install Windows, does the code change depending on if you're using an Asus DVD-ROM or a Toshiba one?
Rakuennow et al:

I am not nearly knowledgeable enough to answer your questions. But I can tell you this. Sonically and musically for the auditioning I have done, the Naim HDX is far better than the ARC CD8, the DCS Puccini or Scarlatti (Can't remember which I heard), and a Mac through a $17500 Wavelength DAC. And those are some great digital sources as we all know.

No more CDP purchases for me. I intend to get a Naim HDX in 2010!
What do you do when a hard drive in the HDX fails? Are they user replaceable with 3rd-party hard drives?

The Naim HDX employs two 400 GB hard drives in its most basic configuration. Music is stored on the 1st hard drive and automatically backed up to the 2nd hard drive once every 24 hours at whatever time of day or night you select. You can use 3rd party hard drives to expand the basic configuration storage capacity, i.e., beyond 800 GB. I do not know if 3rd party hard drives can be used to replace a failed drive in the HDX unit itself. And even if it could be done, there could be warranty invalidation considerations associated with an owner servicing his/her equipment instead of allowing Naim to do so. I learned what I know about the Naim HDX from Don Better and from the Naim National Sales Manager at a special event at Don Better's home last fall. I will try to get an answer to your question from Don and update via a follow-up post to this thread.
If the idea is that a hard drive is far superior to an optical reader, it would seem to me that the music server concept with, or without an digital out for DACs is the way that all digital sources will go. I like the idea that you can also play a CD with the NAIM without having to store on the drive. Seems like a good format for players in the near future. The idea of using a PC and all the inherent complexities with optimizing the software and drivers, etc is not a direct I would go, but the Olive and NAIM seems like they are on to the right approach for high-end audio. At least they have a back up drive which helps ALOT, should your main drive go bad. But it would be good if replacing a down drive were an easy fix, with a 3rd-party drive that fit the "slot". How much is the NAIM selling for?
The Naim HDX sells for $8250, which includes an excellent internal DAC. Options that I am aware of are two external power supplies - one quite expensive and one ridiculously expensive, but they do improve the unit's musicality even more. You also have the option to bypass the internal DAC and connect the HDX to your DAC du jour, which is where I would consider putting extra money instead of the external power supply options.

Man, this thread is making me even more anxious to pull the trigger on the HDX sooner rather than later! ;->
Do you have any idea how the NAIM would differ from the Olive HD? Seems very similar conceptually. I wonder if this is will be the standard digital source format. It seems to make sense without having to deal with a PC. The more I read about that approach, the more it seems like a hornet's nest. Not a problem for computer savvy folks perhaps, but it is far from simple IMHO. This seems like a plug n play approach with a true piece of dedicated audio equipment.
I am not familiar with the Olive system, but from what I have read about it, I agree that the HDX and Olive seem to be similar conceptually. The Naim is extremely user friendly (plug and play might be a stretch, but it is far easier to use than a PC-based music server) and that fact combined with its outstanding musicality makes it an easy choice for me. Right now I am using a Macbook Pro and Wavelength Cosecant for a music server in my primary system, but when I get the HDX, the Mac/Cosecant server will get incorporated into another system.
Did you have an opportunity to compare the MAC/Wavelength with the NAIM?
The 8250, the NAIM better come with an excellent DAC. It should also clean your house, wash your car and cook your dinner. It is a hard drive with some software that will be yesterday's news is 2 years.
The 8250, the NAIM better come with an excellent DAC. It should also clean your house, wash your car and cook your dinner. It is a hard drive with some software that will be yesterday's news is 2 years.
Look at the Blacknote DSS line. No computer necessary, just a USB flash drive or external hard drive. It plays all kinds of files up to 24/192
Pubul57 et al:

I did compare the Naim, just with its own excellent internal DAC and without one of the optional external power supplies, to a MAC tied into Wavelength DACs costing up to $17500. The Naim was better every time.
BTW, the Naim is easily software upgradeable, along the lines of Anthem's excellent HT preamp-processors, thereby negating the "yesterday's news" pitfall. True, it won't clean your house, wash your car, or cook your dinner (I believe those deficiencies are being addressed in their next software upgrade - ;-> ), but your music will sound so good to you that you will not care about your dirty house, dirty car, or growling stomach!

Best Regards,

Pubul57 et al:

I did compare the Naim, just with its own excellent internal DAC and without one of the optional external power supplies, to a MAC tied into Wavelength DACs costing up to $17500. The Naim was better every time.
is it true DCS Scarlatti upsampler(USD80,000.00) is the best digital money can buy?

I have a Linn Akurate DS player. I see rave review for the Klimax DS(top of line) player in Linn forum. But that is Linn forum, so I am wondering if the Linn Klimax Ds sounds as good as DCS Scarlatti, Playback design MPS-5, or Naim HDX?
Yxlei, not sure if DCS is the best, never had a chance to listen to it, but for that kind of USD, it should be one hell of a piece for sure.

Re the Klimax DS, I'm looking at it very closely. I just started today a new thread about it, where I ask some related questions, under digital. It does not seem to be a lot of people who own this one or have listened to it. And yes I have read fantastic feedback from all Linn systems owners, but I was also interested in opinions of people who has auditioned it in a non Linn system.

AS per the Naim HDX, I would assume the Linn is superior. NOt only much more expensive, but also with a fraction of the features. Actually the LInn seems quite overpriced for what it is: a DAC with just one input and two analog outputs, integrated power supply... I would hope it produces sounds that stand up to its price tag.
One of the big reason I post the thread is that I want to know how good my Linn Akurate Digital Stream player is when comparing to other brand.

Linn is well know for making good source like LP12 and CD12. Linn will stop making cd player this year and only making Digital stream player. Linn said my $6,800 Akurate DS sounds better than their $20,000 CD12 which was one of the best cd player in the world. The Klimax is Linn's top of line DS player now and there are some many great reviews. It almost make me feel that Linn Klimax DS is the best digital source out there and my Akurate Ds is the 2nd best.

HongKong is a tiny place, but they sell more high end audio gear than North America. I ordered a book called "CD bible" from HongKong which recommend 800 audiophile CDs. It also list the top 10 CD player for different price category.

1)DCS Scarlatti USD100,000.00
2)Simaudio Andromeda RS USD40,000.00
3)PlayBack Designs MPS-5 USD20,000.00
4)Naim CD-5X USD6,000.00
5)Shangling CD-T 300SE USD4,000.00
6)Audio Note CD 1.1X USD3,500.00
7)Micromega CD 30 USD2,000.00

It didn't mention Linn DS player, so I want to know how good Linn Klimax/Akurate DS comparing to DCS and Playback design.

As to Naim HDX, it seems to be a easier setup than Linn DS player.
At hte en d of the day, we are looking for people who has listened to, or owns both a DS (Klimax in my case), and another top end digital source, so he can provide feedback from listening experience.

Problem is there does not seem to be a lot of these people out there.

Don't get me wrong for this I'm going to say. I do want to buy a Klimax (provided it does sound at least as good as my Esoteric X01-D2), but I will need to be sure about it. Will not be buying blind, and without a home audition first.

Linn is a two extremes brand. Either you love it all over, like if there was nothing else out there, or you just dislike it. Among these last ones, it has a reputation of being quite overpriced, and that it never got the digital quite right. Like per instance the CD12, which was, for what I've read and hear, a good CD but quite inferior to other at the same price level. I tend to believe this about the CD12. Would they discontinue the best digital source in the world, even if the streaming DS's, which has still limited reach among hifi fans, was the only thing superior out there? My best economical based estimation is no way... My thinking is that they were falling behind on digital playback, and that was making them loose all time, all Linn system loyal customers that came to listen to other similar priced CDPs. That is why they probably came out with that (what seems to be marketing driven) decision that they discontinue CDPs cos streaming is just best than any other thing out there. I have to admit it is a quite agressive move, that time will tell if we can also call brilliant.

Now I would really doubt the Klimax (or Akurate for that matter) does sound better than a 100.000 USD or 60.000 USD CDP. Of course Linn will say it does. Can't blame them for that. And I would love it to be that way. But my thinking is that there is no way. Of course this is only my best guessing based on anything you name but listening to them, so not worth much.

Lets hope there is someone out there that has had a chance to listen to both, DS and some other top end digital, and is willing to share experiences.
Eelii08, The CD12 is a 10 year old design that was consided state of the art at the time. Linn has decided to focus on the DS instead of CD playback. Which I think more companies should do. Linn is just about 3 years ahead of most other highend companies in this regard. Digital streamers are lot harder to implement right than a simple cd player. So I think your logic that Linn is just trying to market the DS because they can't compete with other companies disc players is faulty.

Let your own ears decide.
You may be right. As stated, it was just a guess from reading and listening to what others, who are more familiar with Linn, say.

In reality, why they are only focusing in streaming is up to them. I can see an actual owner of a Linn CDP not being too happy. After spending big in a CDP -probably being told how good it was- he sees it is being discontinued cos the company, in brief, comes to say it sounds like crap compared to the DSs. Not the best to keep up the aftermarket value. But that is not my case so I don't really care. You are also right. What is important is how these things really sound and how good they are.

It is their claim that the Klimax is the best digital source out there regardless of price, that makes me doubt. I want to listen to one for sure. I don't even need it to be the absolute best (do not think there is an absolute best in audio components...). I just need it to be as good -or better- than my Esoteric to go ahead.

Listening to one is the way to go, I know. But it will only be of use if I can get to listen to one at my house, in my room and with my gear. Problem is that my dealer does not sell Linn. There is a Linn dealer at my hometown, but he does not know me. It will be hard to try to convince him to lend a 14.500 euros machine to a guy that walks from the door. I guess at the end I will be able to, but probably will need to leave a deposit of a big % of the asking price, have him come over etc, etc.

I can do that. But before going through all that trouble, I want to get as much info as possible. If feedback is positive, so chances are I will like it in relative terms to my actual source, I will proceed to that stage.
I did finally heard the klimax DS. TO ME, it was good... but not better than my Esoteric. This was a few weeks ago already, and I did post my views on a different post. However I will share my views with you here as well. Just in case they are of use to anyone. NOte as always, only my opinion to my ears, and in my sytem / room combo...

So how it was, and compared to the Esoteric X01-D2. Close in some aspects, equal in others, (very good soundstage, open and wide, nice separation and air and good dynamics). In all of the above, not better than the Esoteric, but not worse either. Very good player.

HOwever the Linn Klimax did felt short in the bass extension, Esoteric was warmer, and with deeper and nicer texture of instruments and voices. This was specially so in female voices and pianos.

Overall, a very good piece, but not better than my current CDP (actually, it felt behind to my ears and in my system.). I would define the soteric sound as more rich... sort of speak. Really don't think this is the better digital player out there... at least in my personal opinion, as Linn claims.

I decided to pass on it. It's a shame since I did want a ethernet streaming solution, but not willing to commit such an amount of money to end up probably listening most of the time to the CDP anyway.

I think I will go with a much cheaper solution for casual listening and to rip old Cds in bad condition. Eventually, other units will come to the market although this may take a while.