Best streamers WITHOUT a DAC

A year or so I jumped into the streaming world with the Bluesound ecosystem.  Overall I'm very happy with it.  Still, I think I can do better than the Node 2i on my "reference" system, basically a vintage high end setup (Sonic Frontiers SFD-2 Mk III, Krell KBL,  ML no. 332, factory rebuilt Maggie MG 3a's).  I've compared the 2i's internal DAC with the SFD-2s and it isn't even close.  Not surprising, as the SFD-2 Mk III is certainly one of the best DACs ever made despite its age.  So, can anybody suggest a suitable DACless streamer?  Comments appreciated, thanks.



After years of iPods, iPads, Macs and PCs I finally bought an Auralic Aries G2, then an Aurrender N100, listened to a N10, and bought their flagship W20SE. Aurender understands how to build streamers. So does Linn. I recommend one of these. The best you can, then over time you might consider a Audio Research DAC. I used to own a sonic Frontiers CD player (with an SF DAC)… nice tone but short on details (very short)… the ARC will give you natural sound with tons more detail.

I think blue sound node is great, ease of use much better than anything else out there. Tidal connect works flawlessly, no need for proprietary apps, just get a better DAC and you will be all set. 


Alternatively, get an Aurender A100, it's a top of the line streamer with a very good dac 

Lumin U1 and 432 EVO (that’s a brand from Belgium) are two that come to mind.

So, I fixed on the Lumin U1 Mini, which just arrived and was installed, replacing the Node 2i.  And the whole system is back up after repairing/recapping the preamp. 

The difference is NOT subtle.  I feared that it would be, or maybe not much difference at all.  The U1 is a transformation.  Most listening has been CD-quality upsampled to 24b/88khz (which seems to be a little better than the native stream). WOW. The improvements are mostly extremely low level detail - vocal inhalations, cymbal details, piano high register notes, that kind of stuff.  The Maggie ribbons are extremely revealing and seem to be getting what they deserve. Bass also benefited.  More controlled, better resolved.

In short, the U1 Mini uncovered things I simply hadn't heard before.  I was happy enough with the Node 2i, just felt that there was room for improvement.  I didn't know how much room!   $$$ well spent.  Now I have to re-listen to everything.

@raueda1 My experience is similar to Mr. Prentice, I went the full gamut of computer audio when my Wadia 781i SACD died. Take a lesson, Wadia is now tits up and getting one fixed is almost impossible.

So you really want to buy something that’s still going to be around for the next ten years or so and has great customer service and most importantly easy and reliable to operate.

Aurender N20 would be my recommendation.

Oh I forgot it sounds amazing!

many excellent sounding options out there, all more expensive, for very high resolution systems where one can hear the nuanced improvement...








SBooster makes an  adapter for Lumin that allows you to hook up a LPS.  I upgraded the power supply on my Node 2i and it made lots of improvement.  I used a PD Creative board.  They also make Power Supply improvement for U1 mini.. Might affect warranty.  Just food for thought. . 

Yeah, I'll certainly be doing the SBooster thing before long.  As for the rest, I'm quite satisfied with the Lumin at this point.  Obviously the Aurender stuff has a lot of very passionate advocates, but upgrading the SFD-2 just doesn't make sense as long as it works.  To be clear, it's the MKIII version which is vastly different from the others.  It also went back to Parts Connexion a few years ago for further and fancier upgrades.  Detail is mind boggling and it's not at all a weak link.  In fact, at this point I'm hard pressed to find any weak link in the system that wouldn't cost a fortune for only miniscule improvements, if any.  In any case, thanks to all.   The Lumin has greatly improved my life.

Next project:  retweaking speakers.  After fixing/recapping the preamp the bass was "fixed" too.  I'd forgotten what it originally sounded like.  That's all a topic for another thread.



Congratulations! It’s a great feeling isn’t it? There is always the anticipation and fear after spending all that money. But that is why there are $500 through $25K+ streamers.