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.


Melco N100 works for me.  Can you suggest the price range and other required features?

Thanks, will look at that. Price range kind of open, would need to look at some alternatives.  As for features...

- decent OS with Android phone and Windows control

- support for Tidal, Qobuz, other  hi-rez streaming services, presumably similar to BlueOS, Sonos etc.  MQA too (why not?)

- Ethernet/wired network

- Support for Plex, Roon, JRiver or other network streaming apps &/or its own native network streaming app (I've got a 1Tb library)


Both BlueSound and Sonos do all that stuff and presumably other, mixers streamers do as well.  Don't need anything more exotic than that featurewise.  Fwiw I've had a hard time even finding comparisons of streamer comparisons where the digital output is feed through a reference DAC. 


Oh yeah, forgot!  Needs to be something with S/PDIF or AES/EBU digital outputs.  No USB.  Thanks!

You haven’t specified a budget but the Antipodes K50 would meet all your needs and deliver reference level performance.  It is $15k but one of the great servers in the world.  

A hybrid, 2 Box approach could be interesting.  Something like an Antipodes S40 with a Bricasti M5 would be half the price and is a pretty incredible solution.  $7400 combined and again, would do everything you are asking for.  

the Lumin U1 is a little older at this point but still offers great support for current platforms.  It is a streamer only at $6k

the U1 Mini is a smaller, more streamlined version at $2100.  All of these are a step up from a Node.

I am an Antipodes and Bricasti dealer.  I am considering Lumin at this time but am not a retailer at this time. 


Aurender N-100C has a S/PIDF connection,  I use the USB version and enjoy it. Good luck with search. 

@verdantaudio wouldn't the OP just need the Bricasti M5 for what he is asking about? Why the Antipodes S40? Just curious.

@rsf507 i will use Roon as an example because it is so common.  The Bricasti M5 is a Roon Endpoint but does not run Roon Server.  You can run room server on a ton of devices but a PC or Mac Mini can perform poorly and mitigate the benefit you are getting from the Bricasti.  Mac Mini’s in particular are awful IMO and any dedicated server; small green, Roon Nucleus, etc… will outperform it.  

the OP mentions they are looking for flexibility and reference quality which is why I suggested Anyipodes.  For Roon in particular, an M5 and a Roon Nucleus.  

to run Roon with Lumin you would need a separate server as well but since it has its own streaming software option, you can avoid the separate server.  Not my preference but it is an option as I personally see a lot of value in a service based on my experience. 

I use EMM Labs NS1 and Toslink output with DH Labs glass master cable but it also has AES/EBU and EMM specific ST fibre. Roon endpoint and UPNP/DLNA control with mcontrolHD app.

Oh yeah, forgot! Needs to be something with S/PDIF or AES/EBU digital outputs. No USB. Thanks!

Bryston BDP-3 has both of those outputs. No MQA and restricted to services TIDAL, QOBUZ and local files on attached storage.


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