Budget Music Streamer

I've been trying to get my head around best sound out of a budget streamer. All my CD collection is now in my portable 2TB hard drive as FLAC files and I also have subscription to Apple Music (large playlist). Currently using Apple TV and Airport Express (airplay limiting to 16 bit/44.1kHz) and Apple TV streaming at 48kHz. I have a revealing system and know I can get better sonics by upgrading my digital source. Unfortunately I have been blessed with a good ear for music.  

There are quite a few options out there, each having it's limitations, specially the ability to play Apple music directly from iTunes using a remote without limiting the sampling rate. Do I consider a Mac Mini or build my Raspberry Pi source? Will I get a spdif connection (preference) out of the two? Is there remote control capability to view playlist (I don't intend to hook up a monitor). Or is there a better solution out there for both listening to FLAC files on hard drive and streaming Apple Music? I plan on selling my OPPO player - no use to me, to fund a better DAC (schiit Yggdrasil or BorderPatrol) - hence the digital source is on a budget. Experts chime in..

Simaudio W5 poweramp
Von Schweikerts VR4 
OPPO 105 
Apple TV (using Kanexpro HDMI de-embedder to extract audio - coax in DAC)
Airport Express (optical in DAC)
Benchmark DAC1 (no USB) - used as preamp
Marantz AV7701 preamp
Morrow Audio interconnects 

Showing 3 responses by lowrider57

Great that you're moving forward. Now try an audiophile cable, you only need a 12 or 14 gauge.
I'm a real believer in the difference cables can make.

A reclocker will always help. And good idea trying the OPPO.
  Also, I strongly believe in using a high quality digital coax to the DAC, either from your source or from the reclocker.

Also, it's possible an aftermarket fuse may relieve some of the digititis and provide smoother sonics, but it won't change the sonic signature of the DAC.

The Kanexpro may very well be part of the problem. Using HDMI is not the best quality for 2 channel audio. 
As for the Benchmark, it is revealing and does have a forward presentation, but has a very good clock to correct jitter.

I'm using a Bluesound Node 2i and it sounds terrific thru my Audio Note dac. It even sounds good on it's own. Setup was plug and play and it's performed flawlessly.