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 1 response by mzkmxcv


Unless getting like a tube DAC or something, most all high end DACs try to sound as “digital” as possible, meaning all they do is convert digital to analog, no colorations added (or minimal as possible). If you can can add EQ/tone control, try bumping the bass up a bit, if you don’t listen at reference levels (peaks of 105dB+), then you are hearing less bass than intended (our ears hear less bass at lower volumes, and to some degree treble, look up the Equal Loudness Contours).  
High end digital cables are not any better, a short generic USB/optical cables will have less jitter than a longer $1000 USB/optical cable, so you use the shortest length possible.