Check in: How quickly are streamers and servers evolving?


This is a question for those who have been trying streamers and servers recently, watching reviews and product launches, or who just know their stuff and keep up with the technology. I am trying to separate market hype and churn from what is happening, technologically.

Many have said that DAC technology development has slowed down enough for people to feel comfortable spending real coin on a good DAC. Good to know.

So my question is: How quickly do you think streamer and server technology is evolving? Is it still a moving target -- in other words still worth being somewhat cautious about perhaps waiting before dropping serious coin as the technology is soon to change again? Or are we slowing down?

(For those who think these technologies can be accomplished in economical ways (Raspberry Pi, etc.), I'm still curious about your opinion about the speed of change, regardless of whether high dollar expenditures are unnecessary.)

Of course the other yet integral issue is how fast music catalogs are keeping up with the hardware changes to supply the new hardware with files that it can play. I just watched Darko discuss the Spotify move to CD quality (which he celebrates and for which explains the rationale), and it seems most of the music out there continues to exist at CD quality only, not higher resolution.

(Oh, and before someone chimes in with how analog beats digital so why bother...please don’t. I know you think that.)
8700e65e 845e 4b1b 91cc df27687f9454hilde45
I agree that a high quality DAC is essential.   I don't agree that you need a purpose-built streamer at all.   I run Roon (and Tidal) on a fifteen year old MacBook Air.   The resulting sound quality is terrific.  I find the sound to be indistinguishable from what I would hear  were I to use a dedicated streamer.   
@millercarbon No, it's you who are missing the point. The OP explicitly asked for the analog snobs to keep their yaps closed if they couldn't contribute. But no, you have to chime in with how analog is so superior. Why are you even in the "digital" category? Trolling. Go see what's on TV. Go to another thread. But give a hoot -- don't pollute. Begone.
To me, streaming has changed the music world (what seems like) overnight. I have spent years collecting CDs and putting together physical CD mixers. I didn't anticipate that streaming could be as good as it is (at least on Tidal) and that I would embrace it so quickly. I almost feel like I've stepped through a door into a whole new way of enjoying this hobby.
Streamer is a streamer. I think it is the DAC’s that are evolving.

listen to the music not your gear, no matter the format.
@hilde45 -- you and i have been together on many of these digital streaming/tech threads here in the past year

just to recap where i am on this, after investing much time and $ during calendar year 2020 figuring all this out as a new, addiitonal front end for my system, i would summarize my key beliefs/observations at present as follows

- dac technology is quite stable/mature... r2r (whether discrete or on-a chip) has been around for many years, ds conversion can now be made to sound really excellent - so long as the digital receiver can handle the modern input sample rates/bitrates it is the power supply and output stage design that drives the sound quality - the most recent development is that very good sounding dacs are less expensive than ever, from chi-fi and other makers -- this brings very good sound to the budget audiophile, and puts alot of pressure on makers of 3-4-5-6 grand dacs on really delivering something superior... they are really making super high quality output stages as in megabuck line stages with excellent circuitry, isolation, parts quality, often with tube buffering to get purity and beauty in tone to go along with the excellent resolution that can be gotten out of the d/a conversion stage...

- streamers are also fairly stable as pieces of equipment, but the key here is that streaming services are still shaking out, and this will continue for the next 5-10 years i believe... and they are each offering new interfaces, sampling rates, higher resolutions, specialized content, each trying to lock each other out from the user’s eyeball range with proprietary u-i’s, dedicated software wrap-arounds (witness tidal connect, spotify connect, and so on) -- this tough and evolving competition creates some level of instability (and risk) in streamer purchases, as these are basically dedicated computers that will need updating when the streamed sources change the game, their interfaces etc -- to me, the resulting indicated action is to buy a good low to mid priced streamer (that sound excellent, btw, so long as proper internet connectivity is provided) so as to keep options open and don’t end up owning an expensive brick down the road that are no longer supported/updated

my 2 cents