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.)
128x128hilde45 I said....this showed up in my e/mail today....

How fast are things evolving?
Next time you listen to some 'fascinating' speakers, you can 'take notes', literally.... ;)

10% off if you're quick...

I just finished doing some testing with 3 streaming solutions I have in my office system.

- microRendu with linear power supply (LPS) 
- opticalRendu  with linear power supply (LPS) (I have 2 of these)
- RJ45 streaming with 1 DAC 

- Benchmark DAC3B
- AudioMirror Tubadour III SE DAC
- KRELL K-300i integrated amp with internal DAC

My RJ45 streaming was to the internal DAC of my KRELL K-300i integrated (latest model). My network switch is a brand new $199 Ubiquiti Networks switch that has both RJ45 and 2 Fibre slots. I am using regular CAT5 Ethernet cable into the RJ45. The USB cables I used were either free from Benchmark or $25 from Schiit Audio. I am buying a $200 USB from WyWires that has not been shipped yet. I plan on using that one with the winner of this test. A fibre wire goes from the network switch to my opticalRendu and then by USB to one of the 3 DACs. My source of the streaming is a ROON Core on a very cheap server in another room. The musical bits (1's and 0's)  need to travel by PowerLine copper to my office. I use ROON client on cheap computer or iPhone.

For some reason I settled on Fleetwood Mac's Dreams from Rumors as the song I would compare with all the streaming types. There is a lot of percussion hits on this song that are a bit hot sounding but it was interesting to compare this with the 3 streamers.

The RJ45 and the microRendu were about the same on the KRELL. The percussion hits were noticeable and the music sounded good. 

I then flipped the USB cable from the microRendu to an opticalRendu and compared with the RJ45. A massive difference in sound and also volume. I did not need to compare any minor details. There was more of everything with the opticalRendu. The percussion hits seemed like they were happening in my room, so realistic. I also compared the microRendu and the opticalRendu on the KRELL and the same results as the RJ45 and the opticalRendu.

I then compared microRendu vs opticalRendu with a Benchmark DAC3B and also a Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE DAC (tube). In both instances the optical had a massive improvement in sound. I am going to be selling this microRendu and LPS now.

This test for me was to prove to myself whether fibre is really today's holy grail for streaming. I think it is. I do not plan on testing with a dedicated music server (instead of a cheap computer as my ROON Core). I just think the fibre functions as an expensive music server in that it lowers the noise on the network.
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The OP asks if streaming is evolving.  Boy, is it ever.  And not always in a good way.
There is a thread in the Digital section on the Roon Nucleus.  Apparently Roon did a software update that KO a lot of users who are now spending hours trying to figure out what went wrong.  I had the same experience with Bluesound—many times—and Bryston.  There have been threads from Innuous, Aurender, Auralic owners...Streamers are IT devices.  Have you ever had an IT problem at work or home?  A printer that suddenly got a divorce from what seemed to be a stable marriage with your laptop?  Imagine the same thing with your music.  When all other IT applications become hassle free then streamers will as well

  CD players are also specialized computers, but it’s hard to beat the reliability of popping a CD in a tray and hit “play”.  Transport-DAC combinations in my opinion are also as easy, the IT issues generally being of a much lesser magnitude than streaming.
And though as Audiophiles we argue endlessly about small sonic differences, essentially streaming and CD replay, into the same DAC, sound similar.  Both are sending 1s and 0s into the DAC.  An Uber priced streamer will sound better than a cheapo CD transport, but if both components are in the same price range, there isn’t much difference.

  Streaming is about convenience.  Get rid of those thousands of CDs.  Have portability, and access to unlimited music catalog, and control it all from your phone without getting your butt out of the recliner.  It’s all great, until it doesn’t work.  My advice is explore streaming, but don’t throw out those CDs just yet