DAC + NAS streamer combo (NOT Tidal/Qobuz etc)


Hi, I’m looking for a stereo DAC and streamer that can stream from my local NAS server. I DON’T care about Tidal/Qobuz and all that crap: just my own music. An example is an Exasound e32/Sigma Streamer combo (I have their e38 + Sigma and it works beautifully).  I’ll connect to the streamer through a Roon core running on my Mac. Budget 3-4K. Used ok. Recommendations please?  
Most important to me is that the DAC be as neutral as possible (and of course work with Roon). All the ones I looked at that are Roon-reconnected on their website are for hi-res  streaming and seem to have a lot of bells and whistles with touch screens and other junk.  I want a basic but high quality DAC. 

Am connecting it to a Pass Labs xp32 preamp, First Watt j2 amp and Tannoy speakers.  Listen exclusively to classical and jazz. 
Thanks!!!


Ag insider logo xs@2xssmaudio
Hi, not sure if you are looking for new or used, but have you considered one of the Bricasti dacs within your budget? 
I like the Gold Note DS-10 with optional power supply PSU-10 Evo for DAC + streamer duties in that budget class. Here’s a snippet from the recent glowing review in Stereophile:

My reference system hasn’t hosted many DACs in the Gold Note DS-10’s price range. I was delighted with what I heard. This little baby sounded so good—so musical—with its optional, identically dimensioned PSU-10 EVO power supply that I’d urge anyone who can shell out $4300 to try them together. I’m not going to tell you that you should consider what you can’t afford, but do keep in mind that we read Stereophile because we care about the music. Music makes a difference in our lives; it helps make us whole. Sitting on a single shelf, powered by a single power cable, Gold Note’s DS-10/PSU-10 EVO has the potential to fulfill and heal in ways that extend far beyond words. It’s a stellar achievement from engineers who understand what musical deliverance is all about.

Industry disclosure: I’m a Gold Note dealer.
@jmarshak don't think Bricasti dac's even used are in OP budget but for what he is looking for would fit the bill.
Oh BTW, forgot to mention!  Need native DSD decoding in the signal path.  Not PCM conversion.  
@rsf507 according to the Audiogon blue book, several M1 (not M1SE) have sold for under 3k in the past.  
If you are not committed to blowing the $$ and don't mind a lil work I'd look at an Allo Signature, USB or DigiOne if you require SPDIF.. Get the Shanti (a killer 5 vDC LPS). 
2 USB A ports, I have an SSD in each. Native DSD decoding, Multiple pathways for Roon.
~$500 why spend more besides looks?
I'd recommend looking into the Lumin T2. MSRP is $4500 but a used or maybe demo unit is definitely inside your budget. I also think you will appreciate its excellent sound quality given the critical demands of classical and jazz.

It will stream music from your local NAS, works with Roon as well as other UPnP control software, and supports for DSD via its ESS DAC chips.
Qutest DAC - $1800 new ... DSD / PCM - 44.1 / 768 - 16 /32.
FPGA Type ... IMO does more of what a DAC does (should do).

Nuc Streamer - $700 +/- ... Darko Audio Review (choice of OS).
Low Power / High Performance for Dedicated Audio duty.
TDP 28W / 16 GB RAM / 1 TB NVMe / Quad Core
Plenty of power if your NAS won’t meet spec.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVm_tCoxqyg

@jmarshak you are correct but those are most likely older units that don't have the Ethernet port. Yes can send back to update but just the Ethernet update is something like 1k. Again it would meet the OP requirements but starts to get expensive. Still something to consider.
The lumin sounds interesting. It supports DSD etc like I want. But I wonder whether it can do DSD 512 over ethernet from a NAS. The Bricasti said it could do DSD64 max.  Don’t understand why. 
DSD 512 is a larger file - more bits more processing ... higher sample rate ... requires more powerful processing.
Is the question really about ethernet through-put or is it about processing capacity?
@rego, it handled DSD256 or maybe 512 if connected over USB.  But only DSD64 over ethernet.  So processing capacity isn't the issue.  Maybe it doesn't have gigabit ethernet chip?
I would consider the Matrix Element-X. I have not heard it, but because of the good reviews, I’d try to get one on approval. It’s said to be neutral and bulletproof.

DACs of a certain price will almost certainly be Roon, Tidal, and Qobuz compatible. If you don't want to use those features, just ignore them.

@ssmaudio the only two "inputs" to the Lumin T2 are Ethernet or a USB drive. Over Ethernet, it receives the original audio data via UPnP (or Roon RAAT), so it will get the DSD512 audio file directly and play it. Same for a DSD512 file on a USB drive.

Since you're talking about using the analog outputs, there's no concern with "outputting" DSD512. But if you did hook up an external DAC, DSD512 will go out over USB but not BNC S/PDIF.


It is too bad your budget wasn’t a little higher. I am selling my Lumin X-1 on USA Audio Mart. I have had the Lumin D-2, A-1 and I currently have the U-1 mini and X-1. X-1 is the flagship for the Lumin Brand. I can tell you from experience that each upgrade has been a substantial sound improvement.
I replaced a Emm Lab Dac and Laufer Teknik Memory Player with the X-1. All of my music was sourced from a Synology 4 tb NAS. The music quality was outstanding on the X-1. You would never need to update your DAC / Streamer again if you could find the budget for a used X-1.

The Lumin App is incredibly easy to use with my NAS. And, I do use Tidal and Qobuz to supplement my listening of new music. I believe you would to over time. Check out my ad on Audiogon if you want more information on Lumin.

By the way, I am in the process of converting the X-1 to use fiber optics in my system.
Question. I noticed some of the suggestions are due network streamers (like the Lumin T2 and X1). If I already have Roon, is there any reason to get a network streamer?  Thanks 
I have a lifetime Roon subscription that I use on a Mac. 
Technics ST-C700 streamer = 1100 USD
Budget = 3000 to 4000 USD
Cost Savings = 1900 to 2900 USD

https://almaaudio.com/products/technics-st-c700-network-audio-player?_pos=1&_sid=14d50c2a2&_ss=r


@ssmaudio Roon doesn't actually deliver audio to your DAC, unless the Roon Core (your Mac) is connected to your DAC via a USB audio connection.

In all other cases you still need a Roon "receiver" for the Roon Core to send the music data to, and that receiver then either renders it as analog audio if it is a DAC, or the receiver outputs it as digital audio to your DAC.

So when you wrote "I’ll connect to the streamer through a Roon core running on my Mac" I think we all assumed that meant connecting to a Roon Ready receiver that is on the same network as your Mac.
@nekoaudio , thanks for the explanation. Currently I use my Roon core on my Mac to connect wirelessly to an Exasound Sigma streamer that connects to the e38 DAC through usb. 
So is there any advantage to a network streamer?  Since Roon  already connecting wirelessly to the Sigma streamer.
@ssmaudio the Exasound Sigma is your network streamer already. It's just not a DAC + streamer, since it only outputs digital audio.

Functionally, there is no advantage to you purchasing something else given you already have the Sigma network streamer and e32 DAC. But if you want a single box, or something that sounds different/better, or supports some other feature, then it makes sense to look at other options.
+1 @nekoaudio 
So is there any advantage to a network streamer?  
This question is where the discussion (streamer) begins. 
One way to 'Stream' would be to use the NAS as the Server.
Your current Flow / NAS > Ethernet (WiFi) > Roon Core > Sigma Streamer > DAC > Input ...
The Sigma Streamer appears to be Roon Ready so the Mac Core is redundant in the flow.
Typically an App (Roon for iOS / Android) is used to control the playback.
By the time you have a file input to the DAC the media source (your files from the NAS) or a Streaming Service is not the focus of how the gear matters.
Local files or Service (HD Audio) files are more or less equivalent for Streaming.
Only a handful of DACs / Streamer DACs offer the capacity to run an Ethernet connection from DAC to PreAmp input-not to mention the Pre.
The Pass Pre does not appear to have an USB input ... ???

Actually, the Mac is not redundant. You need a Roon Core somewhere. Your Mac computer is acting as the Roon Core. The Sigma Streamer cannot act as a Roon Core, only as a Roon Ready endpoint.

Some audio components can run Roon Core on them, with hardware and processing power in them similar to a general purpose computer to run Roon Core, but the Sigma Streamer is not one of them.
@nekoaudio, would you please show where the Sigma Streamer is not being used as the Roon Core ... or how Sigma Streamer does not function as a Roon Core ...
If the Sigma Streamer is not functional as a "Core" please show where this is stated.

From exaSound website: Roon Ready -
"The exaSound Sigma connects your exaSound DAC to the home network and turns it into a streaming device. It delivers seamless, top-quality sound with Roon, HQPlayer, UPnP and Airplay. "

The Roon website states:

Nucleus (Roon Streamer)

or 

Apple
Windows
Linux
NAS (gee none of this is confusing at all ...) -_-

What am I missing here ... ?



@rego Roon Ready is not the same as Roon Core. A Roon Ready device is like a Roon RAAT Client, while the Roon Core is like a Roon RAAT Server. The Sigma Streamer is only ever described as Roon Ready.

From the Sigma Streamer manual, page 10:

The Roon playback engine - Roon Core must be installed on a music server like the exaSound Gamma Server or any third-party music server. Roon Core can also be installed on Mac or Windows computer. Your Roon server must be connected to your home network and to the Internet.

For all music streaming, there are three components: the music server, the music client, and the control UI.

The Sigma Streamer is never a "server" as far as I can tell. For any of Roon, HQPlayer, UPnP, or AirPlay. It is only a client. Sigma sells servers separately.

For the four examples listed, the server is:
  • Roon Core is the Roon server. It can be installed headless (no UI) on Windows, macOS, Linux, supported NAS operating systems like QNAP and Synology.
  • HQPlayer will run a server when installed and running on your computer.
  • A UPnP server might be MinimServer running on your computer or NAS or, sometimes an audio device like the Marantz ND8006 that can UPnP serve the CD inserted into it if I remember correctly.
  • An AirPlay server is your Mac or iOS device.
For the for examples listed, the control UI is:
  • For Roon, that will be the Roon UI app which might be running on the same computer as your Roon Core, but it could be the Roon UI app running on an iOS or Android device.
  • HQPlayer is itself also the control.
  • A UPnP server could be made use of via an app like BubbleUPnP (not BubbleUPnP Server) or Glider.
  • AirPlay is usually controlled by the AirPlay app on the same device as your AirPlay server, but not always. An example of not always is when using the Apple Remote iOS app, where your music might be on your Mac but you use the Remote app on your iPhone to tell your Mac AirPlay server to send music to some other AirPlay client.
Roon has a handy chart showing these three components of control app, server (Core), and client (audio device) for their software downloads. The chart doesn't show hardware, like the Sigma Streamer, but Roon Ready and Roon Tested essentially fall under the client / audio device column.