Hi, not sure if you are looking for new or used, but have you considered one of the Bricasti dacs within your budget?
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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.
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.
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.
@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.
@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.
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)
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: