Do I have to use a streamer/renderer to play music from an NAS?

I apologize for the basic question. But, I can’t seem to find an answer online. I would like to put all my CDs on an NAS and play that music through my system. I have a Rotel RC/RB-1590 set up. I know some NAS boxes come with DLNA software installed, and I am looking at Synology because I read their software for finding and selecting music to play is pretty good. Eventually, I will probably end up with something like a Cambridge Audio CXN or 851N to stream tidal and digital radio, as well as the music on the NAS. But, do I have to have the Cambridge or some other device to just play the digital music from the NAS to start? I would like to do the purchases in steps so I can get better units as I can afford them.  Also, any advice on alternative solutions would be much appreciated. Thanks.
You will need something to get the music from your NAS to your stereo. I have a Synology NAS and its Disc Station Manager does have an audio player that can play on my computer. But to get the music to my stereo I use an Auralic Aries Mini connected to an outboard DAC. That is the easiest way to get the music on the NAS to your stereo and there are various streamers. Cambridge is one of them, some folks like Chromecast Audio which is inexpensive but I believe its going away.  Good luck!
+ 1
at the bare minimum, you need a DAC.  Some how those 1s and 0s from the NAS have to be converted to sound.  I don’t know if the equipment you cited has a DAC.  Then you need to be able to tell the NAS what to play.
  A PC is a great way to start, most people have one lying around.  Great software programs for low expenditures can then provide you with a good GUI while simultaneously enhancing the sound output from the PC by disabling other functions.
My preamp does have a DAC. I think the main issue is how to push the music from the NAS to the preamp.
It doesn't look like your preamp supports dlna, so yes, you'll need something external. A bluesound node 2i or something similar would work. 
I use a Raspberry Pi with Logitech Media Server, but Volumio is the popular favorite.

I use the USB interface straight. Works great, but you can also buy inexpensive S/PDIF or even analog outputs as well.

What I like about both of these solutions is the Android and iPhone support as well as a web interface.
You might also look at something based on JRiver or Media monkey, especially if you have an old laptop lying around the house.
The answer is you need to add something to the NAS/DAC como.  You have to be able to see what’s on the NAS and to be able to direct the NAS to serve up tracks.  It could be a computer or a renderer
The Interchange renderer will deliver the best SQ over DLNA connection, using freeware: Linn Kinsky/Minimserver/BubbleUPnP for playback on a PC or Mac. See these jitter measurements:

You can also later use the same setup to stream Tidal or Qobuz using Freeware Linn Kazoo or Lumin.

The Interchange takes Ethernet input and gives you outputs of S/PDIF coax, AES/EBU, I2S on HDMIO conn. and I2S on RJ-45 connector.

In order to get the best SQ from the network, it is wise to add the following pieces:

From your Router use any Cat5e or Cat6 cable to:
1) AQVOX switch
2) 0.5m Wireworld Platinum Ethernet cable
3) EMO EN-70e isolator
4) 1.0m Wireworld Platinum Ethernet cable
This connects to the Interchange
Then from Interchange to your DAC using my Reference BNC-BNC coax cable with RCA adapters as needed.

This is a world-class digital source.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
One other thought if you did say go the Synology route you could run a digital cable from whatever device you have Disc Station Manager on, laptop or whatever, to the dac in your preamp. You may need a usb to coax converter unless your preamp has a usb input. You can use Audio Station on DSM for playback there are also other playback options available on DSM like Plex and Minimserver.
If you want world class sound, keep any pc/Mac/music server out of the room. Put your server in another room and get a good dac with a network card in it. 
Also, you don’t need a music server/renderer to get music off a nas. If you have a good dac with a network card, use a Mac mini running Roon from another room. Roon’s Interface and SQ is so superior to other mentioned above. IMO the next best would be auralic’s DS Lightning interface.
Any good quality 1G switch will work. I have never had a switch deliver invalid data. If you can hear a difference between switches, the routers, wall plates, Ethernet ports from each device would be called into question.
I actually had a vendor tell me that they only used a specific hard drive because they could hear a difference. When I told him I worked for Seagate that made the hard drive he was using he backed off since disk drives change constantly and the drive he was buying today might be different from what he buys tomorrow.
I've had Steve/Empirical's Interchange here for the last week or two. I haven't had a chance to critically A/B test it against my other streamer, but it's definitely sounding outstanding. Coming from Roon, the Lumin Kazoo software is just barely tolerable, but it is probably about as good as anything else I've used, and it does run on iOS as well as Mac desktop/laptop, and that's important to me. I'm also using it to try out Qobuz and have that working, streaming hi-rez files is pretty damn nifty. I like the idea that it's made by one guy with extreme attention to detail. That's how the rest of my system is configured. Anyway, I hope that's helpful. DM if you have any questions about it. 
I should add that I keep my music on an Intel NUC running Linux/Minimserver/BubbleUPNP, and I have exactly the switch/isolator/cable setup Steve describes up there ^^^. That cost a few bucks, but it sounds real nice. 
You have the basics above. I’ll just add a few comments.
First, think about the tasks - you need something to catalog and let you browse and select a file to play. Someone mentioned ROON, and i think that happens to be the pick of the streamer litter. Next, you need to get it to the room your stereo(s) is (are) in. This is any old ethernet network - not Wifi preferably (although it may work). Next you need to terminate the ethernet, convert it to either USB or SPDIF and provide that to your DAC which may be in a receiver or may be stand-alone. There are bunches of these, one by ALLO based on Raspberry Pi is excellent for the money.

Note that the digital signal DOES impact sound a lot, for good reasons, mostly 1) jitter and 2) noise, which causes 1) (jitter). Its HUGELY important. I was shocked.

Consider both what you need to get ot to play today, but also what you want for the future. I want a single server with a great interface for all my music, radio, streaming subscriptions etc. This will be ROON on a dedicated server (NUC/ROCK/custom linear supply). AS long as i can make that electrically and mechanically quiet i do plan to have that as part of my main system and drive my DAC via USB directly (well, galvanically isolated, but that’s about the noise bit).

Commercial streamers like SONOS and Bluesound simply combine some of these functions in the head-end and others int he remotes. SONOS, by the way, sounds awful in the context of true high-end. I was also shocked when i first heard that in a very good system. Switching ti CD was a relief.

I need to look up audioengr’s roll-you-r-own components to see what its about. I don’t think i’d give up ROON though.
I run a  Synology NAS that I keep on the first floor on my wired network running CAT7 cables and through a few gig switches. I have two stereo systems the main uses a PS Audio Directstream and one a Perdfectwave DAC, both connected to the network. All the computers on the network have JRiver installed as well as a tablet so I can control from anywhere. The software seems to work well (Windows based computers) and the SQ on either system is more than acceptable. Have not fiddled with ethernet cables outside of upgrading from CAT5's as I feel it is just data at that point and not sure how different cable would make the data better.
My  $.02
I have also a Synology NAS, an he is wirelessly connected to my Logitech Squeezebox Touch ( little, but very good) and this is digitally connected to the DAC of the Luxman D06. On the Pc.,i use the app. IPeng. (To save the music). Along my iPad,i can play my recorded music.
to Steve:
Why do you advise against *lossless* formats like FLAC/ALAC?

They are, after all, lossless, and after reconstruction are identical to RAW. And, I have compared and heard absolutely no difference. I admit i have not compared many times or particularly carefully since (danger will robinson!) i knew what the result would be :-)

No, on low powered computers or slow disks i could see it causing more power noise or even jitter/errors, but that would show up.
On re-reading your post i wonder if there is a subtlety in it, you actually say "avoid ripping to ALAC or compressed file using itunes". Is itunes somehow the problem(how?) or ALAC, which, after all, is lossless (mostly DPCM)??  TIA

I really appreciate the kind respnses. I am still a little confused.  Lukaske, it seemed from your response that your NAS is connected wirelessly to a Squeezebox, which I assume functions like a tablet, and that the NAS is then connected to your DAC, with no other renderer.  Is that correct?  If so, which Synology do you use? That is how I am considering setting up mine for now, adding a good streamer/renderer as I save up more money.
kumakahn the Squeezebox is a streamer/renderer it sends the digital signal to the Dac. That is how most streamers work I have an Auralic Aries Mini my Synology 214-play is connected to my modem/router and communicates wirelessly with the Mini.
Picking up on the last response about streamers - read my post again. **something** needs to present you a UI, identify the files locally or on a network, and send it to the appropriate digital interface, somewhere on the other end will eb the DAC (depending on the interface).
The streamer may reside on the NAS in some cases. IMO, not a great idea.  It can reside on the networked device. or it can be a stand-alone box like a ROOM server or BlueSound streamer. But it must be somewhere.  A "head end" streamer has the advantage of using many source file locations and feeding many end points.
Why do you advise against *lossless* formats like FLAC/ALAC?

There are a couple of claims made, without evidence.

1 - The decompression time, which is variable, can cause audible effects.
2 - The extra CPU time involved in decompression adds noise to the circuit.

Personally I have heard no such effects, nor have I seen anyone measure it, which seems quite easy to do.
If this actually happens it is probably quite DAC and streamer dependent.

just curious, what are you going to use to rip your CD’s and what format are you planning to use, flac,wav, etc?

I’m thinking of doing the same thing.


To make this work, you'll need a hardware device to hold your music files; some type of software to "serve" or stream your music files; endpoints to receive the streamed music; music control software running on a hardware device to play music; and a wired or wireless network to tie everything together.
  • Hardware Storage Device examples: NAS, computer hard/solid state drive (HHD/SSD), thumb drive, USB HHD/SSD, media server HHD/SSD
  • Software Server examples:  Roon Core, Logitech Media Server (LMS), Synology Audio Station, JRiver Media Center
  • Endpoint examples: Raspberry PI, Squeezebox Duet or Touch, Chromecast Audio devices/Chromecast speakers, AirPlay speakers, DNLA speakers
  • Music Control Software examples: Roon, iPeng, JRiver, LMS, DS Audio
Using LMS and Raspberry PIs, AirPlay speakers, and Squeezebox Duets, I created a whole house stereo system that worked very well for years.  I used this setup to synchronize music to wired and wireless speakers, both active and passive, all over my 3-story house.  LMS is free, still well supported, and using plugins supports a wide range of clients (e.g., Squeezebox/Squeezelight, DNLA, AirPlay, Chromecast).  If you have a little "techie" in you, LMS is a good option and it has a proven track record of flexibility and reliability.

Recently, I switched to Roon.  Roon has a much better interface and much better SQ; however, to take full advantage of Roon's DSP capabilities, you need a fairly powerful device to run Roon Core.  Hence I purchased a sonicTransporter with DSP (with no storage) just to run Roon Core.  My Roon setup is Ethernet from a wall jack to a 5-port switch.  The sonicTransporter and Zenith are plugged into the switch.  The Zenith music server is plugged into a Mytek DAC using a USB cable.  The DAC is plugged into a NAD M12 preamplifier using RCA cables.

Using Roon, I had to make some comprises. For example, Roon does not support DNLA, but does support RAAT (Roon's protocol), AirPlay, Squeezebox, and Chromecast. HOWEVER, you cannot synchronize different protocols (called Zones in Roon).  The much improved SQ and Roon music management capabilities made the trade-off worthwhile.  I have two zones: 
  • Zone 1 uses a Roon ready Mytek DAC and a RAAT enabled Raspberry PI
  • Zone 2 uses Roon ready Chromecast wireless speakers and one Chromecast Audio device
As a side note, I use Riva WAND wireless speakers in Zone 2 (family room, kitchen, living room, and upstairs guest room).  The SQ is surprisingly good, IMHO much better than Sonos.  I replaced Sonos with Riva WAND because of the SQ but more importantly, the RIVA's support DNLA, AirPlay, Chromecast, and Bluetooth, and they have an Aux input. The switch from LMS to Roon was painless :-).

You need to carefully choose your front end. 
  • LMS gives you many streaming options - basically, every major streaming service (e.g., Tidal, Qobuz, Pandora, Sirius), an Internet radio directory, and the ability to manually enter web page URLs (e.g., RadioTunes channels).  
  • Roon allows you to stream Tidal and just this week Qobuz, and radio stations that stream in MP3, AAC, and FLAC formats, and TuneIn web page URLs.
  • I tried JRiver; its like a Swiss Army knife.  I decided not to use it because I didn't want to tie up a computer to use it, and I didn't want to spend the time learning how to use all of the bells & whistles.
If you use a Synology NAS, you should run the LMS Beta version in the "Beta" package center.  I used that version for a couple of years with no problems!

You can also run LMS server and LMS client on a single Raspberry PI, and connect it to any USB or network device.  For my goddaughter's 30th birthday, I gave her one of my legacy systems: vintage Bose 901 speakers (original series with chrome stands), Bose equalize, Yamaha receiver, Raspberry PI LMS Server/Player, and 3 TB USB drive. She's streaming Tidal from LMS, and playing music from the USB drive and her phone/table.  There are no latency or connectivity issues with this setup. 

There's a lot to learn about this stuff.  Don't be shy about asking more questions.  That's how I learned on this forum.  
@ curiousjim  I ripped my CDs to FLAC.  There are those who believe WAV provides better SQ.  I haven't tried WAV and I'm quite happy with FLAC.  WAV takes up more disk space, if that's a concern.  I don't think you'll have a SQ problem with either format.

I have a Synology NAS that I stream from using my OPPP 203, capability built in.

Made it a lot easier to try this sort of thing. Now i have progressed to Roon, which can use my library or Tidal, and the Oppo is recognized as a output device by Roon.

I run Roon on my Mac with no additional software. I used to have to run Minimserver or Bubbleupnp but got rid of all of that when I got Roon. I go directly to my dac using Ethernet so no need for the inferior usb connection.
i use an Auralic mini for my living room system and the mini is an endpoint for Roon. The Auralic or Lumin apps needed something like Minimserver. 
Get Roon and look for a device that is a Roon endpoint then you won’t need any of this extr software. Also get a dac that has a network interface so you can keep the server in a different room
@rbstehno  I go directly to my dac using Ethernet so no need for the inferior usb connection.
Why do feel a USB connection is inferior to Ethernet?  I've used both in my setup and I get the best SQ with USB.

Also get a dac that has a network interface so you can keep the server in a different room

@rbstehno   Why the need to keep the server in a different room?

Why do feel a USB connection is inferior to Ethernet?

[I've used both in my setup and I get the best SQ with USB] [Emphasis added]

+1 @oldschool1948

Also get a dac that has a network interface so you can keep the server in a different room
I think that depends on your overall system setup.

I once used a Synology DS216+ NAS as my media server.  It was kept in my home office and could make mechanical noise at times, but had no impact on SQ outside of that room. 

Currently, the Zenith media server and sonicTransporter that are in my music room are totally silent, that is, neither make any mechanical sounds while operating.

Just to answer a few questions not addressed to me :-)

-- Why have the server in another room?  I think to reduce physical noise (fans, etc.).  I probably will just put it in a closet in the room.  I'll also make a quiet server based on  NUC, Roon ROCK, etc.

-- Why is Ethernet superior to USB?  answer: both are asynchronous and therefore should be the same. But USB needs to be galvanically isolated to prevent noise propagation. Also, see above, network allows you to remote the whole thing and eliminate physical/mechanical noise

Otherwise there is no difference.  Either vs SPDIF is a big difference however, since SPDIF is synchronous and depends on the source clock, which you cant control.

Wow, what a wealth of information. I appreciate it so much.  But, honestly, I just want to listen to music that sounds great and is easily located and selected. I spent too many hours configuring networks, etc. when I had my own business. I want simple but good sounding. Much of this seems too complicated for my tastes. Is the Bluesound Vault II reliable, especially the built-in ripper?
A huge resounding YES on the Bluesound Vault 2.
Used one for two years with zero issues on streaming or cd ripping.
It is very versatile although it’s weak point, imho, is its internal dac.
For a grand its a simple powerful way to get round any tech issues, it s nearly plug and play.
@kumankahn.  But, honestly, I just want to listen to music that sounds great and is easily located and selected.
Looks like you have to main goals for your music: (1) sounds great  and (2) is easily located and selected.

(1)  Seems like a hardware choice.  Since your RC-1590 has a DAC, I'd look for a pure media server.  Take a look at the Innuos ZENmini

They are simple to setup and configure; are CD rippers; and come pre-loaded with Roon.  They cost more than the Bluesound Vault 2.  I use a Zenith MKII.  The SQ is outstanding.  Check out the online reviews.

For connectivity, the ZENmini has two Ethernet ports or a USB port.  In your case, you would connect your LAN cable to the ZENmini "LAN" port, and then the ZENmini "Streamer" port to you RC-1590 "Ethernet" port or the ZENmini "USB" port to you RC-1590 "USB" port.

(2) Seems like software choices.  I'd give Roon a try.  If that doesn't work, there are a lot of other choices.
"But, honestly, I just want to listen to music that sounds great and is easily located and selected."
:-)  Don't we all. Let us know when you find it.
Ok, seriously, its not that easy, but yes BlueSound is supposedly pretty good. But you still either need to co-locate it with your DAC, or you need to get something to terminate the network in another room and feed either USB or SPDIF to your DAC, and therein lies more complexity if you want good sound.  Its mostly about digital noise on the line and jitter.
Again, thank you. Many ways to get there. I didn’t know about the Zen Mini. I like the specs for it. It seems to match the RC-1590 better than the Vault II. The Zen Mini can handle DSD, as does the RC-1590. 
@OP.  Try to find a local dealer and audition the ZENmini in your system if possible.
Commercial streamers like SONOS and Bluesound simply combine some of these functions in the head-end and others int he remotes. SONOS, by the way, sounds awful in the context of true high-end. I was also shocked when i first heard that in a very good system. Switching ti CD was a relief.

I need to look up audioengr’s roll-you-r-own components to see what its about. I don’t think i’d give up ROON though.

Sonos can sound world-class if you reclock it with a Synchro-Mesh and use a good BNC terminated S/PDIF cable of the optimum length.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
to Steve:
Why do you advise against *lossless* formats like FLAC/ALAC?

Because on a truly resolving system, they sound worse than .wav files.  The problem is not the data, it's the on-the-fly decoding by the CODECs.  Broken.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
-- Why is Ethernet superior to USB? answer: both are asynchronous and therefore should be the same. But USB needs to be galvanically isolated to prevent noise propagation. Also, see above, network allows you to remote the whole thing and eliminate physical/mechanical noise

Ethernet is superior the USB because there are fewer hoops to jump through and less money to spend to acheive audio nirvana.  They can both be identical in SQ, but USB takes a lot more and requires a really good computer and power supply and USB ports/USB regenerator/USB cable/kill the background apps/select the right playback software and even then you are usually stuck with a substandard USB interface on your DAC.  No thanks.

I have my own stellar USB converter/interface that matches the performance of my Ethernet, but it's a lot more trouble.  Handy for Amazon Prime music and listening to sample tracks from Amazon though.

Steve N.
Wow, what a wealth of information

More like a load of misinformation.  If you want to end-up with a mid-fi sound, fine.  If you are looking to achieve world-class sound, be selective who you listen to.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio

The OP appears to be relatively new to this "hobby," at least from a music streaming perspective if nothing else. He, like most people I believe, probably wants to get it as close to "right" the first time; sit back and enjoy the music; and make tweaks from there.

That's been my approach, based on listening experiences with my equipment and setup, along with visits to dealer showrooms to audition various pieces and with help from members of my audio club. I live in the DC area where there's no shortage of truly high-end audio/video dealers.  Before I spend thousands of dollars on ANYTHING, I first hear it in my system - or have the option of returning it.

There's is a lot of information and opinions in this thread.  I don't agree with it all and I'm sure not everyone agrees with everything that I've shared.  That's natural. 

Clearly, you have a lot of practical experience and technical expertise in this area.  Would you please elaborate on what you mean by the phrase, "More like a load of misinformation?" I can't speak for everyone, but I'd certainly like to know what you are referring to.

Posters that don't understand the importance of jitter will never get there.  Posters that think all you need is some server that outputs USB and that will deliver audio nirvana are wrong.  Posters that believe all USB inputs on DAC's are the same are totally wrong.  Posters that believe that reclocking inside a DAC eliminates the need for a low-jitter source are totally wrong.

Most of what makes digital sound good has to with low jitter, and I mean really, really low jitter, a few picoseconds.  It's ALL ABOUT JITTER, period.

The other thing that audiophiles must realize is that every poster is coming from a different place in the quest for the best SQ.  Even most reviewers systems are nothing to get excited about.  I've been there.  There are very few posters that have any technical knowledge either, although some think they do.  The challenge is to find some that you trust.

It's a lot like deciding what news organization to trust.  Too many people trust poor organizations with dubious motivations.  Too many people believe propaganda on Facebook from Russians.  Be careful who you trust.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Post removed 
I was under the impression that jitter was handled by “modern” DACs or by using an external master clock.  Having said that, I have zero experience with external clocks.

I have a Mytek Liberty DAC.  It’s specs have, “Clock generator: Low noise with 10ps of jitter.”  Realizing 10 is more than a few, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being really bad, where would you rate “10ps of jitter?”

@OP.   Please forgive me for diverging from your original question.  Many of these responses have been educational for me.  I’m posing questions to better understand and learn.

10psec is a bogus spec IME.  It's generally the specification for the oscillator before it's installed into a circuit.  In the circuit, the jitter from that 10psec oscillator usually translates to 500 psec, sometimes even more.  I've measured these things on my bench many times.  It takes an experienced, educated designer with clever tricks to get 10psec of jitter from any device, including a USB converter, Ethernet converter or a reclocker.  Nobody else comes close to 10psec that I get from all of my products.  7psec from my Synchro-Mesh.  I continually have customers and other vendors bringing over things to test on my bench.  All disappointing.

No matter what your digital source is, the jitter can be lowered by using a Synchro-Mesh reclocker and a good BNC cable.  If you DAC does not reclock, this will still improve things, just not as much .

As for USB, I recommend this regenerator with LPS: 

Even with USB, the best scenario is usually an outboard USB converter with LPS feeding a BNC coax to your DAC.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio

Thanks for the info.

Having been down this path a few years ago, I realize how confusing it can be.  I have a QNAP NAS, installed Asset UPnP as well as MinimServer on it; both work well.  I use my Oppo 205 as the digital hub since it decodes almost anything you throw at it.  I have the Oppo connected to my Parasound P7 preamp.

There are various DNLA apps you can use to direct the music to your Oppo or whatever preamp you have.  Oppo has an app.  I also use the Creation 5+ app.  If you have Linn front end digital gear, then by all means use the Linn apps.  Sadly they don't work with my gear. 

I also briefly used a SimAudio Mind player, worked well, well built, but it's stereo only.  
@ kumakahn.  Again, thank you. Many ways to get there. I didn’t know about the Zen Mini. I like the specs for it. It seems to match the RC-1590 better than the Vault II. The Zen Mini can handle DSD, as does the RC-1590.
Have you made a buying decision?  
Audioengr wrote:"Most of what makes digital sound good has to with low jitter, and I mean really, really low jitter, a few picoseconds. It's ALL ABOUT JITTER, period."
I never say never or always, but i pretty much agree here. If you think about reproduction, each sample requries two points, plus smoothing/filtering.  We have spent 35 years focusing on ONE point, voltage (bit depth) and pretty much ignored the other (timing).  Over ten years ago i added a PLL (or two) to my cheap-o transport ( A CD player) and made a large leap forward.
Remember that jitter has many fathers too - noise, threshold detection, blah, blah, blah.  I know nothing about Steve's stuff, but it certainly seems to have the right design objectives in mind.  I have also had very good results with a relatively cheap Schiit EITR (USB - SPDIF).
As I recently went down this road I'll share a bit of how I approached it. First, I use a mesh wifi system which made this possible without re-wiring my house. Second, before going all-in and buying something from Synology or QNAP, I set up an old Mac mini (2010) as a NAS running Asset UPnP. Music files are in WAV format. I settled on the mconnect app for control. A Sonore microRendu provides rendering duties and feeds a Bel Canto mLink USB-SPDIF converter (I prefer the BNC connection of my DAC). The sound quality is superb, as is the convenience. I will likely purchase a "proper" NAS some time in the near future but there's little need right now.

BTW, the microRendu replaced a Bluesound Node 2, which replaced a well-appointed Mac mini (2012) running Amarra Luxe, A+, and HQPlayer.
As I noted in an earlier post:
I was under the impression that jitter was handled by “modern” DACs or by using an external master clock.
I'm really trying to understand "jitter" and it's impact on streamed music.  I use the following components for streaming:

NAD M12 preamplifier/DAC w/BluOS MDC (I don't use it's DAC)
NAD M22 v2 power amplifier
sonicTransporter i7 for Roon DSP (no storage)
Innuos Zenith MKII media server
Mytek Liberty DAC

My Roon setup is Wireworld Cat7 Ethernet from a wall jack to a 5-port switch
  • sonicTransporter and Zenith are plugged into the switch using Wireworld cables
  • Zenith is plugged into DAC using a Wireworld USB cable
  • DAC is plugged into a NAD using Cardas RCA cables
I could use Ethernet from the Zenith to the M12, eliminating the USB cable.  I like the Mytek DAC better than the M12 DAC, and the Mytek DAC allows me to play native DSD files.

To me and my friends, the SQ is excellent.  In my system, native DSD sounds best; MQA second; and Zenith FLAC files upsampled to DSD 128 last.

If I have a jitter problem, I cannot hear it.  So my question is, how can you tell?
to oldschool1948

Steve has more bench experience with these so I wont even comment on his figures or claims. But I’ll provide a couple of data points that are useful to anyone trying to digest why jitter is worse in A than B.

First, SPDIF and its variants (including AES/EBU and toslink, which are merely physical layer manifestations) have the DAC as the SLAVE to the MASTER clock in the sending device (transport, CD player, adapter, streamer, whatever).

USB and Ethernet are asynchronous. the sender sends bits to a buffer until told to hold on... and the DAC clocks things out on its own, using whatever clock circuitry it has.

Beyond clock specs, we have to deal with detection of that clock, which might be on the lead (cab;e) on the internal bus, whatever. Lead lengths may vary, thresholds for detecting a clock pulse may vary, noise may interfere -- many functions can interfere with timing by small (to us) but large (to the music) amounts. Remember that the entire sample time slot for a 44k signal is 20 mSec (1/44000 sec) - yea simplified for illustration.

I suspect noise is a significant contributor since linear power supplies seem to improve sources in subjective testing and we KNOW (due to error correction) when there are errors and that the base clock was the same. I conclude that this ids also why the same signal over AES is reported to sound better than over Coax. We KNOW that optical toslink has a big jitter component, but the advantage of ground isolation (due to, well, no ground)