Do Streamer only devices really impact sound quality?

From a layman mindset, a streamer transmits electronic information to a dac via coaxial cable or other connection. The electronic information I believe is standardized for all streamers. That said, the streamer itself could not influence the sound quality heard by the audience. I think it is bit-perfect information coming across to the dac. 

So for instance a Bluesound 2i   vs  Cambridge CXN V2 streamer should sound identical with the same connections and equipment used and of course same streaming service and content.


thoughts appreciated if I have this correct?  


@dvdgreco  "That said, the streamer itself could not influence the sound quality heard by the audience. I think it is bit-perfect information coming across to the dac."

Sure the streamer itself can the sound quality -  parts quality, implementation of design, power supply , anti-reasonance , shielding etc.  all impact SQ.

This is a great question and one I have been thinking about. I just switched from an all in one streamer/DAC/Preamp so no cabling involved to a lumin U2 into reimyo dac into SPL preamp all with Canare quad XLR cables.  

I can not hear a diff. So if there should or should not be a diff I don't know but I am not hearing one.  The main diff I have heard was switching DACs.  I think you may hear a diff between say bluesound node and a lumin but could be noise reduction. The bits are perfect as they are so contamination from poor cables or constructed streamer components could cause a diff. 

The lumin u2 is amazing. I was able to trade in the esoteric to Mike Kay (I have no affiliation and this is not an add so hope I don't get struck) but you get honest opinion on this topic as that is he forte. 

Look forward to hearing more comments. 

Best JH  Love this stuff!

I don’t mean this to be rude - but this question has been asked many times in this forum and I’d suggest you will find it helpful to review the previous discussions. Or, you may find it particularly unhelpful as there are a number of posters who go to their respective corners to defend a viewpoint.

My $.02 is based on direct experience.  I’ve had multiple streamers and they do sound different. BTW - so do digital cables and network switches and all sorts of other digital elements. This is anathema to the “it’s just 1s and 0s” crowd.  

My experience in moving upstream was that the spatial information improved greatly such that my Node 2i sounded dimensionally “flat” in comparison. The tonality of the two units was the same, but the presentation was not. 

How can this be if it’s just 1s and 0s?  While I do not know with certainty, I can speculate.

The digital signal transmitted as 1s and 0s is done in analogue format via voltage changes. There are not 1s and 0s migrating down a cable but a current which must be interpreted as 1s and 0s by a converter.  The current is a sine wave of sorts and the slope and speed of the wave are variables. Along with the primary carrier signal is the addition of noise which can distort the wave meaning that the interpretation of weather it’s a 1 or 0 might be altered ever so slightly.. Now imagine how vast and rapid is the information  migrating and being “interpreted” across the system. Is it not reasonable to expect that there could be differences - even if extremely minor - coming across the signal path that when so multiplied might be received by a DAC and have some differences in sound? 

Regardless of my viewpoint here, others with plenty of knowledge will disagree and claim what I’m hearing is imagined.  So be it. May I suggest you try an in-home audition?  I haven’t heard the Cambridge unit, but am well acquainted with the Node 2i which I still have in a kitchen system. But, it was moved there after I auditioned other units in my better system and the difference was enough for me to happily pull out my wallet.

Good luck in your search.

The ones and zeroes generally make it to your DAC intact. However, as noted in other posts here, streaming accuracy and the eventual sound is highly dependent on two other factors, timing (jitter) and electrical noise. Streamers make a huge difference.