Does this exist? Preamp/Streamer/DAC with MQA, Roon and more


I'm looking for a particular set of features that seem to be very hard to find in a stereo (2.1) product. My budget is preferably around $2,500 but there is some flexibility. Here's what I would like:

Must have
-Preamp
-Network streamer
-DAC
-Roon endpoint
-MQA compatible (not interested in your opinion of MQA)

Want to have
-HDMI inputs/output for video switching only and 2 channel audio (to allow TV sound through stereo)
-Room correction
-Subwoofer management

I recently purchased the newly released NAD C658 which, when adding the optional HDMI module, covers every must have and want to have (Dirac room correction is coming in a later FW update) for a total of $1,800. Perfect! The problem is that so far the thing sounds lousy. I'm trying to let it burn in more and see if Dirac comes and makes it better, but it's not looking good after the first few days. The DAC seems to be the problem. It seems to suffer from audible time smearing and sounds too clinical and harsh so I am suspect about Dirac helping with that.

I've also seen the SimAudio Moon 390 but it's $5,300 and doesn't have room correction or subwoofer management. On the less expensive end, SimAudio also has the Moon Ace for $2,900 which has the same features as the 390, minus the HDMI inputs. I'd use the preouts to my own amp since the Ace is an integrated amp.

Then there is the Aurender A10. It costs even more than the Moon 390 and doesn't have HDMI inputs.

Cambridge Audio has some well regarded streamers but they aren't Roon compatible.

Finally, there is the PS Audio DirectStream and DirectStream Junior. I recently purchased the DSJr since it can be had close to my budget and while it sounds incredible as a streamer and DAC, it's not viable as a preamp. I spoke to PS Audio about this and they recommend using a separate preamp for the DS and especially for the Jr. I can't remember exactly why but they told me the signal to noise ratio when used straight into an amp wasn't ideal. I tested this myself and found that the DSJr sounded better even running through a Marantz AV receiver as preamp than it did straight into my amp (the receiver uses pre-outs to the same amp). I don't want to run a DSJr through a Marantz receiver and if I blow the budget on the DAC, I won't be able to get a capable preamp worthy of mating with it. Plus I'm really trying to get down to fewer boxes.

Are there any other options out there that I'm missing?
jnehma1
My guess is that if you find a multi purpose piece that incorporates
the shopping list you posted, you will not have a prayer of
obtaining optimal sound. 
Post removed 

I agree with the poster who wrote SQ is not going to be too good if all the items on your list are included at the price point you are shooting for.

BTW, Why the HDMI interface? I2s? DSD?

that bit alone I think is the main obstacle all else being considered.

from what I've read most of the mo better, mo competent DAC/preamps are well above the 3K entry fee. although My tech and Bench mark get a lot of pub on these forums so you might want to check them out.

I've found immense flexibility and great sound don't often go hand in hand.

good luck to you.
Post removed 
HDMI is desirable since there is a TV in the family room along with my stereo setup. Ideally I would use the same speakers for the TV sound. All I need is a place to run my HDMI sources through. It doesn’t need to do any processing, just capture the audio and switch between the sources.

An HDMI switcher with an optical output to send 2-channel audio into a preamp/DAC costs $40 on Amazon. Not sure why that should add a great deal to the cost of a product, but that’s why it’s on the want list, not the must have list. I can just buy the $40 box. I’m not that concerned about ultimate fidelity of the TV sound anyway.

I don’t agree that it should be hard to find everything in the must have list. The PS Audio DSJr meets everything on the must have list except being a good preamp. I’d take some loss in sound quality for added preamp functionality. The NAD I bought meets everything on both lists. If I add $1k to the cost of that product, shouldn't I be able to get better performance?

Thanks for the Mytek suggestion. The new Brooklyn Bridge model is $3k and covers the full must have list so I need to check it out a bit more.
@ OP   I'm saying this with respect and politely, so please take it as such.

I believe you are asking for too much. Nothing at all wrong with that, but it will lead to compromises (in the plural).

My suggestion would be to look at a very recent previous generation top of the line receiver. It will also address your amplification needs, especially if you can bi-amp, even if you end up not using all the channels. If you want to keep the amplification separate then the same approach with respect to a HT oriented Pre/Pro. 

I think there are marginally improved receivers / pre/pros released in the spring by the major players (unless that has changed), so the timing may work in your favor.

All the best finding what will suit your needs and preferences.
The Mytek Brooklyn Bridge looks to be a very interesting piece.
As owner of an older Brooklyn I can attest to its very solid DAC performance, superb headphone amp and MQA ability although i never tried it as a preamp as I use an integrated amp.
However I am  now spoiled after trying a Chord DAVE, life will never be the same again.....

Post removed 
The moon 390 sounds excellent in all regards, but obviously you pay for that.  The same dealer I’ve heard it at sells the NAD, they don’t love it.  They prefer the node with a better dac.  I heard it briefly.  It was OK.


@david_ten Feedback is appreciated. Although if $2,500 buys a very good receiver, why can it not buy what I'm looking for if you remove the 7 (or 9 or 11) channels of amplification and all of the fancy video processing and Dolby/DTS/whatever audio modes?

Anyway, let's just remove the budget constraint altogether. Does anyone even make this product because it seems demand is there. I've seen quite a few people mention how the NAD C658 is the exact device they've been waiting on for years (myself included). So Mytek has something similar for $3k and Moon has something similar for $5,300. Are there any other options at any other price that are based on stereo not 9/11/16 home theater channels?
@dep14 I would maybe consider the Moon but I'd have to hear it in my home and have the option of returning it if it didn't sound amazing. Alas, there are no dealers within many hundreds of miles of me and I'm not taking a chance on a $5k piece of gear.
re: the HDMi from TV to the "Preamp/Streamer/DAC with MQA, Roon and more" unit, does your TV have an optical out?  If so, maybe you could run optical out of TV to preamp/dac.  That at least might get a troublesome item off your requirements list.  Just a thought.
I think Cocktail Audio may have something for you.
I tried a Cocktail Audio combo unit.
The sq was pretty poor, the OP already has a unit that he is not happy with.
I do not think the Cocktail Audio are serious hifi units, more a usefull all in one for a third system or office.
Just my opinion but from experience
@bri14mac Yes that's an option and then I'd just use an HDMI switcher. I've seen one at Amazon that has an optical audio output on the switch itself, that way I don't have to run a new 15 foot optical cable through the wall conduit to my TV. I can get that for $40, so having HDMI connections in the preamp isn't critical.
@dep14 Thanks, never heard of that Elac! I just thought they made speakers. Checking it out now
Does it have to be a one box solution?  A PC that could be configured as a Roon Endpoint feeding a preamp -DAC wold father bill.
Sorry to hear about the NAD I was hoping to try one out eventually. 

Wonder if this would fit the bill (along with Pre Box S2)

https://youtu.be/yYjQHX8VGGY
Moon 390.  it is all that and then some!  
This is why I love 2 channel. Less is more IMOHO.
Happy Listening
Mark
You can do most of what you want with an Oppo UDP-205. MQA requires you to use the USB in but otherwise it largely checks your boxes.
The Lyngdorf TDAI 3400 would be nearly perfect for you because it does everything you need, but it doesn't support MQA natively and retails for $7200 configured with premium analog and HDMI inputs which are optional. However Roon will play MQA files and it does the first MQA unfolding.  It's a neutral to slightly warm sounding integrated with Roon Perfect Room Correction. 400wpc into 4ohm. You're going to have to increase your budget if you want all that functionality along with sound quality.  I'm moving back to tube separates and will be selling my Lyngdorf TDAI 3400 in a week or so for about $5k. Mine is the $7200 loaded model with upgraded analog and HDMI board. It's only a few months old. Good luck with your search! 
Think budget is the obvious challenge as has already been discussed.  I’ve got a Marantz AV7702 (newer are available) plus the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ linked with a USB from PC running Plex and Roon and it does all you want, but 2500 is a tricky mark to hit.  

The Pre Box S2 (mentioned above) is terrific and hard to believe given the 400 price.  I have that on my desktop system.  Really great!
My solution, which puts sound quality above everything else,
is to use a Roon Nucleus to feed an Ayre Codex. I'm quite confident nothing else will come close under $3k. I connect my tv to the optical input, the Nucleus to usb. TV sounds radically better than when I had an AV system, and the only way to get better 2 channel SQ is with an Ayre EX-8, QX Twenty, or DCS Bartok, Rossini, Vivaldi.
Have you looked at an ARCAM AVR550?  I would a Blue Note to stream MQA.
Have to respond here, the NAD C 658 sounds freaking amazing with the right amp and cabling.

What amplifier, and cabling are you using with the NAD C658 if you are using it with a Marantz receiver as an amplifier you will not be happy, the Marantz receivers are okay at best we have installed them before not that good in terms of sound quality compared to the higher end receivers from Arcam, Audio Control, etc.

We paired our C 658 with the Nuprime STA 9 which is a $699 120 watt stereo amp $1,399.00 as a 290 watt mono block set and the sound quality was outstanding. 

We did a recent shoot out of the NAD M10 which is a 100 watt Hypex amplifer with the same features as the C 658 vs the Naim Atom and the Atom was much warmer and fuller.

If your dealer was using the C658 with the matching 80 watt Nad Hypex amplifier and or the wrong cabling that is the reason why you didn't like the sound. The Nuprime amplifiers are a hybrid Class A/D technology and are designed to emulate the sound and musicality of a tube amplifier

this combination was so remarkable that we just ordered a second STA 9 to run the mono bridge to create this package of 290 watt monos with the Blue sound streaming dac.

We compared the Nuprime STA 9/NAD C658 to a Hegel H190 and the Nuprime/Nad pair was warmer, punchier, nearly as detailed with a huge soundstage. 

You can give us a call and we can assist you with your setup of the C658 it is remarkable piece when setup right. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Nad and Nuprime dealers
Can you change to a different reconstruction filter in your current rig? Might solve all your sq issues. Oppo 105/205 is a possibility as mentioned above. 
Might want to check out the new Audio Alchemy line from ELAC.  The previous versions of these pieces got a lot of very favorable reviews.  The DDP-2 is a streamer-DAC-preamp.
https://www.elac.com/product/ddp-2-preamplifier-dac-streamer/?r=us
I have the DDP-1 and it is a very good DAC-Preamp.  This year's model adds the streamer function, which used to require a separate $1600 component.
@larry5729 Interesting. The Arcam SR250 would be the more logical choice since it's a stereo receiver. It doesn't do MQA but does have subwoofer management and Dirac room correction. As you mentioned, I'd have to add a streamer though.
@audiotroy Thanks for the feedback. No dealer near me so I ordered it from Crutchfield without any prior demo. I have the NAD running into a 250wpc Musical Fidelity a308cr power amp. I’m using DH Labs Air Matrix interconnects and I don’t recall the speaker cables. Speakers are older Monitor Audio Gold bookshelves (dome tweeter, before they switched to ribbons). The clinical/harsh sound quality I described is also echoed by almost every other owner in the AVS Forum thread for the C658. But I am definitely open to any tips that might improve the situation. The product has every feature I need and want, so I REALLY want to like it. I’m just somewhat doubtful that switching from a $4k Musical Fidelity amp to a NuForce is going to be the solution. If only things were that easy, right! :-)
I ca’t imagine a company like NAD would send a product to market that would sound like what you are describing. I’m not disputing what you are hearing, just trying to wrap my mind around it. 
I only know about one product that have what you want, the http://lyngdorf.com/tdai-3400/

And it's not close to the $2500
Elac Alchemy DDP2..

I have tried many of these integrated preamp/DAC products. All were a compromise vs separates. I have had the Alchemy DDP2 in house for about 2 weeks. It is the 1st one I have tried that performs at the level of the $6K DAC and $6K preamp I had used previously. Peter Madnick did it right imho..

I’m an Elac/Alchemy dealer in full discloser. This product gets our satisfaction guaranty with no re-stocking fee. It has to be good to get this offer. No dealer wants their capital tied up in returned goods. And you can hear it for yourself risk free, in your system. Jim Clark
Check out the Auralic Vega G1. Got to audition it, and G2 version. Great!
@tom_hankins thanks, another good suggestion to explore. How about an Altair at less than half the cost too?
Wrap your mind around the fact around the fact that many of these old audio names are now just marketing companies with no real factory oftheir own and often little or no QC  control  themselves .
Van Alstine , for one, turns out a better product in the USA , for no more
money and actually have American techs who can and will fix anything they make . Most of the old names do not .
Please get a Nuprime STA 9 to audition, yes it is a $700 amplifier it sounds like a $2k one you can try one from Audio Advisor, let the amp break in and then revaluate the C 568.

Our demo of the C568 with the Nuprime was amazing, the package outperfromed the Hegel H190 it was no contest and that was with one Stereo amplifier the monos are reported to sound even better.

Your Musical Fidelity amp is quite old and it may not be as smooth as you think it is. We had a client with a similar vintage Musical Fidelity amp and a newer integrated was far superiour sounding. 

Also Monitor Audio speakers can sound peaky used to sell them.

The unfortunate aspect of upgrading one component is that it can show you flaws in other components.

the demo of the NAD C 658 was with one Nuprime STA 9 with a pair of $1,600 Wireworld Gold Eclipse interconnect into a pair of Legacy Audio Signatures a $7k floor standing loudspeaker and in this demo the sound of the Nuprime/NAD C 658 was fantastic.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ


There are only so many devices that meet your criteria; they all seem to be listed on the mqa website under the streamer section https://www.mqa.co.uk/customer/our-partners  HDMI would be the sticking point that might make you look at the mainstream Japanese brands' receivers.
Just ran into a brand I never heard of called DEQX. Thought I would share here in case anyone else was interested. They have a couple devices (PreMate Plus and HDP-5) that meet all my must have criteria except MQA, but also have room correction and subwoofer management. Not cheap ($5k and up) but I had never heard of them so wanted to share. I appreciate everyone's feedback
@audiotroy Fair enough, I appreciate the input and I'm willing to try anything once. But my hesitation that the Nuprime is a panacea is two-fold. First, everyone in the NAD658 owners thread on AVSForum is describing the exact same sound (one guy even returned his already). Second, when I connected a PS Audio DSJr through a Marantz AV receiver as preamp, then to the exact same Musical Fidelity amp and Monitor Audio speakers, the sound was GLORIOUS in comparison to the NAD.
@jimclarkstereo Thanks, thats 2 votes for the Elac. I'm trying to read a bit more about it but there is practically nothing written on the whole internet. Hard to do any research. It seems interesting, although I will say the aesthetics of the unit leave a lot to be desired.
Me thinks you have a bad unit, the Nad direct digital sound is anything but harsh, the NAD m51 a very good dac with similar technology we sold for years and it was very musical and not harsh in the least. 

What are you using for a power cord into the C 658? Any power conditioning? 

If you are using the C 658 into a Marantz receiver and then into a power amplifier that could be your issue. 

Something is amiss our C 568 combo with the Nuprime sounds really musical the Hegel H 190 was much harsher the Nad/Nuprime was really creamy sounding. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Nad and Nuprime dealers


@audiotroy I only used the Marantz in conjunction with the PS Audio DAC since it needed a preamp to be most effective. The NAD runs straight into my amp. Power conditioning is from a PS Audio Quintessence and the power cord is a Pangea AC14XL Mk II that I recently picked up to test out. The power conditioner is plugged into the wall in a PS Audio Power Port outlet.
Lyngdorf. I moved from a seven box solution to a single box and never happier.
Jnehma1
Not sure if the Altair has the bass management. The Vega G1 is really good. Many reviews of it and the original Vega. 
If you currently have the PS Audio dac, keep it, you won’t find anything better for anywhere near its price. Since this covers a few items off your checklist, now get a preamp that handles the rest of your wants. 
Btw: the ps audio ds dacs do sound better going thru a preamp. I have 1 and tries both setups
I couldn't find anything in the manual about the subwoofer output on the Nad so I emailed Nad. Took 9 days to get an answer but this is what they said about it.With the crossover engaged in speaker settings it is fixed at 80hz, and the main speakers are cut off at that point. The subwoofer output is always on even if you select no subwoofer so you can run your main speakers full plus  subs.
Supporting the Oppo 205 Case.  You don't talk about the number of analog inputs needed - but as digital hub it checks many of the boxes.  I use mine with a Parasound P7 and it's a good combo to support digital and analog needs.