Fairly new to streaming. Where to start?

$2k & under budget

Aralic Vega has streamer  and DAC. May be the easiest start?
Then there is Schiit...Yiggy or Gumby...which streamer?
Ladder NOS dac? Or Chip? I'm old. maybe I'll like the old school DAC?
Then there is  Benchmark DAC 3...I think it has streamer?
Exasound E32
Audio Mirror?
MHDT Orchid
Border Patrol?
Musical Paradise?
Whats a newbie to do? I am a classic rock fan with lots of FLAC & M4a files. I like detail & PRaT. Love a good bass line. I also play some 70's jazz. I have a Theta Miles CD player from the 1900's & play a lot of vinyl too. But I need to come into the 21st century.  Besides, I will probably become tired of the vinyl ritual and work at some point as I get older. I think I have done enough homework to be somewhat confused. Maybe the biggest question in light of how fast digital changes is the question of streamer with DAC or separate Streamer and DAC. One other question is the streamer & bridge the same thing? OK Thanks!! 
I'm finding this discussion really interesting because I too am considering upgrades to the digital side of my system.

Currently, I just have an old iPhone as my "streamer". The iPhone's Thunderbolt USB is plugged into a Shiit BiFrost Multibit DAC.

What am I missing from streaming from the iPhone that I would get through a streamer? What digital component would you upgrade next? 
@ big_greg

Those 2 have risen to the top of the list. I just learned I don’t need the vault. I have a new PC. Ripping to Flac is simple in Win 10. So to celebrate my new learnin’ I’m gonna buy a new set of power tubes for my amp. This is the last day of steroids so I may get some brain cells back...or at least be able to focus.


First thing is your files. Using apple (Mac) you are limited to apple lossless. NO Mp3. I also believe that a streamer/server/player would be preferable to a phone. I’m not totally sure of that. But wireless is going to have some part of the problem. Then again, that too is debatable. The Node 2i is popular.I’m not the sharpest knife in this drawer but I have been in the audiophile community for a long time and I know that lossless codec is a must.  And I have used digital music files since Napster.  Others may chime in with more help. Good luck
@ artemus_5

sorry to piggyback on your post, but seems like you had good contributors...

I am, unlike you, looking to connect to Spotify and Tidal. I don't understand why a streamer would provide better sound than an iPhone if I am just using internet streaming services, and connecting the iPhone to a DAC..?

I don’t understand why a streamer would provide better sound than an iPhone
Just like all phones are not equal, all streamers are not equal. I’m an old guy and I HATE these little phones. More precisely I hate that people think these are computers when they are only half (F)assed computers. They are doing 27 different jobs and none of them well IMO. They are great as a portable device. I use one if I’m out and about and need to use the net. But at home for real surfing, I would never consider using the phone Partially cause I have poor vision. I’m not sure that a phone can even play lossless music. Pretty sure mine cant. But there too, paying for a music subscription is foreign to me. But I guess its great fr those who have no music library. If music quality means nothing then a phone will do. But if you want good hi def you will need more I think. There again, there are other younger people who understand the younger culture priorities better than I do. Someone may explain it better. And then the phone may be all you want.

WOW Yeah you didn’t ask for that rant did ya? Pay no attention. I’m just come out from taking steroid for a week and irritation comes far too easy. Nothing personal (-:

Let me explain my problem with the phone more clearly. It does a lot of tasks. Its a great invention. However, I've always found that anything which does a lot of thing have to have compromises built in to allow that. Therefore they don't do anything particularly. Its that way with every one that I have encountered. The phone simply does not have the size to isolate the necessary items that will interfere with each other. Therefore you have noise which interferes with the signal most often. It may not show as outright noise to the end user. But it will show up on a scope and when A-B'd against a product which does have proper isolation it will show that it is far inferior. Hope that helps.
Whatsthatbuzz is your phone passing high resolution to the dac? At least CD quality? If so you might not notice a huge improvement by going with an inexpensive streamer. Seems like in streaming improvement is in baby steps unless you want to spend a lot of $$$. But even then I can’t say for sure I never had a 5 figure streamer.