Wrong Topic area ;-)
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Frankly I cannot definitively identify much if any real difference in the streamers I use whereas I can with most everything else even ICs and power cords in some cases. No two DAC configurations seem to ever sound the same for sure. However streamer connection type often does matter, especially if older lesser quality wireless connections are used.
After years using a Mac mini (Amarra/Audirvana/HQPlayer) and/or Bluesound Node 2 I moved to a Sonore microRendu. I'm using Asset UPnP and mconnect. The increase in fidelity is significant .. jaw-dropping in fact. I have no experience with higher-end streamers like Aurender so I can't say how the microRendu compares.
I’m digging in right now. Here’s the deal. With SPDIF, the connection to a DAC is synchronous, and the transport (sender) is the clock. So your DAC is limited to the quality of the incoming signal, improved by whatever jitter reduction it can do. Jitter has a huge analog impact on pulse-amplitude modulation, and therefore on the output.
Now, USB and Ethernet are asynchronous. They just send stuff to a buffer, and the DAC clocks the samples. Much better and less dependent on the sender. However, noise is still a big issues and some folks i trust report differences beyond that - having to do with the quality of the pulse-shape of the USB. never heard this about Ethernet, mostly because its so hard to separate out.
So, does the streamer matter in a network? Not much IMNSHO. But does the networked device that takes in the Ethernet, and spits out the USB matter? Yes apparently, although it should matter less than SPDIF, ** IF AND ONLY IF ** the DAC has a good clock signal.
Streamer - not so much
Network adapter- yes but somewhat vague. Its about jitter and digital noise that impacts jitter i would guess
DAC - yes and it is even more critical that it can generate a good, low jitter clock, since there is none being sent to it (unless you use some franken-protocol like I^2S (inter-IC-signal) which sends signal, ground and clock and was never meant to leave the motherboard.
I plan to get ROON, put it on a low noise, fan-less, trimmed OS computer (aka ROCK) and then use a good USB DAC, and for my (excellent) legacy DACs that use SPDIF only, a quality USB-SPDIF converter like Schiit (new) or a network device like the ALLO.
Its a quagmire. Welcome to the slime.
Has anyone used a Control4 device HC800 or the newer units as a high resolution music (Tidal or Deezer) streaming device? I am concerned about some of these streaming devices acting as both a streamer and a DAC...Then sending that stream through a dedicated DAC. In this case, the music is streamed from the Control4 HC800 into a Chord Hugo 2 DAC headphone amp then into my Krell Illusion preamp to Krell mono block amps finally to Sonus Fabre Is Cremonese. The music must be getting “DACed” too many times. I am not sure how to fix this situation or do I need to?
From an obvious Digital Novice...Need help. Thank you
Yes it does matter. But it depends on how resolving your system is. If it's a low end system. Save your money. If you're going big, and want the best. Spend your money. Hans Beekhuyzen is the foremost expert on this, and watching his videos will answer all your questions. I highly recommend reading his book too. Even if you already think you know everything about digital music. I assure you. You'll learn more from his book. He's a great gentleman from The Netherlands, and really knows his stuff.
I appreciate your response. As I said I am well short of an expert in this area. I have also invested a considerable amount of money in my system. As you suggested, I will listen to Hans. If anyone else has guidance here it would be appreciated. I think this is an area that is not well understood by the general audiophile
Jworth - i don't follow your question, although i do support the recommendation to immerse yourself in Hans''s stuff....
Where are all thes DACs?
A streamer has no DAC. A DAC takes a USB feed. Something (might be the DAC, might be a device) converts the ethernet to USB. End.
(who just designed a built a external power supply for his legacy, but very good DAC, and spent two hours hearing nuance heretofore missed)
If you use a really good reclocker right before the DAC to reduce jitter (any DAC in my experience will benefit from this), the streamer will not (relevantly) affect sound quality unless it does some processing (e.g. sample rate conversion). With this configuation, I ended up keeping only the bit-perfect optical out of a Chromecast Audio to stream content from Spotify (320k) and Qobuz (CD and hi-res) with stellar results in my very resolving audio rig. Without the reclocker or from its analog output, however, I wouldn't loose my time using the Chromecast for any critical listening. Generally speaking, I would keep away from using DACs included in streamers.
The DACs I have used have all been inbuilt to the streamers I have used LINN sneaky / magik / and Klimax but the massive sound difference has been probably on the DAC side.
I also have an ARCAM CDS50 which is a cheap SACD / streamer but can act as standalone DAC so will experiment to see if I can hear difference .... I have had the Klimax and Arcam playing the same playlist into separate inputs on my pre and done a/b comparisons between them and not surprisingly the £5k one was better than the £700 one ...... but not by a huge amount.
Separate streamers into the same quality DAC would probably see less of a difference
Way back when, I streamed with a desktop PC running XP and WMP into a Rega DAC and was happy with the sound.
Next, I streamed with a newer PC running 10 and Foobar into the same DAC and was happier with the sound.
Next I streamed with an iMac using Audivarna into the Rega and was again, happier with the sound.
Then I started streaming with and Antipodes DS into the Rega and the leap in sound quality was the biggest yet.
Upgrading the Rega to a Denafrips Pontus has given me another increase in aural satisfaction.
The most profound difference however, has been using a dedicated server/streamer - the Antipodes DS.
Like itsjustme, I hate the way a carefully crafted post ends up looking like a pre-schooler wrote it