I use a PC in a closet, streaming Roon over Wifi to a streamer right next to my DAC.
A dedicated streamer is usually more convenient to use from your listening seat, in your audio setup. But if you're talking about downloading instead of just streaming, then you need a storage location somewhere which usually means a computer, plus maybe network-attached storage (NAS).
There are also arguments to be made about a streamer's digital signal fidelity versus that of a computer (especially the digital output of a cheap soundcard).
Up to a certain price point there’s no difference. That price point being dependent on one’s system, and one’s ears. I started off streaming with a MacBook Pro running Audirvana, using USB out to the internal DAC on my Anthem STR integrated amp. I briefly tried a Bluesound Node 2i, but returned it as I could not discern enough difference in streaming quality and much preferred the Anthems DAC to that of the Node (MQA not withstanding). I’ve since upgraded to a Bel Canto streamer feeding a W4S DAC. This has given me a big increase in SQ, but at a sizable investment.
My impressions of the sound quality from a Pro-ject Stream Box Ultra S2 vs a PC laptop or an iPhone running off of its battery only through three different DACs: Audioquest Dragonfly Red, Rega DAC, Denafrips Ares II:
The streamer made all three of these DACs sound better. Key improvements were a broader soundstage, more precise placement of instruments/voices, better bass definition, and a better sense of musical flow. Not sure if the difference will be the same from an iMac vs my PC laptop. Also, adding a jitter reducer such as an Audioquest Jitterbug can be worthwhile as well for more of the same benefits as a streamer provides.
Hello RockanRoller, I do not have a solution for your question, but a question myself. May I ask for your expertise and guidance? ow can I connect my music collection on a FLAC USB to my pre-amp listed here? My sound system is an early 80s ‘stack’ system.
None of the components are digital: Bryston 2B solid state amp, Conrad-Johnson PV-11 pre-amp, MIT 330 interconnects, MusicWave phase-equalized speaker cables, California Audio Labs CD Alpha and Delta drive, Dual 1129 turntable. B&W 803 speakers.
I would appreciate your suggestions and guidance on the matter.Thank you.
I recently purchased a Benchmark DAC3 HGC. I am streaming Qobuz from a Mac Book Pro (2020 version) to the USB input of the DAC. Since the DAC has volume control, I am able to send the output directly to an older Carver amplifier. This sounds very good to me even though the amplifier needs some updates. This particular DAC handles the output from computer streaming very well. Just my two cents.
What are you using now for a DAC (sorry if I missed it)? I am going to doing what @ptrel is doing. However, I bought a used Node 2i and am playing around with it too and will compare it to the computer. I am using Qobuz on the Node controlled by an ipad or iphone. I would suggest a good dac and then trying out streamers and comparing it to your computer to determine if you can hear a difference and what interface you like better. For me, the interface is important.
I used a Mac Mini combined with Audirvāna for years. I decided to try a Bryston BDP Pi / linear power supply to my DAC with a USB cable and that was better. For storage, I bought a SSD and I installed it into an empty case with a USB cable and plugged into my Pi. The Bryston software is a bit of a pain but with Rigelian, I can navigate it well enough and it sounds exponentially better than Roon. Bryston is working on a monumental software upgrade. Anyway, I saw a showroom demo Pi online for around $600.00.