Improvement of MacBook Air for Streaming Tidal

OK, admittedly I am a bit ignorant on streaming digital. My analogue gear and knowhow is up to par, but digital...not quite. When not listening to vinyl, for ease of use I usually stream Tidal via my MacBook Air to a DAC (Hegel HD30), then to a preamp(Aric Audio Motherlode) then to amp(Coda Model 16) to speakers(TAD CE1’s). I like how easy it is to navigate my Tidal account and library via the MacBook, but I am also smart enough(I believe) to know that I am losing a lot of the fidelity having to use the USB port out of my laptop.

I ask my audio brethren, what are reasonably priced solutions to raise my digital methodologies so that I get the most out of Tidal?


I thank you in advance for your assistance!


What I would say is you really need a streamer, purpose built for streaming digital audio and that is all it does so the processor is not taken up with other tasks that a PC has. If you heard a good streamer hooked up to your system you would hear a night and day difference. Get a good dealer who has three or four streamers in your price range and have a good listen. The only good PCs for streaming are ones purpose built for the task and believe me those are worth more than a first streamer.

Hope you get some more positive answers from some of the crowd here. Good luck, Jim.



I appreciate the advice and am looking into it. Ridiculous question #2- Where does the streamer fit into my current configuration? Is Tidal still controlled by my MacBook? I ask because I look at these streamers and see no screen or platform that allows me to view Tidal. Yes, I am that digitally dense...

Best starter network player sans DAC is the iFi Zen. You control it with anything on your network. A smart phone is less cumbersome and less noisy than the laptop. If you want bigger use a tablet. Use the laptop for editing not serious listening. BubbleUPnP does Tidal.

@laaudionut that's good advice. If you can't visit a good dealer w/ multiple streamers, I suggest searching the archives for RECENT threads. This has been answered in gory detail 50 times or more in the last year. They'll all boil down to Raspberry Pi variations and better Intel NUCs for the diy-inclined, budget blusound boxes for low cost simplicity, then stepping to SGC Sonictransporters and Sonore Rendu variants for those looking to leverage large libraries maybe with NAS. Bigger budgets will look at Innous Zen, Aurenders and Lumins. Read up and match your budget & priorities and chances are probably your answer is gonna end up being one of those mentioned above. 



I went with SonicTransporter i5>Ultra Rendu>RME ADI 2>Nighthawk Integrated.  I’m getting excellent SQ streaming Tidal and Qobuz vis Roon.  I’m basically a vinyl guy but couldn’t be happier with this setup for my digital listening.  I actually have the ST i5 upstairs connected via Ethernet to my router.   Another Ethernet connection is made downstairs between the Ultra Rendu and a WiFi extender.  

I was happy to remove a Dell laptop and insert the ST i5 in its place.

Just noticed your question about viewing Tidal.  In my setup I view and control Tidal via Roon on my IPad which is networked with Roon on my home network.

@laaudionut "...I usually stream Tidal via my MacBook Air to a DAC"

Understandable question and reasoning. Yep, tried it both ways with A) MacBook Air (noisy) direct to DAC and B) via OSX client for Mac running Tidal on a quality streamer. Yes, agree, the native laptop application in landscape view on a Mac offers more capability, visibility, control vs. iPad or iPhone. Same with other service providers like Apple Lossless HiFi, Amazon HD... I search tracks and create playlists on the Mac laptop (easier to do) and play back playlists later on an iPad or iPhone if i’m not searching or creating playlists, fwiw.

+1 what others said, its much nicer and more musical using a purpose built streamer setup with audio grade power supplies/filtering inside. Get a nice streamer, connect to your streamer from your laptop with the Tidal app from there. Use of a streamer with a quality DAC built-in to the streamer or a separate higher quality external DAC can help the sound notably. If you are a true analog/vinyl fan today, you’ll see members posting about R2R ladder DACs striving for a less grainy sound. Getting your noisy MacBook Air out of the streamer role, shift its’ use to client/app control will help. Hundreds of threads on A’gon about good streamers and DACs people like. Best of luck.


To all who have contributed and commented thus far-Yes, in hindsight I should have taken the time to read and review the many threads that address this very inquiry. I suppose I was trying to save myself from all the negativity and gear bashing that often (unfortunately) accompanies this forum...not to cast generalizations on the audio community overall.

OK, along with the streaming devices suggested thus far, I will do further due diligence on making my initial purchase. And yes, at some time in the near future, I plan on selling the Hegel DAC and replacing it with a Denafrips Terminator. 

My many kind thanks for your attention.

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The one recommendation I have is ditch Tidal for Qobuz better sound quality. On the streamer front don't forget to consider the control app that's a big part of it.

A dedicated streamer is the best solution but for those who can’t justify the endless $$$ pit I have had very nice success using a MacBook Pro with Amarra software, Tidal Hi Res, an Audioquest jitterbug connected into my laptop with a quality OCC usb cable into my DAC.  Sounds better than my CD and my vinyl.  Granted my vinyl system isn’t top end.  Good luck with you quest.



Keep in mind that streamers are networking computers in audio component 

casework.  The OS and the parts have been optimized for music replay.  Therefore a PC can do everything that a dedicated streamer can do.  Programs like Audirvana are designed to maximize the music streaming functionality of a PC.

  I’ve done both.  I definitely prefer dedicated streamers and own several for my 3 systems in my home but it is possible to achieve good sound with a PC.  No one “needs” a streamer.  It’s a choice

My suggestion is to buy a Bluesound Node and try it out.  It works out of the box (Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection) and connects to your preamp with its built-in DAC.  You can also use digital outs to go to your Hegel but not sure if the Hegel does full MQA.  You then use your Mac or iOS device and just use the Tidal app and stream via Tidal Connect on the Node.  When doing that, the app is just telling the Node what to stream. You can also use the BluOS app to stream Tidal or Qobuz, etc.  

I’m fairly new to streamers too — just got the Node for Christmas — and very happy with the SQ and ease of use.  I also like that I’m not tethered via a USB cable to my system. All that said, I do still use my IPad connected to my DAC as another digital source. That let’s me play with Apple Music and Amazon HD.



Hey laaudionut! I would suggest a streamer such as a Lumin D2- which is what I use. It will connect directly to the Motherlode using RCA cables (it also requires a cat5/6 cable to your router) and then you download the Lumin app onto your Macbook. I use an iPad, but it should be the same functionally. You can then use Tidal, Spotify, Airplay, etc, to stream music from the Lumin via the wireless Macbook controller. I love mine and find the fidelity to be quite satisfying! There are other streamers I'm sure as well. Another feature of the Lumin, is you can try it using its built in DAC, or run a digital coax to your current DAC from the Lumin. I'm not sure which you'll find to have better sonics, but it's easy enough to compare (and then possibly sell your current DAC to recoup some of the cost of the Lumin). 


All the best, Aric

Looking at your DAC and preamp you want to make a similar investment. I would recommend either an Aurender N100 or an Aurender N10. You have very good components, you want to chose as good or better… this is your source, if it’s not there…then the DAC or follow on electronics are not going to add it. I have experienced quit a few streamers… Aurender gets it… they are not budget… they are high end sound quality.

If you see yourself improving your system over time then definitely, get a Aurender N10… it will be your centerpiece for a decade.


I have a high end vinyl system and my streamer provides the same unreal, imaging, musicality, broad and deep soundstage, to all music. The streamer also brings virtually all music… via Qobuz. (Click on my user ID to see my systems)


Streamer —> DAC —> Preamp —-> Amp. —> Speakers