I have always considered phones to be mid fi at best. The fact is, most folks who use their phones to stream music are streaming mpg or AAC files, so high end is just not a question.
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iDevices have surprisingly good sound quality when bypassing the on-board DAC as you’re doing. That said, to my ears streaming via my microRendu > DAC sounds better than my iDevices into the same DAC using the CCK connection. It’s noticeable, but I wouldn’t say it’s a night and day difference either. Moving up to an opticalRendu or the Innuous .. I can’t offer you an opinion, unfortunately. No doubt someone will say there’s a massive difference. Massive. Veils will be lifted. Veil upon veil in fact. My advice is to take advantage of gear that comes with a trial period. Best of luck.
Thanks @melvinjames. Yeah that’s about what I would’ve guessed, and it’s nice to have some confirmation. Given what I’ve read here, unfortunately moving to the better streamers does seem to make a meaningful difference. Or maybe I’ll just try a Raspberry Pi to test the waters first. It’s a journey...
I just went through this and got a Pro-ject Stream Box S2 Ultra. It definitely sounded better than my iPhone. Other potential improvements that I've found to have good ROI in terms of improving sound quality of my Pro-ject streamer are:
1. Turning off WiFi and using an Ethernet cable
2. Getting a better quality Ethernet cable (Supra Cat 8 has worked well for me and was a notable improvement over an AmazonBasics Cat 6 cable)
3. Getting the right USB cable. The Phasure Lush is working really well in my system.
@soix I was using the Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter with the iPhone. I'm using a Denafrips Ares II DAC. These were the improvements that I heard when using the Pro-ject streamer versus the iPhone:
- Broader & more 3-dimensional soundstage
- Better resolution of complex musical passages: Electric bass in Blue Moon Revisited on Trinity Sessions, Cowboy Junkies & Waltz for Debby, Bill Evans Trio
- Tonal colors are more evident
- Notes seem to hang in the air longer. Reverberations continue instead of being cut off.
- More presence around voices and instruments.
The improvements sounded quite significant to me & turning off the WiFi further improved my perception of the sound quality.
Excellent feedback! Thanks @calvinandhobbes. I’ve been told by people knowledgeable in the field that a wired connection to the router is always preferable to WiFi, but there are also a lot of people here who say as long as you have a good WiFi signal and there are no dropouts that it’s just as good as wired. The benefits you describe are very high on my “must have” list so I’ve decided to definitely give wired a try. Thanks again for your very helpful thoughts.