New DAC or New Streamer or New Streamer/DAC


Curious what people would think is the biggest bang for the buck?

1)  Auralic Aries G1 Streamer with current Pass Labs D1 DAC (Aries would replace current Auralic Aries mini)
2)  Lumin T2
3)  Auralic Aries mini (I have this now) and Denafrips Terminator

All thoughts welcome.  Thanks
acurus
I have not heard G1 or T2 side by side but did listened to them individually in different systems and both sound pretty terrific. Either of them would make formidable pairing with Terminator and will be a step up from Aries Mini.

If you have not bought Terminator yet, I would buy that first before upgrading the streamer.  Once your DAC broken in, try to audition G1 and T2 and decide for yourself if T2 is worth the extra $2K. 
I have had limited experience with Lumin, but extensive experience with Auralic.  I wouldn't ever buy one unless you like rebooting the unit every couple of days when it mysteriously disconnects from your network.....

For me, I would never purchase a streamer or a streamer/dac that doesn't say Aurender on it.  Their stuff just works.....period.....they
are far more refined than anything I've used to date and the pricing is very reasonable......I currently have the N10
Get the Terminator first and break it in using the Mini and see what you think as you may be satisfied especially if you have added a LPS to the Mini. If not then later look for a deal on a used G1 or a Lumin U1 Mini.
+1 to @jackd  's post.

Srajan Ebaen of 6Moons just re-confirmed (in his review of the New DSP Board for the Terminator) that the Terminator is the [italics / bolded] DAC to beat in the Euro 10K and under price range. It replaced his Aqua Formula DAC (original version). 

Going with the Terminator, or equivalent DAC, allows for tremendous flexibility in streamer/server choice and streamer/server advances (i.e. future proofing), IRRESPECTIVE of the superior performance this route also offers.
I agree with @stewart0722 in regards to his experience with N10. I have owned N10 for 5 plus years and there isn’t another server like N10 under $10K.

A few years ago I demo’d the Auralic Aries, Lumin, and a Aurender and I bought the Aries. I also think the Aurender SSD caching area is a gimmick. The Auralic Lightning DS GUI interface was far superior to the the others. But, I used the Lumin software in the beginning because I like the SQ better than the lightning software.
I got rid of all of the crap and went with Roon and a dac with a network card to bypass the inferior USB connection. Now, my server is in a different room and my dac is a Roon network endpoint.
BTW, I have 5 other rooms in my house that I use network servers as Roon endpoints to streamer different music from my 1 Roon server, which is not the Nucleus

I faced a similar decision last week and decided to purchase a Roon Nucleus (primarily for the Roon user interface), a Lumin U1, and a PS Audio DirectStream DAC. Now I’m (im)patiently waiting for FedEx to deliver the goods!
Depends on your budget of course, but at a similar price point to the Terminator, I can highly recommend Primaluna’s brand new EVO 100 DAC.

I took the plunge, and straight out of the box, it is a H U G E improvement over a modded Lampizator Amber 2, which is/was no slouch.

It compares favorably to DAC’s three times it’s intro price.

https://positive-feedback.com/reviews/hardware-reviews/primaluna-evo-100-tube-dac/
All the Aurilic stuff sounds overly digital - I had much better experience using my Roon Nucleus to feed my DAC. I also can't fathom adding tube noise to a DAC! I'm pretty sure my Ayre Codex sounds better at $1100 lower cost.
I have extensive experience with Lumin having owned the A-1 and now the X-1.  First off, the app is simple, easy to use and saves you money because you won't need Roon or JRiver.  Second, I had an Emm Lab DAC 2xV2 hooked up to it also.  I ended up selling the Emm Lab Dac.  It was not needed as my sound from the Lumin is just real.  I love Lumin.  I love the sound.  I love the simplicity.
Check out Innous music servers. I’ve heard the 2.5k Zenith. It’s great. Can only imagine the high end Statement sounds like. Great build and sound quality from Poland.  
Buy a streamer without a dac, and find the dac you like......much more flexibility this way.
I have a Lumin mini streamer, with a Chord Qutest dac, great match.

Willgolf - I just want to second your recommendation of LUMIN. I have been running my LUMIN D1 for over 4 years. Once Tidal got MQA files and I got my free upgrade to unfold them, I cannot believe the sound quality thru my Maggie’s. The app is simple, the unit has been bulletproof. I am considering an upgrade now that LUMIN is using the SABER DAC in it’s newer models. Any feedback here would be great!

Happy Listening


I have the T2 and it is really good. Using Roon also, I have never had any issues with the network. It is always ready to go and works great. I have tried it streaming in to the Marantz SA-10 and there is a slight improvement in some areas with that combo over the T2 only, though the T2 is really good at creating a 3-dimensional soundstage.  I have been wondering how the U1 mini might compare against the T2 for streaming only, perhaps someone like @audiotroy can weigh in.
I am with  mtdining (6 posts above) I racked my brain out over this whole music server thing. Tried a few options both inexpensive and pricey. Ended up with a Roon Nucleus feeding my DAC direct via USB. I am not sure why you would need anything else? The Nucleus is a server, with the capability of adding a hard drive containing your own library. And if you don't mind paying for Roon's subscription, you can't get a better music manager.
Thank you all for the input, still collecting thoughts.  As far as Servers and Roon, I am not interested.  I want to be rid of all servers and computers and USB inputs, I like the one box solutions that either have built-in DACs or non-USB digital outs that I can use the DAC of my choice.

A friend is bringing over his Auralic Vega G2 ($6k).  I am curious how it will compare with my Pass D1.  The problem (maybe its not a problem) is that I have not found anything to unseat the D1, and it's 22 years old!  
I just hooked up a Auralic Aries g1 vs my node2i the g1 is pretty darn sweet . I don’t have a dac yet , hooked up to my denon 7200wa / marantz pm11s3 integrated amp at the moment , but working on getting another dedicated dac in the system 
Sorry acurus, but isn't a server and a streamer basically the same thing? A server serves stored music and a streamer streams music over the internet. I only mention Roon (which can stream as well) because it has such a user-friendly interface. It's about as good as it gets except for maybe Sonos.  If you like your existing DAC maybe just get something to feed it.
Also, just curious, what have you got against a USB outputs?
An Aries Mini is okay on sound quality but Aries Femto and other above mentioned streamers really sound clearly better. 
@high-amp7  My personal definition is that a streamer has an ethernet input, allowing you to "stream" files directly over the network/internet (presumably using Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz, etc... in addition to from a hard drive).  A server may hold those files and serve as a streamer's source, but is also usually connected to a DAC via a USB input.  Once that happens, then you have to worry about a lot more variables such as server power supply, operating system processes, etc.  I moved from USB to ethernet input and it made a huge impact on the sound quality (on a PS Audio PWD & DSD).
OK, so how are you connecting your steamer to you DAC? 
Inotherwords, Ethernet to streamer then what?
If the DAC and streamer is in one box I get it, but if you are using your Pass Labs DAC, how do you connect to that now, USB? Is that what you are trying to get away from? I'm still trying to wrap my head around all this stuff!
The OP's DAC has AT&T, AES/EBU, SPDIF, and Toslink inputs. So he needs a streamer that has one or more of those types of outputs. It is worth noting the DAC chip is the PCM-63 multi-bit chip, one of the best chips ever made, and the DAC has 4 for balanced operation. Granted it won't do hi-rez (above 96 Hz) or DSD, but maybe he doesn't need that.

I admire the effort of the OP to try and find a one box solution. I am on a path to do the same but haven't succeeded. My DAC is the Lessloss 2004 MkII with PCM-1704 chips, a multi-bit chip as well and again one of the best chips made. This DAC has been in my system for 12 years. I haven't yet found a one box streamer/DAC unit to be able to meet my needs so I am still using an Auralic Aries LE to stream wirelessly from my NAS and then use the SPDIF output to my DAC. I also want nothing to do with USB and I don't share the warm and fuzzies that many seem to have for Roon, and I've tried it twice.

Overall from what I read of the OPs DAC it is quite good and a keeper. I'd focus on a streamer. The Auralic G1 is on my list to try since I have had good results with my existing Aroes LE. I have a few others I'd like to try as well. Tried the iFi Pro ISD and while I think it is a fine DAC, their Muzo app and wireless capability need some work.
@clio09 

I've owned the Mini, Aries Femto and now the G1.  Each one is a step up from the one below in sound quality.  So if your happy in the Lightning DS environment the G1 is a logical move.  The Lumin U1 Mini is also a great product from a really good company with top of the line support just a different software to get used to.
I'm missing something here. Is it not the DAC that dictates the end musical result?  How does one streamer sound better than another (without an onboard DAC)?
Similar to that of a CD player being used solely on its own, compared to being coupled to a DAC and used only as a transport.
Good questions.  I dont want to fuss with a server or PC and dont want a USB connection.  All of those require USB and PCs are a hassle imho.  A streamer can be part of a one box solution and independently  stream Tidal and similar apps without a PC or a Server.  Roon needs a PC or Server or Nucleus to function, so it's more than I want to handle.  

The crux of my question is how to improve sound, so yes do different streamers make an impact?   Thanks again for all the feedback, looks like an updated source might be best.  Maybe Aries G1 or G2.
This is interesting, also looking for a streamer without DAC.

Like  'clio09'  I have a DAC I'm extremely happy with, an ancient Wadia 15 which also uses the fabulous Burr-Brown PCM63. This beauty does redbook only but I do not miss hi-res. I have a Bryston that can do that, which is by all accounts a great DAC

The Wadia makes the Bryston sound thin and screechy which was an upgrade over my OPPO103 and is used only for hi-res.  Wadia playing redbook keeps me up listening late at night, My OPPO and Bryston playing hi-res doesn't!

The PCM1702 is another chip to look out for. These DACs have a sound that I have not heard in all-in-one units hence my quest for streamer only. New streamers are hitting the market all the time, great DACs not so much.

@cal3713  You claimed  'I moved from USB to ethernet input and it made a huge impact on the sound quality'  I would much appreciate if you'll please explain what you did in a way that someone not familiar with streamers can understand. Did you use el-cheapo ethernet cable or something more upmarket?

@OP  I suggest you keep the Terminator which uses the same architecture as my beloved Wadia and find a separate streamer.
Just to clarify: one does not need a PC to use Roon. I have a Roon Ready streamer/server from Innous and Roon is installed there and works in principle like a Roon Nucleus. The Innuos has a drive, which I use for the few songs I cannot find on Tidal (Rammstein), hence a server as well as a streamer.

My Innous is, however, connected to my RME ADI-2 DAC via USB. 

I opted for this solution as I wanted to separate the streamer and server to be upgradeable for the future. And I opted for Roon to get all the information and reviews on the music, which I really appreciate as like to listen to new music. 

The solution with the Innous Zenmini against the Roon Nucleus was driven by price. 

Michael
Many suggest having all in one box solution (like the T2, Brooklyn Bridge, etc) due to eliminating the usb connection. Is the usb connection from streamer to the dac is as big of deal as many say (noise, jitter, etc) or over hyped? One benefit of the Lumin T2 is the usb output  so one could use a different DAC if they wish.
@lemonhaze I purchased the ps audio bridge ii, which puts a network input in my dac. 
@lemonhaze  And I use a "decent" ethernet cable, a Supra cable I bought off of Ebay.  Periodically a change in the system configuration has forced me to use another random cable and I haven't ever noticed a change, so I wouldn't focus on that variable a ton until everything else is totally dialed in.  And I say this believing strongly that interconnect, speaker, and power cables can make impactful changes to your system sound.  

And too elaborate a bit more on the setup, I use bubbleupnp on an android tablet to stream CD resolution music from Tidal to the PS Audio bridge.  The bridge is just wired into my router using that Supra ethernet cable.  
@keeferdog


"Check out Innous music servers. I’ve heard the 2.5k Zenith. It’s great. Can only imagine the high end Statement sounds like. Great build and sound quality from Poland."

Just to clarify, I believe you are referring to the Innuos Zen, not the Zenith, at that pricepoint. The Zenith is the model above the Zen and below the Statement which is I believe currently $4,300 US dollars. I believe you meant Portugal not Poland as the country of manufacture. Other that that....excellent post.
Update:

I listened this weekend to my current setup (Aries Mini->Pass D1) vs the Vega original vs the Vega G2.  

Using the Aries mini as the source:  Best to worst:  Vega G2, D1, Vega original.  It was kind of a toss-up between the G2 and the D1, air and space and vocals were better on the G2, but the D1 sounded a bit more organic.  Overall would have to give the nod to the G2.  Original Vega was way behind the others, by a mile.

Using the G2 as the source into itself blew away anything I have heard in my system before.  The D1 was still more organic in a way, but the G2 streaming itself was astounding.  

So I should buy the Vega G2 (or even the Aries G2)?  Not so fast.....the Lightning DS app works well, when it works, but constantly crashes and cant find the device.  I also would love it if the G2 had MQA....why not.  So I am now looking to see how the Lumin T2 compares to the Vega G2 as I hear the app is more stable and it does MQA to boot.
@Acurus, thx for your analysis. Interested to follow your T2 vs G2 analysis. 
Acurus: I have the Aries G2 streamer (I do run Roon off a Mac mini for library management) and have found it to be very stable. I’ve yet to have it crash or not find the device.  That said, I’m hooked up via Ethernet as opposed to wireless.  Perhaps that’s the difference.  Or, it could be that some router incompatibility is causing you grief.  I had that issue when running a Bluesound Node 2 wirelessly in this system (before I got the G2).  
It’s possible Lumin is more stable in all environments, but it’s also possible there’s a culprit to your crashes that can be sleuthed out.  I have to say I’m pretty happy w/ the sound of the Aries G2.  I compared it to my Aurender N100H, the Bluesound Node 2, and a lumin mini.  It handily eclipsed all three of those units.
Best,
Thanks for the input. My unit is hard wired as well and I just bought a brand new router (Asus 3100 - high end) so I dont think it can be that. Right now I am having trouble connecting to the mini again after I connected into the Vega G2. Ugh...

What DAC are you using with the ARies G2?
Acurus: I’m using the DAC built into my NAD M12 Pre/DAC.  It’s a decent DAC though I’ll consider an upgrade at some point. 

Best - and good luck.  Wish I could offer a better suggestion as to what the issue might be. 
@cal3713  Thanks. Just read your thread on the Duelund caps. Would dearly love some of those but unfortunately my Tannoys need total 6 caps. Maybe the tweeter series caps someday.

OP good luck with your search.
@lemonhaze Damn, I've seen those duelund based rebuilt tannoy crossovers at "Jeff's place" and yeah, they look super expensive. Thankfully the one cap is my only component.  You can see Nelson pass's  crescendo based tannoy crossovers here: https://jeffsplace.positive-feedback.com/jeff-checking-in-pass-labs-xa25-amplifier-and-the-duelund-a...

Might be a cheaper, but great sounding alternative...

Sorry for the aside folks.