Newbie needs Streamer Advise


Hi , I am relatively new to digital streaming and Hi Fi too, for that matter . So I have assembled a modest system and wish to replace my old Windows 7 laptop as my source .                                         My system is currently the following . Laptop with a Cardas Clear USB. Musical Fidelity’s M1CDT transport, A Schiit Yiggy , Rogue RP1 preamp , Dennis Had Inspire SEP amp. Zu Omens , Klipsch RF sub , Monster HTS 1600 Power center . All my tubes are high quality NOS and some new production power tubes.  My Interconnects are unbalanced Morrow MA5, CD has a Morrow Digital Coax , speaker cables are Anti - Cables Level 3. Power cables are Silnote Poseidon and an Analysis digital power cord on the Yiggy .                                       The Klipsch sub and the Monster power center are next up to be replaced . I’m running low power (12 wpc ) and the sub is straight into the wall socket . Right now I have no issues with grounding, noise or amp being underpowered .                                So back to streaming . I’m using Tidal and I am happy with their service. I have fast internet . I am however limited to WI FI for my Connection . I’m considering products like an Aurilic Mini or a Bluenode2 . I want to replace the laptop with something that I could control from an IPhone or IPad . I’m also interested in any experience with Amarro or some of the other services. I would like to budget at $1k as it’s a new venture for me .                           So please chime in and don’t forget to DUMMY DOWN your vocabulary for this neophyte.            Respectfully, Mike B. 
buellrider97
The Bluesound Node 2 is a good performer with MQA @ $500. I am very happy with the performance in my system, which is a different approach but similar in scale to yours. 
First off I would get rid of that POWER CENTER (blanket) and really listen to what your system sounds like! ..(im sorry but its true). The Bluesound is nice but for around $1000 you could get a OPPO BDP105 its a universal player/DAC that connects to WI-FI.
Chromecast Audio, using its bitperfect optical output? See here for that digital output: http://archimago.blogspot.nl/2016/02/measurements-google-chromecast-audio_27.html
If your wifi is not that good, there is an ethernet adaptor as well.
An Apple Airport Express would be a similar alternative, but it needs your smartphone/IPad to be on all the time (and drains its battery).
The Bluesound or Auralic are a good place to start.  I have a Node 2 and it was very easy to set up  and use.  It has an easy to use app and it's only $500.  It has good but not great sound quality.  I think you would find about the same to be true for the Auralic Mini.

Your system looks pretty nice and I think you may want better sound quality than these streamers deliver.   The Bluesound and Auralic Mini are entry level and the rest of your system looks better than that. Let us know if you're looking for something you can hold onto for a while or if you just want to try out streaming at a low cost.
Another vote for Bluesound Node2. Use its analog RCA outputs into your Rogue RP1, I think you would appreciate the audio and ease of operation.

I am listening to Vault 2 (analog outputs) through my LS28 and it’s very gratifying.

And I agree with Matt, get rid of Monster Power Center and invest in a decent power distributor.
But why not use the existing Yggi as a DAC?
Cause analogs outs from Node 2 will allow you to hear best of both worlds, 16bit/44.1kHz and 24bit/192kHz (MQA). The Node 2 internal DAC and RP-1’s Tube output stage is more than capable of ringing all the fine nuances in high resolution/ redbook files.

That’s one less component in the chain, keep it simple!



I think the Node2 coax output going through Schiit Yggy will sound better than its analog output even with foregoing full MQA treatment. In my system, even the lower end Modi Multibit adds a little more detail to the Node2. Not significant but I can hear the difference in familiar recordings. I also recently compared the Chromecast Audio optical output with Node2 in the same system and while Node2 sounded just a little better, the Chromecast Audio can really hold its own and delivers real good sound. Worth a try for $35 plus the cost of the optical cable. I also find the Bluesound application more user friendly than Tidal.
I am in a similar situation where I would need to drop an Ethernet line from the second floor to the first where my router is.  I am going to try  "power over Ethernet" because I don't want to limit my choice of a streamer to only a Wi-Fi model.  I am looking at a Lumin T1 or for a more modest price the Lumin D2.  Each has full the full MQA implementation.   
FWIW, I upgraded from a Bifrost Uber to the Yiggy . I looked real hard at the Mytek Brooklyn DAC +. I get pretty decent sound from my laptop . I have a Morrow didital Coax into the Yiggy from the Musical Fidelity’s CD . The computer with Tidal sounds better than the same CD. Just for giggles , I took a toslink and ran the Direct TV box into the DAC . Sounds like crap . I’m in the process of trying to borrow a balanced digital to see if the CD sound improves via balanced . The player just returned from the distrutor after a full service . On a side note suggestion from Matt , I ordered a Richard Gray 600s and an Analysis 4 outlet cable to try and see if my SQ improves . So $1400 vs $110. Also found an REL sub that needs a home . So many choices, not enough money ! Keep it coming , I am budgeted for the streamer . Thanks , Mike B. 
I could be wrong but based on my recent comparison between a $35 streamer and a $500 one, my guess is you need to go way up in the food/price chain in order to get a substantially better sound quality, especially if you already have a really good external DAC. It could very well boil down to the ease of connectivity and the user interface for managing the music content playback. 
Just for giggles , I took a toslink and ran the Direct TV box into the DAC . Sounds like crap .

OP, many reasons why it might "sound like crap" as you put it, but in case you are interested in identifying why.....

.... you may want to consider glass toslink, like this one:

https://silversonic.com/products/digital-cables/glass-master-toslink/

And you may want to check that the correct output (e.g. PCM) is set within your Direct TV box.
Thanks David , that was a thought as I posted the text . Other than cost , does length matter ? I have an Apple TV that I could try that with too . Thanks for the link . 
I have a 3M run of the DH Labs Silversonic Glass Master, primarily since I will be wall mounting the TV and I am using the TV’s Optical out. It is working very well with both the Schiit Yggdrasil and Denafrips Terminator DACs.

I do not believe there are any ’recommended’ ideal lengths for glass TOSLink cables...but perhaps someone is more informed in this area (in case, this was what you were asking about).
A crazy cheap streamer (~$150ish) that still sounds great is the raspberry pi 3 with  HIFIBERRY DIGI+ PRO (S/PDIF output) with  iFi AUDIO iPower supply.

The pi has wi-fi, but I'm using its Ethernet connection coming from a  MoCA network I have setup.

I have it running the Roon bridge image and have a Tidal account.
It is small, quiet, and very stable.    I can't comment on how it compares sound wise to the more expensive streamers mentioned above.     I can say it offers good enough performance to hear differences in the coax digital cables I've used with it, let alone the different DACs.   I'm currently using it with a Shunyata Anaconda ZTRON digital cable feeding a SimAudio 380D DSD, and the sound is amazing :)

Ok guys , I’ve received some great advise . So let’s say I bump up to $1000-2000, for something new . My disc player only plays CD’s . Matt’s suggestion on the Oppo 105 is sinking in . It is Tiday ready and wireless . It also gives me SACD and a great Blu -ray player . I have a nice Panasonic Plasma over my system . I got rid of my Yamaha- Klipsch 5.1 a long time ago . What started this whole 2.1 thing was my front speakers were JBL 4312a’s that are pristine with Sound Anchor custom sized stands . So anyway let’s discuss Oppo 105 vs say $1500-2000 streamer . But just the sound quality . I’ll be using the Yiggy for Stereo and not sure for movies , but probably the Oppo . Also TV is only 1080p, I’m not interested in 4K or a curved screen . Thanks . 
buellrider97- I don't think you have a modest system, actually it looks like you have invested a fair amount of $$. I am sure it sounds great. About your question though, digital audio is a vast territory that is changing very, very quickly. More and more companies are offering streaming. I think Amazon prime now offers music streaming but there will be many others getting into the action. The hardware itself is getting better- DACs, wired and wireless connectivity, HDD, etc, etc. So no matter what you get, there will be something offering more versatility and even better sound right around the corner after you get your new streamer tweaked. Think of it, CD, SACD, plus DSD, AIFF and FLAC files, streaming lo-rez and hi-rez and now MQA.  When I switched from a computer based digital audio system to outside the computer it started with a Squeezebox then Logitech Squeezebox then Pure Audio I20 dock for my Iphone that I patched into my hi-fi system. Now I use a Bluesound Node 2, a Western Digital NAS and a powerline Wired ethernet connection. Sounds great to me but I had clear ideas in my mind before I bought the Node 2.
I would ask what you want in the new streaming device. I had wanted about 5 things.

1 I wanted to be un-tethered from a computer and use my Iphone or Ipad as a controller.

2 I wanted to be able to play ALL my digital files on HDD, that I had via Itunes and ripped from my own CDs. Wireless or wired.

3 I also wanted a very good and versatile streaming player and MQA was a bonus. As it turned out, I really like MQA.

4 The ability to send a digital signal out to another DAC.

5 I wanted something on a limited budget.

The Bluesound Node 2 was able to do all those things for $500. If I had not wanted the trouble of tagging files like artwork so that Bluesound could recognize the files I could have gotten the Vault 2 and re-ripped CDs or sent all the digital files INTO the Vault.
Once you know what you want in a steamer and that it can ALL change tommorrow, dive in and be happy with listening to music.




I am going to assume that the sq from the node 2 is similar to the vault 2 which i have owned for over a year now and still feel no need to replace.
Even though in theory the analog outs of the vault/node support full 192, I still found that I preferred the sq out of the vault via coax into the dac of my Exogal Comet or lately the DAC of my Hegel H160. That is just my opinion in my system and ymmv.

I also own an Oppo 105 and although very slight I think the vault has the edge on Tidal playback.
That being said the Oppo is a fantastic all in one solution that does give you access to a lot of additional media like sacd. bluray audio etc.

You would likely be happy with either or for 2k you can get both!
“You would likely be happy with either or for 2k you can get both!”

uberwaltz- A brilliant solution. If the OP does not like how both units fit into his hi-fi needs, he can sell the one he does not want. Both of these units the Oppo and Bluesound are popular now. Both get fantastic reviews from users.

In fact many retailers have a generous return policy. It is likely he could just return the brand he does not like. I say get both!!
@mattmiller , Today I pulled the Monster power out . I also installed two Orange Hubbell 20 amp outlets . Just put everything back together . I need to let it warm up for a full day before I do any critical listening . My Richard Grey 600S  arrived in black and was returned for silver  , so within the next week , I’ll add that to the mix. Still haven’t pulled the trigger on a streamer . I’m receiving 2 NOS GENELAC GOLD LION KT-88’s with the power supply too . Due to purchasing 6 Metallica tickets yesterday , I won’t be getting the streamer in March . I did hear some hum on my system without the Monster , but I have flouresent lights and dimmer lights . I turned them off and it was immediate quiet .  I’ll let you know what happens after my system settles back in and also down the road with the power supply . Will probably get the Node2 in about 3-4 weeks when I return from Maui . Thanks for the guidance , Mike B.