Point of diminishing returns for a Network Streamers?

You have super cheap Pi streamers (build yourself), $399 IfI Zen, $500 Bluesound Node (no DSD), $700+ Pro-Ject Stream box, then $1k -$2k for Lumins, and others.

I'm running an old iMac as my Roon Core and running a super long, active USB cable to my Dac. I probably do not have to pay much for any improvement since my setup is not ideal. 

I'm really fascinated by the Pro-Ject stream box...however...would it be a major improvement over the IFI Zen? I need DSD so the NODE is out of the question .

I could save and go with the new Lumin U2 mini, however....would it be a huge jump over the Pro-Ject?


First off, a general purpose Mac or laptop is not a ideal source for streaming from Qobuz or Tidal. 

Maybe not ... but a general purpose Mac is an ideal source for streaming from Apple Music. For some (not all) listeners, Apple Music may be preferable to Qobuz or Tidal.  Plus, a general purpose computer offers the option to run digital signal processing applications (such as HQ Player or BACCH4Mac.)  DSP is likely to have a much bigger impact on sound quality than your choice of streamers (assuming your streaming device isn't also performing DAC/preamp/other functions).

I usually prefer Qobuz/Tidal over AM, just because Roon does not  support Apple Music.  However, I still have a USB feed from a Mac Mini in order to run DSP (in addition to other music-related functions).  The Mac (or an Apple TV device) also allows you to display album art on a TV screen.

@abreryclark, if you like Roon I would stick with using a computer of some kind as your streamer.

I went from streaming Tidal on an iPad to an Innuos Zen MkIII with Roon.


it was like going from a $100 MM cartridge to a $2000 MC cartridge.

I’ve read to where a nice higher end streamer will even make one’s mid tier Dac sound much more improved. The Lumin may be the way to go