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?


@lalitk "Given your rest of your system, I am not at all surprised by the very small improvement from U1 Mini. "


You mean my humble system? 🤣 Well when I can afford Genelec 8351B some day, I’ll invest in a Lumin setup... for now the Lindemann Limetree Bridge II is a fabulous sweet spot when paired with  a capable preamp/DAC like RME. 


Have you compared playing a CD vs. streaming the same version of the recording? Does the CD sound better than the stream?

I am running Qobuz through a PC hooked up to my PS Audio PerfectWave Mk II DAC (PWD). I also have the matching PW transport. I have ripped my CD collection (over 4000) to a hard drive. The PC is hooked up to the PWD via a 15' USB cable. One of these days I'll subscribe to Roon but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

I have compared at least half a dozen CDs played through the PW transport and PWD to the same version on Qobuz played through my PC and I can't hear any difference, or at least not a significant difference. Sometimes, maybe, I think I can hear a very slight difference between the two but not significant enough to matter.

The PWD has a reclocking/buffering feature (they call it a "Digital Lens") which is one of the reasons I bought it. I didn't want a separate box for reclocking. Perhaps this is why I'm getting very good results from running through a PC with a USB cable. I recognize that theoretically there should be a whole bunch of noise and degradation by streaming through a PC but I can't hear it.

I can't understand why more people don't use this technique as a reference. IMO the best I can hope for is that a Qobuz stream will sound the same as the CD. When you think of all the gyrations and hoops that a stream must go through to get to your DAC it's amazing that it can sound so good. I certainly wouldn't expect it to sound better than the CD played through the same DAC.

Based on my experience I can't see any reason to spend big bucks on a streamer. I might eventually go with a Node (I didn't rip my SACDs) for convenience but I don't expect it to sound any better than my PC. My system is pretty resolving, consisting of a Krell amp and preamp and Thiel CS6 speakers. Maybe if someone is running a half million dollar system they can detect more differences than I can but for my setup the Qobuz stream sounds as good as the CD which is all I can expect.

everyone agrees that the data (the bits, the ones and zeros) arriving at your DAC is unaffected by the ethernet cable, USB cables, switches, clockers, re-clockers, routers, streamers, computers, It is bit perfect no matter the differences in the above.

Electrical noise, jitter, and other timing may be affected, but the data is not.

so logically, if the final device feeding your DAC is capable of cleaning up the noise and dealing with timing issues, it does not matter what comes before it. 

therefore, get a Mutec MC-3 + USB which will take the USB stream and convert it into an AES or SpDIF stream to feed your DAC. Add a 10 MHz clock to it if you like, but the Mutec is all you need. 


use your Mac Mini or Pi or whatever you want, doesn't matter. There, I just saved you many $1000s , you are welcome.

BTW the idea that if you spend enough $$ on streaming you can rival the best vinyl is amusing


If you want to learn a lot about digital audio, watch the Hans Beekhuyzen Channel on YouTube.


He was a recording engineer for most of his career and explains all things digital in a way everyone can understand.



Lots of useful discussion in this thread. I have an Auralic Aries Mini in a second headphone based system, it’s a great streamer for the money. Should be able to pick one up used for a few hundred bucks. I have more expensive Auralic gear in my main system which has been a definite improvement for me over previous gear including a Mac Mini/Luxman DAC