Questions from a noob on digital streaming


Ok, I am a noob.... I apologize here in the beginning.

I have been a vinyl guy since forever....

I have been considering a change to digital for several months and finally started to make the transition. I just sold my turntable so there is no going back, and believe me the decision was brutal to make. But I am happy with my new path....but still a bit anxious.

I am currently using a Cambridge magic plus through a tube Pre and tube mono blocks. I am planning on getting the direct stream Jr. and this is where my questions start.


I have been using Audirvana to play Tidal with my current Cambridge Dac...

I see that DS Jr. has installed ability to play Tidal, and use Roon.....

Does this mean I can play Tidal without using Roon or other player with the DS Jr. and MConnect Controller?

What are the pros and cons of this if true, compared to using Audirvana or Roon or Jriver?

Can I use Audirvana to play tidal through the DS Jr. ?

What are the pros and cons of this vs Tidal direct through the DS Jr.  or roon  or Jriver  etc.?

What I think I understand is...Tidal is a streaming service (check), audirvana and roon are players used to play the stream and send to the Dac (check)????? But the DS Jr is a streamer ????? Why is one better than another? And which should I use?

A bit confused, and I have been trying to do my own research, Im just not quite getting what is what and why one may be better than another.



I am trying to sell a quicksilver pre-amp to complete my purchase of the DS Jr.....It's on audiongon YOU SHOULD BUY IT !!:-)

Also, since I am selling the tube pre and using the Jr as a pre.....will the power tube amps smooth out the digital sound????

OR  should I get the Gain Cell, which I could today, and keep the Tube pre???? Seems a waste to have a tube pre with no turntable and switching strictly to streaming.

I HATE confusion....

Thank you,

TD


tonydennison
It may be helpful to realize that there is a chain of components and functions, and that in some units some of these functions are combined, but need not be.
1 streaming source, like Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz or TuneIn, to mention a few.
2 a streamer to capture the audio stream, with an app to play that particular service
3 a DAC to convert the digital signal into analogue output
4 a volume control plus source selector
5 a power amplifier.

Some streaming units combine 2, 3 and 4 (e.g the Sonos Connect). Others only combine 2 and 3, e.g. the Chromecast Audio or the Apple Airport express, others only serve as 2, e.g. the Chromecast Audio or the Airport Express using their digital output.

In your case, you already have the Dacmagic Plus, which is a DAC with a volume control. The simplest way to use it is to omit the pre amplifier (you do not need one if you are not using analogue sources). Just connect it to your power amps. No need to worry about ’digital sound’. If you are using a decent DAC like your Dacmagic, digital is perfect.

If you do this, the remaining question is how to get the audio stream to your DAC. One option is to use a computer - even a very simple one like a Raspberry Pi is good enough. Use the usb output into your DACmagic and you are done. Roon is nice software to handle the meta information, but you do not need it. Another option is to use the optical digital output of a streamer like the Sonos Connect, the Airport Express or the Chromecast Audio. Your DACmagic will convert the digital signal to analogue, and serve as a volume control. Of these, the Chromecast Audio is by far the cheapest, and the digital output is excellent (the high jitter level will be taken care of by the DACmagic). Personally I am not a fan of dedicated streamers from audiophile brands, as these tend to lock you into their software limitations (and are often obscenely expensive for what they are). Units like the Sonos, the AE or the Chromecast Audio sell in such large numbers that no streaming service can afford to ignore them. Digital standards change fast, and since the output is bitperfect, there is no sonic need to spend big. If you want to spend money on better sound quality, spend it on a better DAC. However, realize that no streaming service offers more than redbook CD 16/44, and converting that to analogue is a piece of cake for any modern DAC.

So, in its simplest form, all you need is a Chromecast Audio and you can get started. Of course, you may want to improve on this by replacing the DACmagic by a Benchmark DAC3, but the sonic benefits will be relatively small. And you do not have to do this now. Get started gently.
Thank you everyone for your responses.

I have been led to another question.....

I read serveral persons say "Audirvana sounds better than Roon."
others say "Roon sounds best."

Are there different qualities of sound if these are file managers?

Thank you,

TD

Every playback/control software sounds different. If you want to stream Tidal, the options available do not deliver the best SQ compared to players that do not stream IME. Also, since Tidal only streams FLAC files, so I don’t find these to quite be up to "CD" quality. Whether you hear this of course depends on how good your system is. Those with less revealing, less optimized systems will be fine with FLAC, and they may not hear large differences in different software.

One of the better streaming combos I have found is Linn Kazoo and BubbleUPnP. This is for UPnP renderers, not for Roon-Ready renderers.

There are two ways to go with networked audio:

1) Roon RAAT renderers - only Roon player works and integrates well with Tidal

2) UPnP/DLNA renderers - Many different players work, including Jriver, Twonky, Audirvana Plus, Linn Kazoo, Linn Kinsky, HQplayer, Lumin and more. Only a few of these allow streaming of Tidal, and some require a separate server software like BubbleUPnP and Minimserver to be running at the same time.

The first decision you need to make is whether you like Roon GUI and must have it. Then, you only have to choose hardware that supports Roon, that which is Roon-Ready.

IF you go with UPnP, then your options are much greater. I have found that Linn Kinksy with Minimserver delivers the best SQ of any of the players on the market. If you must stream Tidal and use UPnP or Open Home renderer, then Linn Kazoo and BubbleUPnP are a close second.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Are there different qualities of sound if these are file managers?

Yes.

@audioengr   Any pre-information on which combinations (from European experience) may work well / best with Qobuz, given it's pending US launch?