Recommendations for high quality Streaming Audio:


Greetings everyone; looking for recommendations on how to stream high quality audio, let me explain.

I currently use my Apple 8S phone, with a high quality aux cord, into my preamp. This method has better sound quality than when I use a blue-tooth adapter and stream from my phone, but I enjoy being able to stay seated and having control of what I want to listen to.

Anything out there that gives the user remote control / access to what they want to listen to?

If not, I'll settle fort he next best thing, being plugged into my preamp, and having high quality audio without wireless control

Budget: $1,000 for equipment, $25 per month for streaming service.

I don’t know much about DAC’s , streamers, etc.. or alternative music streaming sites, but I do know that there are better options out there from what I’ve read on these forums.

Thanks in advance for the forthcoming enlightenment.

Rene

barkeyzee1
Obvious affordable choice (below your budget): Bluesound Node 2i

What is your preamp? Does it have DAC built in? (you can tell by the presence of digital inputs or lack thereof)
Thyname, Thanks for the feedback, I watched a youtube review of the Bluesound Node 2i, impressive component.

I have an older NAD pre-amp. No internal DAC / no digital inputs.
Node 2i has a decent DAC built in. You can go RCA out from Node 2i to your Preamp. You can then control the Node 2i from your smart phone or tablet via the BlueOS app. Very easy to use
Do you have this unit or experienced it in person? How is the sound quality? I would be happy with CD quality sound.
I no longer have it. I used to have it. Have upgraded a while back, to much more expensive system (see my current gear under "systems" for my user name).

For the price, the sound quality is excellent. Hard to beat
I have two Bluesound Node 2 (previsous version before the 2i version) and have been very happy with them.  The Android interface is very good and easy to use, I can't speak to the Apple interface, but would expect it to be similar.  
Thanks big_greg. What do you use for streaming services?
I stream Qobuz and Tidal through the Bluesound and also listen to Radio Paradise often.  Tidal has a bigger catalog, but I like that Qobuz has more hi-res files and doesn't use MQA.  The Bluesound will decode MQA, and the rest of the files are CD quality or better for both.  Radio Paradise streams in CD quality also.
I concur with big greg,
I also own 2 Nodes (original version). And, they perform flawlessly and still upgrade. 
The onboard DAC is pretty good for the money, but if you are serious, you can buy a higher quality DAC and still use the Nodes.
The only other serious competitor is Aurender, but they only offer Quobuz and Tidal. Bluesound, on the other hand, has a pretty wide range of streaming media providers.
Bob
I have a Cambridge Audio CXN v2 which, while  more expensive, beat the spots off the Bluesound Node 2i. Downside the app is crap and while I was told they are working on a new app, 3 months on and it still hasn't happened. The Bluesound however is much easier to use if you stream Tidal and use Roon.
The Cambridge CXN is worth checking out.
Ps audio sprout integrated amp (one for sale right now on Agon for $362 ***noting I am not affiliated with seller** + project stream box s2 ***note s2 model only not s2 ds model otherwise you would need an additional dac ***(should be around $350 from your local sumiko dealer) + kef q300 or b&w 602 used should be around $500 on agon or us audiomart ...a little over budget but close...
I am considering a Node 2i and was told at the dealer to use a Cat 6 cable to connect the Node directly to the router. I have some questions about that. Not sure if I am in turn supposed to connect my laptop to the Bluesound with another Cat 6. I have been using Bluetooth now through a cheaper streamer and it sounds as good as my CD player. Need to inquire further.
Purchased a Node 2i about a month ago. Streaming Tidal and very happy with the results. 
At the moment I don't have a laptop and I would have to run a network cable 30 feet across the floor to my music room, not good. So I would also like to just plug in my S10 phone into a streamer or DAC to play music. 

I've been looking at the Innuos MK III
it's a music streamer, DAC and also rips CD's to flac and downloads them to its internal 1 TB storage (upgradeable) HD You can connect your phone via USB and use their APP on your phone to control music files. The price is around $1,200
I went one step further in that I wanted a very high quality DAC to feed my Tube amp, so I went with the Exogal Comet plus non digital DAC
I still have the option of using the Innous DAC 
to send files to my 5.1 AV reciever 

"Innuos has created one of the best control apps in the marketplace making the server/streamer very easy to use for iOS, Android, and Windows users. Roon integration gives users access to Tidal, and Qobuz, with additional support for Internet Radio and Spotify Connect."
I am currently experiencing the same issue. I have the Arcam SA20 which has a built in DAC. I stream music through a Logitech bluettoth adapter with my laptop or phone. Its time for an upgrade. I do no not need an external DAC since tbe Arcam has a reference grade DAC that I will use. My budget on the other hand is limited, $500. Ibwas thinking of just using my laptops headphone jack out with a 35mm to rca cable, then connect the rca cable to a rca to coaxial adapter, the the coaxial end to my Arcam. I am still indecisive and dont know what to do. I dont mind using a cable if that means having great sound quality.

Thank you all for the feedback
Use Cat 6. Trust me, it will be worth it.
I have the Bluesound Vault, which is similar to the node.  For best performance, run CAT6 to the Node, but you wouldn’t need to run CAT6 to your laptop.  You control the Node with laptop, phone, or tablet wirelessly.  I’m extremely happy with mine and have used the digital out primarily because I’m running into a processor with a DAC but I have used the analog out and the Bluesound DAC seems great for the money.  Good luck.
Check out the Sony HAP S1.  I own one. It is not a streaming device buy you can download all your music to its 500G hard drive. I love it because it can directly play 24 bit (high resolution) format. About $700 $800. It also includes for free tune in radio and internet radio. Last week I listened (for free) blues fron Greece and jazz from Brazil. No subscriptions required. Cant play it from your phone but you can organize and search by song, artist, genre, album...
I also run a blusound node and am very happy with it. The app is simple and is compatible with all major streaming companies. What's nice too is that you can buy multiple blusound devices and sync them up to play music all over your house. With the node you can eventually bypass the internal DAC if you feel like you want an upgrade in sound and purchase a DAC that fits your taste while keeping your ability to stream. You said you have $25 a month to spend on steaming you can try Tidal and experience some MQA music which is also compatible with blusound products. 
You can't beat a Bluesound Node 2i for the money.  Connect it analogue use RCA's and try listening to MQA streaming TIDAL.  I also like the way TIDL interfaces with the Bluesound Node 2i.  

Thanks for the feedback Larry, as well as the feedback provided by all the others.

Going to pull the trigger on a purchase on Black Friday, might be able to save myself a little $$.

Across the board, seems like Bluesound Node 2i is the way to go.

I have the original Node 2. I use it to stream Tidal MQA. The dac inside the Node 2 is adequate, but I have found that running it through my Cambridge 851C's DAC sounds much better. 

I ran a CAT6 cable to the Node 2. I then moved my stereo to a different location and had to use the wifi feature of the Node 2. Music was lifeless. I couldn't believe the difference. I then ran a 50' cord across two rooms so it could have a wired connection. The change was immediate. All the warmth, imaging and listening pleasure returned. I now have to tear up walls and the ceiling to run the wire. Deep sigh.

On another note. I was running a AQ Coffee Coax cable from the Node2 into the 851C. I upgraded to the AQ Diamond and the change was there. Just for fun, I used the Doug Schroeder method and used two Y splitters and ran both the Diamond and the Coffee. The music opened up again. I then went back to just the Coffee and the music sounded flatter. 

But if I had to make just one change, hardwire the internet connection.


An Antipodes DS streamer/server works for me.

Connected to the modem by ethernet cable and then runs to my separate DAC (although it does have a very good built-in DAC) and then on to my amp.

I use an iPad to remotely control Roon which runs the FLAC ripped CDs on the Antipodes HDD as well as Tidal streaming.

No Qobuz in Australia as yet.
BlueSound Node 2i and I upgraded the DAC with an external Denafrips Pontus. Streaming only to Qobuz. Worth to check it out
Cambridge CXN (V2) in the house about 6 or 7 weeks now.  Set up was easy, app is OK, not great.....   First listen was too tilted up and digital so went with an Audioquest power cord and some real good interconnects.  Let it burn in for a month (really did) and it was better every time I checked in. After a month it's just plain scary good.  There are so many really top grade radio stations streaming, and 20 presets you can tag at will, I don't know if I will ever get to a streaming service.
I'll throw in another vote for the Cambridge CXN V2. I've had mine for a few months now and I love it. I selected it over the Node2i for a few reasons. I like that it serves as a digital hub. I can run a CD transport into it, stream Tidal and Spotify (those are the only ones I really use), I can plug in a USB drive when that comes up, it has two audio outputs which I like (running one output to my amp, one output to a headphone rig). It works perfectly for my needs, and I plan to keep it until I upgrade to a higher end streamer and higher end external DAC. 
Bel Canto STREAM with Qobuz app embedded in their own Seek App. $1600 for the STREAM (new) and $15/mo. for the Qobuz subscription. You will never look back my friend.
The Bluesound Node 2i is a sweet little unit and you can't beat it for the price.  I also like that fact that you can connect a flash drive, or an external hard drive, to the USB port and play music from your private collection.  It also decodes MQA if you want to stream Tidal masters.  Cheers, and happy streaming!
I have been quite impressed with the CocktailAudio X45Pro. The build quality is amazing. It will Rip, Store, and Stream.  The endless features in the programming are amazing.  It sound very good with both speakers and headphones.  I use the Audeze 4z headphones coupled directly to the X45Pro and alternatively coupled to the Audeze King Amp.  I have been pleased with both configurations.  
With speakers I use the Magnepan 1.7i (perfect for my room), REL sub, Classe amp and good wiring all around. 
I use no other source but the CocktailAudio X45Pro.  As an all-in-one source unit it serves me functionally and the sound is exceptional.
It is my wish that whatever you are listening to best serves your audio needs.
The BlueSound Node 2i is excellent — as others have said. What is critical is upgrading the power cord. The stock cord is fine, but for $100-300. more, the unit really opens up and the bass emerges with authority.  I have heard it in my own system with its internal DAC - very good, but not great - and with a $10,000 DAC - spectacular.  I stream MQA Tidal and HD Amazon.  Both sound terrific via the BlueSound Node. 
Another recommendation for the Node 2i, I love mine.

That said, if you really want to hear what any streamer can do, you should connect it via ethernet. I'm sure there is some creative way that you can route the cable so it's not so intrusive.  You will be glad you did.

Oz



barkey -
Why wait? Bright Audio sells the 2i at the old $499 price plus gives you 10% off that. $450 delivered to San Diego in about 10 days, shipped directly from the distributor. Six weeks now and loving it. One glitch. The iPad app tone control compresses the music and doesn’t affect the tone at all. Thankfully it is easily defeated with a click.
Echo rec for Bluesound, you have 3 options with them with the Vault having a hard drive into which you can rip CDs as well, the library you can back up on a portable hard drive, I use Tidal as a streaming app which has a more expensive option of streaming uncompressed files as well as a cheaper option with compressed music
Rene

Do you own a laptop?
I have a serious question on this topic:  Does your internet provider matter, as far a the quality of sound.  I am not claiming it does not exist, but I am skeptical, because I have never heard streamed music sound as good as a good CD on my system, or significantly better than my  KT-917 or B&K TS 108 tuners.    
If Boone gas Said this, a Raspberry Pi with Hifiberry or similarvwill work and sounds better than your iPhone. 

Or Volumio Primo
https://darko.audio/2019/06/a-short-film-about-the-volumio-primo/
As I previously stated, Hardwiring makes a huge difference. Last night I just switched routers. My internet speeds are over 100MB most of the time. To check the sound quality between wireless and hardwired, we placed the router 3 feet away from the Node2. I did a quick speed test on the wireless and came up at 110MB so I know it had a good wireless signal. We then proceeded to listen. We then hardwired the Node2 and listened again. The results were immediately noticeable. The wireless connected Tidal MQA sounded much flatter. Much less stage presence. 

We listened to the same song through the Node2 wirelessly and then through my Cambridge 851C CD player, and then finally through the Node2 hardwired. The hardwired Node2 and Tidal MQA was the clear winner. It sounded better than my CD player. 
I’m using the Bluesound Node 2i into a Hegel HD20 dac into a Simaudio I5 integrated feeding Paradigm 100v2’s and I am stunned by how good the sound quality is streaming Qbuzz
I have a serious question on this topic: Does your internet provider matter, as far a the quality of sound. I am not claiming it does not exist, but I am skeptical, because I have never heard streamed music sound as good as a good CD on my system, or significantly better than my KT-917 or B&K TS 108 tuners.   

CD vs streaming is somewhat of it's own hotly debated topic. Several people have compared streamers vs transports into the same DACs. I think it's something that's best to try and decide for yourself. But your ISP *shouldn't* matter as long as you are getting appropriate bandwidth. 
Get a Allo Digione Player .... $175 will sound as good, if not better than the 'high priced spread'... Get the Acrylic Case... Many software options for Free. Your choice of DAC.... Been running them for years.

https://www.allo.com/sparky/digione-player.html
After trying so many different configurations I came to conclusion that Bluesound Node 2i with external DAC is the best option. I have to say that Cambridge Audio CXN V2 internal DAC was amazing, but their software was just so bare bones I gave up with cloud streaming  and just use it with local network storage device (NAS).
I am using Audiocontrol Maestro M9 Pre and Onkyo Pre, as my external DACs (2 systems) and for cloud streaming I am using Amazon HD and Idagio (service tailored for classical music)
Yamaha has an R-N303BL Stereo Receiver for $250.00. Has several built-in apps for Pandora, Spotify, etc. Please note, this is stereo only, no sub-woofer out so if you want a sub you will need one meant to be used with a stereo system.