1. mytek Brooklyn +
2. Chord Qutest and a node 2i
2. Chord Qutest and a node 2i
If you want a streamer that also has DAC inputs then your best bet is the Teac NT-505 which works on the Lumin operating system. I've owned one for almost a year and a half and it works and sounds great. The other options in this price range like the Lumin D2 and the Zen Mini Mk III with LPS don't have any inputs. A Node 2ci and a DAC is not an acceptable solution from my perspective as over four years ago an Auralic Aries Mini easily bested the Node in head to head listening tests. Nothing has changed with the Node 2 since then other than the addition of 5 ghz wireless. So a used Mini would still beat it.
I've had an Altair for over two years and I'm extremely happy with it. It's not supposed to be as good as Auralic's separate units, but it's awfully close and I doubt I could tell any difference. Set up was easy and sound wise you can adjust the dac's filters to your preferences. Personally, I like the idea of a streamer/dac combo where you do not need an extra cable and the two units are designed to compliment each other. With the older Altair, you can always add a different dac in the future if you like to 'upgrade' often. However, there is not much need to. I don't think the new Altair G1 has a digital output to add a dac. A used Lumin T1 would be a good choice also, but it's a bit more expensive.
A used Auralic Vega G1 might possibly fall within your price range....
Were I to need to replace my Aries Mini, I'd opt for an Aries G1 (I have an external DAC). Been very pleased with performance from the Mini; it's my most-used source component.
I would love to find a Vega G1 but it seems the plain old Vega fetches 2k or so, finding one in budget might be stretch.
I probably should have kept my old Aries Mini....... lol.
The Altair is pretty affordable, a number of units around at $1400 or so.
Have also been considering Aurender, any experiences?
While the Vega G1 is an excellent dac, it will not stream wirelessly(which Auralic recommends) like the Altair, so you will need another cable to connect to your network. Auralic's support is also very good. I was having an issue with my Altair and the owner of the company got involved personally and fixed it at no charge, even though it was over a year past its warranty. You have several good choices(hard to make) from all the mentioned recommendations.
Its a long deliberated thought process at the moment but here goes.....
The Ayre while superb obviously just cannot be the best at everything and I feel the Maggies would sing better with a bit more juice than the EX8 can deliver.
Very fond memories of my old BAT VK600SE amp which would drive anything half way up Everest without flinching. And with a hint of warmth and sheer passion that at times I feel is missing from the Ayre.
But I feel the largest area where I could gain improvement is in streaming, the Ayre is good but.....
However it still is all due considerations right now.
uber, I'm kind of going through this same exercise, looking for something better than my Bluesound Node 2. The interface is pretty important to me, and that has eliminated a lot of contenders. I've narrowed it down to Lumin either the D2 or U1 Mini (I can use it with my Auralic Vega DAC), and TEAC, the NT-505. I'm leaning towards the NT-505, it's a bit less than the Lumin and you can use it with the Lumin software.
I was in the same boat (upgrading a Node 2i). I liked my DACs (RME ADI-2 DAC for headphones and Oppo 205 for speakers, so was just looking for a streamer with digital outputs. I decided to get the LUMIN U1 Mini last November. Haven’t been disappointed once with this unit. It has the full array of digital outputs: AES/EBU (XLR), S/PDIF Optical (Toslink), S/PDIF Coax (RCA cinch), S/PDIF Coax (BNC), and USB.
FYI: the TEAC NT-505 doesn’t have digital outs, so you must use its DAC and pass analog-output only. That’s the main reason I went with the LUMIN: they support their hardware for a long time, so if a DAC comes along that I just have to have (like an RME ADI-2 Pro updated to AKM AK4499 chips) then I know the LUMIN U1 Mini won’t become obsolete.
Obviously, if you’re looking for a streamer+DAC combo unit, the U1 Mini isn’t an option, so I recommend one of the less expensive LUMINs that has a DAC and a digital out (e.g., D2) just in case you want to get a different DAC in the future.
OP - I have been very happy with my LUMIN D1 for 5 years. The Apple OS is the best way to interface with the unit - very stable and easy to navigate. I use Tidal HiFi with MQA as my source and the sound quality is great. You need an Ethernet connection directly into the unit - I feed out the balanced outputs into one stereo system and the RCAs into a second stereo system - both sound great. The current D2 model (replaced my D1) runs $2200 I think. It uses the wolfson dac chips. If you go up one level to the T2 you get the Sabre DAC chips, but the cost pops up to $4500.
lumin sends me software upgrades all the time via the internet - the D1 is still going strong, but I am considering an upgrade to the T2. Hope this helps
Unfortunately the Teac doesn't have a digital out.That may or may not be a negative. If you have a top of the line DAC already and want to use it, then obviously it's a negative.
I considered buying a streamer only (Lumin U1 Mini) but my thought process was that having it all in one box eliminates a power cord, a set of interconnects, and that DAC technology is somewhat mature now, while streaming technology seems to still be evolving.
The TEAC sounds better than my BlueSound Node 2 did using my Auralic Vega (which was a $3500 DAC when new) as the DAC. I don't miss the transition from the DAC in the TEAC from the Vega. I'll never know now, but I doubt the U1 Mini / Vega combination would have been better than the TEAC and it would have been more expensive.
I feel like I got more bang for my buck with the TEAC and am very pleased with the sound quality.
The Teac is a giant killer for $2k. Teac is parent company of Esoteric, regarded by many as the leader in digital technology.
Lots of Esoteric tech creep down into that $2k product. Virtually everyone on Agon or other forums who has gotten one raves about it
Dual monoural AK 4497 dacs, dual toroidal transformer, fully balanced and XLR outs, excellent analog output stage, full MQA support, dsd512, LUMIN software app, and on and on ....
Audio Research integrated amp, Spendor D7, REL S5, MIT cables and XLR, Audio Art power. And the Teac NT-505 which is really really good, “Esoteric-lite”!! Add dual on-Board clocks and ability to add external 10G clock and Roon ready as additional features of this $2k product to my list above
jackd has owned LUMIN and Teac and kept the Teac and ditched the LUMIN.
Giant killer is a figure of speech Dave, LOL. Show me anything under $5k that has the features I listed for the Teac. The $2.3k LUMIN uses a dac chip that is older than the original iPhone, 13years!!
Giant killer is a figure of speech
It isn't. It's your imagination telling you that your 2K product is as good as a 10K one.
Not saying the NT-505 isn't good. It is. It performs to it's price point.
You haven't compared it with other options within the same price-bracket nor above it.
The forum deserves more than speculation and palliative self-centered reassurances that what you have is much better than it is.
Sweet Dreams (Are [Not] Made of This)...
Good to know you are Feature First and not Sound Quality First audiophile.
I have no interest in a unit that falls far short of my bar.
I do have a vested interest in calling out members who make fraudulent claims and who make claims they don't / can't back up.
Still waiting for you to show me something under $5k that has all those features the Teac does ...
Many mainstream receivers qualify. : )
@david_ten I'm not sure what to say to your post, other than "duh". It's not like there are TEAC dealers all over where I can audition one. The only one within a couple of hundred miles that came up on TEAC's web site was Frys, which does not appear to carry the NT-505. There are more Lumin dealers, but I'm not aware of any nearby that would just let me take one home and try it with the Vega and even if they did, there would be no way I could have compared it to the NT-505. Trying things out and auditioning them is highly recommended, but not always practical or possible. Regardless, I'm happy with my purchase.
@big_greg My apologies for not being clearer or if I gave you the wrong impression.
I’m glad you got the unit. I’m happy you are enjoying it.
My point was around the value of comparisons. We need more of them. Serious, well thought out and executed comparisons.
I believe those would be helpful to the community, regardless of the outcomes and preferences.
Cheer and Cheers. - David.