the best, cost-no-object, music streamer?


I am currently using McIntosh MCD500 as source. I love it so much that my CD collection is piling up. Now i find it more hassle to find CD, play it, and return it to cabinet blah blah blah.

I think one solution to this is to find a (very) good music streamer connected to a HDD or whatever.

Can any of you share what is the best, cost-no-object, music streamer? And why do you like them?

Am no techie, but seems ability to play 24/192, FLAC, apple app compatibility is a must.

Thanks for looking.
adg243
Meridian, formerly known as Sooloos.
I can also recommend Aurender, as an excellent sounding, very easy to use, one box solution.
I totally agree with Kal, the Meridian Sooloos system is pretty cool and sounds really good. It also has the best search functions of any server and the best meta-data as well.
What does "apple app compatibility" mean?

The Slim Devices aka Logitech Transporter is the absolute best streaming media product out there. I use mine with my FLAC audio collection and it works brilliantly.

There is a controller app available for iPhone and Android that lets your phone or tablet act as a remote control, browsing album covers and controlling the music.

Sorry guys, the guy is talking streaming which is not a sooloos, that is a music server, a streamer draws the data from another computer or nas drive,therefore if this gentleman is talking streamer that is
either a

Naim NDX $5,500.00

or a Naim NDS arround $20k

or possible one of the top Linn streamers
Define streaming device. There are so many different architectures to get digital audio files into a Dac these days. What functionality are you looking for in the device. Storage? Library management? D/A conversion?
Bryston BDP1 or the new BDP2, no moving parts, no HDD...great sound.
Edorr,

Am looking for all three qualities you mentioned. Good sounding digital media player with todays versatility and top notch sound quality.

Thank you for reply.

Kr4 and Kennyt. Will look at sooloos. Thanks also.
There are some interesting high end options available these days. One is Boulder. The 1021 also allows you to spin discs, but not no other digital inputs.

http://www.boulderamp.com/1021-p1.html

Another option is the new Weiss MAN201.

http://www.weiss-highend.ch/man301/index.html

But are very high end players. There are probably a few others, since this is a becoming a pretty hot market segmens, as more and more real high end oriented folks are moving away from spinning disc, but are intimidate by the prospect of having to build their own Mac or PC based system.

I don't know the sooloos, but I think some of it's competitive advantate was in the library management and user interface features.

I suspect with the advent of iPads, a lot of manufacturers can put together a very decent user interface, and may be superior stictly from a sound quality perspective, using their latest technology.
Definitely should look at the Linn DS streamers (Majik, Akurate or Klimax). Not cheap, but one of the best.
There are a lot of ways to architect a network based system . The term "streaming" is no used consistently. The weiss MAN201 supports streaming (i.e. plays music files coming in over ethernet). The PS Audio Perfectwave bridge does as well.

However, any music server (such as the Bryston BPD 2) that can access data stored on a NAS is not technically streaming, but for practical purposes this makes little difference.

The options are many, and there are an increasing numbers of the high end guys offering very expensive and presumably good systems.
The latest edition of the Linn Klimax DS!
The Sooloos is an extensible system including storage,
distribution and rendering. You can get all three in one box
(controlled by an iPad app) or you can get a multiple zone,
multiple storage system with multiple dedicated touch-screen
controllers.
Hi,

IMO: the Ayon Audio S-5 Network Player.

Best regards,
You can't get better than the latest edition Linn Klimax DS streamer.
The list of contenders for "best streamer / server" keeps growing, which just underscores this is an emerging new segment with lots of new products hitting the market.

The trigger is really the coming of age of computer audio, to the point where die hard audiophile disc spinners are ready to jump ship.

Let me add to the list of high end streamers the audio research media bridge.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/audio-research-reference-dac-digital-media-bridge
Sosnos is great fun, but doesn't support hi-res files.

The original question was:

Am no techie, but seems ability to play 24/192, FLAC, apple app compatibility is a must.

Apologies.

Been busy at work can only return now to this thread.

I came across an exhibition displaying dCs Puccini CDP/SACD coupled with its U clock unit. Amazing sound through B&W 800D with Classe monoblocks. I played a Adele red book Skyfall, the music is soo well defined. In other system the music sounds blurry (more noise that is hard to be called music) as if it was not well recorded. I think i know now what jitter does to your music.

I saw also soolos/meridian; seems nice, interface is very good but am not that impressed with the sound coupled with Naim system. Maybe the configuration was too warm for my taste.

Guys, I appreciate your inputs. Will also take a look at Weiss, Ayon, Linn, Aurender and Logitech as i can dealers around. (I live in Jakarta, Indonesia)

Enjoy your music.
If you don't want to deal with network issues, have a look at the new Bryston BDP-2 digital player. Not only will it stream from a server over the network but it also supports USB devices and the new BDP-2 also supports an internal 2.5-inch hard drive. I've got one on order and will be installing an Intel solid state hard drive (no moving parts) inside my BDP-2.
Thanks Agiaccio. Dont think i will be playing via network.

seem's i've decided to take the Mac Mini route. still keepin' my MC48 with built in DAC. if finances allow, i'll aim one day to own dSC Debussy DAC or better; or newer version of Debussy as Debussy was launched early 2010.

I heard the dCS Puccini CD Player and matching U-Clock. Amazing sound. jaw dropping. the Scarlatti stacked of 4 doesnt sound that much difference (costing more than 3 times the Puccini !!!)

With the Puccinis; red-book CD music such as Adele's Skyfall soundtrack sounds very detailed yet musical. definitely a huge orchestra of musician is involved; it's like i can hear individual groups of musicians are playing. while on another system (i was in an audio exhibition); the same CD sounds more like a noise on a system with Goldmund CD Player (US$ 5000).

The Puccinis could set me back US$23,000. So I think the Debussy may be the middle ground here while achieving archived music stored in my new Mac Mini with 6TB HDD via thunderbolt.

thanks everyone!

let's enjoy the music :-)
Some really good reviews of a few options on HiFi Advice:

http://www.hifi-advice.com/reviews-computer-audio.html

I also just tried the Simaudio MiND 180 streamer. Sounded fantastic through the Simaudio 650D dac (sounded better than cd play through the 650D) For about $1,200 it's a much more affordable option than some of the high end solutions like Linn. The MiND streamer will also be built into the new Simaudio 380D dac - just add a computer with a UPnP library management software program (like Asset), a wired/wireless network router and an iPad and you're all set!

I have to say, though, Meridian Sooloos is still miles better than any of the other streaming systems I've seen in terms of tagging, library management software and their iPad app. They've got a good few years on the other companies and it really shows. Different sounding than Simaudio, though. The Meridian house sound is smooth and rich (particularly with their apodizing digital filter, which is supposed to remove pre-ringing) whereas the Simaudio house sound is punchy/rock-solid bass, dynamic and detailed in the high frequencies. Both sound very good but people will have preferences. I'd say the Sim sound will have more initial appeal but the Meridian sound will grow on you over time (that's what happened to me, at least!).
For best SQ, I recommend to get a music server that has USB streaming audio output, such as Sonore or Aurality. With these you can add an external USB converter or USB DAC that contains a better master clock and power delivery to achieve much lower jitter than any of these servers. You can also update these devices as technical advances take place in the future without replacing the server.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Hello Steve,
On the topic of converters, do you have any plans for an Offramp with DoP support, or do you know of converter out there with both DoP support and I2S out over RJ45? Thanks.
I hear you all.

From reading the posts it seems music streamer needs to be a dedicated unit like sooloos, aurender, linn etc. I've only seen and hear the sooloos. seems the presentation (demo) wasnt setup well in front of me. or probly the music was using a file that is compressed and lossy.

I enjoy listening to my mac mini (amarra+itunes) connected to mcintosh c48 via USB. for past 2 weeks i have been ripping my CD collection. turns out i have couple of albums that i have 2 CD of :-)

i enjoy very much the ability control the mac mini's itunes from my ipad using Remote HD app.

Is there something wrong with my setup? should i buy a master clock?

has anybody tried a master clock, how much "less jitter" does the unit do the whole music experience?
The USB input on the McIntosh is asynchronous, so you are effectively using the clock on the c48. When you put a very good USB converter between the c48 and the Mac, the clock in the USB converter will provide the masterclock to the c48 instead (assuming the S/PDIF inputs are synchronous). It is conceivable this will sound better, but not a foregone conclusion. Only way to find out is to try. You could get one of Steve's Offramp 5 converters. I believe he has 30 day return policy, so if you hear no impovement you send it back.
Nd4 - I am planning on designing a version of my USB module using XMOS parts in the near future, that is if I can get some cooperation from them....

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
"Is there something wrong with my setup? should i buy a master clock?

has anybody tried a master clock, how much "less jitter" does the unit do the whole music experience?"

Most DACs can be improved dramatically by adding an external USB converter with a low-jitter clock. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of the digital system, not the DAC.

Lower jitter will get you much better imaging, dynamics and bass tightness. Wider and deeper soundstage. The more you spend for the USB converter and associated USB and S/PDIF or I2S cables, the better the result.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Steve N.,

When you said USB converter, did you mean USB cable from A type USB (MacMini) to B ?
"From reading the posts it seems music streamer needs to be a dedicated unit like sooloos, aurender, linn etc. I've only seen and hear the sooloos. seems the presentation (demo) wasnt setup well in front of me. or probly the music was using a file that is compressed and lossy."

Not necessarily, I think there are a number of "open" streaming systems that work with multiple brand. For example, tHe Simaudio 180 streamer works with any dac and a PC, Apple or NAS with a UPnP library management system for music storage. I think PS Audio and Linn are also open, or at least partially open streaming systems.
That's great news Steve, thanks.

I'm sure there are a lot of us ripping SACDs that aren't quite ready to get rid of our DACs for DSD processing; a converter seems like an attractive interim option.
When you said USB converter, did you mean USB cable from A type USB (MacMini) to B ?

No, I'm talking about a device that takes async USB as input and outputs S/PDIF coax, AES/EBU and maybe I2S to drive a DAC. Because it is async USB protocol, it creates a new low-jitter master clock outside of the computer or server.

This is what is commonly referred to as a "USB converter".

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Nd4 - not only is it a good idea for older non-USB DACs, it is beneficial 99% of the time for newer USB DACs that have other inputs. Most USB inputs are poorly implemented IME.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Steve N

Ok. Point taken will take a close look at this USB Converter advice

Thanks
Adj243 - while you are in the planning stages consider hard drive failure!

This just happened to me and reloading my CD's was a pita.

I now have all my music on a NAS drive that has dual drives in a RAID mirrored configuration. If one of the drives fail I simply replace it and the NAS drive software takes care of copying the data to the new drive automatically.

If you start downloading music then hard disk failures can have a bigger impact

I know hard drive failures are rare these days, but you only need it to happen once to really tick you off.
Adj243 - while you are in the planning stages consider hard drive failure!

This just happened to me and reloading my CD's was a pita.

I now have all my music on a NAS drive that has dual drives in a RAID mirrored configuration. If one of the drives fail I simply replace it and the NAS drive software takes care of copying the data to the new drive automatically.

If you start downloading music then hard disk failures can have a bigger impact

I know hard drive failures are rare these days, but you only need it to happen once to really tick you off.
Thank you williewonka. One way I hedge against this is by having copies of the hard drive through the amazingly fast thunderbolt connection
I really think this technology is so changing that what is said here is obsolete immediately. I have sacds in dsd on my hard drive that I can merely click on using my Ipad and have played in Itunes. Listening to sacds on a universal player is quite deficient in comparison. Soon I will have a dsd capable dac, which I long to hear. Already the sacds in dsd are superior to 192/24 HD.

Yes, all of this is consuming lots of space, but I have hot removable 2 Tb hard drives in a raid system with four drives that are upgraded when I add new files. I am soon to place one of these in my safety deposit box and monthly update it.