Weakest digital link: DAC - Streamer - Server?

I am curious WHICH of the three is MOST important in digital playback? DAC, Streamer, or Server? I assume DAC is #1, but what about server/streamer?


Specifically, I have a Synology NAS which I can host ALL my music on, then using a good streamer play off it via Roon/Upnp, PLUS my streaming services.  Does it make sense to use a SEPARATE server JUST for my music? 

Like is there going to be MUCH difference between these setups?!

1. NAS (music server) --> Good Streamer (ethernet, Roon) --> DAC

2. Dedicated Music Server --> Same streamer (ethernet, Roon) --> DAC

3. Dedicated Music Server with streamer (digital out) --> DAC


I understand for SURE, if one connects a NAS USB out to streamer/DAC it will sound WORSE than dedicated music server with low noise components, BUT if I am sending the music over ethernet to a good streamer, WHY would a music server make ANY difference? The streamer would essentially take the same files off my NAS, as if would from Tidal and play in the same fashion... no?! 

WHAT am I missing?!


PS. I can also upgrade the NAS with linear PSU to lower noise, but once again, sending audio through ethernet shouldn't matter.


A Bluesound Node does it all: Streamer, DAC, PreAmp, Component hub… add a tube amp/ amp… get a Schitt equalizer… have the best. 


Anyone that quotes Audio Science Review as Gospel, really does not actually listen to the equipment they pass judgement on. To them, measurements are everything.

How can any review of a piece of audio equipment not comment on the "sound" of the component at all?

How do you review a car without driving it?

Measurements are a filter. For instance, I don't test drive all cars. I use measurements to filter down to the group of cars that fit my needs. Some car components DO make a difference. But whether the taillight is square or oval makes no difference in how the car performs. Likewise in audio. If bits are passed perfectly and the noise level is below the threshold of human hearing then by definition I'm not going to hear any difference. And with digital components, those two things can be easily measured.

It all matters..  I think many overlook the output section of the DAC. This is critical just like a preamp or an amplifier..  going overboard on routers, Ethernet cables  will not be as effective as having a quality D to A section with a good PS. 

How can any review of a piece of audio equipment not comment on the "sound" of the component at all?

The reviews do have a subjective listening session on speakers. It's not to everyone's liking but it should be taken as any other subjective opinion.