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Confusion over music streaming and DAC for my AVR. Do I need both?

HarmonicTHD

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That's helpful for people with iOS who find this thread. I'm Android, so it does not apply to me.

From what I've gathered so far in my research, it looks like my takeaways are the following (someone correct me if any of these assumptions are not true):
  • My NVIDIA Shield TV Pro 2019 connected to my Denon AVR-X4800H is not going to work for hi-res audio controlled by the Tidal app (or Amazon Music app) on my phone because it will only use Chromecast, and Chromecast downgrades all audio to 24/96.
  • For a music streamer for hi-res audio, it seems the general consensus is that the WiiM family of products has as good or better user interface for music library and playlist discovery for streaming services as any other music streamer, while at the same time not requiring the use of the internal software because it supports most "connect" services to be controlled natively through the music streamings service apps.
  • The Wiim Mini will get my all of the above, but if I want Chromecast integrated and the ability to group with my Google Home speakers throughout my house, I'll need to bump up to the Pro. The only reason to bump up to the Pro Plus is for the DAC, which is no better than the DAC inside the Denon AVR-X4800H.
I see.

For Android I heard that some use BubblePNP or so, although I don’t know if it works with Tidal. I have no experience but I think it’s for free. So no harm in checking that out before going for a separate streamer.

On second thought: It might be cheaper or equally expensive to get an old iPad or so and go the mconnect route as opposed to buying a new and separate streamer. Just a thought to give you options.

Have fun deciding
 
Last edited:

KCdoc571

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I am somewhat new to this, so please forgive me. I'm trying to figure out if I need a music streamer and a DAC, just the streamer, or if there's another path I'm not considering.

I have been working on improving my audio situation in my living room a Denon AVR-X4800 and have a 2.1 speaker setup (Arendal 1961 towers and an older HSU ULS-15 sub). I'm not loving the music streaming setup using HEOS. It's too clunky to work with as an app. I want something that works easier and can be controlled from my phone. Had I thought it through a bit more, I might have gone with an AVR that had a better streaming OS.

I was looking at the WIIM Pro or Pro Plus as a potential streamer, but am open to better options if they have a better user experience and interface, or produce a better signal for the audio. I see the Blusound Node is pretty popular.

Is my X4800H DAC good enough for streaming music to not have to worry about an external DAC, or should I get something like a SMSL SU-1 DAC (or something else)? Is the DAC in the WIIM Pro Plus superior to the Denon AVR? The DAC aspect might be more confusing to me than the streamer decision.

For streaming, I'm not committed to a platform at the moment. My wife uses Spotify, and I've been demoing Tidal HIFI+. I like it, although I'd ideally like to pay less than what Tidal charges for that. I give you this bit of information in case it's helpful for advice. I'd appreciate any direction or advice.
Regarding streaming, I highly recommend Amazon Music Unlimited for its huge music library, substantial number of songs in Ultra HD, ease of use and reasonable price. Until recently, my lossless streaming experience was limited to the use of Shure SE846 in-ear monitors with a Dragonfly Cobalt DAC connected to an iPhone 13. However, a few weeks ago, I discovered that the Amazon Fire Stick streaming dongles will support Ultra HD Amazon music streaming (provided that you have an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription, since the other versions of Amazon Music do not include UHD). I ended up purchasing the latest version, the Fire Stick 4K max ($45 at the time of this writing), which is plugged into an HDMI port in my Samsung smart TV, with the TV audio routed via a Toslink optical cable to my Pioneer AVR. At this point, like you, I am trying to determine whether or not I should add an external DAC. But for streaming HD and Ultra HD music, I have found this to be a great solution. The Fire Stick interface is relatively straightforward and easy to navigate, I also noticed that Tidal and Spotify apps are available on the Fire Stick, but I have no personal experience with either of them. I am using the Fire Stick exclusively for music streaming, since my wife and I are quite happy with our Roku stick for video streaming.

I recently stumbled upon this use of the Fire Stick in a YouTube video from two years ago, which is titled: Stream Amazon Music UHD Quality to your Stereo. The video’s author is listed as CO Guy Stuff, in case you wish to check it out. The video claims that the ability to stream UHD music had just been added to the Fire Stick at that time (2021). I’m kind of surprised that Amazon hasn’t more actively promoted this use of the Fire Stick, especially since alternatives such as HEOS have been reported to be difficult to use.
 
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graystreet

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Regarding streaming, I highly recommend Amazon Music Unlimited for its huge music library, substantial number of songs in Ultra HD, ease of use and reasonable price. Until recently, my lossless streaming experience was limited to the use of Shure SE846 in-ear monitors with a Dragonfly Cobalt DAC connected to an iPhone 13. However, a few weeks ago, I discovered that the Amazon Fire Stick streaming dongles will support Ultra HD Amazon music streaming (provided that you have an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription, since the other versions of Amazon Music do not include UHD). I ended up purchasing the latest version, the Fire Stick 4K max ($45 at the time of this writing), which is plugged into an HDMI port in my Samsung smart TV, with the TV audio routed via a Toslink optical cable to my Pioneer AVR. At this point, like you, I am trying to determine whether or not I should add an external DAC. But for streaming HD and Ultra HD music, I have found this to be a great solution. The Fire Stick interface is relatively straightforward and easy to navigate, I also noticed that Tidal and Spotify apps are available on the Fire Stick, but I have no personal experience with either of them. I am using the Fire Stick exclusively for music streaming, since my wife and I are quite happy with our Roku stick for video streaming.

I recently stumbled upon this use of the Fire Stick in a YouTube video from two years ago, which is titled: Stream Amazon Music UHD Quality to your Stereo. The video’s author is listed as CO Guy Stuff, in case you wish to check it out. The video claims that the ability to stream UHD music had just been added to the Fire Stick at that time (2021). I’m kind of surprised that Amazon hasn’t more actively promoted this use of the Fire Stick, especially since alternatives such as HEOS have been reported to be difficult to use.
It would make sense that Amazon would have their own devices support their paid services. I like the WiiM devices as pure music streamers over the Fire Stick for the extensive direct connect streaming service options available. That said, your Streaming Stick sounds like it beats them in one important way: HDMI support. That's huge for anyone using an AVR. On my Denon, it seems that only HDMI ARC/eARC inputs will trigger the AVR to turn on or move the appropriate source by simply casting/connecting to it from the music service's app.

Not having to separately turn on the AVR and select the appropriate input saves multiple presses on more than one piece of hardware (the AVR's remote, or it's cumbersome and slow mobile app), and it still doesn't support controlling the volume on the AVR - just the WiiM app's volume. I wish my NVIDIA Shield TV Pro supported Alexa Cast and Tidal Connect. The only downside with the HDMI connection on a device that supports video is that it will turn on the TV as well, which is not desirable when just wanting to listen to music.

It's a bit crazy that were entering 2024 and this sort of fairly straight forward use cases are still a struggle.
 

davidc

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Regarding streaming, I highly recommend Amazon Music Unlimited for its huge music library, substantial number of songs in Ultra HD, ease of use and reasonable price. Until recently, my lossless streaming experience was limited to the use of Shure SE846 in-ear monitors with a Dragonfly Cobalt DAC connected to an iPhone 13. However, a few weeks ago, I discovered that the Amazon Fire Stick streaming dongles will support Ultra HD Amazon music streaming (provided that you have an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription, since the other versions of Amazon Music do not include UHD). I ended up purchasing the latest version, the Fire Stick 4K max ($45 at the time of this writing), which is plugged into an HDMI port in my Samsung smart TV, with the TV audio routed via a Toslink optical cable to my Pioneer AVR. At this point, like you, I am trying to determine whether or not I should add an external DAC. But for streaming HD and Ultra HD music, I have found this to be a great solution. The Fire Stick interface is relatively straightforward and easy to navigate, I also noticed that Tidal and Spotify apps are available on the Fire Stick, but I have no personal experience with either of them. I am using the Fire Stick exclusively for music streaming, since my wife and I are quite happy with our Roku stick for video streaming.

I recently stumbled upon this use of the Fire Stick in a YouTube video from two years ago, which is titled: Stream Amazon Music UHD Quality to your Stereo. The video’s author is listed as CO Guy Stuff, in case you wish to check it out. The video claims that the ability to stream UHD music had just been added to the Fire Stick at that time (2021). I’m kind of surprised that Amazon hasn’t more actively promoted this use of the Fire Stick, especially since alternatives such as HEOS have been reported to be difficult to use.


I am frustrated as well. I use Amazon Music Unlimited. I've been trying to find a way to hook it into my Denon AVR-x4800h and, most importantly, be able to use the Amazon Music interface on my phone while also being able to stream in UHD. I can use HEOS to stream in UHD from Amazon, but it's interface is terrible, even with its new upgrade last month. Casting (Android) to the AVT with my phone apparently doesn't transmit UHD (according to the current consensus). If I use a Wiim (which I have sitting here because it just arrived this morning) will solve my audio requirements, but I assume I will get no video on my TV of the music in any form.

If I use the Firestick, would I get UHD, along with video on the TV of the songs being played (track info, length, etc)? Would I still be able to use the Amazon Music app on my my phone to choose my music to stream? Would I have to interact with the Firestick UI or remote?
 

Chromatischism

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UHD is Ultra High Definition video, and doesn't have any meaning in the audio realm. Unless I missed something?

Chromecast is 4K capable, if that's what you're wondering, and will show album info from the app, if it's available.
 

davidc

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UHD is Ultra High Definition video, and doesn't have any meaning in the audio realm. Unless I missed something?
Is is the common abbreviation for Amazon Musics Ultra High Definition music. With Amazon Music Unlimited, you can listen to songs in SD, HD, Ultra HD, Dolby Atmos, or 360 reality Audio when available.
 

Tre2023

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I am frustrated as well. I use Amazon Music Unlimited. I've been trying to find a way to hook it into my Denon AVR-x4800h and, most importantly, be able to use the Amazon Music interface on my phone while also being able to stream in UHD. I can use HEOS to stream in UHD from Amazon, but it's interface is terrible, even with its new upgrade last month. Casting (Android) to the AVT with my phone apparently doesn't transmit UHD (according to the current consensus). If I use a Wiim (which I have sitting here because it just arrived this morning) will solve my audio requirements, but I assume I will get no video on my TV of the music in any form.

If I use the Firestick, would I get UHD, along with video on the TV of the songs being played (track info, length, etc)? Would I still be able to use the Amazon Music app on my my phone to choose my music to stream? Would I have to interact with the Firestick UI or remote?
Unfortunately, Alexa Cast does not support UHD(24/192) or Dolby Atmos when casting from the Amazon Music app of another device to my Fire TV Cube Gen 3. Stereo output must be selected in the device app for output. If Dolby Atmos is selected, the Fire TV Cube will not play audio at all and Alexa will state that she is having trouble playing the selected track. Music selections and volume control are managed in the device app without having to use the Fire TV Cube remote controller. Music will continue on the Fire TV Cube if the device app is closed and the Fire TV Cube remote controller or Fire TV app will be needed to stop playback.
 

SoundsGood64

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That's helpful for people with iOS who find this thread. I'm Android, so it does not apply to me.

From what I've gathered so far in my research, it looks like my takeaways are the following (someone correct me if any of these assumptions are not true):
  • My NVIDIA Shield TV Pro 2019 connected to my Denon AVR-X4800H is not going to work for hi-res audio controlled by the Tidal app (or Amazon Music app) on my phone because it will only use Chromecast, and Chromecast downgrades all audio to 24/96.
  • For a music streamer for hi-res audio, it seems the general consensus is that the WiiM family of products has as good or better user interface for music library and playlist discovery for streaming services as any other music streamer, while at the same time not requiring the use of the internal software because it supports most "connect" services to be controlled natively through the music streamings service apps.
  • The Wiim Mini will get my all of the above, but if I want Chromecast integrated and the ability to group with my Google Home speakers throughout my house, I'll need to bump up to the Pro. The only reason to bump up to the Pro Plus is for the DAC, which is no better than the DAC inside the Denon AVR-X4800H.
You are using a sub so likely you are also using room correction such as Audyssey. I don't know about these new Denon AVRs, but use of Audyssey has typically meant downsampling high res content to 48khz. See interview:

What this means is that practically speaking, when using Denon Audyssey room correction, there is no hi res benefit when streaming hi res content. You can focus on the user interface which seems very important to you.
 
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