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Do all STREAMERS sound the same when used with the same external DAC?

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#1
Hello. Let’s suppose you have the same app (e.g. TIDAL) being played on a cheap PC, a BluSound Node 2i, an Aurender N10 , a NAD M10 or any other streamer in between. If all those streamers are connect the same way (e.g. optical or usb) to the same external DAC, would the sound be exactly the same? I ask it because as of now I'm using a Node 2i as a streamer with an external DAC but was wondering if there are "better" streamers that could improve the sound quality I'm getting now? Thank you!
 

Jimbob54

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#2
Hello. Let’s suppose you have the same app (e.g. TIDAL) being played on a cheap PC, a BluSound Node 2i, an Aurender N10 , a NAD M10 or any other streamer in between. If all those streamers are connect the same way (e.g. optical or usb) to the same external DAC, would the sound be exactly the same? I ask it because as of now I'm using a Node 2i as a streamer with an external DAC but was wondering if there are "better" streamers that could improve the sound quality I'm getting now? Thank you!
Audibly? Unless there is massive jitter in that set up, no.
 
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#3
Unless the transport has massive jitter and/or the DAC is super sensitive to jitter, then no. Depending on the connection, the transport could be able to inject noise into the DAC via digital inputs, if they're not properly designed and/or galvanically isolated. Depending on the setup one could form nasty ground loops which could affect the sound. Again, this shouldn't happen in a properly designed system.
 

Jimbob54

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#4
Hello. Let’s suppose you have the same app (e.g. TIDAL) being played on a cheap PC, a BluSound Node 2i, an Aurender N10 , a NAD M10 or any other streamer in between. If all those streamers are connect the same way (e.g. optical or usb) to the same external DAC, would the sound be exactly the same? I ask it because as of now I'm using a Node 2i as a streamer with an external DAC but was wondering if there are "better" streamers that could improve the sound quality I'm getting now? Thank you!
What, exactly, is wrong with the sound quality you have now. IIRC you were asking about DACs recently. You know the business end of "sound quality" is in the transducers, I guess? Almost certainly not in anything before amplifier.
 
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Thread Starter #5
What, exactly, is wrong with the sound quality you have now.
NOTHING is actually wrong but there is always room for improvement. I don't want to miss out the opportunity to hear my music even better than it is now. I want to get to the limit where there is basically nothing else I can do to get the best possible sound. As of now I'm getting my room acoustically treated by a sound engineering firm because I do believe in room treatment but also would like to upgrade my equipment.
 

Jimbob54

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#6
NOTHING is actually wrong but there is always room for improvement. I don't want to miss out the opportunity to hear my music even better than it is now. I want to get to the limit where there is basically nothing else I can do to get the best possible sound. As of now I'm getting my room acoustically treated by a sound engineering firm because I do believe in room treatment but also would like to upgrade my equipment.
That's not true. Certainly pre amplification. As was said in the last thread, the D to A conversion is way beyond audible errors if you have a well measuring DAC . You won't find improvements there, and likely not in amplification of you have good solid state amps with ample power for your speakers.

Upgrade your electronics if you want, but there is no magic to be had there, nothing will transform your listening.
 
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Thread Starter #7
That's not true. Certainly pre amplification. As was said in the last thread, the D to A conversion is way beyond audible errors if you have a well measuring DAC . You won't find improvements there, and likely not in amplification of you have good solid state amps with ample power for your speakers.

Upgrade your electronics if you want, but there is no magic to be had there, nothing will transform your listening.
Thank for your answer. It's very hard to resist the upgrade bug when you see all kind of streamers, from the cheapest one to the more expensive one and understand that in terms of sound they will all sound the same!
 

RayDunzl

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#9
As of now I'm getting my room acoustically treated by a sound engineering firm
What's their plan?

Got an estimate yet?
 

SMc

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#11
Hello. Let’s suppose you have the same app (e.g. TIDAL) being played on a cheap PC, a BluSound Node 2i, an Aurender N10 , a NAD M10 or any other streamer in between. If all those streamers are connect the same way (e.g. optical or usb) to the same external DAC, would the sound be exactly the same? I ask it because as of now I'm using a Node 2i as a streamer with an external DAC but was wondering if there are "better" streamers that could improve the sound quality I'm getting now? Thank you!
I like to pretend my Bryston streamer sounds better than my Chromecast Audio, but I'm sure it's just a matter of how I like to interact with the interfaces.
 

ahofer

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#13
absent massive jitter unremedied by the DAC, streamers will sound the same passing the same bits. However, I have found that *reliable* streaming provides a potent illusion of better sound. I recommend Roon/RAAT for that reason, as well as its other useful features. You need nothing more than a Raspberry Pi on the streamer end.
 
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#14
NOTHING is actually wrong but there is always room for improvement. I don't want to miss out the opportunity to hear my music even better than it is now. I want to get to the limit where there is basically nothing else I can do to get the best possible sound.
The signal through a streamer stays entirely in the digital domain. Barring signal degradation due to a Bluetooth connection leg or uncorrectable jitter errors or gross downsampling or ground loop hum or buzz, streamers and most modern DACs leave no room for audible improvement of the sound quality. Unless the DAC you have was intentionally designed to color the sound. The only things that would matter are features, music format support, price and build quality/longevity. Inaudible tiny further improvements in the specs of DACs is possible, but why care about it? The "best" in terms of specs is a moving target that is pointless to chase.

Instead, get better loudspeakers. Get an amp with a SINAD of 90 dB or better at the power levels your speakers need to sound enjoyably loud in your room. In addition to the room treatment you are considering, software EQ the music for your room and speakers. Find better music to listen to. Protect your hearing from damage. Train yourself to listen more attentively. Listen to some glorious music recorded in the 1940s and 1950s: enjoying it despite the incurable lower fidelity of most of the recordings will train your brain to focus on the essentials of music enjoyment instead of fretting about almost imperceivable differences. Health, mood, shared listening with family and friends with similar music tastes, dancing, study of music, can all help get more enjoyment out of music listening.
 

Mnyb

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#15
Yes , if they ”work” and are ”properly designed” they are all the same the ”” is for when there is an audiophile version then all bets are of to what weirdness they sometimes include :eek:

I compared my MeridianG98DH disc player with my own files on a server and my squeezeboxes and my raspi with squeezelite . So i use an raspi to my complete meridian system it sounds just fine :)
 
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Thread Starter #16
The signal through a streamer stays entirely in the digital domain. Barring signal degradation due to a Bluetooth connection leg or uncorrectable jitter errors or gross downsampling or ground loop hum or buzz, streamers and most modern DACs leave no room for audible improvement of the sound quality. Unless the DAC you have was intentionally designed to color the sound. The only things that would matter are features, music format support, price and build quality/longevity. Inaudible tiny further improvements in the specs of DACs is possible, but why care about it? The "best" in terms of specs is a moving target that is pointless to chase.

Instead, get better loudspeakers. Get an amp with a SINAD of 90 dB or better at the power levels your speakers need to sound enjoyably loud in your room. In addition to the room treatment you are considering, software EQ the music for your room and speakers. Find better music to listen to. Protect your hearing from damage. Train yourself to listen more attentively. Listen to some glorious music recorded in the 1940s and 1950s: enjoying it despite the incurable lower fidelity of most of the recordings will train your brain to focus on the essentials of music enjoyment instead of fretting about almost unperceivable differences. Health, mood, shared listening with family and friends with similar music tastes, dancing, study of music, can all help get more enjoyment out of music listening.
Actually I do enjoy hearing 50s and 60s records. Last night I heard a 1957 album by Sonny Rollins called "Way Out West" that's wonderful and the quality of the recording rival many modern recordings...

I'm curious about the software EQ. I've been treating my room acoustically and the firm I hired have done the first part (absorption) and next week they are going to install two bass traps and a diffuser. As of now the sound have drastically changed, almost no echo, it's like being isolated and it's kind of funny, when I'm going to my studio in my house talking with my wife or daughter and then enter the studio (that has been treated) we all suddenly feel the change and the sound becomes "dry" and "precise" for a lack of better words. I've noticed the MID RANGE SOUND have improved dramatically, absolutely intimate and hearing Melody Gardot's album "My One and Only Thrill" have become a whole new experience. I've never experienced her beautiful voice in such an intimate and "magical" way. BUT, I would like to add a little more "life" to the music, and by "life" I think I'm talking about a little more "highs". My speakers are very neutral ATC SCM7 (soon to arrive a pair of Revel M106) and I don't like the idea of using EQ, but now that you mentioned, which EQ software do you recommend?

Thank you very much,
 
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#17
Actually I do enjoy hearing 50s and 60s records. Last night I heard a 1957 album by Sonny Rollins called "Way Out West" that's wonderful and the quality of the recording rival many modern recordings...

I'm curious about the software EQ. I've been treating my room acoustically and the firm I hired have done the first part (absorption) and next week they are going to install two bass traps and a diffuser. As of now the sound have drastically changed, almost no echo, it's like being isolated and it's kind of funny, when I'm going to my studio in my house talking with my wife or daughter and then enter the studio (that has been treated) we all suddenly feel the change and the sound becomes "dry" and "precise" for a lack of better words. I've noticed the MID RANGE SOUND have improved dramatically, absolutely intimate and hearing Melody Gardot's album "My One and Only Thrill" have become a whole new experienced. I've never experienced her beautiful voice in such an intimate and "magical" way. BUT, I would like to add a little more "life" to the music, and by "life" I think I'm talking about a little more "highs". My speakers are very neutral ATC SCM7 (soon to arrive a pair of Revel M106) and I don't like the idea of using EQ, but now that you mentioned, which EQ software do you recommend?

Thank you very much,
Your speakers, both ATCs and Revels are very good indeed. I know what you mean about dry and precise and sorta anechoic-sounding. The upside is that the room treatment so far having cleared up the muffled sound, you are hearing the magical mids that you are. The feeling of dry and precise sounding will probably diminish with time as your brain burns-in to the new sound. Like you I generally favor neutral sounding gear, and do not use EQ to adjust it. So, sorry, I am not knowledgeable enough to recommend EQ software. It seems many knowledgeable folks on this forum like REW for digital room correction to remove any residual unpleasing resonances after the room treatment is complete. As for adjusting the sound to be more lively, REW should probably be able to help there too. If not, I think any parametric EQ software in your transport device or streamer should suffice. Though in your place, I would wait awhile until your ears adjust to the new sound before experimenting with PEQ.

I recently got myself Elac DBR62 bookshelf speakers, on the strength of Amir's high praise for them. They sound magnificent. I listen in the nearfield, speakers about four feet away from me at my desk, and the sound is very clear and tonal balance is superb, so I do not feel the need for room response correction. When I walk around, I feel perfectly fine with the in-room sound in my hopelessly cluttered living room. When I want more accuracy, I listen through headphones or IEMs.

Edit: Love Melody Gardot. I have all except her latest album on CD, I believe. For almost three decades now, my music listening is almost entirely to classical and traditional musics, jazz vocal, world vocal, a little folk and pop.
 
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OP
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Thread Starter #18
Your speakers, both ATCs and Revels are very good indeed. I know what you mean about dry and precise and sorta anechoic-sounding. The upside is that the room treatment so far having cleared up the muffled sound, you are hearing the magical mids that you are. The feeling of dry and precise sounding will probably diminish with time as your brain burns-in to the new sound. Like you I generally favor neutral sounding gear, and do not use EQ to adjust it. So, sorry, I am not knowledgeable enough to recommend EQ software. It seems many knowledgeable folks on this forum like REW for digital room correction to remove any residual unpleasing resonances after the room treatment is complete. As for adjusting the sound to be more lively, REW should probably be able to help there too. If not, I think any parametric EQ software in your transport device or streamer should suffice. Though in your place, I would wait awhile until your ears adjust to the new sound before experimenting with PEQ.

I recently got myself Elac DBR62 bookshelf speakers, on the strength of Amir's high praise for them. They sound magnificent. I listen in the nearfield, speakers about four feet away from me at my desk, and the sound is very clear and tonal balance is superb, so I do not feel the need for room response correction. When I walk around, I feel perfectly fine with the in-room sound in my hopelessly cluttered living room. When I want more accuracy, I listen through headphones or IEMs.
Thank you very much.
 
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