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

Rottmannash

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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.
Just discovered Melody Gardot. Wonderful!
 

Rottmannash

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I have a Node 2i outputting via coax to Topping D70. I can hear subtle differences between the D70 and the onboard DAC-but they are subtle. Qobuz sound pristine and perfect to me on this set-up, as do my local files.
 

Foulchet

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I have bought a 600 euros streamer (Cayin iDap-6) just because it looks good and that it will subjectively makes my experience better.

But I wonder...When you see inside there is a torroidal transformer and (sorry I do not know how to translate it from French) : a "double clock to reduce jitter".
All outputs are digital, this is a pure streamer.

Is there really an added value in this material (even if not audible) ? In mymind, even a computer from the Windows 95 days (I am born in 1990 so I do not know before, I guess yes) could decode easily music with the same performance.
 

Beershaun

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I find there is a difference between streaming from my firetv outputting to my tv and then to my Denon via HDMI compared to streaming via Ethernet to the direct internet connection on my Denon. I attribute the difference to 3 things. 1) resampling in the firetv to output everything at 48khz, 2) HDMI introducing noise due to the DRM encoding decoding happening in the chain 3) difference in input levels creating different sound pressure levels at the same volume setting on the Denon.

So I'd avoid the first 2 things in a streamer.
 

Marc v E

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I have bought a 600 euros streamer (Cayin iDap-6) just because it looks good and that it will subjectively makes my experience better.

But I wonder...When you see inside there is a torroidal transformer and (sorry I do not know how to translate it from French) : a "double clock to reduce jitter".
All outputs are digital, this is a pure streamer.

Is there really an added value in this material (even if not audible) ? In mymind, even a computer from the Windows 95 days (I am born in 1990 so I do not know before, I guess yes) could decode easily music with the same performance.

In essence a raspberry pi is all that is needed and can be achieved. The same applies to the chromecast audio. I heard a 2000 euro streamer and it was the same as the two above.

The only difference I heard is how well a dac can handle spdif vs usb vs hdmi (from chromecast video). If you have a good measuring one like from Topping etc then the difference is nill, nada, nothing.

By the way: I own a 1000 euro dac from a hifi company that shows differences but that I know is not performing to spec. That's the tricky thing: you can't rely on your ears only. Else you are on the long hifi road to nowhere.
 

b4nt

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Is there really an added value in this material (even if not audible) ? In mymind, even a computer from the Windows 95 days (I am born in 1990 so I do not know before, I guess yes) could decode easily music with the same performance.

Added values are in the ease of use, and in features. As long you do not hit any limitation or bug, commercial streamers should be plug and play. Technologies changing every 5 to 10 years (like BT5.0 or MQA, previously multiroom introduction), people may occasionnally swap their streamer.

Windows 95 wasn't that good for audio, not multitasking. I could either scroll or listen to clean audio. I beleive Win 10 still isn't that clean, resamples, limiting to 44.1/48 or to any higher rate for the DAC (but remains internaly limited to 44.1/48).
 

sq225917

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My pi3 and 2010 mac book pro are indistinguishable into my A18 dac, as is my audiolab cdm transport, 1994 vintage
 

Foulchet

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T’es I guess it is far below audibility thresold but I wonder if the very precise clocks/oscillators + toroidal transformer makes an actual difference on the signal. I have the feeling that it is like putting a nuclear reactor within a car to only drive at 130kmh max.
Or a better example : to purchase a machine with a precision of 0.1 pmeter to manufacture cm-graduated scale.
 

srkbear

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Someone on Head-Fi is insisting that his $8,000 Aurender N10 sounds “way better” than an RPI or the iFi Zen Stream, because “better” power supplies, better clock, and “etc”. He is being very contentious.

I asked him how a power supply could have any influence on a device that exists solely in the digital realm. I asked why an expensive “clock” is necessary with existing clock buffers in modern DACs. I asked what “etc” was. Answer was “you’re wrong—I’ve heard the difference and it sounds better”.

In my estimation, if there were any errors being introduced in a digital stream prior to the DAC, they would manifest as glitches, pops, or dropouts, not in changes to the “sound signature”. Am I mistaken? Are there any factors in a pure digital transport that would separate a more costly option from a well-made RPI?

Also, are there any factors that affect sound quality with power supplies prior to the amplification stage? How could a power supply providing AC voltage to an RPI or streamer have any influence on resultant sound, or perform any function other than making the thing work as intended? How does power supply “quality” affect a device solely in the digital realm, including DACs?

I ask about the N10 because like the ZS it is a “pure” streamer with no built-in DAC or DSP functions, and it costs $8,000, vs $399 for the Zen Stream. @solderdude, could you perhaps weigh in here? I argue that the data they present to the DAC should be identical. If there are other factors I’m overlooking I welcome any feedback.
 
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MattHooper

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I know this is an old thread but just to add:

At one point I switched my streamer/server from apple itunes to an apple airport, to a raspberry pi/logitech server. When I first did so I seemed to perceive a bit of added brightness. This seemed technically implausible to me so to double check I had a friend help me do a blind shoot out between the two. There was no "brightness" difference to distinguish them - my guesses were random. I retired the apple server and moved happily on to the raspberry pi with no sonic issues.
 

NiagaraPete

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To answer the title of the thread. Yes. Unless something is broken.
 

ahofer

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Someone on Head-Fi is insisting that his $8,000 Aurender N10 sounds “way better” than an RPI or the iFi Zen Stream, because “better” power supplies, better clock, and “etc”. He is being very contentious.

I asked him how a power supply could have any influence on a device that exists solely in the digital realm. I asked why an expensive “clock” is necessary with existing clock buffers in modern DACs. I asked what “etc” was. Answer was “you’re wrong—I’ve heard the difference and it sounds better”.

In my estimation, if there were any errors being introduced in a digital stream prior to the DAC, they would manifest as glitches, pops, or dropouts, not in changes to the “sound signature”. Am I mistaken? Are there any factors in a pure digital transport that would separate a more costly option from a well-made RPI?

Also, are there any factors that affect sound quality with power supplies prior to the amplification stage? How could a power supply providing AC voltage to an RPI or streamer have any influence on resultant sound, or perform any function other than making the thing work as intended? How does power supply “quality” affect a device solely in the digital realm, including DACs?

I ask about the N10 because like the ZS it is a “pure” streamer with no built-in DAC or DSP functions, and it costs $8,000, vs $399 for the Zen Stream. @solderdude, could you perhaps weigh in here? I argue that the data they present to the DAC should be identical. If there are other factors I’m overlooking I welcome any feedback.
Even having that discussion here seems pointless, it is surely pointless over at Head-Fi (or Audiogon, or...). Whether they are right or not, nobody seems interested in trying to prove it. Let's face it, it is somehow a comfortable illusion that laying out kilobucks for nonsense is worthwhile. I don't know why, given how uncomfortable it is on the wallet.

Btw, I have a colleague whom I encouraged to read here. He's been doing so for a year, and has now divested himself of a bunch of wires and other phoolery, invested in some JBLs, and pocketed the difference. He's not feeling ready to interact, but know that ASR does change minds.
 
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Someone on Head-Fi is insisting that his $8,000 Aurender N10 sounds “way better” than an RPI or the iFi Zen Stream, because “better” power supplies, better clock, and “etc”. He is being very contentious.
Streamers are essentially forwarding a data stream to a DAC... they might unfurl certain compressed formats but basically it's all digital.

So... no... I wouldn't expect any significant differences.
 

Waxx

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about 6 years ago a very experienced electronic engineer measured my cheap Hama streamer trough his weiss dac with an Audio Precision device (not the same as Amir's but a cheaper model) and compared it with his bluesound streamer trough the same dac, and could not find a difference in sound quality. This was after we had a similar discussion and he said his bluesound was way better (it's also more expensive). So he was keen to find better results but he couldn't...
 

srkbear

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Thanks to all for your expertise, that both confirmed what I thought and helped me sort out all that was said in the thread previously. I had considered sending Amir the Zen Stream for review, but he just responded to me that in the absence of a built-in DAC there isn’t much data to be mined from these pure digital transports. Which all the more makes me ill that folks are forking over $8,000 to Aurender for a capability that can be performed equally well with a DIY SBC. :mad:
 

srkbear

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Even having that discussion here seems pointless, it is surely pointless over at Head-Fi (or Audiogon, or...). Whether they are right or not, nobody seems interested in trying to prove it. Let's face it, it is somehow a comfortable illusion that laying out kilobucks for nonsense is worthwhile. I don't know why, given how uncomfortable it is on the wallet.

Btw, I have a colleague whom I encouraged to read here. He's been doing so for a year, and has now divested himself of a bunch of wires and other phoolery, invested in some JBLs, and pocketed the difference. He's not feeling ready to interact, but know that ASR does change minds.
It indeed changed mine. Fortunately in record time before I had parted ways with too much cash—I have a $400 power strip and a $289 0.5m digital cable in my snake oil collection and that’s about it. I was fortunate to be talked into my senses within the return window for the $1,599 x26pro I sent back for my $849 Topping D90se, and the $1,995 Cocktail Audio x35 I returned for the $399 Zen Stream.

I don’t think many Head-Fi Cognitive Bias Champions realize how many industry plants infiltrate that board and disseminate all kinds of audio woo. In defense of his “All Digital Phase-Locked Loop system (ADPLL) incorporating Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) with OCXO clocks” he scored with his Aurender N10, my nemesis on there gifted me an authoritative lecture courtesy of a sciency link from dCS Audio. :facepalm:
 
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