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Good Preamp DAC Streamer with network volume control

juliangst

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Hi guys,
I want to upgrade my system and I'm looking for a good streamer with preamp capability.
I want to be able to control the hardware volume over network with the current streaming app in usage (like Spotify,Roon, Volumio or Airplay), so I don't have to use a dedicated remote for that.
I know that the bluesound and Hegel amps allow for that but I specifically want a preamp so I can use a good power amp (planning on getting a purifi).
The DAC and preamp section's performance don't have to be state of the art but at least as good as those 100-300€ chinese DACs. Everything else would be a downgrade from my SMSL sanskrit 10 mk2.

Are there any decent quality streamers that allow for that? A raspberry pi with a good DAC board using Volumio or Roon could work but most DAC boards best perform as a DAC and not as a preamp.
 

TimDH

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Hi guys,
I want to upgrade my system and I'm looking for a good streamer with preamp capability.
I want to be able to control the hardware volume over network with the current streaming app in usage (like Spotify,Roon, Volumio or Airplay), so I don't have to use a dedicated remote for that.
I know that the bluesound and Hegel amps allow for that but I specifically want a preamp so I can use a good power amp (planning on getting a purifi).
The DAC and preamp section's performance don't have to be state of the art but at least as good as those 100-300€ chinese DACs. Everything else would be a downgrade from my SMSL sanskrit 10 mk2.

Are there any decent quality streamers that allow for that? A raspberry pi with a good DAC board using Volumio or Roon could work but most DAC boards best perform as a DAC and not as a preamp.
A bit more than a pi but also minimal learning curve: Yamaha WXC-50. I’ve had good luck with it.
 

Jimbob54

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Cambridge audio cxn v2 with Roon is pretty hard to beat. If you're already committed to Roon.
 
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juliangst

juliangst

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Cambridge audio cxn v2 with Roon is pretty hard to beat. If you're already committed to Roon.
I actually don't like roon at all and prefer Volumio due to it's simplicity. But 90% of the time I'm using Spotify anyways and when Spotify Hifi gets released some day, I might go with Spotify 100% of the time since it has everything I listen to.
 

Jimbob54

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I actually don't like roon at all and prefer Volumio due to it's simplicity. But 90% of the time I'm using Spotify anyways and when Spotify Hifi gets released some day, I might go with Spotify 100% of the time since it has everything I listen to.
The cxn does Spotify Connect or you can control via either the Spotify app on your phone, the Cambridge app on your phone or the device remote
 
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juliangst

juliangst

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The cxn does Spotify Connect or you can control via either the Spotify app on your phone, the Cambridge app on your phone or the device remote
That's nice. Are there other options that are less expensive than the Cambridge? Together with the purifi amp the setup would cost almost 2500€.
The new bluesound node actually looks pretty nice but I don't know if it can be used as a preamp and I don't think they upgraded the performance, which was not that great.
 

enricoclaudio

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If you don't do Roon, then the Bluesound NODE is your best choice below $600. It does Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Airplay 2 and BluOS app is very nice, better than Volumio for me. The NODE has an Optical/Analog IN via 3.5mm port. If you are in the USA, you can get the NODE refurbished directly from Bluesound.
 

Jmudrick

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If you use mostly Spotify , I'm a fan of the value proposition if the Paradigm PW Link and Martin Logan sibling. Spotify Connect AND Anthem Room Correction for under $200. Optical and analog input and output to hook up phono pre or Chromecast and output to quality DAC.
 

Jimbob54

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That's nice. Are there other options that are less expensive than the Cambridge? Together with the purifi amp the setup would cost almost 2500€.
The new bluesound node actually looks pretty nice but I don't know if it can be used as a preamp and I don't think they upgraded the performance, which was not that great.
When you're thinking "preamp" you mean the fact you can vary the output signal from digital inputs , not a box than can take analog and digital inputs and vary the output signal aren't you?

A pi with a good dac built in would be cheaper if you don't like the yamaha or the Node.
 
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juliangst

juliangst

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When you're thinking "preamp" you mean the fact you can vary the output signal from digital inputs , not a box than can take analog and digital inputs and vary the output signal aren't you?

A pi with a good dac built in would be cheaper if you don't like the yamaha or the Node.
Yeah, I don't need any analog inputs since I'm only streaming music. With 'preamp' I just mean a device that can control the output level.
Most DACs do it digitally which is often poorly implemented so a analog preamp stage would be optimal.
But those are hard to find in that price range so I would be fine with a well implemented digital volume control.
 

bravomail

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Yeah, I don't need any analog inputs since I'm only streaming music. With 'preamp' I just mean a device that can control the output level.
Most DACs do it digitally which is often poorly implemented so a analog preamp stage would be optimal.
But those are hard to find in that price range so I would be fine with a well implemented digital volume control.
Pie device will have digital volume control, which will serve as "Pre" for u. BTW there integrated Pie4 devices in-built into keyboard like case, with all USB, eithernet, WiFi etc for just $100. Add apple usb-C dongle to ur Purifi - and ur golden.
 

0bs3rv3r

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With 'preamp' I just mean a device that can control the output level.
Most DACs do it digitally which is often poorly implemented so a analog preamp stage would be optimal.
But those are hard to find in that price range so I would be fine with a well implemented digital volume control.

I don't agree that they are OFTEN poorly implemented, especially more recently. I find that the built-in volume control in software like moOde (better than, but similar to Volumio) is well implented. If you connect an external DAC that has a built-in volume control, you can choose to use that instead if you want. I use the volume control in a simple Topping D10.
 

0bs3rv3r

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With 'preamp' I just mean a device that can control the output level.

Yep, that's confusing. It's why I don't like using the term "preamp" for something which is simply a signal level control. It's just one function provided by a preamp.
 
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juliangst

juliangst

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Yep, that's confusing. It's why I don't like using the term "preamp" for something which is simply a signal level control. It's just one function provided by a preamp.
Well, a preamp basically allows for input selection and volume control. A streamer preamp technically still has input selection, because you can select different sources like spotify or roon by just streaming to the unit.
 

amper42

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That's nice. Are there other options that are less expensive than the Cambridge? Together with the purifi amp the setup would cost almost 2500€.
The new bluesound node actually looks pretty nice but I don't know if it can be used as a preamp and I don't think they upgraded the performance, which was not that great.

This is what I would suggest:
1. RME ADI-2 DAC FS for preamp - $1299
2. RPi4 (Moode) setup to support Airport and Spotify - $100 with case/card
3. NC502MP Buckeye stereo amp - $649
Total - $2100 or maybe $100 less with a negotiated discount on ADI-2.

You won't hear a difference between NC502MP and Purifi and ADI-2 will be superior as a pre-amp/DAC to anything in this price range. Setup Moode software to play music from a 64Gb $18 card or stream music from your phone/tablet or computer via Airplay. You can also enable UPnP for use with 192khz source files if you get into HiRes streaming with Qobuz via a computer. Lots of options without locking funds into an expensive streamer.
 

westyjeff

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I use a Matrix Audio Element X, not cheap, works very well. What I like best is the micro sd card slot, load up my music and it’s all available on board. I also stream multiple sources to it.
 
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juliangst

juliangst

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I don't agree that they are OFTEN poorly implemented, especially more recently. I find that the built-in volume control in software like moOde (better than, but similar to Volumio) is well implented. If you connect an external DAC that has a built-in volume control, you can choose to use that instead if you want. I use the volume control in a simple Topp
This is what I would suggest:
1. RME ADI-2 DAC FS for preamp - $1299
2. RPi4 (Moode) setup to support Airport and Spotify - $100 with case/card
3. NC502MP Buckeye stereo amp - $649
Total - $2100 or maybe $100 less with a negotiated discount on ADI-2.

You won't hear a difference between NC502MP and Purifi and ADI-2 will be superior as a pre-amp/DAC to anything in this price range. Setup Moode software to play music from a 64Gb $18 card or stream music from your phone/tablet or computer via Airplay. You can also enable UPnP for use with 192khz source files if you get into HiRes streaming with Qobuz via a computer. Lots of options without locking funds into an expensive streamer.
Looks like a good setup but I don't really like controlling the volume on a software level. With the bluesound or cambridge for example I would be able to control the device's volume on a hardware level using the spotify app or others, while with Volumio or Moode I would only be able to control the volume digitally which could lead to signal degredation.
Bottom line is that I need a streamer with a build in dac so the software controls the DAC's volume directly and doesn't do it in playback software
 
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juliangst

juliangst

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What I'm aiming for is a just more transparent and more precise signal chain.
My current setup has a Pi4 with a hifiberry Digi 2 Pro board, an SMSL Sanskrit 10th MK2 and a Denon PMA1500 RII which I got for about 300€ and this amp was TOTL in the denon lineup about 15 years ago.
I definietly want an upgrade that makes a noticible difference and adds convenience with direct control over streaming apps so I thought a streaming DAC+Purifi might be a good choice, but I'm open to other recommendations
 
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juliangst

juliangst

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I use a Matrix Audio Element X, not cheap, works very well. What I like best is the micro sd card slot, load up my music and it’s all available on board. I also stream multiple sources to it.
I've seen some reviews on Matrix stuff. They are fine as DACs but I wouldn't get them as a streamer. Volumio and Moode have way better features imho.
 

westyjeff

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I've seen some reviews on Matrix stuff. They are fine as DACs but I wouldn't get them as a streamer. Volumio and Moode have way better features imho.
Good luck with your search, hard to fill all needs and desires in one box.
 
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