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IFi Zen Stream vs. MacBook Pro direct to DAC via USB

ajramirez

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Aug 17, 2020
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Hello to all. Long time reader, but this will be my first post. My digital front end consists of a MacBook Pro running Audirvana 3.5, which I use to stream Qobuz content to an iFi Zen DAC Signature via direct USB connection from the computer to the DAC. Amp is a Primare i25 integrated and speakers are Dynaudio.

My question is: am I likely to experience improved sound quality if I add a separate streamer, such as an iFi Zen Stream or a Primare NP5 to my system? I am considering going the Roon route, using the MacBook as the Roon core and the Zen Stream or NP5 as an endpoint. Am I likely to experience better sound from such a set up as opposed to what I currently have?

Thanks in advance.

Antonio
 

Zenek73

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To be honest macbook as Roon Core doesn't sound also as "convenience" :)
I use mac mini (dac is connected by optical) and it's OK but it's not officially supported. So instead of buying ifi product (I read many complains about stability of the product) it's better to buy NUC intel eg NUC8i5 for similar price for Roon Core. And then you can use it directly with your dac.
 
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ajramirez

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I am not so concerned about convenience. The reason I asked the question is that I continue to read that computers are “noisy” devices and that the device generating the digital audio stream should be separate from all other computing functions. The streamer would be placed right next to the computer, and connected via Ethernet (so, not wireless) so, conceptually, it does seem a bit strange that adding another box would improve sound quality, but I just wanted to make sure before I dismiss any such assertions.
 

Killingbeans

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The reason I asked the question is that I continue to read that computers are “noisy” devices and that the device generating the digital audio stream should be separate from all other computing functions.

It's pure fearmongering. As long as you don't encounter a problem with ground loops, any well designed DAC should have no such issues.

And even if you do get a ground loop, there's far less cumbersome remedies to be had for those than replacing the source.

For instance, if you run the MacBook Pro on its battery power alone, there's zero risk of ground loops.
 

FuzzTone

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Hello to all. Long time reader, but this will be my first post. My digital front end consists of a MacBook Pro running Audirvana 3.5, which I use to stream Qobuz content to an iFi Zen DAC Signature via direct USB connection from the computer to the DAC. Amp is a Primare i25 integrated and speakers are Dynaudio.

My question is: am I likely to experience improved sound quality if I add a separate streamer, such as an iFi Zen Stream or a Primare NP5 to my system? I am considering going the Roon route, using the MacBook as the Roon core and the Zen Stream or NP5 as an endpoint. Am I likely to experience better sound from such a set up as opposed to what I currently have?

Thanks in advance.

Antonio
Suit yourself. You will never know truth until you try it for yourself.
 
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