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looking for a streamer/DAC with Airplay 2 + wifi to connect Adam active speakers

oventurini

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hello,
i am looking for a reasonably priced streamer/DAC with wifi. I absolutely need Airplay 2 (being on apple ecosystem) and would have loved balanced outputs to hook it up with my to Adam active speakers. but balanced will inevitably push the price up and it is not key right now.
I am looking at:
Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 but a little expensive
and:
Matrix Audio Element I ou M but I can't see anywhere if it is airplay 2

then a dumb question but if I get a streamer with a DAC, will the later take over an iPhone DAC?

thanks a lot for your inputs.

Olivier
 

pjug

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Does it have to be a single box? You might consider doing something like the bluesound node 2i streamer and DAC of your choice.
 
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oventurini

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thanks a lot for your replies. let me look into these. do I need a DAC if my primarily source will be a iOS device (iPhone or iPad)? will it improve the sound?
 
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oventurini

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I just looked at the raspberry PI option. it is a mini computer card I need to place in a box. not sure I have the skills for that.
and the JDS Labs Element II is headphone preamp. I suppose that it would work with active speakers (no impedance issues?)

the bluesound node 2i is very attractive. I am definitely looking into it.
has anyone used the Matrix Audio devices I mentioned ?
 

acbarn

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thanks a lot for your replies. let me look into these. do I need a DAC if my primarily source will be a iOS device (iPhone or iPad)? will it improve the sound?

Unless it has a built-in DAC, you can’t connect a streamer directly to your monitors. So your signal path would be source>streamer>DAC>monitors. If you need a volume control for your monitors, you’d add a preamp between the DAC and the monitors. Most DAC/amp combos have both headphone and preamp outputs. So one nice setup might be the Raspberry Pi into a JDS Labs Element II into your powered monitors.
 

acbarn

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I just looked at the raspberry PI option. it is a mini computer card I need to place in a box. not sure I have the skills for that.
and the JDS Labs Element II is headphone preamp. I suppose that it would work with active speakers (no impedance issues?)

the bluesound node 2i is very attractive. I am definitely looking into it.
has anyone used the Matrix Audio devices I mentioned ?
The Raspberry Pi would take a bit of research (YouTube is your friend), but it’s really quite simple, like a 20 minute build from start to finish. It’s the least expensive high quality streaming solution currently available. If budget is of less concern, the Bluesound is more of a plug-and-play solution, though the sound and reliability won’t be any better than the RPi4.

The Element has both a headphone amp and preamp outs, switchable between the two.
 
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oventurini

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The Raspberry Pi would take a bit of research (YouTube is your friend), but it’s really quite simple, like a 20 minute build from start to finish. It’s the least expensive high quality streaming solution currently available. If budget is of less concern, the Bluesound is more of a plug-and-play solution, though the sound and reliability won’t be any better than the RPi4.

The Element has both a headphone amp and preamp outs, switchable between the two.
ok let me look more thoroughly into it then. is it Airplay2?
 

acbarn

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ok let me look more thoroughly into it then. is it Airplay2?
Ropieee XL uses Shairport which is an Airplay emulator. AFAIK, it doesn't support streaming to more than one device at a time. There's no issue streaming to it from Airplay 2 devices though (I use an iPad Pro and an iPhone 12 Pro Max).

https://ropieee.org/xl/
 
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Behrend

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The Airport Express is capable of Airplay 2, but there is a little fiddling required because some software versions distorted the audio output. The topic is discussed Here
It has a Toslink Out. You would still need a proper DAC afterwards
 
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oventurini

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thank you #behrend. it is odd in fact to see that there aren't many cost effective solutions using either airplay or worse, Apple Music. I suppose it comes from Apple's legendary closed ecosystem. not very clever of them given the millions of devices they have sold. I can't be the only one looking.
 
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oventurini

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Just so I understand: does any DAC or preamp designed for headphones work with active speakers? thank you
 

acbarn

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pjug

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If you will be using Apple Music service for the streaming content then I would look at the Sonos Port over the Bluesound, since Sonos has Apple Music and so you can use the full functionality of the streamer. With the Bluesound you would be limited to Airplay, and so paying for the BluOS without really being able to use it.
 
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oventurini

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If you will be using Apple Music service for the streaming content then I would look at the Sonos Port over the Bluesound, since Sonos has Apple Music and so you can use the full functionality of the streamer. With the Bluesound you would be limited to Airplay, and so paying for the BluOS without really being able to use it.

the Sonos Port was my initial idea as I have a bunch of sonos speakers already but it is so badly reviewed:
https://www.whathifi.com/reviews/sonos-port
it makes me wonder.
 

pjug

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the Sonos Port was my initial idea as I have a bunch of sonos speakers already but it is so badly reviewed:
https://www.whathifi.com/reviews/sonos-port
it makes me wonder.
I wouldn't put much stock in that review. If the Port has the features you want I bet it will sound fine, especially if you use the digital output to an external DAC. I didn't realize Sonos eliminated the optical output though; the Port just has coax digital out. Maybe someone on here has the Port and can comment. @Sophoheilip did a teardown report, so maybe can offer some thoughts?

Also, you can probably still find the Sonos Connect Gen 2 that works with Sonos S2, but this won't have airplay.
 

Vincent Kars

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Maybe Bluesound Node 2i?
At least it supports airplay2
Question is if you want to stream > 16/44.1
If so, I wonder if Airplay can do this.
 

Behrend

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There also is the Primare Prisma NP5. It has AirPlay 2, DLNA, Chromecast, Roon, Spotify, ... and only digital outputs.
because of the small volume production the price is quite high thou
 
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