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Looking for cheap, well-engineered streamer-DAC-preamp recommendations for XLR-input active monitors

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#1
I intend to switch my current passives out for active monitors. I'd also like my rest of the digital setup to keep up with the progress (not in sound, but in amenities). I have a pretty clear idea of what I'm looking for: a wi-fi streamer (capable of handling common services like Spotify and possible Tidal + Roon/Qobuz) with DAC and XLR pre-outs for volume control of the active monitors. Allo's Katana seems like a no brainer, but I'd strongly prefer XLR-outs and they don't come with XLR outs out-of-the-box (if I'm forced to go XLR with active monitors, I'd much rather the whole chain be XLR). I'd also highly prefer room correction ability and a half-width size. An one-box option if possible would be nice too, that doesn't need a wired connection to a PC.

The product that I've found to come closest to my requirements is this streamer from Abacus in Germany. It has XLR pre-outs, and has what seems like a very nice implementation of Acourate that's specifically designed by the creator for them. The half-width size and remote control is also nice, as is the ability to just hook the UMIK-1 straight to the RPi. My issue is that when UMIK-1 and Acourate is bundled in it costs nearly 1000 euro before VAT deduction (I live in South-East Asia). The DAC board also has never been measured too. And I'm very skeptical about paying this much for a RPi implementation.

The Lindemann Limetree Network also looks nice, has DSD support, is compact, but only has fixed RCA line-outs. If it were at least an XLR line-out I would have considered going with it and adding an XLR line preamp like the SPL Volume2. The UX is something I want - playback selection through iPad (I have a spare one lying at home), fuss free. Also not that cheap - especially since it looks like another RPi box - and hasn't really been measured independently. No native room correction function as far as I can see. This is short of XLR output and native room-correction ability. Closed-source app is another concern (software support in the long term).

The MiniDSP SHD is another option obviously, it has Dirac and the 4 outputs allow me flexibility to add a dual-sub setup in the far future. It has also been measured by Amir. However, it is more than I want to pay (my budget is roughly $800), is full-width and I'm not too sure how to fit it into my setup - both literally in size and whether it suits my application. Also not too sure about the integration with Spotify and Tidal/Qobuz - could someone enlighten me on the situation?

Essentially I want a box that can handle:

- wired input from a music server/NAS (optional because I don't see myself taking this option in the near future)
- streaming by wi-fi for Spotify and possibly Tidal + Roon/Qobuz
- at least XLR line-out, if not pre-out
- half-width form factor
- roughly $800 or much cheaper is fine too without compromised engineering
- built-in room correction ability without needing a PC to be connected
- has a good iPad interface - Android too preferably
- physical remote control preferably - especially for the volume knob
- wayyyy down the list is ability to handle DSD - just because the likes of Topping and SMSL can handle it trivially.

Or should I just get a good XLR pre-out DAC with optical and then hook a Chromecast Audio's optical output to it?
 
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helloworld

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#2
I intend to switch my current passives out for active monitors. I'd also like my rest of the digital setup to keep up with the progress (not in sound, but in amenities). I have a pretty clear idea of what I'm looking for: a wi-fi streamer (capable of handling common services like Spotify and possible Tidal + Roon/Qobuz) with DAC and XLR pre-outs for volume control of the active monitors. Allo's Katana seems like a no brainer, but I'd strongly prefer XLR-outs and they don't come with XLR outs out-of-the-box (if I'm forced to go XLR with active monitors, I'd much rather the whole chain be XLR). I'd also highly prefer room correction ability and a half-width size. An one-box option if possible would be nice too, that doesn't need a wired connection to a PC.

The product that I've found to come closest to my requirements is this streamer from Abacus in Germany. It has XLR pre-outs, and has what seems like a very nice implementation of Acourate that's specifically designed by the creator for them. The half-width size and remote control is also nice, as is the ability to just hook the UMIK-1 straight to the RPi. My issue is that when UMIK-1 and Acourate is bundled in it costs nearly 1000 euro before VAT deduction (I live in South-East Asia). The DAC board also has never been measured too. And I'm very skeptical about paying this much for a RPi implementation.

The Lindemann Limetree Network also looks nice, has DSD support, is compact, but only has fixed RCA line-outs. If it were at least an XLR line-out I would have considered going with it and adding an XLR line preamp like the SPL Volume2. The UX is something I want - playback selection through iPad (I have a spare one lying at home), fuss free. Also not that cheap - especially since it looks like another RPi box - and hasn't really been measured independently. No native room correction function as far as I can see.

The MiniDSP SHD is another option obviously, it has Dirac and the 4 outputs allow me flexibility to add a dual-sub setup in the far future. It has also been measured by Amir. However, it is more than I want to pay (my budget is roughly $800), is full-width and I'm not too sure how to fit it into my setup - both literally in size and whether it suits my application. Also not too sure about the integration with Spotify and Tidal/Qobuz - could someone enlighten me on the situation?

Essentially I want a box that can handle:

- wired input from a music server/NAS (optional because I don't see myself taking this option in the near future)
- streaming by wi-fi for Spotify and possibly Tidal + Roon/Qobuz
- at least XLR line-out, if not pre-out
- half-width form factor
- roughly $800 or much cheaper is fine too without compromised engineering
- built-in room correction ability without needing a PC to be connected
- has a good iPad interface - Android too preferably
- physical remote control preferably - especially for the volume knob
- wayyyy down the list is ability to handle DSD - just because the likes of Topping and SMSL can handle it trivially.

Or should I just get a good XLR pre-out DAC with optical and then hook a Chromecast Audio's optical output to it?
Forget the room correction and all in one feature. Go get a rasperberry with volumio and a smsl su8 v2.
 
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#3
Forget the room correction and all in one feature. Go get a rasperberry with volumio and a smsl su8 v2.
Room correction seems like the hardest thing to find for my needs, and yet is the thing that'd have the biggest verifiable effect on the sound. I'd really strongly prefer having it so that measurement and equalisation is possible - and that all these corrections are made at the streamer level instead of requiring constant connection to a PC.
 

helloworld

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#4
Room correction seems like the hardest thing to find for my needs, and yet is the thing that'd have the biggest verifiable effect on the sound. I'd really strongly prefer having it so that measurement and equalisation is possible - and that all these corrections are made at the streamer level instead of requiring constant connection to a PC.
why not buying IK Multimedia ARC System 2.5 ? You dont need to use it every time, you only need to use it once your finish setting up your speaker location.
 
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#6
why not buying IK Multimedia ARC System 2.5 ? You dont need to use it every time, you only need to use it once your finish setting up your speaker location.
ARC doesn't seem to be as well-reviewed as Dirac or Acourate.

You could put a MiniDSP nanoDIGI 2x8 B between your source and your DAC.
By that do you mean a streamer -> nanoDIGI -> DAC? Are there measurements for it? The 2x4HD ones look a bit marginal, the SHD looks great, not sure where the NanoDIGI falls.
 
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Krunok

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#7
Room correction seems like the hardest thing to find for my needs, and yet is the thing that'd have the biggest verifiable effect on the sound. I'd really strongly prefer having it so that measurement and equalisation is possible - and that all these corrections are made at the streamer level instead of requiring constant connection to a PC.
BruteFIR plugin for Volumio is working perfectly well, PC is only required to make measurements and filters, after that you don't need it at all.

And yes, if done properly it has very noticeable effect on sound quality. :)
 
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#8
ARC doesn't seem to be as well-reviewed at Dirac or Acourate.



By that do you mean a streamer -> nanoDIGI -> DAC? Are there measurements for it? The 2x4HD ones look a bit marginal, the SHD looks great, not sure where the NanoDIGI falls.
Looks like the NanoDIGI is a baby version of the SHD. The 2x4HD is a dac, it outputs analogue audio.

And yes, something like an Auralic Aries Mini > SPDIF > NanoDIGI > SPDIF > SMSL

Ofcourse a Raspberry Pi is another option.
 

soundwave76

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#9
BlueSound Node2i and active Genelecs with inbuilt (!!) superb room correction is a popular combination here in Finland, the 'land of Genelecs'. :) Node2i has coax out, which you can connect to Genelec's AES digital in. I have this combo and it's great!
 
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#10
I have an Allo digione feeding a Focusrite Clarett using Audirvana. Audirvana allows you to incorporate AU plugins like the well-received Sonarworks. If you get the Clarett 2Pre version, the whole setup including software should cost less than $800.
 
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#11
BlueSound Node2i and active Genelecs with inbuilt (!!) superb room correction is a popular combination here in Finland, the 'land of Genelecs'. :) Node2i has coax out, which you can connect to Genelec's AES digital in. I have this combo and it's great!
The 8330 is an option I was considering, but its a bit small, yet the 8340 is out of budget for speakers. I was under the impression the room correction function needs a separate GLM box, which is sold separately right?
 

soundwave76

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#12
Yes, you can/should buy them in a bundle. For example Thomann sells the 8330+GLM 1699€. Thomann offers exceptionally good return options, so give these a shot. I guarantee you will like them! :)
 
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#14
Yes, you can/should buy them in a bundle. For example Thomann sells the 8330+GLM 1699€. Thomann offers exceptionally good return options, so give these a shot. I guarantee you will like them! :)
Yes, I've bought stuff from Thomann before. Highly recommended. Looking to get an active monitor from HEDD, Genelec, Neumann or KS Digital - all quite compelling for their own reasons. The 8330 + GLM bundle was something I was considering, though I'd prefer the 8340 (a bit too much of a stretch price-wise, unless you know of someone selling it at a huge discount) for my needs.

This DP3 from SMSL is relatively inexpensive. And works somewhat close to what you want except the ROON / Tidal part, I'm not too sure. But it work wireless or networked.

http://www.smsl-audio.com/productshow.asp?id=145
This is like some of the options I linked in OP, seems nearly perfect. Only the RCA-out puts me off because I'd need to go RCA-XLR, as well as question marks over streaming services (though it seems to work with local NAS perfectly fine). Thanks! Didn't know SMSL had something that close to my needs.
 

soundwave76

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#15
You could also start with the 8330 and later add a Genelec sub to it. I had the 8330 first without the sub and then added the smallest 7350. The sub calibration works like a charm with the GLM and the result is amazing!
 
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#16
You could put a MiniDSP nanoDIGI 2x8 B between your source and your DAC.
I have a nanoDIGI, you can only do some EQ but no phase correction. Phase correction is speaker correction, not room correction, but still something I would advise to do. Anyway with the nanoDIGI you can use 10 PEQ per channel (Peak, High-shelf or Low-shelf) plus a High-Pass filter.

A miniDSP OpenDRC-DI allows you to load any impulse created with RePhase (as long as you don't use too many taps).
 
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#17
Frankly the Allo Katana seems like a solid choice. Is there anyone making it with XLR output in a nice casing and assembly (akin to what March Audio is doing, but for Allo)?
 
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#19
May I ask why do you choose allo katana over rasperberry pi + smsl su8 v2?
As I said, a one-box solution for streaming and DA-conversion, and it has been measured by Amir.

But I acknowledge that RPi + Volumio + BruteFIR is increasingly attractive - Allo seems to be doing the same thing just in one box.
 
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#20
Have you looked at the Hifiberry Dac+ Pro XLR? That's a one-box solution with streaming and any DSP you're willing to throw at it. Has XLR outputs, runs Volumio and BruteFIR, can be had with steel case. This solution is much cheaper than your $800 budget- if you were okay with two boxes, you could run a bare RPi to a D50 and be set.

I have the digi+ pro and have no complaints. Setup wasn't a hassle and I can stream from any device on the network (iPad, phone, computer, GF's stuff, etc.) and play directly off of a connected HDD music library. It's really an amazing little system. I already had a DAC (with poor USB implementation) and wanted to feed it SPDIF so the digi+ pro was my best option.

https://www.hifiberry.com/shop/bundles/hifiberry-dac-xlr-bundle/
 
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