• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Point of higher priced streamer?

Joined
Dec 11, 2020
Messages
47
Likes
8
#1
Hello,

Assuming I have separate DAC, and I just want to play songs from iPad by Airplay feature.
(Playing songs from iPhone local files, not streaming services)

In this case, I need a streamer to receive music from my iPad -> DAC.

What’s the point of high price streamer? I’m bit surprised that some streamers are very high priced.
(For reference, I understand high priced DAC, at least it colors sound in certain ways, and if one likes it, so be it.
But in case of Streamer, streamer itself is neutral and no room for coloring the music... as far as I understand?)

So, from my understanding, there should be no sound quality difference, as long as it delivers.

(Streaming reliability and build quality, I can see it but I do not see advantages in terms of sound quality.)

Again, I totally understand better casing, design factor, brand name and such. But some of them kind of say there is sound quality difference between streamers.

But my question is more about the situation once the price point pass certain points like

BlueSound node2i vs $5-6K vs $20k+

One of responses I receive from Importer is “more powerful streamers present the dac with a better cleaner data packet which produces audible improvements”.

I don’t know. I need to research more on this claim. If this claim were right, then it’s like my Router should have some impacts on sound quality too?

Am I missing something? If so, please share some wisdom.


PS if it‘s about the brand name / design factor, I also understand. It can be $1mil why not. I’m taking about technical aspect of sound quality.
 

RayDunzl

Major Contributor
Central Scrutinizer
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
11,091
Likes
10,987
Location
Riverview FL
#3
One of responses I receive from Importer is “more powerful streamers present the dac with a better cleaner data packet which produces audible improvements”.

I don’t know. I need to research more on this claim. If this claim were right, then it’s like my Router should have some impacts on sound quality too?
Each bit of data is, in the end, interpreted as a "1" or a "0".

If the gear can pass that hurdle, there isn't much more you can ask for.

Just like this message, passed from my keyboad -> USB -> CPU -> TCP/IP -> ethernet -> router -> Cable Modem -> concentrator -> switches and intercity/intercontinental fibers -> (add a bunch more steps) -> your screen.

Did it make it?
 

RayDunzl

Major Contributor
Central Scrutinizer
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
11,091
Likes
10,987
Location
Riverview FL
#5
If the gear can pass that hurdle, there isn't much more you can ask for.
If your DAC receives those digits from a streamer via S/PDIF instead of USB, it will be somewhat dependent upon the streamer's clock (still unlikely to present a problem).

I use S/PDIF, and don't worry about it.
 
OP
S
Joined
Dec 11, 2020
Messages
47
Likes
8
Thread Starter #6
You are not missing anything. There is no difference audibly to other streamers. Just features, looks, etc.
Thank you.

As I mentioned, one importer told me that better ones send “cleaner“ data packet. :rolleyes: (... A**ender dealer)
Features, better app, casing, hypes, just playing to be unobtainable etc - all of these I understand.
 
OP
S
Joined
Dec 11, 2020
Messages
47
Likes
8
Thread Starter #7
If your DAC receives those digits from a streamer via S/PDIF instead of USB, it will be somewhat dependent upon the streamer's clock (still unlikely to present a problem).

I use S/PDIF, and don't worry about it.
I use USB... and I am not sure that clock thing can also generate audible (even a slightest bit, talking about audiophile grade difference) difference.

I’m little bit surprised when there is no reliable simple good streamer only in the market... closet one is Node2i.
Interesting thing is one of the most common questions that I find (also question for me) is,
”how to bypass Node2i’s internal DAC because I already have my DAC?” It seems there are many people who simply want a streamer with budget friendly price.Auralic has increased its price to audiophile grade.
Even Matrix Sabre... to get the streaming feature, I need to go for element X that is +$1,000.

At this price point, for a person like me I can buy new macbook air(no fan) and controls with existing iPad with Sidecar.
 

BillG

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 12, 2018
Messages
1,645
Likes
2,041
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
#8
I’m little bit surprised when there is no reliable simple good streamer only in the market.
There was, and still is, if one doesn't mind refurbished: Chromecast Audio.

The Chromecast Video dongles can be used as well, but they require an audio extractor of some sort to be incorporated into a pure music system.

Forgoing the above, Harman manufactures a Chromecast compatible streamer with digital output. It cost more, but it's cheaper than other Chromecast compatibles I've seen with digital:

https://www.worldwidestereo.com/products/harman-kardon-omni-adapt-wireless-hd-stereo-receiver

I think there are some DTS Play-Fi streamers that are rather inexpensive, but I don't know anything about them really. Anyone else care to mention them?
 
Last edited:

Willem

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
2,097
Likes
3,210
#9
I am more than happy with the Chromecast Audio. I use the optical digital output in my ambitious main system, and the analogue output from the internal DAC in a less ambitious system. Sound quality is just perfect. I hoarded a number of them when they were being discontinued, and I am hoping they will last me a decade or so. The critical thing about these streamers is app support, which is why bespoke streamers from small manufacturers do not cut it. No streaming service provider will bother developing apps for them, and no gear manufacturer can afford to develop apps for more than a few services, and maintain them over time. So, it is either a streamer from one of the big manufacturers like Google, Apple or Sonos or one of their licensees, or a browser based solution.
 

Glasvegas

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
222
Likes
138
#10
“The critical thing about these streamers is app support”

Good point. Manufacturers seem to use customers as ”beta testers“ for their apps, including those supplied with expensive products. The exception is maybe a mature app like BluOS.
 
Last edited:

acbarn

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
654
Likes
1,446
Location
California
#12
I’m little bit surprised when there is no reliable simple good streamer only in the market... closet one is Node2i
A Raspberry Pi 4 in a Flirc case running Ropieee XL is an excellent streamer for ~$100.

Edit: @drfous beat me to it.
 

goofball

New Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2020
Messages
1
Likes
1
#13
After browsing lots of streaming solutions, I ended up streaming Airplay through a Roku Ultra connected by HDMI to a Sony TV set, which in turn is connected to a Sony preamp via Toslink. It's not as fancy as other streaming solutions like Bluesound or Sonos, and the bit rate is probably not what one would call "Hi Res Audio", but for Airplay it's functional and a terrific value.
 

sergeauckland

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Messages
2,092
Likes
4,903
Location
Suffolk UK
#14
I am more than happy with the Chromecast Audio. I use the optical digital output in my ambitious main system, and the analogue output from the internal DAC in a less ambitious system. Sound quality is just perfect. I hoarded a number of them when they were being discontinued, and I am hoping they will last me a decade or so. The critical thing about these streamers is app support, which is why bespoke streamers from small manufacturers do not cut it. No streaming service provider will bother developing apps for them, and no gear manufacturer can afford to develop apps for more than a few services, and maintain them over time. So, it is either a streamer from one of the big manufacturers like Google, Apple or Sonos or one of their licensees, or a browser based solution.
As I wrote in another thread, that's why I still use a Squeezebox Touch with LMS server. The SBT hardware has been discontinued, but there are lots available used, and there are lots of alternatives like a Raspberry Pi or pretty much any tablet as an endpoint.

What appeals to me most is that the server software, which is really what matters, not the hardware, is NOT supported by a manufacturer, large or small, but by an army of enthusiasts who are regularly updating it, and keeping it current with the vagaries of streaming sources like the BBC who keep changing their formats. They also support Spotify, Tidal etc etc for those who use these, and the server can run on pretty much any old bit of computer hardware one may have lying around, as it's not critical.

I absolutely loathe the way manufacturers render stuff obsolete once sales for that item have dropped off, whereas LMS just continues, independent of hardware.

S.
 

julian_hughes

Active Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2020
Messages
163
Likes
169
#15
Hello,

Assuming I have separate DAC, and I just want to play songs from iPad by Airplay feature.
(Playing songs from iPhone local files, not streaming services)

In this case, I need a streamer to receive music from my iPad -> DAC.

What’s the point of high price streamer? I’m bit surprised that some streamers are very high priced.
.....
Am I missing something? If so, please share some wisdom.


PS if it‘s about the brand name / design factor, I also understand. It can be $1mil why not. I’m taking about technical aspect of sound quality.
I use an OrangePi One in one room and an OrangePi PC2 in another. Factor in the cost of a couple of good quality 8GB microSD cards, two power supplies, 2 cases, 2 heatsinks and it must have cost almost $75 US! And the data streams they send to my DACs are verifiably exactly the same as if those same bits were sent by a glittering, shining, hulking, megabuck, handcrafted streamer from the most prestigious boutique manufacturer. Or my phone. To be serious, what you get at this very cheapest end of the market is audibly verifiably non-different from anything else that works properly but you do need to be able to set it up from scratch and perhaps maintain it (if it performs other tasks you may want to keep the software updated). When you spend more you get the convenience that someone else has put a lot of hours into testing a particular combination of hardware, software and reliability and arrived at the best combination of ease of use and compatibility. Maybe they make their own smartphone and web app too. Probably they will offer you advice as well. But the basic functionality, the vital bit, can be done reliably for maybe $40 per room.
 

bandit

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 29, 2020
Messages
38
Likes
34
Location
Italy
#16
You are not missing anything. There is no difference audibly to other streamers. Just features, looks, etc.
Hi Amir, is this also true for computers? I have a Mac mini hooked up by usb to a Matrix Audio x-sabre pro, which I bought after reading your review ;) and was wondering whether it would be a good investment to buy a streamer as well. I'm a little concerned with signal pollution, is it always true that bits are just bits?
 

RayDunzl

Major Contributor
Central Scrutinizer
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
11,091
Likes
10,987
Location
Riverview FL
#17
is it always true that bits are just bits?
Generally, yes.

Edge cases may exist.

Overall, for digital anything, if it works at all, it's working.
 

Kal Rubinson

Major Contributor
Industry Insider
Joined
Mar 23, 2016
Messages
2,889
Likes
4,205
Location
NYC/CT
#18
You are not missing anything. There is no difference audibly to other streamers. Just features, looks, etc.
........................and processing capability. Issues with high resolution, multichannel and DSP distinguish among streamers in terms of capability.
 

direstraitsfan98

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 1, 2018
Messages
782
Likes
1,061
#19
........................and processing capability. Issues with high resolution, multichannel and DSP distinguish among streamers in terms of capability.
“If there is any small fly in the ointment, it is that the PF's very powerful Ryzen CPU isn't all-powerful. Yes, it played everything I tried in stereo with the Mytek and in stereo and multichannel with the exaSound e38/II, including PCM up to 24/352.8 and DSD up to DSD256; these DACs can handle all those formats at their native bitrates. The Okto dac8 PRO, however, is limited to top data rates of 32/192 (PCM) and DSD128, so music with source bitrates exceeding those limits requires Roon to downsample. With PCM, the Pink Faun did fine, even with other functions, like speaker management (channel level and distance adjustments), turned on. But downsampling multichannel files >DSD128 wasn't smooth, although stereo up to DSD256 was OK.”

You reviewed this. I forget the price I think it was $20,000 or something.
 
Top Bottom