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Small PC vs streamer

PappyBlue

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#1
I am currently using a small computer (Asus Vivo PC, similar to an Intel NUC) connected via USB to my Cambridge Audio 851D DAC. The "music server" is a desktop located in another room, running Jriver (the Vivo PC is also running Jriver). Could a music streamer (like a BlueSound Node or a Cambridge Audio 851N) improve the sound quality compared to the Vivo PC --> USB--> DAC ?

In addition, the Vivo PC is connected directly to my router (ethernet cable). A co-worker was telling me that I should insert a small unmanaged network switch between the router and the Vivo PC ?! I do not understand at all how it could improve the sound quality ?
 

RayDunzl

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#2
Could a music streamer (like a BlueSound Node or a Cambridge Audio 851N) improve the sound quality compared to the Vivo PC --> USB--> DAC ?
Opinion:

If you are having audible problems, maybe.

If they each deliver the same data to the DAC (they should), probably not.

A co-worker was telling me that I should insert a small unmanaged network switch between the router and the Vivo PC ?! I do not understand at all how it could improve the sound quality ?
Looks like no one else here does, either.
 

DonH56

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#3
Looks like no one else here does, either.
Only if it uses expensive magical audio-approved Ethernet cables from PC to switch and router, silly.

Before I get totally flamed, yes there is a scenario when an Ethernet cable can make a difference. Actually, I can think of a couple:

1. If there are power or ground issues when the cable is added (e.g. a ground loop).
2. Pulling the cable interrupts the data stream and provides near-silence instead of the desired audio output.
 

amirm

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#4
I am currently using a small computer (Asus Vivo PC, similar to an Intel NUC) connected via USB to my Cambridge Audio 851D DAC. The "music server" is a desktop located in another room, running Jriver (the Vivo PC is also running Jriver). Could a music streamer (like a BlueSound Node or a Cambridge Audio 851N) improve the sound quality compared to the Vivo PC --> USB--> DAC ?
No. The streamers are actually little computers, running full operating system. In my testing none of them outperformed my everyday laptop. If anything some of the beld more noise into the DACs from their switchmode power supplies!

In addition, the Vivo PC is connected directly to my router (ethernet cable). A co-worker was telling me that I should insert a small unmanaged network switch between the router and the Vivo PC ?! I do not understand at all how it could improve the sound quality ?
Definitely not. That is all folklore.
 
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#5
Before I get totally flamed, yes there is a scenario when an Ethernet cable can make a difference. Actually, I can think of a couple:

1. If there are power or ground issues when the cable is added (e.g. a ground loop).
2. Pulling the cable interrupts the data stream and provides near-silence instead of the desired audio output.
Flamed here... Nah... Not here...

The ground issue, there has been some research on another board that some switches have better/proper grounding that others might not have. So the small switch in the right setup could be beneficial.
 

amirm

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#6
Flamed here... Nah... Not here...

The ground issue, there has been some research on another board that some switches have better/proper grounding that others might not have. So the small switch in the right setup could be beneficial.
"Research?" What research? Did they measure the output of a DAC and show that the switch improved it?
 

amirm

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#8
There are other ways to tests for improvements due better grounding.
What are they and how is that they didn't care if the waveforms out of the DAC changed?
 

RayDunzl

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#9
What are they and how is that they didn't care if the waveforms out of the DAC changed?
Well, if it made the power amplifier mysteriously stop buzzing...

(I'm glad I don't have any problems here, even if I'm just ignorantly unaware of them, other than my 48Hz hole)
 
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#10
What are they and how is that they didn't care if the waveforms out of the DAC changed?
There are other ways to test for noise other than using the dac output. I think I might have said that already.

In fact some well respected people might even feel that not all things can be measured.
 

Sal1950

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#11
There are other ways to test for noise other than using the dac output. I think I might have said that already.

In fact some well respected people might even feel that not all things can be measured.
Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, Peter Pan, they all believe in magic dust too!
 

amirm

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#12
In fact some well respected people might even feel that not all things can be measured.
You made an electrical change. If you don't check the same, then you did not confirm your assumptions. You are just speculating and that is not research.
 

Thomas savage

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#13
There are other ways to test for noise other than using the dac output. I think I might have said that already.

In fact some well respected people might even feel that not all things can be measured.
What are the other ways to test for noise and grounding performance ?

Please explain , if you can point to research and provide a thorough description then maybe amir can learn these new ways and incorporate them in his testing regimen :)

I know you belive a usb dac need not care about computer noise because the computer noise should not be there..

Personally if I was designing a piece of audio hardware I’d want as much control over its performance within its expected target environment ( in this case domestic , public spaces) as possible. So robust psu and a usb interface that could cope with jo blogs plugging their standard noisy computer into it as I would not expect my customers to have to concern themselves with these kind of things.
 

Wombat

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#14
There are other ways to test for noise other than using the dac output. I think I might have said that already.

In fact some well respected people might even feel that not all things can be measured.

Yes, you are repeating your statement on other ways to test for noise and again didn't address the question. You seem to be missing the point.

Who are these some well respected people, what are their credentials and who respect them( credentials also)?

You tend to generalisations. :confused: Please be more informative.
 
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svart-hvitt

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#15
A PC is more flexible than a streamer (which is just a one-shot PC). Normally, a PC has more horsepower. And a PC is most of the time an intelligent construction if you buy it from Apple or equivalent.

I have a Mac Pro for music. Second hand it’s cheaper than some glorified streamers. I wanted to be able to use software like Roon and HQ Player to stream 24/96 to my DSP speakers (that otherwise would upsampling to 24/96) with all the flexibility of a PC instead of an inflexible streamer.
 
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#16
I bought from Allo, DigiOne and USBridge. Both are great small devices, and work pretty well. I did it not to improve the sound but to get rid of computer from my living room and from my work desk. They are small, dead silent, use small amount of energy. My 2 years doughtier is not interested with them ;). For me, in overall it was improvement. I have one PC separated room running now as Roon Core, and I use phone/tablet as remote control. Small, clean setup.
 

amirm

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#17
I bought from Allo, DigiOne and USBridge. Both are great small devices, and work pretty well. I did it not to improve the sound but to get rid of computer from my living room and from my work desk. They are small, dead silent, use small amount of energy. My 2 years doughtier is not interested with them ;). For me, in overall it was improvement. I have one PC separated room running now as Roon Core, and I use phone/tablet as remote control. Small, clean setup.
That's the main reason to get and use them.
 

svart-hvitt

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#18
GETTING RID OF THE COMPUTER???

The Mac Pro serves many uses. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

RayDunzl

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#20
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