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Very basic streaming setup - How to improve?

Shallow

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#1
I am a streaming newbie. Having been forced by Covid to work from home a lot lately, I decided to set up a very basic stereo system in my home office. My source is an iPad (5th gen), streaming Tidal (HiFi tier) using the headphone jack to an analog input in back of an 17-year-old Yamaha AVR receiver. The speakers are a pair of Fyne Audio bookshelf speakers (F300). The sound is OK, but I don't think it is noticeably better than Spotify (Premium tier). I am wondering if there is anything I can do to improve the streaming quality. Would adding a (budget) DAC help (I read that the DAC in an iPad is already quite good)?

Since this is for the office, I am not willing to spend a lot. Having said that, I am spending 8-9 hours a day in it, and so I am willing to consider any reasonable improvement. I am willing to change the receiver if it helps. But I like the tonal quality of the one I now use (leaning towards bright). The speakers are OK, and meet the space constraint.

Thanks.
 

AdamG247

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#2
I am a streaming newbie. Having been forced by Covid to work from home a lot lately, I decided to set up a very basic stereo system in my home office. My source is an iPad (5th gen), streaming Tidal (HiFi tier) using the headphone jack to an analog input in back of an 17-year-old Yamaha AVR receiver. The speakers are a pair of Fyne Audio bookshelf speakers (F300). The sound is OK, but I don't think it is noticeably better than Spotify (Premium tier). I am wondering if there is anything I can do to improve the streaming quality. Would adding a (budget) DAC help (I read that the DAC in an iPad is already quite good)?

Since this is for the office, I am not willing to spend a lot. Having said that, I am spending 8-9 hours a day in it, and so I am willing to consider any reasonable improvement. I am willing to change the receiver if it helps. But I like the tonal quality of the one I now use (leaning towards bright). The speakers are OK, and meet the space constraint.

Thanks.
Welcome Aboard @Shallow.
 
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Shallow

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Thread Starter #3
Thanks. I have been reading the reviews on this site for a while. But I have only decided to register yesterday.
 

Cahudson42

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#4
Since no replies yet, have you looked into PEQ/ Room Equalization? I'm not an Apple type, so do not know if iPad has equivalent (or versions) of EqualizerAPO, and or REW.

You could provide PEQ external to the iPad via a $110 Qudelix 5k USB connected to iPad, and then feed the AVR via Qudelix 3.5mm to RCA cable..

Hopefully, others using Apple will chime in with something more specific for you..
 

tw99

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#5
What sort of improvement are you looking for ? So far you've confirmed that [email protected] compares well with a "hi res" service, which is in line with expectations. I also believe that the Apple DACs are quite competent, so you're probably looking at speakers to change if you want to hear a real difference.
 

Wes

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#6
I'd say either buy new speakers or move the ones you have around.

It's not clear if you have made comparisons between this streaming setup with something else or not?
 
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Shallow

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Thread Starter #7
Thanks for all the replies. Sorry I was not being clear. I am particularly curious whether my basic streaming setup limits the potential of the sound that I can get from Tidal/Spotify. I read about the bit rates and the DACs' ability to process at different rates. I don't really understand it. So, with respect to streaming, I would like to know if I could get better sound if I get an external DAC and connect it to my iPad or my laptop.

As for buying new speakers, it is in my plan. But with the current Covid situation where I live, I cannot yet go out to listen to a few of them.
 

Eetu

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#8
Since we don't know exactly how good your IPad's analog output is can't say for sure how much of an audible improvement there would be. In any case.. a DAC usually has only a small impact on sound, compared to the impact your speakers, room and amp has.

If you want to upgrade to an external DAC I would look for something that offers good objective performance but also extra features/usability/connectivity over your current setup.

My go-to DAC recommendation is Topping E30. Very good performance, display, volume control, remote. I used to have one and no complaints whatsoever.

If you also want a separate streamer, I would suggest a Raspberry Pi 4 in a FLIRC case. Since you are a Tidal user, Volumio has Tidal Connect or you could use AirPlay.

RPi4 + Topping E30 is roughly ~200€/USD.

Or for a one-box streamer-DAC check out the Allo Boss2 player recently reviewed here.
 
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#9
My 2 cents, because there are many ways to improve:

1) buy a halfway decent DAC (e.g. Topping) and connect the analog output to the AMP. Then buy a Raspberry 4 (2Gb is enough), connect it via an USB cable to the DAC (any kind of cable is fine here, don't waste money on "audiophile digital cables") and install Moode on the pi. Then you can stream local MP3/FLAC files which are stored on a drive in your local network or stream Tidal, or play internet radio streams. Use any kind of webbrowser to steer the streamer.

2) If the Yamaha has SPDIF digital in, follow step 1) but also buy a pi hat with SPDIF digital out and use that one instead of USB. Concerning cables see 1)

3) Replace the amp, buy one with a digital input, the rest is identical.


I set up a pi4/Moode in less than 5 mins after booting first time and I am streaming now to a Topping DX3 pro until the amp I ordered a week ago arrives. Works like a charm and I am actually a bit disappointed because I have nothing left to play with or to improve. It's simply running.
 

Wes

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#10
Apple usually has very good DACs in their products, but you could buy an outboard DAC with a return privilege and do a listening test.

Gains in SQ, if any, are not likely to be major.
 

AdamG247

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#11
Thanks for all the replies. Sorry I was not being clear. I am particularly curious whether my basic streaming setup limits the potential of the sound that I can get from Tidal/Spotify. I read about the bit rates and the DACs' ability to process at different rates. I don't really understand it. So, with respect to streaming, I would like to know if I could get better sound if I get an external DAC and connect it to my iPad or my laptop.

As for buying new speakers, it is in my plan. But with the current Covid situation where I live, I cannot yet go out to listen to a few of them.
I use an iPad Pro to stream majority of my tunes. Just added a Qudelix DAC/Amp/PEQ device. Very happy with results and let’s me Eq and PEQ each set of headphones. See review here: https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/qudelix-5k-bluetooth-dac-headphone-amp.17386/
 
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