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Why do streaming audio players seem to be useless and overpriced bling to me?

I don't think a streamer needs a DAC; just digital output (Optical, HDMI, etc).
Sure, but if streamer he isn't complex (aka profitable) enough to really productize on it's own / be a separate, what other component are you going to be combined with?
 
Have to say that I think that both the WiiM and EverSolo streamer products are great... I just don't need one particularly. They aren't ridiculously expensive like some of the audiophool things people with more money than sense pair with their super expensive audiophile PCs and daft woo network gear. If you want something that you can just plug in, switch on and play, and with good functionality, they are hard to beat at the price. Hopefully it won't be long before they can load some kind pre-measured room correction file as well as the current relatively basic EQ stuff. More likely on the bigger EverSolo type form factor, I guess...Here's hoping.
 
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Sure, but if streamer he isn't complex (aka profitable) enough to really productize on it's own / be a separate, what other component are you going to be combined with?
Are you saying a built-in DAC is a value-added feature? I suppose, but many could also just use a DAC/Amp.
 
I would like to see a cheaper WiiM streamer without the DAC as part of their product line too. Some people obviously would prefer to use their own. HDMI out too for AVRs...
 
The Beelink PCs are about the same size as the WiiM streamers so not particularly bulky. I use them screwed to the back of monitors (VESA mount), with USB output to Topping DACs. You could just use the headphone jack to your amp I suppose.

To clear a queue on Hifi Cast I just select another track. There's probably other ways too.
Weird. That does nothing for me.
 
Strange. What happens when you select a track?

When I select a track, it clears the queue and plays. (As opposed to adding a track to the queue obviously.)

We are kinda off topic here...Maybe you could ask the dev on the Hifi cast forum. He's very helpful. It is certainly not something I experience.
Sorry I can't be more help.
 
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Because:

a) people love to spend money on their systems and many believe that £000 spent at any point in a system (especially on a nice shiny box) must bring with it some audible benefits
b) Sometimes a PC hardwired to a DAC is not convenient or achievable. I personally have a loud (fan) laptop that I can run into my DAC but its constantly blowing, must be consuming lots of power and I can instead use a Wiim Mini straight into my DAC which is far more convenient and energy efficient. And a far nicer interface overall.

I would agree that full size expensive streamers are unnecessary for many in this day and age but there is very much a place for lower cost mini streamers.
It should be pointed out that there are a number of fanless mini Windows/Linux PCs (like my Mele Quieter 3) which will simultaneously wire into the TV monitor set via HDM, and the stereo via USB. They can additionally run things like Netflix in multichannel. Mine cost $250, and is completely silent and controlled via a $20 Logitech wireless keyboard. It also is used as an internet browser and will run Dirac, JRiver, EAPO, none of which to my knowledge run on Wiim.
 
Indeed. Not quite as straightforward or minimalist as the WiiM, but ultimately way better functionality. Just saw this one earlier today...

 
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It should be pointed out that there are a number of fanless mini Windows/Linux PCs (like my Mele Quieter 3) which will simultaneously wire into the TV monitor set via HDM, and the stereo via USB. They can additionally run things like Netflix in multichannel. Mine cost $250, and is completely silent and controlled via a $20 Logitech wireless keyboard. It also is used as am internet browser and will run Dirac, JRiver, EAPO, none of which to my knowledge run on Wiim.
Oh yes, completely get that. Just pointing out to OP why some people might not want to use a noisy PC this way (and therefore get a streamer).
 
I can't wrap my head around why anyone would buy a streamer. A streamer box seems to be some sort of hardware based interface for streaming audio services plus a DAC or other output interface. Maybe you can also use it as the front end for a NAS device. Am I missing something?

To me it seems that you can get all of the same access to streaming services, files, etc. and more using a laptop and a DAC, but would end up spending much, much less and not be constrained to using a teeny tiny screen. I play streaming audio all the time via a computer. I cannot think of any streaming audio services that are NOT available on a computer. And said computer does not need to be "fast" or expensive by any means.

Why are audio components for accessing streaming services costing several thousands of dollars seemingly popular?
There are two primary reasons: convenience, and because they often look pretty in a stack.

Using a computer certainly works well, but is often highly inconvenient. If your audio equipment is, for example, set up in a manner as to be "aesthetically pleasing," do you want to have a laptop or peripherals out where you can see them? If you want to set up a hidden server, you'll still need a way to remote in, which adds another layer of technical skill to set up an manage.

And many of them just look nice. Remember: audio is based as much on emotion as logic. People buy stuff because it looks pretty or sounds different, even if performance is objectively worse.

Convenience alone justifies the existence of audio streamers. Barnum explains the price of many of them.
 
Are you saying a built-in DAC is a value-added feature? I suppose, but many could also just use a DAC/Amp.
I do! Look at the great built-in DACs in computers, external USB sound cards, the Qudelix-5K... and in some amps (see the rolling rack picture above - those Sonance amps have digital inputs & internal DACs; see the cabinet - those WiiM amps have DACs; all smart speakers have DACS + amps). I think the nature of a streamer is much closer to that of a DAC than a DAC is to an amplifier, design-wise. The market seems to agree with this assessment, given the number of streamers with built in DACs vs. amps with DACs. And, if SMSL, Topping, and FiiO can package and market performant DACs with balanced outputs for $100-$150, that means the cost of the materials & design is ~$50-$75. Adding streamer chips or DSP horsepower (less than the cost of an Rpi 2 Zero 2 ($15)) is a rounding error. Where to put the DAC - amp or upstream - seems to be a question of which is more likely to burn out faster or be obsolete more quickly. This convergence is a great thing for all of us! More $$ for speakers!!!
 
Um, maybe because the last I looked a smart phone costs more than the sort of laptop that is required! I can also use a $200 miniPC and a $150 monitor. But, yes, you could use a smartphone to stream content as long as you can stream it to a playback endpoint that is connected to your system(s).
Yes !
And especially given the crappy search tools of streaming platforms and the even crappier metadata provided by record publishers with their recordings, it is simply not possible to do complex searches on a cell phone screen, from the application provided by the platform, such as from the Roon or Audirvana remote controls...
This is where the keyboard, mouse and a decent-sized screen become necessary...
A small laptop, a mini PC or a Macmini connected to a DAC (with a remote screen with screen mirroring for the mini PC and the Macmini) are preferable in my opinion to any hifi streamer that is not better in terms of sound and whose tiny screen is invisible from the listening place... And then, a small computer dedicated just for that, is scalable, allows you to change online services as you want... and perhaps silent on top of that... given the few resources required to play music... if we do convolution it's another story...
 
I do! Look at the great built-in DACs in computers, external USB sound cards, the Qudelix-5K... and in some amps (see the rolling rack picture above - those Sonance amps have digital inputs & internal DACs; see the cabinet - those WiiM amps have DACs; all smart speakers have DACS + amps). I think the nature of a streamer is much closer to that of a DAC than a DAC is to an amplifier, design-wise. The market seems to agree with this assessment, given the number of streamers with built in DACs vs. amps with DACs. And, if SMSL, Topping, and FiiO can package and market performant DACs with balanced outputs for $100-$150, that means the cost of the materials & design is ~$50-$75. Adding streamer chips or DSP horsepower (less than the cost of an Rpi 2 Zero 2 ($15)) is a rounding error. Where to put the DAC - amp or upstream - seems to be a question of which is more likely to burn out faster or be obsolete more quickly. This convergence is a great thing for all of us! More $$ for speakers!!!
Oh believe me I've come to learn that the DAC is best put where it can output in a clean, quiet environment. My PC may have a good Realtek DAC, but it's not usable to output analog from it because of how much noise follows down the line. Only by outputting over plastic (Optical Toslink) to my Topping EX30 can I eliminate the noise and get clean sound.
 
Aye, indeed. Unfortunately when people say all modern DACs are transparent and sound the same it can be misinterpreted. Kinda true for external USB DACs but computers not so much. Noise can definitely can be an issue with computers. Doubtless same with TVs. Wouldn't take an analogue signal out of my TV for the same reason. It's the analogue bit. Way more important nowadays, I reckon.
 
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Guys! You might have one of these lying around:

 
To me it seems that you can get all of the same access to streaming services, files, etc. and more using a laptop and a DAC,

IMO using a general-purpose computer to listen to music sucks. It sucks badly enough that, as @Rednaxela pointed out, using one is a guarantee nobody else in the house will use the audio system.

I've been using streamers since they existed, starting with an Apple AirPort Express, ca. 2005 or 2006. Paying a lot of money for a streamer makes little sense to me. I guess if you want a screen, that's worth paying for. There was maybe a time gap between when Apple discontinued the AirPort Express line and WiiM introduced their Mini that maybe spending more than $150 or whatever on a dedicated AirPlay box was required if you wanted something competent and new. Otherwise?

Obviously I'm aware that quite a few members only experience quality playback in a desktop settings, where the obvious answer is a computer and DAC.
Even at the desk using a general purpose computer to listen to music sucks. At my desk I have a WiiM Mini feeding an RME ADI-2 Pro. All playback - over headphones and speakers - is over AirPlay2. Who wants wires strung out across the front of their desk?
 
I purchased one of the mini pc's from Minis forum connected to a Topping dac that will fit behind my tv that's mounted on the wall. I personally just like streaming Tidal, DHR and Radio Paradise on a 55 inch tv and browsing forums on another tab (wireless keyboard and mouse). I've been curious about an all in one streamer for a while now.
 
I still use this. You can get them for 20$ these days ….

IMG_0430.jpeg
 
I still use this. You can get them for 20$ these days ….View attachment 341592
My first digital system. Had that very model, ripped all 2500 of my CD's with EAC to a Western Digital 4tb drive and connected it via Cat 6 wire to my router modem, transferred all the meta data to my laptop running Squeeze server, connected the Logitech via spdif to my Benchmark DAC1.

When, in my bedroom, I signed on to my home network on Squeeze server and selected a record to play, my selection would be read off the hard disk by the router in the gym, and transmitted to the Squeeze box to play via spdif on the Dac 1 in the bonus room. Later that year of 2006 I added a TACT room correction between the Logitech and the Benchmark.

It was around that year I was recruited and offered a finance job by a company that made the disks CDs and DVDs were made of. I decided turn it down. They went belly up three years later as streaming came online. Also got rid of my very elaborate and expensive vinyl playing system around that time. I saw the future and knew it was neither vinyl records nor CDs.
 
Strange. What happens when you select a track?

When I select a track, it clears the queue and plays. (As opposed to adding a track to the queue obviously.)

We are kinda off topic here...Maybe you could ask the dev on the Hifi cast forum. He's very helpful. It is certainly not something I experience.
Sorry I can't be more help.
Maybe there is some setting on how to behave when selecting tracks...? Like "add and play" or "clear and play"...
 
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