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Does the source still makes a difference if the dac is bypassed?

craig808

Well-known Member
I stream music using the Bluesound Node2 which is connected to my Lyngdorf 2170 using the digital optical output therefore bypassing the Nodes dac. I operate everything with Roon.

A few people have mentioned that even though I don't use the streamers dac, by using a better streamer then my sq could be improved.

I can't see how it would make any difference unless the streamer had a better dac than that of the Lyngdorf and then I'd connect using analogue.

Maybe I'm not understanding this properly but if anyone can offer an explanation as to why a different streamer could give me an upgrade in sq i would greatly appreciate it.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I would say that the DAC is all important in a streamer, not that I know much about them. A streamer just has a flow of 1 and 0s coming through and it's the quality of that DAC that going to bear the brunt of the work. The analogue section would come second.

It's not like a SACD player where the moving parts and the quality thereof can make a big difference to how those units perform. Again the DAC is important as is the analogue section. Beauty of most streamers would be the ability to connect by analogue and digital with the decision resting with your ears as to which is the best. Think you would have to go a fair way to beat the DAC on a Lyngdorf to be honest.
 

craig808

Well-known Member
I would say that the DAC is all important in a streamer, not that I know much about them. A streamer just has a flow of 1 and 0s coming through and it's the quality of that DAC that going to bear the brunt of the work. The analogue section would come second.

It's not like a SACD player where the moving parts and the quality thereof can make a big difference to how those units perform. Again the DAC is important as is the analogue section. Beauty of most streamers would be the ability to connect by analogue and digital with the decision resting with your ears as to which is the best. Think you would have to go a fair way to beat the DAC on a Lyngdorf to be honest.


Yes that's exactly what I was thinking as well. I've a/b'd between the Node2 and the last 3 amps I've had. They were all very similar apart from the Lyngdorf which is considerably better than the Nodes dac.

Thinking about it, all of the people who have said that i would benefit from a better streamer have been retailers!!
 

phil t

Well-known Member
Assuming no timing errors and the data stream arrives at the dac with no errors, the dac is what makes the difference.
 

Steve356

Distinguished Member
The app being used can have an impact too. I returned my Node 2i to Richer Sounds today as I didn't find I needed it, but over the last week of testing using BluOS and Roon, Roon consistently sounded better. That was only using the Coax digital output from the Node 2i as I didn't like the DAC on the Node 2i at all into my Lyngdorf 3400.
 

TB Rich

Well-known Member
The app being used can have an impact too. I returned my Node 2i to Richer Sounds today as I didn't find I needed it, but over the last week of testing using BluOS and Roon, Roon consistently sounded better. That was only using the Coax digital output from the Node 2i as I didn't like the DAC on the Node 2i at all into my Lyngdorf 3400.

If the app used could make it sound better, that would imply the data being sent to the DAC is of course not the same between apps. - That is after all the only way it could sound different, given the same hardware being used.

Now given that BluOS and Roon can both do bit-perfect with no altercation to the data, I really can not see how that is plausible therefore for Roon to sound better - unless the settings used were not apples Vs apples in each of the apps (i.e no upsampling, no tone control, no gain levelling, etc etc).

Also when you used Roon vs BluOS, was the Node 2i acting as the endpoint in both cases, or were you using the TDAi-3140 as the Roon Endpoint directly? In which case the hardware used in the chain is not the same and the test is null and void.
 

Steve356

Distinguished Member
If the app used could make it sound better, that would imply the data being sent to the DAC is of course not the same between apps. - That is after all the only way it could sound different, given the same hardware being used.

Now given that BluOS and Roon can both do bit-perfect with no altercation to the data, I really can not see how that is plausible therefore for Roon to sound better - unless the settings used were not apples Vs apples in each of the apps (i.e no upsampling, no tone control, no gain levelling, etc etc).

Also when you used Roon vs BluOS, was the Node 2i acting as the endpoint in both cases, or were you using the TDAi-3140 as the Roon Endpoint directly? In which case the hardware used in the chain is not the same and the test is null and void.

They did sound different to both myself and my nephew when we were doing comparison tests. At one point I was even switching between the apps without telling him which one was being used. In every single case' he preferred the sound from Roon.

Yes, the Node 2i was acting as the endpoint in both cases and no upsampling was being used.

No idea why it happened and it wasn't a massive difference, however, it was clear to hear and I know which one I preferred. The Node 2i was returned for a refund as I'm happy with the sound using Roon directly to the TDAi-3400 for now. At a later date, I'll investigate other options such as Innuos or a NUC.
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
Assuming no timing errors and the data stream arrives at the dac with no errors, the dac is what makes the difference.
...which and with all respect to Gibbsey, is exactly the same with a SACD. Just two ancillary points. DAcs are no longer relatively simple chips , they are complete audio systems on a chip. In many cases the frequency response and filter can be set by jumpers or levels or codes fed in on startup.
And any poor choice of analogue component can negate the best DAC
 

phil t

Well-known Member

TB Rich

Well-known Member
They did sound different to both myself and my nephew when we were doing comparison tests. At one point I was even switching between the apps without telling him which one was being used. In every single case' he preferred the sound from Roon.

Yes, the Node 2i was acting as the endpoint in both cases and no upsampling was being used.

No idea why it happened and it wasn't a massive difference, however, it was clear to hear and I know which one I preferred. The Node 2i was returned for a refund as I'm happy with the sound using Roon directly to the TDAi-3400 for now. At a later date, I'll investigate other options such as Innuos or a NUC.

I would do the same, Roon in to the 3140 that is, but I'm curious now to install Roon on my Mac and test this theory out!
 

Steve356

Distinguished Member
I would do the same, Roon in to the 3140 that is, but I'm curious now to install Roon on my Mac and test this theory out!

It's free to try on a trial, either 14 days or 30 days trial depending on how generous Roon are at the time. I ended getting 40 days, but that was because I was having a few issues with it that Roon Support helped me with. As of yesterday, I now have a 1-year subscription so I'll revisit the subject again in 10-11 months time.

I'm now playing around with some of the upsampling options that Roon has. Can't say that I'm blown away by them so far.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
I'll freely admit I've only skimmed Roon, got to the price and went no thank you. However what does it add that a Spotify/Apple Music etc subscription, a phone app and some form of streaming input for much cheapness does?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
...which and with all respect to Gibbsey, is exactly the same with a SACD. Just two ancillary points. DAcs are no longer relatively simple chips , they are complete audio systems on a chip. In many cases the frequency response and filter can be set by jumpers or levels or codes fed in on startup.
And any poor choice of analogue component can negate the best DAC
You'll not get any arguments from me on that point. DACs and their associated processors are getting better and is no good putting that into a unit and forgetting the analogue part. The good old silver disc is as far as I'm likely to get into the digital domain, I've bought four discs this weekend. My SACD player is endowed with Denon's much vaunted AL32 Plus processor (don't forget the plus, very important) and even going through my headphone amp and planar headphones it is the stand out performer from my other three SACD capable players. Pioneer LX500, Denon DBT-3313, Marantz sa8005.

One benefit of streaming is that members post links to some really good albums which I then eventually buy on disc. Diolch.
 

TB Rich

Well-known Member
It's free to try on a trial, either 14 days or 30 days trial depending on how generous Roon are at the time. I ended getting 40 days, but that was because I was having a few issues with it that Roon Support helped me with. As of yesterday, I now have a 1-year subscription so I'll revisit the subject again in 10-11 months time.

I'm now playing around with some of the upsampling options that Roon has. Can't say that I'm blown away by them so far.

I can't hear any difference at all - and I'm not in the least bit surprised because the hardware is the same and the audio tracks are the same! I have played London Grammar's first album If You Wait - seems to be a well enough recorded album and certainly better than most of the stuff I listen to!

Roon however is pretty decent, has a couple of very nice features over and above my BluOS setup. Being able to transfer the music to another device is great (I have several Airplay devices about that allows for a playing audio transfer from the 2i on to them), and, I have a Sony TV that acts as a Roon display - so I can at long bloody last have the album art work displayed on it! (I'm annoyed Bluesound still haven't added an AndroidTV version of their app for this purpose).

But given no audio improvement I'll cancel my sub for now, however if they ever add Amazon Music support I may well sub back to it though.
 

Steve356

Distinguished Member
I can't hear any difference at all - and I'm not in the least bit surprised because the hardware is the same and the audio tracks are the same! I have played London Grammar's first album If You Wait - seems to be a well enough recorded album and certainly better than most of the stuff I listen to!

Roon however is pretty decent, has a couple of very nice features over and above my BluOS setup. Being able to transfer the music to another device is great (I have several Airplay devices about that allows for a playing audio transfer from the 2i on to them), and, I have a Sony TV that acts as a Roon display - so I can at long bloody last have the album art work displayed on it! (I'm annoyed Bluesound still haven't added an AndroidTV version of their app for this purpose).

But given no audio improvement I'll cancel my sub for now, however if they ever add Amazon Music support I may well sub back to it though.

All I can say is lucky you. :thumbsup: If you can't hear a difference, let alone an improvement, it never makes sense to spend more money unless there's another aspect that has value to you. I honestly wish I could have said the same.
 

Craig uk

Distinguished Member
I can't hear any difference at all - and I'm not in the least bit surprised because the hardware is the same and the audio tracks are the same! I have played London Grammar's first album If You Wait - seems to be a well enough recorded album and certainly better than most of the stuff I listen to!

Roon however is pretty decent, has a couple of very nice features over and above my BluOS setup. Being able to transfer the music to another device is great (I have several Airplay devices about that allows for a playing audio transfer from the 2i on to them), and, I have a Sony TV that acts as a Roon display - so I can at long bloody last have the album art work displayed on it! (I'm annoyed Bluesound still haven't added an AndroidTV version of their app for this purpose).

But given no audio improvement I'll cancel my sub for now, however if they ever add Amazon Music support I may well sub back to it though.

IMO there’s more to streaming than zeros & ones being fed to a dac, a chromecast is not capable sending a stream to your dac as well as Lumin or Innuos products do, I know as I’ve owned both. Roon control software does have its own character also. Obviously the greater the resolution of your system the more this will be apparent.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
IMO there’s more to streaming than zeros & ones being fed to a dac, a chromecast is not capable sending a stream to your dac as well as Lumin or Innuos products do

How so?
 

Craig uk

Distinguished Member

TB Rich

Well-known Member
IMO there’s more to streaming than zeros & ones being fed to a dac, a chromecast is not capable sending a stream to your dac as well as Lumin or Innuos products do, I know as I’ve owned both. Roon control software does have its own character also. Obviously the greater the resolution of your system the more this will be apparent.

Chromecast vs Lumin is fundamentally different hardware, BluOS vs Roon in this scenario is using the exact same hardware. So same buffers, same chips, same clock, same electrical noise, etc etc. It’s not the same scenario at all as using different physical transports.

If there is a difference in sound from using the same hardware but different control software, then it is indisuputable that the signal is being in some way altered - otherwise there would not be a difference.
So with both software systems configured in a very basic and native way to apparently deliver bit-perfect streaming (and as said we’re using the physical transport and DAC here), one of them is telling porkies and is modifying the signal in some way.

In my testing though, with both setup as default and not modifying the signal, they both sounded the same. I was not surprised at that result.

People can and always do wheel out the ‘oh well you need a more resolving system‘ card (I would say mine is far from sh*t in that regard), or that maybe I’m cloth eared (that is more likely!). But I don‘t see any techincal plausibility to substantiating that they would in fact sound different.
Your comment that Roon has it’s own ‘charcater’ would suggest it is Roon telling the porkies then as to being bit-perfect!?
 

Craig uk

Distinguished Member
Chromecast vs Lumin is fundamentally different hardware, BluOS vs Roon in this scenario is using the exact same hardware. So same buffers, same chips, same clock, same electrical noise, etc etc. It’s not the same scenario at all as using different physical transports.

If there is a difference in sound from using the same hardware but different control software, then it is indisuputable that the signal is being in some way altered - otherwise there would not be a difference.
So with both software systems configured in a very basic and native way to apparently deliver bit-perfect streaming (and as said we’re using the physical transport and DAC here), one of them is telling porkies and is modifying the signal in some way.

Yes I agree, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. I don’t particularly like Roon and it’s most likely I will drop it when my subscription runs out. Even with all settings turned off it still seems to tamper with the signal whether it’s a stream or stored on a server. The user experience is second to none so I can see why it’s so popular.
 

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