External DAC or Streamer?

ChrisG99

Standard Member
Evening,

My current system includes Cyrus Pre X Vs preamp and a Cyrus Smartpower power amp. I'm currently upgrading my speakers (PMC) so likely to purchase another Smartpower and run both in mono.

I'd like to jump on the streaming bandwagon properly and stream Tidal and other hi res music (hopefully Spotify will get their act together and start the HiFi quality music). Currently I'm listening to streams through my Audio Technica headphones, using my laptop through a little Cyrus Soundkey and sounds pretty good.

For the best quality for my HiFi system, am I best purchasing a standalone streamer such as the Bluesound Node etc, or purchase a separate DAC with a USB input from my laptop?

Thanks

Chris
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I’m view all DAC’s sound more or less the same, you need too spend a lot of money to hear any differences, if at all. It could be some DAC manufacturers uses some eq/filtering to make it sound better, still I think it’s money better spend else where in your system.

However I always heard using laptops of any kind adds a lot of noice to the sound, I don’t know to be frank. And the laptop needs to on all the time?

Still if you want dedicated streamer with inboard DAC, then the new Node 3 (2021) version is excellent.

Or the Yamaha (the cheapest one). I believe though that one don’t include usb output. However the more expensive ones should.

In my opinion buying streamer with build in DAC is better, more organized then streaming the way you do now.

However you could buy the cheapest Topping E30, then plug in the usb cable, then stream music the way you do now. The Topping is just DAC. It is very cheap.
 

vectra1

Active Member
I just bought a Yamaha wxad-10 on the advice of Paul777 on here. Brilliant device,
Might be worth a look.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I just bought a Yamaha wxad-10 on the advice of Paul777 on here. Brilliant device,
Might be worth a look.
Does it support usb output? Also MQA? If not it defeats OP plan of taking advantage off the usb output completely.

Even so it’s brilliant device indeed. No need too spend anymore money.

Still if the Node2i cost more money, it is nice to look at. Design is flawless. Supports MQA (for those who even bother) to listen too it.

Radio Paradise streams both in MQA and cd quality too.
 

vectra1

Active Member
Does it support usb output? Also MQA? If not it defeats OP plan of taking advantage off the usb output completely.

Even so it’s brilliant device indeed. No need too spend anymore money.

Still if the Node2i cost more money, it is nice to look at. Design is flawless. Supports MQA (for those who even bother) to listen too it.

Radio Paradise streams both in MQA and cd quality too.
I assumed wireless through wifi would work instead of usb,
MQA, I didn't see the request for that.
 

mseve1

Active Member
A standalone streamer wins every time for me. I really can't see the point of having a laptop tethered to a hifi in comparison to a dedicated streaming box which is far more convenient and flexible in usage.
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
Personally I think the recent advances in chips and DAC technology has made just about any answer to your question a correct answer, it's more of a personal preference which way you choose to go IMO.

I've had great success streaming from a laptop to a USB DAC but simply for the convenience factor of it just being there ready I prefer a dedicated streamer that I can control from phones, tablets and laptops but nether solution is actually better technically for the ripped content I stream.

My streamer is raspberry pi based, 1 of them with a decent hifi berry DAC board and the other with a digital output board attached feeding optical to a DAC.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
I’m view all DAC’s sound more or less the same, you need too spend a lot of money to hear any differences, if at all. It could be some DAC manufacturers uses some eq/filtering to make it sound better, still I think it’s money better spend else where in your system.

However I always heard using laptops of any kind adds a lot of noice to the sound, I don’t know to be frank. And the laptop needs to on all the time?

Still if you want dedicated streamer with inboard DAC, then the new Node 3 (2021) version is excellent.

Or the Yamaha (the cheapest one). I believe though that one don’t include usb output. However the more expensive ones should.

In my opinion buying streamer with build in DAC is better, more organized then streaming the way you do now.

However you could buy the cheapest Topping E30, then plug in the usb cable, then stream music the way you do now. The Topping is just DAC. It is very cheap.

Why would anyone want a usb output?
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Why would anyone want a usb output?
I see your point. Thought he needs usb cable from the Topping as an example. Does he not? And what is your view on noice from computers adding noice which can make the sound worse? Does he DAC at all?
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
If the op decides to use asb dac into his amp for streaming from his laptop I wouldn’t be concerned about noise.

Perhaps ages back at the dawn of dac time, but I’ll be astonished if any even semi decent modern usb dac doesn’t have excellent noise regulation.

I’ve used about 10 over the years from £40 to £700 and none have been audible.

If it was ever true it’s a myth now.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
OP, there you have your answer. If your happy-save the cash.

Still from understanding you are feeding the source with usb cable, wouldn’t it be better to buy the Yamaha streamer then.

No usb cables lying on the floor. Of course the headphones wires.
 

ChrisG99

Standard Member
Thanks everybody for your replies. It's much appreciated and good to hear other peoples thoughts.

Im actually going to audition a Cambridge CXNv2 DAC and streamer along with a matching CXC CD transport, using the CXN as the DAC. I have high Hope's 😀 It would have been nice to have something matching my amps from Cyrus, but I've been told their streamers aren't as user friendly as some.

I'm also likely to be upgrading my speakers to some Spendors 😀

Will report back
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
The CXN is not inexpensive for a streamer, but is allegedly quite the star.

Should you decide you need volume levelling on Spotify for the ever useful playlists (if it ever goes cd quality), you can use the USB input for your laptop too.

I’d also try it out as a preamp, see if it can match the Cyrus.
 

ChrisG99

Standard Member
Ps, what are you currently using for cd playing?
I dont actually have anything.

I sold my Rega Saturn about 10 years ago when I moved away for a job change, and all I have now is a Pioneer PDF1007 multichanger which has stayed with me and has been stored in my loft for about 15 years!!
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
I dont actually have anything.

I sold my Rega Saturn about 10 years ago when I moved away for a job change, and all I have now is a Pioneer PDF1007 multichanger which has stayed with me and has been stored in my loft for about 15 years!!

Hmm...

Once you get into hifi streamig rather than headphones, you may never use a new CD player.

It’s been ten or more years since I was tempted.

Although I did rip all my cds to my Mac and used a good dac instead for a good while. And still do, just a different Mac and dac.
 

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