Old HiFi system and Spotify

jeepsterboy

Standard Member
Hello to All,

I would appreciate any advice re the following, however modest.

I have a spare room with an old hi fi system that I am still happy with (and I might also add, sentimentally attached to). It started life as a set of Mission 700 speakers, a NAD 3020 amp, and a Dual turntable, courtesy of Sevenoaks many moons ago. As time went by the Dual was replaced with a Cassette Deck, then a Denon CD player.

As I have just recently become interested in streaming, I was hoping to add something like Spotify - or at a push, Tidal, to the NAD and Missions. I am happy to buy a new CD player with inbuilt DAC that will allow streaming.

Or, alternatively, retain the Denon CD player and add something like an Arcam irDAC or rDac.

My knowledge of streaming and DACS is nil, and I'm very much on the technophobe end of the audio spectrum, so my apologies if I'm asking the wrong question.

However, if I am making some degree of sense, can someone please let me know if it is indeed possible to 'upgrade' in this way, and if they have any recommendations re the best way forward.

Is there a 'streaming compatible' CD player that will work with the NAD and Missions and allow me to access Spotify?
Or should I retain the existing (old) CD player and consider an external DAC as a way of streaming?

many thanks for your time.
 

jeepsterboy

Standard Member
Hello, and many thanks for responding. No, not streaming at the moment.... My daughter has Spotify on her phone, and for a long time I paid no attention to it. Then I thought, maybe this is something I should consider, and when I read that I could stream it into an old hi fi system I thought I'd give it a go...

Which is where I am at the moment, although very unsure about what my options are, buying wise (either a new CD player with an internal DAC that would allow me to connect to Spotify, or retain the current CD player and buy at external DAC).

I don't have an extensive CD library by any means, but neither am I prepared to go the whole hog and transfer it to something/somewhere else....... Ditched vinyl, then cassettes, but still feel the need of 'hard copy', and don't feel its especially onerous to stick a CD in a slot.

Any suggestions very welcome!
 

jeepsterboy

Standard Member
in case it helps, i have fiber broadband and when i take out a subscription i'd hope to use a laptop to 'order up'.....
 

deantown

Distinguished Member
I'm not very clued up on this, but can't you use a chrome cast audio to your hi fi. That is what I did and it works great.
 

jeepsterboy

Standard Member
thanks! well, i'm so un-clued up i had to google chrome cast audio to see what you meant! ... i mean the term is vaguely familiar, but i wasn't sure.

in any case, if you bought one of these gizmos, it was straightforward, yes?

and what about sound quality using this? i can't claim that my nad and missions are anything other than - if compared to new equipment - 'good-ish'.... but i'd still like to stay where i am, sound-wise.

so, i suppose what i'm saying is, while i'm not looking to spend unnecessarily, would a more expensive DAC, like an Arcam, give better end result?
 

jeepsterboy

Standard Member
and after another bit of googling i see there seems to be some discussion about google discontinuing chrome cast........... does that have implications for the long term?

i might be misunderstanding this, though....
 

phil t

Well-known Member
There are lots of different ways to achieve the aim and in part, it depends on how much you're willing to pay.

From a phone with Spotify using the headphone out to rca of an amp, through to dedicated streamers and outboard dacs.
 

password1

Suspended
All you need to stream from a phone is a Bluetooth receiver.

Simply connect a Bluetooth receiver to one of the inputs on the amp and connect it to your phone.

There's no need to buy an external DAC.
 

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
All you need to stream from a phone is a Bluetooth receiver.

Simply connect a Bluetooth receiver to one of the inputs on the amp and connect it to your phone.

There's no need to buy an external DAC.
There is if you want to stream at CD quality or higher, surely.
 

password1

Suspended
There are lots of different ways to achieve the aim and in part, it depends on how much you're willing to pay.

From a phone with Spotify using the headphone out to rca of an amp, through to dedicated streamers and outboard dacs.
I would avoid using the headphone socket to amp unless the quality is decent.
 

jeepsterboy

Standard Member
many thanks for your suggestion.... just did some review checking re Yam, and almost without exception people who bought it suggest the sound quality is really good, though the set-up sometimes baffling..
 

jeepsterboy

Standard Member
just to say, i appreciate your collective input.

without muddying the waters again, is there a new CD player with inbuilt DAC that would work.... i'm not looking to buy a new CD player for no reason, it's just that the one I have (an old Denon) is a pre-remote model, and I'm more than cheesed off with having to get physically up every time i want to change a track....

also, re an external DAC, does anyone have experience of the Arcams? there must be some reason why they can ask 400 pounds - easier to set up? a more reliable unit? a better sound quality?

i should emphasize, i'm not looking to spend 400 pounds if i can get something that will work perfectly well for 150, but on the other hand if someone was to say they're that price because they're streets ahead, well then.....
 

password1

Suspended
All CD players have built in Dacs to convert the digital noughts and ones into analogue outs.

I have an Arcam rDAC, the build quality is exceptional. Solid metal case, its been faultless and sound quality is as expected. I'm using it with an old DVD player as transport.
 

jeepsterboy

Standard Member
All CD players have built in Dacs to convert the digital noughts and ones into analogue outs.

I have an Arcam rDAC, the build quality is exceptional. Solid metal case, its been faultless and sound quality is as expected. I'm using it with an old DVD player as transport.
many thanks....will be back to you shortly.... need to google 'transport'!
 

gibbsy

Moderator
need to google 'transport'!
A true transport doesn't have a built in DAC and needs to be connected to an amp which has it's DAC or a standalone DAC. When people talk about using a CD player as a transport they mean that even though that player has it's own DAC they prefer to use the external DAC or an amp or standalone unit. Connection would then be made by optical or coax rather than an analogue one via RCA.

I have to use a player with it's own onboard DAC as I just have a pure analogue stereo amp.
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
As others have said there are 101 ways to achieve what you want at all kinds of price points.

Although you'll often find both in the same device. I think you may be confusing DACs and Streamers. A DAC simply converts a digital audio signal to an analog audio signal — be that an external optical SPDIF/TosLink input or the output of an internal digital source ie. the onboard software that retrieves the 0s & 1s from a CD or remote network audio stream.

If you bought a new CD or Amp with an optical input then you could use the digital output on any of the low-cost devices below (all of which have digital outputs) to handle Spotify Connect and just feed an untouched digital signal to the DAC in the amp or CD player (or even an external DAC) to do the digital to analog decoding (ie. you're passing the important task of the analog-to-digital conversion upstream to a better device).

Although all the devices below also include basic onboard DACs so you can also connect them up with a standard analog RCA or 3.5mm to RCA cable as well.

--

If you just need something basic to handle Spotify then a cheap and cheerful 'Spotify Connect' supporting device will get you going. This will allow you to use the official Spotify Client on your phone or laptop to browse music and start playback. You can either connect this up digitally via SPDIF/TOSLink optical cable to a supporting amp or analog via standard RCA audio cables.

A used Chromecast Audio (Google no longer sell the audio version, but it will still work) has an in-built Spotify Connect client (so you can start a Spotify playlist and turn off your phone). It will also let you 'cast' from almost any audio app on an Android phone (it also works with iPhones, but an AirPlay supporting AirPort below may be a better option if you exclusively use Apple devices).

A used AirPort Express will let you stream from any iPhone or Mac device using AirPlay (you'll just see it listed as a native audio output on your iPhone/Mac). Although the AirPort doesn't have Spotify Connect built in — so you will need to keep your phone on/connected to use Spotify (which you'll stream to AirPort via AirPlay).

To connect the AirPort or Chomecast audio up digitally you'd need a 3.5mm TOSLink to RCA cable. For analog you just need a standard analog 3.5mm to RCA cable.

Those are the low cost options allowing you to either use the Spotify app on your phone/desktop to control playback, or in the case of Airport/Airplay to stream locally whatever audio is currently playing on your phone or laptop (while that device stays on and connected).

* Spotify is kind of unique within online music services as they did a lot of work to get their Spotify Connect client built into a variety of low cost audio devices. The upside to this is you can use their phone or desktop client to 'initiate' playback ie. once a playlist if started, the streamer actually talks direct to Spotify servers, rather than being routed via your phone, this has the advantage that you can then use your phone for other audio tasks like taking a phone call. To handle this kind of behaviour with most other music or online radio services you'll need a network streamer than has built in support for those services (and those devices tend to be pricer as they need their own control apps/software). Alternatively you'll need to use a phone or laptop to get the remote stream and then effectively relay it to your amp via a local network audio protocol like AirPlay or Bluetooth, meaning your phone is always in use. Chromecast audio is sort of of hybrid of the two.

--

After that you're moving up to proper network streamer devices like the the or Yamaha WXAD10 or Bluesound Node 2i that have their own apps to control playback from a variety of services, better on-board DACs and in the case of the Node 2i, support for local music libraries.
 
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jeepsterboy

Standard Member
still working my way thru the very helpful link sent by Brad (above)..... but the long and short is, if all i want is Spotify, and i'm not interested in any bells and whistles other than that, then it's just a matter of making a decision re which unit i want to buy and keeping my fingers crossed.

i just had a look to see if there were any of the little chrome cast devices still available, and i see an ebayer selling them for 75 pounds, more than they were a year or so ago, but since we're now into the land of hen's teeth, seller's market and all the rest of it, that's hardly surprising.

but before i take a punt on a chrome cast, can anyone tell me what the difference might be between me a) plugging a chrome cast into the back of Nad 3020.... and b) plugging an Archam hDAC into the back of my Nad?

It can't all be marketing....

But is there a difference, and if so, where does it lie?
 

jeepsterboy

Standard Member
As others have said there are 101 ways to achieve what you want at all kinds of price points.

Although you'll often find both in the same device. I think you may be confusing DACs and Streamers. A DAC simply converts a digital audio signal to an analog audio signal — be that an external optical SPDIF/TosLink input or the output of an internal digital source ie. the onboard software that retrieves the 0s & 1s from a CD or remote network audio stream.

If you bought a new CD or Amp with an optical input then you could use the digital output on any of the low-cost devices below (all of which have digital outputs) to handle Spotify Connect and just feed an untouched digital signal to the DAC in the amp or CD player (or even an external DAC) to do the digital to analog decoding (ie. you're passing the important task of the analog-to-digital conversion upstream to a better device).

Although all the devices below also include basic onboard DACs so you can also connect them up with a standard analog RCA or 3.5mm to RCA cable as well.

--

If you just need something basic to handle Spotify then a cheap and cheerful 'Spotify Connect' supporting device will get you going. This will allow you to use the official Spotify Client on your phone or laptop to browse music and start playback. You can either connect this up optical via SPDIF/TOSLink on a supporting Samp or via standard RCA cables.

A used Chromecast Audio (Google no longer sell the audio version, but it will still work) has an in-built Spotify Connect client (so you can start a Spotify playlist and turn off your phone). It will also let you 'cast' from almost any audio app on Android phone (also works with iPhones, but an AirPlay supporting AirPort below may be a better option in that case).

A used AirPort Express will let you stream from any iPhone or Mac device using AirPlay. Although the AirPort doesn't have Spotify Connect built in — so you will need to keep your phone on to use Spotify (which you'll stream via AirPlay).

To connect the AirPort to ChomeCast up digitally you'd need a 3.5mm TOSLink to RCA cable. For analog you just need a standard analog 3.5mm to RCA cable.

Those are the low cost options allowing you to use the Spotify app on your phone/desktop or to stream direct from your phone or desktop (which that device is also on and connected).

* Spotify is kind of unique within online music services as they did a lot of work to get their Spotify Connect client built into a variety of low cost audio devices. The upside to this is you can use their phone or desktop client to 'initiate' playback ie. once a playlist if started, the streamer actually talks direct to Spotify servers, rather than being routed via your phone, this has the advantage that you can then use your phone for other audio task like taking a phone call. To handle this kind of behaviour with most other music or online radio services you'll need a network streamer than has built in support for those services (and those devices tend to be pricer). Alternatively you'll need to use a phone or laptop to get the remote stream and then effectively relay it to your amp via a local network audio protocol AirPlay or Bluetooth, meaning your phone is always in use. Chromecast audio is sort of of hybrid of the two.

--

After that you moving up to proper network streamer devices like the the Bluesound Node 2i that have their own apps to control playback from a variety of services, better on-board DACs and support for local music libraries.
many thanks for this... trying to digest, but 'yes', i am confusing dacs with streamers.... still reading and mulling....
 

larkone

Member
and after another bit of googling i see there seems to be some discussion about google discontinuing chrome cast........... does that have implications for the long term?

i might be misunderstanding this, though....
Google discontinued the Chromecast Audio, a piece of hardware. They have not discontinued Chromecast as a streaming protocol as this is fundamental to all of the current Google Smart home devices
 

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