Random musings on hifi components from 20+ years of upgraditis

dave48

Active Member
Having asked a range of questions over the last years, I thought I’d feed back my “real world” view on various component questions I’ve asked myself and others over the years.

Are pre-power separated amps better than integrated amps? I’m not convinced - I’ve done a lot of comparisons eg with Primare A30.1 vs PRE30 and A30.2. If anything I still find the integrated better - as well as significantly cheaper and fewer cables.

Do cinch / RCA connectors make a difference? Not much - the only ones where it did were probably a poorly isolated design which picked up noise. Otherwise I’ve really struggled to hear any difference.

Balanced cables better than cinch/RCA? Balanced cables look nicer. I think I would *really* struggle to hear a difference in a blind test, and even if I did I’m not sure I’d get it right. Maybe 50% of the time.

Does bi-wiring speakers make a difference? Not really although I did get some expensive biwired cables as an experiment which made things worse.

Does bi-amping speakers make a difference? Found it depends on the configuration. As bi-amped monoblocks - yes - although the difference is not massive.

Do power amps get better as they get more expensive? I don’t think do. I have several power amps from the under-rated French manufacturer Atoll which I think are excellent. And you can occasionally get them dirt cheap. You have to let them warm up for 30 mins though - truly transforms the sound.

Does the time of day impact how good music sounds? I am convinced it often sounds better in the evening. This may be my head, but I wonder whether the electricity supply is “cleaner” at night. This difference can be significant.

Does room correction help? I have a Lyngdorf 2170 and it does. It makes my record player sound amazing. I also love the huge reduction in cable count.

CD / digital or record player better? Until the Lyngdorf I’d have said 100% digital. I’m now tending the other way. Even though there are A/D and D/A conversions.

Class A vs. A/B vs. D amps? Difficult to generalise. Good class D is very good. Simple class A (the Atolls) are very good.

Speaker cables make a difference? Yes, some Expensive ones sound worse than bog-standard decent copper cable.

Can you still use Logitech Squeezeboxes for streaming? Yes, they are brilliant. I must have nearly 10 of them by now.

Do DACs all sound the same? No. I’ve tried quite a few: I really like Musical Fidelity V90 DAC (bargain and sounds excellent). Audiolab M-DAC in pre-amp mode directly to power amps - superb. Cambridge Audio DAC Magic - rubbish. I’ve got a Hegel DAC which is good but fussy with pairing.

Is more expensive hifi more reliable? No. I’ve got fed up with Primare, which I used to really like. I’ve sent amps in for repair 5 or 6 times. I wouldn’t buy anything from them any more. Sorry - I was one of your best customers. I have never, ever, had a problem with anything Japanese.

What’s more important - listening to the music or fiddling with the kit? Until I got the Lyngdorf - fiddling with the kit. I’m now broadly cured and focusing more on actually listening - also on my non-Lyndgorf kit.

Buy hifi new or secondhand? I’ve got 90% secondhand. It‘s generally been much better (as so much cheaper) but I’ve had 4 bad experiences (2 Primare power amps - one of the reasons why never again, and two sets of speakers, however in those two cases I found a fair solution with the seller).

I may add a few other thoughts later ... but I first need to put some new music on.
 

dave48

Active Member
Are secondhand speakers an investment? Well I’ve never owned anything that appreciated in value, but for example I bought a pair of mint Jamo Concert 11s well over 15 years ago, they are still mint, sound just as good as the first day (better actually as I’ve learned more about the electronics they are connected to) and the market price is not much less than I paid, so it’s basically ”free speakers” as far as I’m concerned. I got a pair of Mordaunt Short MS10s for £10 off a mate 30 years ago. I was going to chuck them, but connected then to a different amp and they still sound great. Free speakers again.

What are the best and worst investments in other components? Good record players hold their value well. I sold my Rega Planar 3 for the same price I’d paid for it 20 years earlier. I could probably get most of the money back I spent on my Rega P9 if I wanted to sell it (I don’t). AV amps can tank in value and all the manufacture talk about them getting future S/W updates is usually BS. I wish I hadn’t bought so many good CD players. I never use them and fear they wouldn’t get much.

Centre speaker or “normal” speaker? I have got my Jamo Concerts in a 7.1 config. I once found a single Concert 8 going cheap on eBay. It is FAR better than the dedicated centre speaker, which is now gathering dust in a cupboard. I used to have another centre speaker in a different setup which also sounded poor, so I’m not so convinced by dedicated centre speakers.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Centre speaker or “normal” speaker? I have got my Jamo Concerts in a 7.1 config. I once found a single Concert 8 going cheap on eBay. It is FAR better than the dedicated centre speaker, which is now gathering dust in a cupboard. I used to have another centre speaker in a different setup which also sounded poor, so I’m not so convinced by dedicated centre speakers.

This one is interesting as I've seen from members' signatures that quite a few run their systems without a Centre.

Personally, I love having a Centre and I think in my room with my system it makes all the difference in the world. I don't know if this is significant, but my Centre is an old PMC CB6i, a 3-way with a dedicated midrange driver.

Dialogue is crystal clear, even when there's mayhem on the soundtrack. Mind you, the CB6i is basically a cut down OB1i turned on its side and reduced in size, and that's a Hi-Fi speaker. So maybe I have a "normal" speaker after all! :blush:
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Quite a few questions there. Balanced vs RCA. No difference on short runs, long runs favour balanced. Bi-wiring doesn't make a difference, bi-amping does. Room correction can make a difference, but so does room treatment. CD or vinyl, both really depend on the playing device and it's a personal preference. Good quality SACD players, even on standard CDs can produce amazing results but expect to pay £1500 plus. The old adage of production values still holds good, crap in equals crap out.
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
dave48 thank's for your opinions based on personal experience and given with integrity. Much of what you state have also been my own findings.
 

jonnybee123

Active Member
Does the time of day impact how good music sounds? I am convinced it often sounds better in the evening. This may be my head, but I wonder whether the electricity supply is “cleaner” at night. This difference can be significant.

Ive always found my hifi sounds better in the evening than in the day time. I never really thought about the reasons why but I think I subconsciously put it down to general noise levels. Its generally quieter in the house in the evenings due to less background noises filtering into the house from outside (and the kids are tucked up in bed). So maybe the low and high frequencies emanating from my speakers are less interfered with by external sound sources ? I know I have to crank my Arcam A19 down from 50 points on its display at mid afternoon to around 32 in the evenings to get the same level of detail arriving in my ears. Bass sounds warmer and fuller in the evenings also for some reason. This is just my experience. Im not sure about the cleaner supply theory though. Surely there is still a lot of electricity being used in the evenings as in the day? I have no clue!
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Having asked a range of questions over the last years, I thought I’d feed back my “real world” view on various component questions I’ve asked myself and others over the years.

I can't and don't disagree with anything that you have said, but I might make a few tweaks.

Are pre-power separated amps better than integrated amps?

There are situation where Pre/Power have an advantage, but it is not in sound. For example, If you have Pre/Power it is easier to add third party Bass Management. Also, Pre and Power each have their own separate Power Supplies. But these are either rare or subtle things. And ...yes... you are right Pre/Power can be pretty expensive. The cost of the near identical Pre-Amp is roughly the cost of the same Integrated Amp model.

£945 = Rotel RC-1572 Pre-Amp.. -
£845 = Rotel RB-1552 MII Power (120w/ch)
---------------------------------------------------
£1790 = Total

£1395 = Rotel RA-1572 Integrated (120w/ch)


As far as sound, no, I would expect Pre/Pwr and Integrated to sound virtually the same assuming they are from the same Brand.

Do cinch / RCA connectors make a difference?

There is a durability element to better RCA cables. But you don't have to go much over the cheapest of the cheap to find that durability. Then there is cosmetic appearance. Most of what you are buying in more expensive cable is the appearance, but that appearance does truly cost money.

Balanced cables better than cinch/RCA?

Balanced Cables are about Noise Rejection. As others have indicated, XLR have an advantage over longer distances, but remember that at normal distances, about 90% of the audio world is happily using RCA with no problems.

Does bi-wiring speakers make a difference?

I've not found that it does. I even used spacers to separate my Bi-Wires by about 2" to 3" to minimize cross talk. Used them that way for quite a while and heard no difference. Eventually switched back to standard wiring.

The pseudo-science behind the idea is that while the signal voltage on each cable pair is the same, the Current Flow is different. In standard single pair cable, the current is a composite of both bass-current and treble-current. In Bi-Wire cable, those two current flows are separated. But there is no evidence that this matters. All Current Flow is a composite, and it tends to work just fine.

So, while this theory is correct, the current flow is separated, there is nothing to indicate that this actually matters. And if it did matter, I would assume you would have to have some expensive and highly detailed equipment to reveal the difference ... which most people don't have and can't afford.

Does bi-amping speakers make a difference?

There is debate on this, but I agree it sometimes can make a difference. In my case, I bi-amp the Mid/High with an Onkyo which are very clear, but perhaps not the best for bass. And on the Low I used a Yamaha, which is a more smooth amp with less Mid/High emphasis.

I never before or after heard my speaker sound better. But I now have a £1400 Rotel RA-1570, seems a shame to spend that much money only to run the bass driver. Plus while I was able to set the system up for the test, it was impractical on a daily basis as my equipment rack was already full.

In this case, yes, sometimes it can make a difference, a very expensive difference.


Do power amps get better as they get more expensive?

Obviously the answer is Yes and No, or more accurately - maybe. This is also subjective, what one person likes another person hates. So ... choose wisely, more money does not necessarily mean better for YOU.

Does the time of day impact how good music sounds?

This is tricky. In theory it shouldn't but I'm convinced that it does. Even the weather can make a difference. This may be Psychological or partly Psychological, or it could be to some degree environmental. This is way I recommend that you audition equipment in person, on different days, and if possible at different dealers.

Does room correction help?

I like to remind people that Room Correction is not Magic. It has the ability to make a good room better, but it simply can not make a Bad Room good. From what I am gathering from feedback, Lyngdorf is among the best, if not THE best, out there. But it is still not magic.

CD / digital or record player better?

In my opinion, this is not a discussion worth having. All music Sources have their time and place. There is no reason to exclude one type over another. Play what you have, and enjoy. If your are interested in Vinyl and want to make the investment, it is stupid for anyone to try to dissuade you. Though they can try to add some perspective so you know what you are getting into. And if you are a Vinyl Purist, there is absolutely no reason to reject Streaming if you are interested.

For me it is not a question of what is better, it is a matter of -

Play what you have. Play what you like. Get what you want.

Nothing else matters.

Class A vs. A/B vs. D amps?

Again, this one is difficult. True Class-A sound stunningly good, assuming they didn't screw up the design, but they tend to be Low-Power, High-Heat, and generally Expensive.

Class-D in a very broad sense are less than ideal. Though that was more back at the beginning. Today, with refinements in the design, Class-D can sound VERY impressive.

Personally, I can't afford Class-A, and have no interest in Class-D unless they are low cost compact amps, so I will stick with the tried and true proven Class-A/B. Class-A/B is not without its flaw, but it has been serving the Audio World faithfully for nearly a Century.

Speaker cables make a difference?

On this I'm not a purist. I believe Speaker Cable CAN make a difference, but I also believe that they rarely do. Most people obsessing over Speaker Cable are no in a class of equipment where it will make a difference. As with RCA Cables, a LOT of what you are paying for is purely cosmetic. The same is true for Speaker Cable. It does cost money to dress those cable up in fancy pants and jacket. But fancy does not improve the sound.

I did some research that indicated that most people spend in the 2% to 5% range relative to system cost on ALL cable and wire regardless of system cost. Though of course, 5% of £15,000 is considerably more than 5% of £1500.

Most stores would recommend that you spend 10% to 20% of the total system cost on Cable and Wire. You are certainly free to do that, but I'm not sure it actually brings anything to the table.

Can you still use Logitech Squeezeboxes for streaming?

Stupidest thing Logitech ever did was discontinue these Streamers. Just as they were about to corner the market, they stopped. For what I heard Logitech bought the company making these Streamer and re-branded them. They were compact with a big screens and they worked exceptionally well, and at the time they were dominating the market.

I see no logical reason to discontinue a successful product in a growing market.

Do DACs all sound the same?

I suspect all DACs do sound the same or at least similar, but it it not the DAC you are listing to, or more accurately the DAC-Chip. Rather you are hearing all the support equipment attached to the DAC-Chip. A DAC has one simple job - convert numbers into voltages. If there is a difference in the sound quality, it is not what it does with the numbers, but rather what it does with the voltages.

Is more expensive hifi more reliable?

Hard to get reliable equipment from Slave Labor. This is variable - maybe yes, maybe no. I have heard of several people who switched from relatively expensive equipment to more common equipment simply because of reliability issues.

What’s more important - listening to the music or fiddling with the kit?

The important things is to be able to separate the two. When you are listening to music, just listen to the music and forget the equipment. When you are fiddling with the equipment, fine, but don't think that is going to produce the most enjoyable listening experience in the moment.

We all need to be able to let go of the equipment, and just focus on the music. No matter how much you obsess about it, it is not going to sound any better than it sounds in the moment.

Buy hifi new or secondhand?

I know people who make a life-long hobby out of buying, selling, trading used equipment. And they get to experience a lot of great equipment. At some point they may come across a Dud or two, but generally they win much more than they lose. And they get to know equipment exceptionally well and probably have the best sense of what does and doesn't work. But again, this tends to be hobby.

Myself I tend to take my time and chase the bargains. Being on the lower side of the economic scale, I have to plan my upgrades, sometimes for years. But eventually I find a bargain that I just can't resist, so I go for it.

Most of my life I have bought Mail-Order equipment unheard, and have been very successful. I
went through about 4 good sounding systems until I hit on one that lasted me decades. At one point I was able to buy equipment for Wholesale which really helped maximize my money. Since that decade long system I had, I have been through about 3 more systems. Not bad for someone on the low end of the economic scale.

Just a few thoughts.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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dave48

Active Member
Quite a few questions there. Balanced vs RCA. No difference on short runs, long runs favour balanced. Bi-wiring doesn't make a difference, bi-amping does. Room correction can make a difference, but so does room treatment. CD or vinyl, both really depend on the playing device and it's a personal preference. Good quality SACD players, even on standard CDs can produce amazing results but expect to pay £1500 plus. The old adage of production values still holds good, crap in equals crap out.
It’s a good point about long cable runs - thankfully I’ve managed to avoid that. Room treatment was not really an option - the room where I have the Lyngdorf is very difficult. I was getting quite unhappy since whatever I was trying sounded worse there than other rooms. Carpet, sofa ... didn’t really help as much as I hoped. It’s probable it would sound even better in a “good” room.

I’d forgotten about SACD - I did have a brief foray into that but I wasn’t convinced it made much of a difference. Could depend on the relatively few recordings I had to try it out with, plus I may not have been “expensive enough” with the SACD player.
 

dave48

Active Member
dave48 thank's for your opinions based on personal experience and given with integrity. Much of what you state have also been my own findings.
Thanks. Forums - particularly here - have also been a real help. I’ve discovered a lot of products / ideas I may have never come across. Some of the more dedicated hardcore HiFi forums are less useful as they seems to focus on more exotic / expensive kit. I don’t have that kind of ££££ to play with.
 

Jampot90

Active Member
Interesting contributions, thank you all.

I don't think there is any doubt that hash on the mains supply is diminished in the evenings and the result is as described - sounds better than during 'working hours'. No one however has mentioned trying power conditioning. Perhaps day time listening is too infrequent for it to be an issue.

I don't use any (unless you can count a discontinued £300 Monster brand gadget that Scan computers were knocking out for about £32 some years ago) but I was present at a get together once when someone brought a regenerator of some sort. Couldn't hear a difference on that occasion but all present were staggered at the difference it made to a television picture! It would presumably have had a more noticeable effect in a sufficiently resolving system.

I concur (I think:)) with most comments except the bi-wire /bi-amp issue and have gone on record here several times in the past. I had an all Quad 77 system, started with a little stack comprising integrated, cd and tuner playing into a pair of small 77 10l speakers which are equipped with 2 sets of terminals. I added a 77 power amp and a second set of identical speaker cables and found a noticeable improvement. A yen for a record player brought on a change from the integrated to a 77 pre (with phono stage on board) and a second power amp. I can't honestly remember whether cds sounded any better than they did with the integrated / power amp combo but records sounded every bit as good.

The real eye opener was substitution of a 707 power amp in place of the 77 on the bass drivers. The improvement was astonishing!

All gone now, except a couple of 77 power amps in a surround system.

Jim
 

dave48

Active Member
One other aspect is stereo imaging vs. musicality. I found the Audiolab M-DAC into the cheap Atoll class A Monoblocks and Rega RS5s is amazing for the cost. The whole system was only about £1,200 but it was the first time I felt I’d got excellent stereo imaging. The other of my systems is the Lyngdorf with Kef Reference 205/2. This images really well (after quite a lot of fiddling with the setup). Particularly on vinyl it’s an eye opener. But you do have to sit in the sweetspot.

Is imaging or musicality more important? Both - musicality I put top, but when it images well, it’s a massive bonus. Downside is bad recordings really sound bad.

I’m a big fan of Rega speakers - I got a pair of RS3’s and they sound ridiculously good for the £150 I paid for them.
 

dave48

Active Member
I don't think there is any doubt that hash on the mains supply is diminished in the evenings and the result is as described - sounds better than during 'working hours'. No one however has mentioned trying power conditioning. Perhaps day time listening is too infrequent for it to be an issue.
This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit. But I haven’t tried it yet. I did put in a separate power spur for the room where the Lyngdorf is. Did that help? I am not convinced. Having studied physics I like to think a super-clean power supply should help. Many years back I got talked into buying an extremely expensive 8 way power adaptor with different filters for different types of components (HMS Energia) and some seriously thick mains cables from Audio Agile. Did they make a difference? I don’t think so. They look nice though.
 

dave48

Active Member
Stupidest thing Logitech ever did was discontinue these Streamers. Just as they were about to corner the market, they stopped. For what I heard Logitech bought the company making these Streamer and re-branded them. They were compact with a big screens and they worked exceptionally well, and at the time they were dominating the market.

I see no logical reason to discontinue a successful product in a growing market.
My thinking exactly. They are really excellent. Can control them from an iPad (iPeng), possible to synchronize them throughout the house. I’ve got everything running on a Synology NAS with Logitech Media Server. Sorted. Works perfectly with Deezer & co. It seems insane they didn’t continue the product line.
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
I’m a big fan of Rega speakers - I got a pair of RS3’s and they sound ridiculously good for the £150 I paid for them.

Agree with that as an owner of RS7s (driven by a Lyngdorf) for my main system and a RS1s with a Vulcan sub for the kitchen. Always overlooked but their PRAT is rarely matched in others at the same price.

Re your dedicated power supply for the Lyngdorf - they make a big thing about their power supply and how it can deal with brown supplies etc. so that is why you probably did not notice a difference. From their site:

This level of accuracy in signal processing is achieved by an advanced power supply, which delivers a correct and stable voltage to the output stage even in locations with very poor and fluctuating mains power. Together with effective grid noise elimination, this removes the need for an external mains filter or power conditioner.
 
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dannnielll

Well-known Member
This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit. But I haven’t tried it yet. I did put in a separate power spur for the room where the Lyngdorf is. Did that help? I am not convinced. Having studied physics I like to think a super-clean power supply should help. Many years back I got talked into buying an extremely expensive 8 way power adaptor with different filters for different types of components (HMS Energia) and some seriously thick mains cables from Audio Agile. Did they make a difference? I don’t think so. They look nice though.
I get the impression that this obsession with clean AC power is a USA construct. And probably linked with the much higher currents and lower voltage flowing in their domestic houses. Our European mains I suspect is a lot cleaner, although the UK Ring main does not help. Take as an example,say one had an 500 watt amplifier required to give a peak power and coming from a marginally defective socket with a 1 ohm contact resistance. The instantaneous current demand in 220v system will be 2amp and 4 amp in the US.
So the power supply drop by 2 volts in Europe and 4 volts in the USA. .. But 2v is less than 1% and 4v is 4% of the supply . Then 100ms later, during a pause, the voltage level in the US amplifier increases by 4%.... That is putting demands on regulation not required in Europe. The same effect will occur when motors, fridges, fan ovens washing machines switch in and out
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
"I suspect all DACs do sound the same or at least similar, but it it not the DAC you are listing to, or more accurately the DAC-Chip. Rather you are hearing all the support equipment attached to the DAC-Chip. A DAC has one simple job - convert numbers into voltages. If there is a difference in the sound quality, it is not what it does with the numbers, but rather what it does with the voltages"
Steve, I agree with the above with a few caveats. Even a simple capacitor or a resistor after the DAC sub system can utterly change the sound. However DACs are no longer simple Chips. Even prior to the D to A bit they can have all manner of digital filtering ,pre emphasis etc and these parameters can be selected by jumpers on the chip. So it would be possible to have two DACs using exactly the same chip, exactly the same analogue output, but sounding different ,because a different length internal filter has been selected.
 

dave48

Active Member
Agree with that as an owner of RS7s (driven by a Lyngdorf) for my main system and a RS1s with a Vulcan sub for the kitchen.
RS7s plus the Lyngdorf is a tempting idea. I was once sorely tempted by a pair on eBay but didn’t bid. I equally was very close to going for a pair of RS10s - thankfully they were a very, very long car drive away so I didn’t go for it.
 

Rob Sinden

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hi Dave

Thanks for sharing your findings.

My advice to anyone upgrading is to look at the weakest link and address that.

When you have good equipment, by far the biggest problem is typically the room. In most rooms some sounds will be heard 4 times louder than others because of the room’s acoustics. This makes a hifi so inaccurate that it seems crazy anyone would look to change say a DAC or amp before trying to fix these problems.

I see you have tried RoomPerfect and like its effect. I’m glad you came across this technology; I understand there are many independent high-quality retailers in Germany.

In the UK, HiFi stores are typically much more interested in looking after their suppliers than offering their customers the best performance possible. For the UK consumer, a trip abroad would probably be a good idea?
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
Personally, I love having a Centre and I think in my room with my system it makes all the difference in the world. I don't know if this is significant, but my Centre is an old PMC CB6i, a 3-way with a dedicated midrange driver.

I find it anchors the central sound much better for people sitting off center, or in a typical somewhat acoustically asymmetric room.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
No mention of headphone amps versus the standard jack on an integrated?

I suppose if your integrated can drive your headphones okay then there's no issue, but the blurb that comes with headphone amps is very persuasive. Professional reviews are similar too.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
No mention of headphone amps versus the standard jack on an integrated?

I suppose if your integrated can drive your headphones okay then there's no issue, but the blurb that comes with headphone amps is very persuasive. Professional reviews are similar too.
If you look at the size of my headphone amp it would certainly take up a fair bit of room where it to be integrated into a stereo amp. Headphone circuits have to be fitted within existing amps competing for room and for costings, on that basis you would think that a standalone headphone amp would have the edge. Horses for courses so to say.

Would have bought a Lehmann had the Rega had it's own circuit and headphone jack. I don't think I can answer that without actually trying a standalone against the integrated stereo amp back to back. The other problem comes with most manufacturers not publishing the actual power of the headphone section of their amps.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
If you look at the size of my headphone amp it would certainly take up a fair bit of room where it to be integrated into a stereo amp. Headphone circuits have to be fitted within existing amps competing for room and for costings, on that basis you would think that a standalone headphone amp would have the edge. Horses for courses so to say.

Would have bought a Lehmann had the Rega had it's own circuit and headphone jack. I don't think I can answer that without actually trying a standalone against the integrated stereo amp back to back. The other problem comes with most manufacturers not publishing the actual power of the headphone section of their amps.

Would you say that the headphone jack on an integrated is underpowered, then?

I know it's all supposition and hypothesis and I guess you also know why I'm bringing this up as a topic! Your Lehmann is huge! But some headphone amps are tiny but still claim to have large power outputs, like the JDS Atom.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Okay, I've just looked up the specifications of my Arcam FMJ A32 integrated and it says:

Headphone Output

Maximum output level into 600 ohms - 8V (volts?)
Output impedance - 100 ohms

Enough to drive a pair of Sennheiser HD 800S, @gibbsy?

Sorry this is OT, won't ask again!
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Well-known Member
My thinking exactly. They are really excellent. Can control them from an iPad (iPeng), possible to synchronize them throughout the house. I’ve got everything running on a Synology NAS with Logitech Media Server. Sorted. Works perfectly with Deezer & co. It seems insane they didn’t continue the product line.
I was too late to the party, so have a raspberry pi with a touchscreen and dac in my setup being fed like yours (synology NAS with LMS). Brilliant streamer with nice big display for album artwork or vu meters.
 

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