Suggestions for a New Setup for Streaming

pelagic

Member
I just set up a new home theater system that I'd like to also optimize for music. Problem is I am not knowledgeable in this area at all, and there are so many options out there it is confusing. So am hoping I can find some help here.

My current setup is a Marantz AV7706 pre amp that feeds all the amps for my speakers. Currently I can stream from Spotify and Tidal using HEOS on the Marantz, but I have noticed some light skipping in the audio, almost always just when streaming with Tidal. This leads to thinking that I am not getting the best quality audio to my speakers either. The Marantz is hard wired to my internet connection with typical download speeds of 50-70Mbs so shouldn't be a connection problem.

From the research I have tried to do on this, it seems like a dedicated streamer and DAC could greatly improve my experience, but am not sure if this is necessary given my setup, and there is so much info and so many options out there it is quite confusing to know what the best route is.

I've looked at Roon and their nucleus as a possible solution and would go that route if it would provide a good experience and fix my issues. I'm really just trying to maximize my setup. All of my music listening would be from a streaming service like Tidal/Spotify/Qubuz, and I have very little local music files. All would be controlled via iphone or ipad.

Specific gear and setup recommendations would be great!
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
This might be all you need.


Digital input into your preamp and off you go.
Was about to suggest this. I have one on loan (review to follow). It even has a specific tidal setting.
 

pelagic

Member
Thank you for the suggestion. Looks like it would fit the bill. So essentially, my Marantz is already a good enough DAC for my purposes? And the Zen Streamer just pulls a direct stream from my streaming service into the DAC. Is the benefit here that this does a better job than HEOS?

And using this would (should?) eliminate the jittery and sometimes skippy audio I am currently getting?
 

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
Thank you for the suggestion. Looks like it would fit the bill. So essentially, my Marantz is already a good enough DAC for my purposes? And the Zen Streamer just pulls a direct stream from my streaming service into the DAC. Is the benefit here that this does a better job than HEOS?

And using this would (should?) eliminate the jittery and sometimes skippy audio I am currently getting?
That's the idea. You on iOS or Android? It still works fine with android, but is much more iOS friendly. Tidal and Spotify Connects are both onboard, which is handy. Also, being an ifi Zen, it's got a small footprint.
 

mseve1

Active Member
I would be wary of such a new product to market that still seems to be in development.
Agreed. Whilst on paper, something like the Bluesound Node loses out in the raw specs when compared to the Zen it's a mature product with a very polished user interface. The latter is at least as important as the ultimate SQ of any streamer you may consider.
 

ItsNotAllSnakeOil

Active Member
For what it is worth, i added a Bluesound Node 2i to my Vena 2 Play, as i was unhappy with the Play-Fi software. It was well worth it. It supports Bluetooth, Airplay, Tidal Connect, Spotify Connect etc and the native app is pretty good too when streaming directly from the Node. I run coaxial into my Quad DAC and it's great. The DAC in the Node 2i is no slouch either so you could always compare it to your Marantz.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
Thank you for the suggestion. Looks like it would fit the bill. So essentially, my Marantz is already a good enough DAC for my purposes? And the Zen Streamer just pulls a direct stream from my streaming service into the DAC. Is the benefit here that this does a better job than HEOS?

And using this would (should?) eliminate the jittery and sometimes skippy audio I am currently getting?
I am happy to help you diagnose the source of the jitter, no matter you are getting Node or Zen Stream. You can drop me a message and we will see what we can do about it remotely.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
Agreed. Whilst on paper, something like the Bluesound Node loses out in the raw specs when compared to the Zen it's a mature product with a very polished user interface. The latter is at least as important as the ultimate SQ of any streamer you may consider.
While I see your point about the maturity of the product, I wanted to stress that the Zen Stream was designed for nearly 2 years including multiple rounds of Beta and PP testing. The return policy may differ country to country, but in most of the places you can return it free of charge within the first 30 days, no questions asked.

Node 2i is a good product, I like it, but the difference between the Zen Stream and Node could not be bigger. It's not just on paper.
Zen Stream offers all what Node does plus it will support Amazon HD Music, Apple Music High-Res, Active Noise Cancellation, rebalancing, time domain jitter elimination, isolated G-Lan, Chromecast, DLNA enabled, ROON Ready.

We purposely did not add BT into the Zen Stream, because BT should not be included in a streamer. Otherwise it influences the quality of the signal over wifi network.

Not to mention that the Zen Stream is $150 cheaper.

Why not give it a try and if you like it less than the Node, you keep Bluesound and return the Zen?
 
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acgingersnaps

Well-known Member

ItsNotAllSnakeOil

Active Member
While I see your point about the maturity of the product, I wanted to stress that the Zen Stream was designed for nearly 2 years including multiple rounds of Beta and PP testing. The return policy may differ country to country, but in most of the places you can return it free of charge within the first 30 days, no questions asked.

Node 2i is a good product, I like it, but the difference between the Zen Stream and Node could not be bigger. It's not just on paper.
Zen Stream offers all what Node does plus Amazon HD Music, Apple Music High-Res, Active Noise Cancellation, rebalancing, time domain jitter elimination, isolated G-Lan, Chromecast, DLNA enabled, ROON Ready.

We purposely did not add BT into the Zen Stream, because BT should not be included in a streamer. Otherwise it influences the quality of the signal over wifi network.

Not to mention that the Zen Stream is $150 cheaper.

Why not give it a try and if you like it less than the Node, you keep Bluesound and return the Zen?
Pretty sure the Node does Amazon HD, Apple Hi-Res (via Airplay up to 24/48) and DLNA.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
While I see your point about the maturity of the product, I wanted to stress that the Zen Stream was designed for nearly 2 years including multiple rounds of Beta and PP testing. The return policy may differ country to country, but in most of the places you can return it free of charge within the first 30 days, no questions asked.

Node 2i is a good product, I like it, but the difference between the Zen Stream and Node could not be bigger. It's not just on paper.
Zen Stream offers all what Node does plus Amazon HD Music, Apple Music High-Res, Active Noise Cancellation, rebalancing, time domain jitter elimination, isolated G-Lan, Chromecast, DLNA enabled, ROON Ready.

We purposely did not add BT into the Zen Stream, because BT should not be included in a streamer. Otherwise it influences the quality of the signal over wifi network.

Not to mention that the Zen Stream is $150 cheaper.

Why not give it a try and if you like it less than the Node, you keep Bluesound and return the Zen?

It’d be no serious choice in my mind.

The dac/preamp in the AV receiver will be at least as good as the dac in the Node.

And the ifi offers more for less cash.

And I’m not at all sure why anyone might think it’s ‘still in development’?

As far as that goes, it’s a finished product the same as the Node (which is on its third incarnation).

It is likely that there may be updates in the future (just as the Node has had and will continue to have) but that is just that; it’s updates, not development.
 

Phildick

Active Member
And I’m not at all sure why anyone might think it’s ‘still in development’?

As far as that goes, it’s a finished product the same as the Node (which is on its third incarnation).

It is likely that there may be updates in the future (just as the Node has had and will continue to have) but that is just that; it’s updates, not development.

The following is from the link you posted:

Integrated Airplay and Chromecast* – easy streaming from Apple and Android devices
ROON Ready functionality to be added in a future update.
NAA operation in conjunction with Sygnalist’s HQPlayer software
*Chromecast to come in a future update.

That's development
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
The product was finished when it was released. We received requests from our customers if we could also add the options and features mentioned above. We care about our customers' needs and that is why we decided to invest more resources in Zen Stream and add these options in the next firmware update.

We designed the product to have the optimised open-source architecture which allows for multiple dedicated platforms. It is, therefore, completely and perfectly future-proofed as it could be constantly updated. Thanks to this complicated architecture we do not have to wait for the Zen Stream MK2 to handle Airplay, Chromecast, Roon, Amazon HD, etc., All we need is a little time to integrate them into the firmware and get the licenses.

It is not an unfinished product in development. It is a rare example of a company that listens to clients' needs and delivers. The fact that we are on the forum, always happy to hear your suggestions, learn and then discuss a potential implementation of your ideas/needs with the RnD exemplifies it best.

Obviously, we make mistakes too, but we always aim not to keep it as a one-sided affair, imposing our perception of the customer's needs. We as hard as we can to be inclusive.
 
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iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
I hope I am not ruining anyone's dreams by saying that Node does not support DLNA.
or UPnP
 

Yorkshire AV

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
Glad to see the ZEN Stream is getting some more airtime.

Agree with most - the DAC in your AVR is to a good standard. SPDIF out from the ZEN Stream will tick the box. That said - it won’t support the highest levels of TIDAL (ie MQA) as the DAC isn’t certified for that. You’d need to get a ZEN combo (Stream + DAC) if you wanted to explore the world of MQA.

Just make sure you set the device up first before changing to TIDAL mode (we did a video on YouTube for this which has helped hundreds of stuck users out now!). Then enjoy the benefits of TIDAL Connect. In other modes you get open source access via NAA, “all in one” mode, Roon etc which are all nice features if the bug does bite.

You’re getting the benefit of being able to expand the system in due course should you device you want to change the sound through the DAC etc whereas an all-in-one streamer leaves you with less options (or duplicated costs).

Give me a shout if we can help at all - we’re iFi dealers and have lots of experience with the ZEN Range :)
 

Yorkshire AV

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
Correct - DLNA isn’t stable enough to keep multiple streams in sync for when you group in BluOS.

BluOS being present in more than a single HiFi system (ie multi room streaming) means they have to find a balance of functions vs reliability.
 

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
Have to say, I've found it to be a good bit of kit. More stable (fewer mysterious disappearances) than the Sonos Connect that I usially use to boot.
 

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