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Shondek

Streamer/Client vs Server/Nas. What has bigger influence on musicality

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Hi guys, I'm new here and to the digital world in general. I've just put together a streamer comprising of a giga something motherboard, the name escapes me, amongst other things like ram etc and an ESI DAC. 

I've always refrained from getting into the digital streamer world as every time I demoed the different levels mainly Linn it seemed like an amplifier upgrade rather than a source upgrade. So I'm wondering is the most important part of the chain still the hardware that's closest to the software ie record deck CD player. So in this case it would be the server rather than the client. Your views would be extremely helpful, many thanks 

Leo 

Edited by Shondek

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The most important part is the one prior and directly connected to your DAC

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:welcome:

 

It is the music chain, both hardware and software, which all contribute to audio quality (AQ). 

NAS -> link -> streamer -> link -> DAC

 

To answer your question, I would focus on the streamer to DAC side first.

 

Noise from power supplies in the chain has probably the biggest influence on AQ, so suggest getting better PSU for streamer, DAC.  An easy path to experiment is to try different software on the streamer. Another thing to explore is the link between streamer and DAC.

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I'm going to second the streamer and DAC side being the most important.

 

I've tried a lot of combinations of a couple of different streamers/dacs and digital sources including:

  • USB drive directly plugged into the streamer
  • UPnP streamed over the network
  • Roon streamed over the network

To my ears the biggest difference, by a very very wide margin, is the streamer/dac. What surprised me most in my listening is how much the streamer software affected the sound. The software running on the streamer can alter the sound by a lot more than I would have thought.

Edited by skermajo
clarification

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Thanks for your replies guys that's very interesting.

I've heard it said the  DAC plays a similar role to a cartridge on a turntable, converting information to analogue, and I know if you spend a large amount of cash on a cartridge with a sub standard TT it will initially sound impressive but musically it might not necessarily keep you engaged.What are your thoughts on that. Do you have a hierarchy of importance, my guess would be  mobo hard drive software and least of all dac. 

Have any of you experimented with different server software /hardware combos to come to these  conclusions? 

Edited by Shondek

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It gets complicated quickly because of the many options and combinations available in the music chain. It is how well the components work together that determine the overall AQ.  

 

Suggest focussing on the streamer first. 

Are you prepared to invest in upgraded hardware and power supplies?  Do a search of dedicated music based computers to see how much effort and $ is put in to reduce noise. Also have a look at music software which can range from free to hundreds of dollars.  

 

A dedicated network streamer will perform better (see my primer). I suspect it is to early for you, especially since you have just put together your PC based streamer but I put in the link to expose you to a complicated world!  For some, it is too complex but others relish the challenge!  

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On 11/02/2019 at 1:04 PM, Snoopy8 said:

It gets complicated quickly because of the many options and combinations available in the music chain. It is how well the components work together that determine the overall AQ.  

 

Suggest focussing on the streamer first. 

Are you prepared to invest in upgraded hardware and power supplies?  Do a search of dedicated music based computers to see how much effort and $ is put in to reduce noise. Also have a look at music software which can range from free to hundreds of dollars.  

 

A dedicated network streamer will perform better (see my primer). I suspect it is to early for you, especially since you have just put together your PC based streamer but I put in the link to expose you to a complicated world!  For some, it is too complex but others relish the challenge!  

Many many thanks Snoopy,that primer should be a sticky.. Lots of  great info in there. When you say a dedicated network streamer will perform better did you mean better than music based computers. Why do you suggest working on streamer first. Do you put the same effort into server/Nas builds as you do to your streamer? 

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1 hour ago, Shondek said:

Many many thanks Snoopy,that primer should be a sticky.. Lots of  great info in there. When you say a dedicated network streamer will perform better did you mean better than music based computers. Why do you suggest working on streamer first. Do you put the same effort into server/Nas builds as you do to your streamer? 

Started with an el cheapo dedicated laptop running Foobar2000. Have a NAS to backup music, but music was stored on laptop (less complexity). Since discovered how noisy laptops, PCs were and techniques to reduce and isolate that noise. It is possible to build or buy music based computers which are quiet but decided to try a standard SMS-200 network streamer.  It blew my laptop setup away.

 

 

Why the streamer first?  It provided the biggest jump for the dollars spent.  Note that I am not using a server and resisting a push in that direction because of increased complexity.  Also, my streamer is directly connected to my NAS, bypassing a noisy router.  

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6 hours ago, Snoopy8 said:

Started with an el cheapo dedicated laptop running Foobar2000. Have a NAS to backup music, but music was stored on laptop (less complexity). Since discovered how noisy laptops, PCs were and techniques to reduce and isolate that noise. It is possible to build or buy music based computers which are quiet but decided to try a standard SMS-200 network streamer.  It blew my laptop setup away.

 

 

Why the streamer first?  It provided the biggest jump for the dollars spent.  Note that I am not using a server and resisting a push in that direction because of increased complexity.  Also, my streamer is directly connected to my NAS, bypassing a noisy router.  

Good progress there Snoooy8, have you tried using a router with a switch as some people have found this gives improved musicality over direct link, though sound is slightly worse 

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57 minutes ago, Shondek said:

Good progress there Snoooy8, have you tried using a router with a switch as some people have found this gives improved musicality over direct link, though sound is slightly worse 

There are expensive solutions for including audiophile routers, power supplies, master clocks etc. into the music chain. Decided enough was enough and chose to stick with a direct link between the SMS-200  and the NAS which has 2 Ethernet ports (some software config required).  

 

IF (still a big if) I choose to upgrade, I would look for a high end single box solution with a streamer, SSD and DAC with internal master clock and linear power supply to simplify everything and reduce all the noise and jitter in the music chain. A very expensive upgrade requiring a loss on expensive current gear. Hence the hesitation... 

 

Sorry, I have digressed a bit but hopefully I have given you some (expensive $$$) ideas on your next steps.  Best wishes on your journey, please post if you have more questions.

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