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billy170468

Getting into streaming. Need help

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Posted (edited)

Hi all,

I am wanting to get into streaming and need your help. 

I rang a Hifi store.

They suggested the Auralic Altair G1 ($3795)

I need it to have pre-amp qualities.

I can afford the Altair, but I have also been suggested the NAD C658.

Will I be happy with the C658, or do I actually need to purchase the Altair?

Or is there another option?

My system consists of PS Audio amp powering Lenehan ML2 Ref´s. 

Will be playing local Flacś and also tidal.

If you need more info please let me know. 

Thank you

 

Andy

Edited by billy170468

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What is your budget?  Also, have a look at this thread

 

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13 minutes ago, billy170468 said:

Hi all,

I am wanting to get into streaming and need your help. 

I rang a Hifi store.

They suggested the Auralic Altair G1 ($3795)

I need it to have pre-amp qualities.

I can afford the Altair, but I have also been suggested the NAD C658.

Will I be happy with the C658, or do I actually need to purchase the Altair?

Or is there another option?

My system consists of PS Audio amp powering Lenehan ML2 Ref´s. 

Will be playing local Flacś and also tidal.

If you need more info please let me know. 

Thank you

 

Andy

Hi Andy, I was in exactly the same position as you, probably even more confused. I have Dynaudio Confidence C1 speakers and wanted to start streaming with equipment that would do justice to the Dyns. I also wanted to   reduce the number of cables etc. I would have considered almost every streamer without actually understanding what they were talking about. I wanted an end game so didn’t want to have to worry about the upgrade path. Eventually I was advised by two dealers that a combined amp/streamer would be the way to go for my purposes. So I auditioned three and decided to buy the Naim Uniti Nova. I’m not saying that it was the best but it is certainly easy to operate and that’s what I needed. The price I was offered was amazing and that also helped with my decision. 
I quite like the idea of a Nad because it has the Dirac system but I didn’t have the opportunity to try it. The dealer I bought mine from actually had my speakers in their showroom for a short time so I was able to hear what the Nova would sound like with my speakers. and they sounded good. 
good luck with your search. It can be exciting and frustrating. 

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When you say "I need it to have pre-amp qualities." do you mean phono and line level inputs or just a volume control for digital source?

 

If you are not planning to need full pre-amp inputs this Matrix Audio Element I has a similar feature set to the Aurilic at less than half the price. https://a1futureshop.com.au/index.php?route=product/product&manufacturer_id=6&product_id=1477

 

There are two other Matrix streamers in the Element line at higher prices and marginally better performance.

 

If you believe in measurements this measures really well on ASR so you should be able to buy with confidence.

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3 hours ago, a.dent said:

When you say "I need it to have pre-amp qualities." do you mean phono and line level inputs or just a volume control for digital source?

 

If you are not planning to need full pre-amp inputs this Matrix Audio Element I has a similar feature set to the Aurilic at less than half the price. https://a1futureshop.com.au/index.php?route=product/product&manufacturer_id=6&product_id=1477

 

There are two other Matrix streamers in the Element line at higher prices and marginally better performance.

 

If you believe in measurements this measures really well on ASR so you should be able to buy with confidence.

As a Matrix Audio Element M owner, I can say I am one happy owner. This acts as a digital preamp also (but no analogue inputs).

Grab one before the price goes up!

 

_MH10272.thumb.jpg.5b70aea61b53b92e5ea6fe7d6267e03b.jpg

 

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Ok, after some research, I think I am going to buy the C658.

 

Now, just to find out where I am going to purchase it.

 

Any suggestions?

 

Cheers

 

Andy

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On 8 April 2020 at 3:05 PM, Hydrology said:

As a Matrix Audio Element M owner, I can say I am one happy owner. This acts as a digital preamp also (but no analogue inputs).

Grab one before the price goes up!

 

_MH10272.thumb.jpg.5b70aea61b53b92e5ea6fe7d6267e03b.jpg

 

@Hydrology the matrix streamer looks interesting,. Is the hdmi input on the back configured for arc ? (HDMI audio from TV ? )

I checked out there website but couldn't find anything on the hdmi input

would be exactly what I've been looking for if it does

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46 minutes ago, Happydogs said:

@Hydrology the matrix streamer looks interesting,. Is the hdmi input on the back configured for arc ? (HDMI audio from TV ? )

I checked out there website but couldn't find anything on the hdmi input

would be exactly what I've been looking for if it does

Its an I2S connection specifically for audio, so not a regular HDMI (but using the same socket)

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Thanks @Hydrology that's a shame,.

I don't understand why more streamers don't have hdmi arc, the blue sound powernode has this feature, but not the blue sound node,

I had a realy cheap sound bar that had it so it can't be that hard / expencive to add to a streamer.

there must be a market for a streamer/DAC that you can use for both music and two Chanel TV

my old streammagic V1 will not last forever so hopefully Cambridge audio or bluesound include hdmi arc on a future product ( < $1600 )

thank again for the information 

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6 minutes ago, Happydogs said:

Thanks @Hydrology that's a shame,.

I don't understand why more streamers don't have hdmi arc, the blue sound powernode has this feature, but not the blue sound node,

I had a realy cheap sound bar that had it so it can't be that hard / expencive to add to a streamer.

there must be a market for a streamer/DAC that you can use for both music and two Chanel TV

my old streammagic V1 will not last forever so hopefully Cambridge audio or bluesound include hdmi arc on a future product ( < $1600 )

thank again for the information 

I guess HMDI interface was designed to services video and audio, so most of the "HIFI" streamers/DACs don't support HMD input. But most of the modern TVs have optical output which is supported by almost every DAC/streamer.

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2 hours ago, Happydogs said:

Thanks @Hydrology that's a shame,.

I don't understand why more streamers don't have hdmi arc, the blue sound powernode has this feature, but not the blue sound node,

I had a realy cheap sound bar that had it so it can't be that hard / expencive to add to a streamer.

there must be a market for a streamer/DAC that you can use for both music and two Chanel TV

my old streammagic V1 will not last forever so hopefully Cambridge audio or bluesound include hdmi arc on a future product ( < $1600 )

thank again for the information 

It tends to show up on amps rather than streamers - hene why the Powernode has it but not the Node.

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OK, so I am going in a different direction. 

Am going to use my old NAD 116 Pre and now intend to purchase a Node 2i.

Just asking if I will be happy with this? 

Maybe you can suggest other products?

I need RCA outs to power amp.

The rest of my system includes PS Audio BHK250, and a Rega P2 (circa 1990) 

Thank you in advance

Cheers

Andy

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On 20/04/2020 at 8:40 AM, Jackybrown said:

I guess HMDI interface was designed to services video and audio, so most of the "HIFI" streamers/DACs don't support HMD input. But most of the modern TVs have optical output which is supported by almost every DAC/streamer.

Have a read;

 

Music in the Round #92: Digibit Aria Piccolo +

Kalman Rubinson  |  Jun 26, 2018

 

 

 

718mitr.promo__0.jpg

Lovers of high-resolution multichannel sound still don't have it easy. While the two-channel market is replete with snazzy, efficient music servers in stylish boxes, the only multichannel equivalents are Merging Technologies' Merging+Player Multichannel-8, and a handful of stereo devices that are rumored to do multichannel, though no such claims are made in print. To be candid, the latter will play multichannel tracks via USB, Ethernet, or HDMI outputs to suitable DACs (but that's another story), but because they're aimed at the two-channel market, they tend to skimp on the CPU horsepower and RAM needed to handle higher-resolution multichannel files. Even the Merging+Player Multichannel-8 ($13,500), with its Intel i3 CPU running Roon, couldn't entirely keep up with everything in my library.

Among the many multichannel wannabes was DigiBit's elegant Aria music server, which I reviewed in March 2015. At the time, I noted that DigiBit's website made "no mention of the playback of multichannel files," though their representatives told me that all Arias could play multichannel files. Sure they could.

The datasheet for the Aria Piccolo + boldly announces "Multichannel Support via HDMI and USB outputs." This piqued my interest, not only for the overt declaration of multichannel support but also for the mention of HDMI. Given the fact that, currently, there are only three multichannel USB DACs on the consumer market, we should welcome support for HDMI so that we can play multichannel audio through an AVR or preamplifier-processor.

The Piccolo + runs a Celeron CPU and 4GB RAM and comes in three configurations, depending on the internal storage capacity: 1TB SSD, $2999; 2TB SSD, $3299; or 3TB HDD, $3499. It includes a standalone USB DVD drive for ripping CDs, with automatic ripping and tagging features. I opted for the 3TB version, as uncompressed multichannel files are about six times the size of equivalent two-channel files. On the other hand, none of the three configurations is constrained by the internal storage—the Aria can access and play files from a NAS or a directly attached USB drive.

At 17" wide by 2.4" high by 9.8" wide and 13.25 lb, the Piccolo + is somewhat smaller than the original Aria, and though it lacks its predecessor's beautifully sculpted, and no doubt expensive to machine heatsinking, its looks are equally elegant. There are no visible heatsinks—the Piccolo + clearly relies on radiating heat from its sealed and smoothly machined case. Throughout my testing and listening, it never got more than barely warm to the touch.

718mitr.picbac.jpg

The black front panel is empty but for the illuminated On/Off button. A lot more goes on around back. At left are pairs of RCA and XLR analog output jacks that are fed from the internal stereo DACs, and above them is the single HDMI connector. In the middle of the panel are AES/EBU (XLR), S/PDIF (RCA), and USB output jacks, along with a LAN (RJ45) jack and a USB in/out port for local storage devices. To the right are an IEC power inlet, the main power switch, and a connector for a possible future dedicated linear power supply.

The Piccolo + is operated via DigiBit's iAria app, which I downloaded to my iPad from the Apple Store. (There's a version for Android devices.) After I'd connected the Piccolo + to my LAN and powered it up, the app found it, then presented me with a well-designed GUI, with which all setup and playback functions can be controlled. The iAria supports automatic tagging and display of album-cover art via web access to Discogs, FreeDB, GD3, MusicBrainz, and SonataDB (classical). Albums and tracks are accessible by almost any category, and there is full playlist support. In addition, the GUI permits user editing of tags and cover art, as well as library backup.

The setup options offer a degree of user control suitable for a music server. But, consistent with DigiBit's intention of making everything as foolproof as possible, there's no real access to the Aria's operating system. For instance, I could send files from the Piccolo + via the stereo analog outputs of the built-in DAC, or via USB 2.0 if no special driver was required. (The Piccolo + is compatible with Apple AirPlay and DLNA.) But to use my exaSound e38 DAC, I had to e-mail DigiBit, who then magically downloaded and installed the driver in the Aria overnight. Now, I prefer a more hands-on approach, but I have to admit that, with DigiBit's way of doing things, there's no way the user can screw things up.

718mitr.pic2.jpg

After testing the Aria's communication and playback via the exaSound e38 with the provided sample files, I directed the Piccolo + to access my NAS, then told it to add to its library all of the more than 20TB worth of music files stored there. This was not accomplished instantaneously. While the Piccolo + was busy doing all that, I played some of the files. All two-channel formats played well, as did multichannel 24-bit/96kHz PCM and DSD64 files, but to my great disappointment, all higher resolutions played only with frequent interruptions. "Here we go again," I muttered.

But the Piccolo turned out to be much better than that. First, I canceled the comprehensive library process and instead downloaded only about 2TB of music to the Aria's HDD. Listening to those, I found that the Piccolo + played everything, including DXD and DSD256 in multichannel, without a burble or hesitation or interruption. The sound from the e38 and the rest of my Manhattan system was as clean, smooth, and satisfying as ever. From this, I concluded that the frequent interruptions I'd heard earlier were the result of playing hi-rez multichannel files while the Piccolo + was busy transferring my entire library over the network.

I then asked the Piccolo + to add another 2TB of files to its library, but without downloading them to the Piccolo's internal HD. Only after that process was completed did I try to play any of them over my LAN, and again, it was everything I'd hoped for. The logical conclusion: The Piccolo + could play every music format I had on hand, either from internal or network storage. That it couldn't play the highest-density files while simultaneously adding files to its library over a network was no big deal. As my mother said, "First, finish your homework; then you can go out and play."

718mitr.pic3.jpg

What about HDMI? I toted the Aria Piccolo + up to our place in Connecticut, intending to plug it into one of the HDMI inputs on my Marantz AV8802a preamplifier-processor, but there was another wrinkle: HDMI output is not enabled on the Piccolo + by default, but requires an e-mail request to DigiBit to activate it via the Internet.

Playing files on the Piccolo + and sending them via HDMI to the Marantz was completely successful, with two small limitations and one convenient advantage. The first limitation is a common one: HDMI output from the Aria's Intel motherboard doesn't support DSD, but converts DSD to hi-rez PCM on the fly. The second limitation is the Marantz's inability to accept any input resolution higher than 24/192. If your pre-pro can handle more, the Piccolo + will do it, as I proved by using it in my Manhattan system. The advantage: You can apply to the feed from the Piccolo + all of your AVR's audio-processing facilities, including room EQ, bass management, or whatever else it has onboard.

Given the closed structure of the Piccolo +'s GUI and its not-ready-for-gaming CPU, there's no easy way to implement bass management or equalization. For the same reason, massive library operations should not be performed while listening. Normal operations, such as adding a few albums, are not problems.

 

I'm happy to say that DigiBit's Aria Piccolo + is a well-integrated music server that's delightfully capable and easy to use. With suitable attached devices it will play uncompressed (AIFF, WAV) and lossless (ALAC, FLAC) formats up to 32/384 PCM, as well as DXD (32/352.8), DSD64, DSD128, and DSD256 files in glorious multichannel. It was a pleasure to use, and will suit the needs of almost any aficionado of music and multichannel-sound.

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18 minutes ago, billy170468 said:

OK, so I am going in a different direction. 

Am going to use my old NAD 116 Pre and now intend to purchase a Node 2i.

Just asking if I will be happy with this? 

Maybe you can suggest other products?

I need RCA outs to power amp.

The rest of my system includes PS Audio BHK250, and a Rega P2 (circa 1990) 

Thank you in advance

Cheers

Andy

The Node 2i is a good starting point for a steamer DAC but the C658 is a step up in build, DAC, analog stages. Significantly,  the C658 has Dirac Live which makes a big difference. Both has BluOS which is one of the better apps for streaming.

 

The other option is the Cambridge Audio CXN.

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Posted (edited)

@Snoopy8 are you still an advocate for Clayś DACs? The reason I ask is that I am toying with the idea of Fein II DAC with maybe SMS200?

 

Or is the C658 the better option?

 

Cheers

 

Andy

 

Edited by billy170468

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15 minutes ago, billy170468 said:

@Snoopy8 are you still an advocate for Clayś DACs? The reason I ask is that I am toying with the idea of Fein II DAC with maybe SMS200?

 

Or is the C658 the better option?

Depends on whether you are ready to do simplification or still have the upgrade bug?  And what your maximum budget is. 

 

For a simplified setup, the C658 at that price point, is difficult to beat.  Streamer with BluOS, easy to set and use, a good ESS Sabre DAC and a good preamp.  The cream is Dirac LIve.  You will end up tweaking Dirac Live but that is all you will be doing.  Had the C658 been available when I made the decision to simplify my system, I may have gone that way?

I do like, and still recommend, Gieseler Dacs and the Fein II is the current champion.  The SOtM SMS-200 is good but if budget permits, go the SMS-200 Ultra with a Gieseler PSU (which was what I had). Of course, all these things started becoming expensive, but it was addictive doing tweaking and upgrading.  For some people, this is the fun part of hifi.

 

Not sure whether this helps or hinders your decision process?

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@snoopy8

 

OK, after an hour phone call to my local hifi store, I am now convinced that the C658 is the way to go. They have none in stock, and wont have any for two months (which I am happy to wait for)

 

You have helped me in my search :)

 

Cheers

 

Andy

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49 minutes ago, billy170468 said:

@snoopy8

 

OK, after an hour phone call to my local hifi store, I am now convinced that the C658 is the way to go. They have none in stock, and wont have any for two months (which I am happy to wait for)

 

You have helped me in my search :)

 

Cheers

 

Andy

Hi Andy,

 

Since you have decided to get C658, try Geoff at HeyNow Hi Fi. He might have stock and would be able to give you a good deal too👍

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4 hours ago, NADbooffa said:

Hi Andy,

 

Since you have decided to get C658, try Geoff at HeyNow Hi Fi. He might have stock and would be able to give you a good deal too👍

I would've thought if the store was prepared to spend an hour on the phone and the decision to purchase was made, then that store probably deserves the business. This is not a slight on Geoff by the way (who is a great guy), but stores won't survive by dishing out free advice to help those buy somewhere else.

But hey, it's a free world and everyone can do what they want.

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Ok guys. Have decided to buy the unit from my local (read Canberra) hifi store.

 

Question: Now I need to find out how to store my local flac files. I think there are 3 options

1. On a USB stick, or

2. On a SSD HDD on a dock, or

3. On A NAS?

 

Which one of these is the best for sound quality?

 

Cheers

 

Andy

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usb stick may not be big enough in the long wrong. I'd say option 2 is the best choice.

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I use a portable USB drive (not SSD, old school spinning platter/s), good capacity for not too much $

Sound quality does not depend on your data storage media.

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If you have it on a NAS, use it. Otherwise powered SSD may be better than USB stick (based on experience with another streamer, but may not translate here).

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I dont have a NAS (yet) so am guessing dock is going to suit my situation

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