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Recommendations for CD quality streamer (if these exist)


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Hi all, 

 

ive been out of the audio game for some time though I’m back and hungry to find a streamer with DAC that I can use directly with an integrated tube amp (it’s a custom build and a little overboard with the design in the power stage though it sounds nice) as a stand alone combo. I’d like to keep the number of components to a minimum. The preamp isn’t bad in this amp, though one day an upgrade might happen here too...

 

So what am I trying to achieve? Well, ideally given were living in 2020 and streaming music services are the way forward, (I’m sure some will argue, though for convenience you really can’t.) I’m trying to find a good quality streamer that will have Spotify connect, Tidal connect or the likes, something that has a great user interface because streaming is meant to be simple and easy. Something with a good enough DAC that would compare to a CD quality recording providing the source file is up to scratch.  Compare to what CD player? Nothing crazy, though if we can get to, or pass something like a Cambridge 752BD for example that would be acceptable. If we can get further than that then you’ll make me even happier. 
 

Ive been using my 752BD with my iPad Pro into the front digital input with Tidal & Spotify and it’s been pretty good considering what I’m trying to do.  Though comparing a CD track to one through Tidal HiFi played in this configuration, the CD is still much more open and full.  
 

I’d like to get this CD quality sound using Tidal or Spotify through an app on my phone or iPad because it’s simple and easy for anyone in my house to use, so if someone can tell me this is possible without spending stupid amounts of cash, that will make my day! ;)
 

Budget is up to $5k give or take depending how good it is.

 

Cheers. 

Edited by DR MIGG
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You could try an Innuos Zen Mini which has its own DAC and is a  server streamer wit the ability to also rip cds to its hard drive and is also able to play CDs directly. The Zen model above this is even better with dual linear power supply but needs a separate DAC.

Pricing is $2K for the Zen Mini and $3850 for the Zen.

 

I am not yet ready to go into streaming but if /when I do so I will certainly be buying one of the above units.

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I am a bit of an Auralic fan and have a couple of their higher end products. In your price range, the Auralic Altair G1 is a great all in one product, should be able to get it for a little under $4k. Next step up would be a Vega G1, a really excellent DAC with streaming capabilities, but a little above your $5k limit. See if you can tee up an audition. Both of these devices easily do better than CD quality interns of resolution.

 

Auralic has a very good iOS based control App, so that ticks that box.

 

There are good products from other makers including Lumin and Matrix Audio, all worth looking at and auditioning..

Edited by mjs
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Thank you both for your replies and suggestions.  Just curious if either of you have heard the Cambridge 851N by chance? I am still in early research stages now, though I’ve seen this unit pop up more than once on hifi reviews and it seems to be pretty well respected for the price point.  
 

How does something like this compare to your suggestions? And in all honesty, if we can find something that will get us beyond my expectations I would consider the extra budget requirements (within reason of course )

 

welcoming any experienced streamer user input with high expectations. 

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I've not experienced the CA 851N but it gets good reviews. The CXN V2 is somewhat cheaper and also gets good reviews. I am sure they would give you "CD quality" as you desire. Tidal can sound pretty damn good tbh, better than Spotify I would think.. Other services like Qobuz, which have higher res material are harder to sign up to in Oz atm. I guess at this level and beyond you get into the rule of diminishing returns. Would more expensive streamers sound better ... probably. How much better, at what cost and is it worth it, well that up to you to decide. 

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Suggest looking at the NAD C658.  It is an excellent starting point and way under your budget.  Good sound with excellent BluOS for streaming and Dirac Live (room correction software) to improve sound quality.

 

https://www.stereo.net.au/reviews/nad-electronics-c-658-streaming-dac-preamp-review

 

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I would not recommend a solid state preamp/streamer/dac with your tube amp. 
 

Instead I would suggest a stand alone streamer or a transport/dac option. Also since you are using Tidal, I would recommend you get something which can do MQA. 
 

5k gives you a lot of options.

 

You could dip your toes into streaming with a bluesound node 2i to start with. Use it for a year, get familiar with streaming and then you can move up the chain. Node 2i also gets snapped up used very fast or you could continue to use the node 2i as a transport and then just get a much better external dac. 
 

Keep in mind that Tidal Connect has just been announced and it is a game changer for people who are using mainly Tidal. More companies are in the process at adopting it and H2 2021 will present you a lot more options. 
 

Cheers 

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On 13/12/2020 at 9:09 PM, Snoopy8 said:

Suggest looking at the NAD C658.  It is an excellent starting point and way under your budget.  Good sound with excellent BluOS for streaming and Dirac Live (room correction software) to improve sound quality.

 

https://www.stereo.net.au/reviews/nad-electronics-c-658-streaming-dac-preamp-review

 

Thanks Snoopy8, this device looks like it’s worth a look and listen. And reasonably priced too. Thanks for the suggestion. 

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On 13/12/2020 at 10:15 PM, BrownMagic said:

I would not recommend a solid state preamp/streamer/dac with your tube amp. 
 

Instead I would suggest a stand alone streamer or a transport/dac option. Also since you are using Tidal, I would recommend you get something which can do MQA. 
 

5k gives you a lot of options.

 

You could dip your toes into streaming with a bluesound node 2i to start with. Use it for a year, get familiar with streaming and then you can move up the chain. Node 2i also gets snapped up used very fast or you could continue to use the node 2i as a transport and then just get a much better external dac. 
 

Keep in mind that Tidal Connect has just been announced and it is a game changer for people who are using mainly Tidal. More companies are in the process at adopting it and H2 2021 will present you a lot more options. 
 

Cheers 

BrownMagic, thank you for your reply.  May I ask why you don’t recommend solid state pre amp with a valve combo? Forgive my ignorance here, I’m still learning the intricacies of all this.  
 

‘’the Bluesound node 2i sounds like it’s worth a play with.  How would you rate its sound quality ? I after something that’s going to engage me and be exciting to listen to slim happy to go straight to something more if it’s going to be noticeably better. I’d rather go straight to the best in the budget and not worry about upgrading for a while. 
 

‘having said that, if this unit will deliver a really nice listening experience then I’d be sure to check it out and save some dollars. That’s not bad either.   

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Well, perhaps I go back to your original post. You said the budget was up to $5k. You can certainly get something under that which is better than the Bluesound IMO.

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