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Cheap streamer v expensive - is there a difference?


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Hi everyone!

 

I use a Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer in my HiFi setup. But does the quality of a streamer make a difference to sound quality and would I see an improvement if I invested in a better streamer such as:

 

Musical Fidelity M1 CLiC

Cyrus Streamline2 Streamer

Linn Sneaky DSM

Naim XXXX

 

I'm talking about things like jitter and errors. I'd be interested to hear your views, especially from users with budget / mid price / high end streamers. Note that I'm not referring to DACs as I have a separate one. This question is purely about the streaming device.

 

You can see the setup I've got below in my sign off [Note that I'm slowly updating my setup with my next purchase likely to be an amplifier (Creek Destiny 2, Roksan Caspian M2, Naim NAIT XS 2 or Rega Elicit-R) followed by speakers (Spendor A5, PMC GB1i, Neat, Dynaudio, DALI, Focal etc)].

 

Thanks in advance for your replies!

Miggyboys

HiFi: Marantz CD6000 OSE CD player, Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer, NAD C350 amplifier, Denon TU-260LII tuner, Technics SL-1200 MKII turntable, Audiolab M-DAC DAC, Tannoy Revolution R2 speakers, Vortexbox music server, QED Silver Anniversary bi wire, Various Ixos / Ecosse interconnects, Optimum stand/rack.

AV: Sharp LC-46LE831E TV (calibrated with DVE), Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver, Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu Ray player, SkyHD, Mordaunt Short Genie 5.1 speakers, various QED & IXOS interconnects, QED Silver anniversary speaker cable.

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Love my little squeeze. Have you installed EDO and LMS upgrades? You have to factor in

that the marketing power of manufacturers and for profit audio reviewers is aligned to

berate a product that is no longer produced yet brillantly supported and advanced for

free by software geniuses. I have listened to friends tweaked macs and would not trade.

The iceing on the cake is rock solid Tidal via ickStream. You have a gem.

 

pb-

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What are you streaming to the little SBT? Linear PCM? If so, a cleaner power supply, and some of the mods that allow you to stream to a USB DAC might be of significant benefit. Significant here not meaning "night and day" - but rather "noticeable and an increase in your enjoyment."

 

If you are not streaming LPCM, try sending that from your Vortexbox. Bet you a nickel it brings a grin to your face. :)

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Better sound, maybe.

Better price/quality ratio, almost surely not.

And btw, lots of people swear that a regulated linear power supply significantly improves the squeezebox ... just google it.

 

I've seen the reviews...interesting....

Miggyboys

HiFi: Marantz CD6000 OSE CD player, Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer, NAD C350 amplifier, Denon TU-260LII tuner, Technics SL-1200 MKII turntable, Audiolab M-DAC DAC, Tannoy Revolution R2 speakers, Vortexbox music server, QED Silver Anniversary bi wire, Various Ixos / Ecosse interconnects, Optimum stand/rack.

AV: Sharp LC-46LE831E TV (calibrated with DVE), Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver, Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu Ray player, SkyHD, Mordaunt Short Genie 5.1 speakers, various QED & IXOS interconnects, QED Silver anniversary speaker cable.

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Hi photonblur - I've installed the EDO upgrade, not the LMS. I play 24 bit 192kHz music through my system. I agree, the third party apps by developers out there are fantastic. I love the functionality of it and the screen is excellent - other manufacturers need to put better graphical screens into their products.

Miggyboys

HiFi: Marantz CD6000 OSE CD player, Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer, NAD C350 amplifier, Denon TU-260LII tuner, Technics SL-1200 MKII turntable, Audiolab M-DAC DAC, Tannoy Revolution R2 speakers, Vortexbox music server, QED Silver Anniversary bi wire, Various Ixos / Ecosse interconnects, Optimum stand/rack.

AV: Sharp LC-46LE831E TV (calibrated with DVE), Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver, Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu Ray player, SkyHD, Mordaunt Short Genie 5.1 speakers, various QED & IXOS interconnects, QED Silver anniversary speaker cable.

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What are you streaming to the little SBT? Linear PCM? If so, a cleaner power supply, and some of the mods that allow you to stream to a USB DAC might be of significant benefit. Significant here not meaning "night and day" - but rather "noticeable and an increase in your enjoyment."

 

If you are not streaming LPCM, try sending that from your Vortexbox. Bet you a nickel it brings a grin to your face. :)

 

-Paul

 

Hi Paul, good points. My music is all ripped to FLAC and I use ethernet to stream to the SBT - this then goes to my DAC via digital coaxial. I understand PCM/WAV may sound better but I want the metadata, so I'll stick with FLAC.

 

One thing I haven't tried is using Asynchronous USB from the SBT to the DAC, which I really should, but the Audiolab M-DAC is pretty strong at reclocking, which it does, from memory, three times. Still, better HiFi is always about small gains :-)

 

Given the way the GBP is going against the USD, I'd be happy to bet you some nickels though I think I'd lose, as it seems LPCM/WAV may sound better that FLAC!

Miggyboys

HiFi: Marantz CD6000 OSE CD player, Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer, NAD C350 amplifier, Denon TU-260LII tuner, Technics SL-1200 MKII turntable, Audiolab M-DAC DAC, Tannoy Revolution R2 speakers, Vortexbox music server, QED Silver Anniversary bi wire, Various Ixos / Ecosse interconnects, Optimum stand/rack.

AV: Sharp LC-46LE831E TV (calibrated with DVE), Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver, Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu Ray player, SkyHD, Mordaunt Short Genie 5.1 speakers, various QED & IXOS interconnects, QED Silver anniversary speaker cable.

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Yes. But how much value is up to your ears. If you want to compare to a high priced one, check out the Naim NDS.

 

Hi tranz - I read the reviews for this when it came out, and they were strong. Have you got one or heard one just out of interest?

Miggyboys

HiFi: Marantz CD6000 OSE CD player, Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer, NAD C350 amplifier, Denon TU-260LII tuner, Technics SL-1200 MKII turntable, Audiolab M-DAC DAC, Tannoy Revolution R2 speakers, Vortexbox music server, QED Silver Anniversary bi wire, Various Ixos / Ecosse interconnects, Optimum stand/rack.

AV: Sharp LC-46LE831E TV (calibrated with DVE), Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver, Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu Ray player, SkyHD, Mordaunt Short Genie 5.1 speakers, various QED & IXOS interconnects, QED Silver anniversary speaker cable.

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Hi tranz - I read the reviews for this when it came out, and they were strong. Have you got one or heard one just out of interest?

 

Hi miggyboys,

 

I just realized that the OP was looking for streamers without DACs. Ooops, sorry.

 

Yes, I was able to take one home for audition with the separate psu. Very smooth sounding. The DAC was not as clear and 3D as e.g. an MSB, but it sounded very, very good. Not fatiguing at all. Much better than most USB input DACs I heard.

 

The psu hums, which I hate and it would need to be in a closet somewhere. I do not like their controller software, but there are many better ones out there for free.

 

Cheers

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You can use dbpoweramp to convert Flac to "uncompressed flac" (not the same as flac 0 compression) and then you have an uncompressed file (like wav) but with metadata.

 

Hi Paul, good points. My music is all ripped to FLAC and I use ethernet to stream to the SBT - this then goes to my DAC via digital coaxial. I understand PCM/WAV may sound better but I want the metadata, so I'll stick with FLAC.

 

One thing I haven't tried is using Asynchronous USB from the SBT to the DAC, which I really should, but the Audiolab M-DAC is pretty strong at reclocking, which it does, from memory, three times. Still, better HiFi is always about small gains :-)

 

Given the way the GBP is going against the USD, I'd be happy to bet you some nickels though I think I'd lose, as it seems LPCM/WAV may sound better that FLAC!

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Hi Paul, good points. My music is all ripped to FLAC and I use ethernet to stream to the SBT - this then goes to my DAC via digital coaxial. I understand PCM/WAV may sound better but I want the metadata, so I'll stick with FLAC.

 

One thing I haven't tried is using Asynchronous USB from the SBT to the DAC, which I really should, but the Audiolab M-DAC is pretty strong at reclocking, which it does, from memory, three times. Still, better HiFi is always about small gains :-)

 

Given the way the GBP is going against the USD, I'd be happy to bet you some nickels though I think I'd lose, as it seems LPCM/WAV may sound better that FLAC!

 

You don't understand. :). There is a setting in Vortexbox

that will cause the streamed file to he transcoded befor it streams. Best of both worlds.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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You can use dbpoweramp to convert Flac to "uncompressed flac" (not the same as flac 0 compression) and then you have an uncompressed file (like wav) but with metadata.

 

How advantageous and better sounding is uncompressed Flac?

Miggyboys

HiFi: Marantz CD6000 OSE CD player, Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer, NAD C350 amplifier, Denon TU-260LII tuner, Technics SL-1200 MKII turntable, Audiolab M-DAC DAC, Tannoy Revolution R2 speakers, Vortexbox music server, QED Silver Anniversary bi wire, Various Ixos / Ecosse interconnects, Optimum stand/rack.

AV: Sharp LC-46LE831E TV (calibrated with DVE), Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver, Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu Ray player, SkyHD, Mordaunt Short Genie 5.1 speakers, various QED & IXOS interconnects, QED Silver anniversary speaker cable.

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How advantageous and better sounding is uncompressed Flac?

Whether it sounds better or not is a matter of debate. But it enables an uncompressed file (essentially identical to wav), but WITH metadata. If your reason for not using WAV is metadata, then uncompressed flac is the solution.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

Link to comment
You don't understand. :). There is a setting in Vortexbox

that will cause the streamed file to he transcoded befor it streams. Best of both worlds.

 

You're right, I don't! But I'll check your suggestion. Could you elaborate? Are you saying the Flac file will be transcoded and be streamed as LPCM? If that's the case, how is it being streamed at present or what are the options for other forms of streaming?

 

Thanks for your advice.

Miggyboys

HiFi: Marantz CD6000 OSE CD player, Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer, NAD C350 amplifier, Denon TU-260LII tuner, Technics SL-1200 MKII turntable, Audiolab M-DAC DAC, Tannoy Revolution R2 speakers, Vortexbox music server, QED Silver Anniversary bi wire, Various Ixos / Ecosse interconnects, Optimum stand/rack.

AV: Sharp LC-46LE831E TV (calibrated with DVE), Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver, Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu Ray player, SkyHD, Mordaunt Short Genie 5.1 speakers, various QED & IXOS interconnects, QED Silver anniversary speaker cable.

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Hi miggyboys,

 

I just realized that the OP was looking for streamers without DACs. Ooops, sorry.

 

Yes, I was able to take one home for audition with the separate psu. Very smooth sounding. The DAC was not as clear and 3D as e.g. an MSB, but it sounded very, very good. Not fatiguing at all. Much better than most USB input DACs I heard.

 

The psu hums, which I hate and it would need to be in a closet somewhere. I do not like their controller software, but there are many better ones out there for free.

 

Cheers

 

Hi tranz

 

Correct, streamer only. Obviously with the rise of DACs and streaming, a lot of the units are bundled together but for separate DACS, there's still a market for good streamers. Nice to hear your feedback on the Naim all the same.

Miggyboys

HiFi: Marantz CD6000 OSE CD player, Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer, NAD C350 amplifier, Denon TU-260LII tuner, Technics SL-1200 MKII turntable, Audiolab M-DAC DAC, Tannoy Revolution R2 speakers, Vortexbox music server, QED Silver Anniversary bi wire, Various Ixos / Ecosse interconnects, Optimum stand/rack.

AV: Sharp LC-46LE831E TV (calibrated with DVE), Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver, Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu Ray player, SkyHD, Mordaunt Short Genie 5.1 speakers, various QED & IXOS interconnects, QED Silver anniversary speaker cable.

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You're right, I don't! But I'll check your suggestion. Could you elaborate? Are you saying the Flac file will be transcoded and be streamed as LPCM? If that's the case, how is it being streamed at present or what are the options for other forms of streaming?

 

Thanks for your advice.

 

Wouldn't you know I don't have my Vortexbox available to me where I am physically at right now? In any case,

 

What is being streamed to the SBT, unless you have changed a default, is whatever format the file is in right now. The SBT is being forced to do the work of decoding the file before playing it. You an do that on the server - there is a setting in Vortexbox - and the SBT then just recognizes the stream as LPCM and plays it. Sounds better because the SBT is not dong anywhere near as much work, even though the network load is a little higher.

 

If nobody tells you the setting before I get home, I will look it up and post it back. Caveat, I am a few releases back in Vortexbox, and the selection may have changed location.

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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It occupies ~twice the hdd space and sounds the same. The only plus is that you can properly tag it (as opposed to wav)

 

So would you also say that uncompressed WAV sounds the same as FLAC?

Miggyboys

HiFi: Marantz CD6000 OSE CD player, Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer, NAD C350 amplifier, Denon TU-260LII tuner, Technics SL-1200 MKII turntable, Audiolab M-DAC DAC, Tannoy Revolution R2 speakers, Vortexbox music server, QED Silver Anniversary bi wire, Various Ixos / Ecosse interconnects, Optimum stand/rack.

AV: Sharp LC-46LE831E TV (calibrated with DVE), Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver, Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu Ray player, SkyHD, Mordaunt Short Genie 5.1 speakers, various QED & IXOS interconnects, QED Silver anniversary speaker cable.

Link to comment
Wouldn't you know I don't have my Vortexbox available to me where I am physically at right now? In any case,

 

What is being streamed to the SBT, unless you have changed a default, is whatever format the file is in right now. The SBT is being forced to do the work of decoding the file before playing it. You an do that on the server - there is a setting in Vortexbox - and the SBT then just recognizes the stream as LPCM and plays it. Sounds better because the SBT is not dong anywhere near as much work, even though the network load is a little higher.

 

If nobody tells you the setting before I get home, I will look it up and post it back. Caveat, I am a few releases back in Vortexbox, and the selection may have changed location.

 

-Paul

 

I understand now. Is there an argument about which device is better at decoding? Also, are you referring to the better sound quality if the Logitech SBT is being used as a DAC or just a streamer? I agree, if it's not doing as much work then it could easily sound better and I'll definitely try this. I'm wondering if it will make a difference to me as I only use the Logitech SBT as a streamer - after it's received the data, it then passes it to my external DAC....

Miggyboys

HiFi: Marantz CD6000 OSE CD player, Logitech Squeezebox Touch streamer, NAD C350 amplifier, Denon TU-260LII tuner, Technics SL-1200 MKII turntable, Audiolab M-DAC DAC, Tannoy Revolution R2 speakers, Vortexbox music server, QED Silver Anniversary bi wire, Various Ixos / Ecosse interconnects, Optimum stand/rack.

AV: Sharp LC-46LE831E TV (calibrated with DVE), Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver, Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu Ray player, SkyHD, Mordaunt Short Genie 5.1 speakers, various QED & IXOS interconnects, QED Silver anniversary speaker cable.

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I understand now. Is there an argument about which device is better at decoding? Also, are you referring to the better sound quality if the Logitech SBT is being used as a DAC or just a streamer? I agree, if it's not doing as much work then it could easily sound better and I'll definitely try this. I'm wondering if it will make a difference to me as I only use the Logitech SBT as a streamer - after it's received the data, it then passes it to my external DAC....

 

I feel like an idiot, but I forgot to do this last night. Got involved with Family things and it absolutely slipped my mind. (*sigh*) I will look it up tonight, if some kind soul here does not take pity and finds it for me. :)

 

I notice the LPCM making more of a difference if the SBT is used as the streamer rather than as a DAC myself, but that may be because I always use the SBT as a streamer...

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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