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I am struggling in making a decision with my digital music system build. Should I go with an all-in-one unit like the Sony HAPS/1 or should I use my laptop and a separate DAC?

 

I have mainly 24/192 FLAC and DSD 2.4 and 5.8 files.

 

What hardware recommendations do you have? I would like to stay at $2000 or less.

 

Josh

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I'd definitely advise you to go with the computer and separate DAC. The all-in-one approach affords you zero flexibility. There are a lots of choices in terms of user interface, storage and of course the capabilities and sound of your DAC. Many of the newer options are highly capable, affordable and only getting more so over time.

 

It's very satisfying to build a system - taking the time to try out a few options with free software trials and dealers who will let you audition/return hardware - and knowing that what you wind up with is what you really want.

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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k6davis is framing this the same way I would. Having a computer+DAC as the core of your system allows you to flexibly develop your preferences for file format, type of player software/library software, and so on.

 

I'd advise to start out with whatever computer you have now, get started and explore options.

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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PC's are utter hell to get right for music. For $2000 budget I suggest the following for predictable good results

 

1) Synology NAS with 2 HD's, intel processor for greater SW options, running the included Minimserver for music streaming~$500

2) Oppo105D as UPNP renderer/ disc player / DAC for $1299

 

this assumes you have a wifi router network to attach to

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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Yet another possible approach: Go with a streamer that doesn't have a built-in DAC. So similar to @davide256's recommendation, but instead of the Oppo 105D, go with something like an Auralic Aries or an Aurender N100 plus the DAC of your choice. Pound for pound, definitely more money than a streamer with a built-in DAC but also more flexibility in terms of feature set and future upgrades.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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