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Which music server-Player vs Which streamer


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My system comprises by, a CXA81 amp (only with USB cable I can achieve PCM rates at 384, and 256DSD), monitor audio silver 500 speakers, FRITZ BOX 7490 modem/router, and rpi4 (volumio). As my music library is growing above 4T and my needs are for a UpNp player capable of playing all sorts of network software (roon, jriver, audiorvana, foobar2000 etc) I am wondering which solution is better, purchasing a NAS and replacing my rpi4 (which streamer ?) or buying a music server/player (which server ?). The main control should be via an android app & windows 10.

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On 11/4/2020 at 2:08 PM, nikolaos1969 said:

My system comprises by, a CXA81 amp (only with USB cable I can achieve PCM rates at 384, and 256DSD), monitor audio silver 500 speakers, FRITZ BOX 7490 modem/router, and rpi4 (volumio). As my music library is growing above 4T and my needs are for a UpNp player capable of playing all sorts of network software (roon, jriver, audiorvana, foobar2000 etc) I am wondering which solution is better, purchasing a NAS and replacing my rpi4 (which streamer ?) or buying a music server/player (which server ?). The main control should be via an android app & windows 10.

@DuckTollercan you tell me your opinion, thx

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Thanks for asking @nikolaos1969 ;-)
This is not so easy to answer ....
First of all which budget, secondly: spending at once or over time?

IMHO, there are some things to consider:
1.) A NAS will serve you not only by sending files to your music player (Personal back up, Mobile phone back up, Photos and Videos).  My inquiry in that subject is that most user who respondded use Synolgy or QNAP NAS solutions (Ease of use). With investing more money they can be powerful enough to run for example ROON server.
2) How important is streaming (spotify, Qobuz and others) vs. local files ?
3) There are many ways to use a NAS with an RPI4, just in case that the new dedicated music PC will come later as an investment.
4) Even with an dedicated Music server you can still use the RPI4 as Endpoint before your DAC

As an personal example:
I can listen to DSD512 via ROON upsampling to the ALLO Revolution or the iFi micro iDSD BL, using an old 4790t Intel Core i7 from ... 2014 and the RPi as endpoint. A combo that would cost less than 1k Euro with a ROON 1 year subscription, using the Shanti as power source for Revolution and buying an used server with minimum config.
Other people may have other solutions in mind.  Me, looking for ugrades from time to time, contemplating to check out the iFi iDSD PRO but this is 2.5 k in Euros.

Higher DSD rates usually come with the investment into computional power equals higher spending.
Excellent sound, though,  could be have for less ...

A way to save money seems to be the format blind tests (i.e. Archimago) to find out whether you can really distinguish between DSD256 and 24/192 PCM or 16/44 PCM. If you have results that convince you, it can be eye opening for saving money or for spending even more ;-)

Cheers, Tom


 

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7 hours ago, DuckToller said:

Thanks for asking @nikolaos1969 ;-)
This is not so easy to answer ....
First of all which budget, secondly: spending at once or over time?

IMHO, there are some things to consider:
1.) A NAS will serve you not only by sending files to your music player (Personal back up, Mobile phone back up, Photos and Videos).  My inquiry in that subject is that most user who respondded use Synolgy or QNAP NAS solutions (Ease of use). With investing more money they can be powerful enough to run for example ROON server.
2) How important is streaming (spotify, Qobuz and others) vs. local files ?
3) There are many ways to use a NAS with an RPI4, just in case that the new dedicated music PC will come later as an investment.
4) Even with an dedicated Music server you can still use the RPI4 as Endpoint before your DAC

As an personal example:
I can listen to DSD512 via ROON upsampling to the ALLO Revolution or the iFi micro iDSD BL, using an old 4790t Intel Core i7 from ... 2014 and the RPi as endpoint. A combo that would cost less than 1k Euro with a ROON 1 year subscription, using the Shanti as power source for Revolution and buying an used server with minimum config.
Other people may have other solutions in mind.  Me, looking for ugrades from time to time, contemplating to check out the iFi iDSD PRO but this is 2.5 k in Euros.

Higher DSD rates usually come with the investment into computional power equals higher spending.
Excellent sound, though,  could be have for less ...

A way to save money seems to be the format blind tests (i.e. Archimago) to find out whether you can really distinguish between DSD256 and 24/192 PCM or 16/44 PCM. If you have results that convince you, it can be eye opening for saving money or for spending even more ;-)

Cheers, Tom

Dear Tom, because I had to keep my work files back up every day from my clent pc (yes at my work we do not have a file server). So, I had to transfer somewhere the files in case of hard disc damage as it happened yesterday. Since now, I use a second HDD to back up my files. it is much easier to download a movie via torrent software and playback to my TV via NAS instead of using my laptop to playback to my TV over wifi that do not support 4K video. So, I am thinking of purchase o synology 2bay one for my work and second for music files. Then I am considering the streamer U1 lumin mini which is an open Upnp device. The overall cost is 2 5K euro.
The second thought is to buy a music server UpNp like the new wyred4sound or antipodes EX or ????. The cost is the same. The reason why a music server relies that on the same box you have your library and the player. Actually you have an audiophile computer. Because I love to listen and explore on different network software OS I need speed. Recently I have tested SoTm and to my surprise was very very slow comparing to rpi4 regarding searching and playback. 

Thanks 

 

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Salut,
Please let me advise you that 

9 hours ago, nikolaos1969 said:

Since now, I use a second HDD to back up my files. it is much easier to download a movie via torrent software and playback to my TV via NAS instead of using my laptop to playback to my TV over wifi that do not support 4K video.

sounds to me like a statement that I feel is unwise to publish in open forum. YMMV.

Anyway, a NAS is alway useful if you need to manage your digitasl files. It is not a backup, so you need a plan to back up the NAS capacity somehow.

 

About your system:
Not sure where you have seen the prices?

AFAIK the Antipodes is twice the price of the Lumin Mini. And the W4S seems to be as well 1k plus.
Is 2500 Euro your budget or 4k? That implies, you are going to pay for storage/transport as much or more than for your frontend.
Which is the Music application you use, if it is ROON, the ROON Nucleaus may serve your needs?

You need to reflect for yourself about the way you want to spread your invest over the components.
Having a server/transport that has 4 times the price of an amplifier does not enhance your SQ 40 times in respect to the RPI. The law of diminishing returns may be applied. Perhaps you want to use your financial ressources wisely ?

Generally, as you listen to analog signal, imho, the frontend (Room, Speaker, Amplifier) are most important with the greatest impact on SQ, while DAC and transport should be as transparent as possible for the incoming digital file.
If you use - for example - a balanced DAC with XLR output in the 500 Euro segment to your CX-81, you are as got as it gets, double the price and your are at a top league, which may then indicate that your amp/or your transport could be the next most limiting factor for sq.

For the transport (CD/Network) going upwards in my opinion only makes sense if you better the DAC (9016k2m) first.
Even then I would prefer a single purpose computer based music server to an industrial product. And invest into the room.
Spending between 2000 and 4000 Euros for the transport department may sound almost reasonable if you have already a +10k system at hand, the Lumin then may fit in well there ... as i said ymmv. 

 

Cheers, Tom

 

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27 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

Salut,
Please let me advise you that 

sounds to me like a statement that I feel is unwise to publish in open forum. YMMV.

Anyway, a NAS is alway useful if you need to manage your digitasl files. It is not a backup, so you need a plan to back up the NAS capacity somehow.

 

About your system:
Not sure where you have seen the prices?

AFAIK the Antipodes is twice the price of the Lumin Mini. And the W4S seems to be as well 1k plus.
Is 2500 Euro your budget or 4k? That implies, you are going to pay for storage/transport as much or more than for your frontend.
Which is the Music application you use, if it is ROON, the ROON Nucleaus may serve your needs?

You need to reflect for yourself about the way you want to spread your invest over the components.
Having a server/transport that has 4 times the price of an amplifier does not enhance your SQ 40 times in respect to the RPI. The law of diminishing returns may be applied. Perhaps you want to use your financial ressources wisely ?

Generally, as you listen to analog signal, imho, the frontend (Room, Speaker, Amplifier) are most important with the greatest impact on SQ, while DAC and transport should be as transparent as possible for the incoming digital file.
If you use - for example - a balanced DAC with XLR output in the 500 Euro segment to your CX-81, you are as got as it gets, double the price and your are at a top league, which may then indicate that your amp/or your transport could be the next most limiting factor for sq.

For the transport (CD/Network) going upwards in my opinion only makes sense if you better the DAC (9016k2m) first.
Even then I would prefer a single purpose computer based music server to an industrial product. And invest into the room.
Spending between 2000 and 4000 Euros for the transport department may sound almost reasonable if you have already a +10k system at hand, the Lumin then may fit in well there ... as i said ymmv. 

 

Cheers, Tom

 

Hi, the first option is to use different OS network software (roon, foobar2000, jriver, audiorvana etc) and that is why I am looking for a UpNp device, antipodes EX (a used one is for 2,4 k), wyred4sound (2,5k) or ??. The second option is to buy a NAS synology along with a streamer lumin U1 or ???. The CXA81 amp has already a DAC which for now I am satisfied.

Thanks, Nik

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1.

1 hour ago, nikolaos1969 said:

Hi, the first option is to use different OS network software (roon, foobar2000, jriver, audiorvana etc)

which leaves another computer (PC/Laptop) in your system. hint: all of them run under Windows and IOS
 

1 hour ago, nikolaos1969 said:

The second option is to buy a NAS synology along with a streamer lumin U1 or ???.

 

This would be my personal choice, it (imho) even does suit the design of the CX-81, however I would not exclude opting for a balanced DAC between both, to take full advantage of the symmetric design of the Camebridge. YMMV.
It also works independent from your PC/Labtop, u only need a wireless connection for the controls, and does support UPnP

1 hour ago, nikolaos1969 said:

antipodes EX (a used one is for 2,4 k), wyred4sound (2,5k)

both units do not impress me at that price range

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2 hours ago, DuckToller said:

1.

which leaves another computer (PC/Laptop) in your system. hint: all of them run under Windows and IOS
 

 

This would be my personal choice, it (imho) even does suit the design of the CX-81, however I would not exclude opting for a balanced DAC between both, to take full advantage of the symmetric design of the Camebridge. YMMV.
It also works independent from your PC/Labtop, u only need a wireless connection for the controls, and does support UPnP

both units do not impress me at that price range

Hi Tom, a balanced DAC -which one is on your mind -between CXA81 amp and the streamer-what is your impression of the LUMIN MINI U1.

 

thanks, Nik

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Hi Nik,

 

I have not used the Lumin Mini U1 by myself, but from what I can see, they used a lot of their well recepted technolgy within that unit. In my view the biggest plus is the independence from any other music server in the network, you even do not need a NAS, however, it can handle both options as well as UPnP. Lumin has as well a high brand reputation (as do the others) @wklie can give you more details about the pros for that unit.
 

Re: DAC:  Always depends what YOU want to have as feature set,
- the usual suspects below 1k is the Topping D90,
- below 500 the SONCOZ SGD and SMLS500,
- a bit higher the OKTO DAC 8 or MATRIX and RME.

My personal choice would be the OKTO, I have already discussed with the manufacturer to be included in their European Tour for the DAC 8 Stereo, next year. However, using a LUMIN mini, I'd perhaps look for a pure DAC solution without any extras.

For testing a balanced DAC in your system you can use as well (as "cheapo" ebtry level solution)
- the Schiit Modius (no DSD/no remote) or
- Soncoz LA-QXD1 (no remote) for around 200 Euros (my review is on the last steps, will come next week).
Both use newer and more performant DAC chips (AKM4493/ESS9038q2m) than the one your CX-81 and have a balanced output via XLR.
Compared to the ESS9016, which I know well from my Dragonfly Red, the SONCOZ offers tons of clarity and details.
 

Keep in mind that you would want to have a DAC with remote control for mute and volume, because most/some DSD modes circumvent the DSP in the signal path and run on full volume only, which then can only be controlled by the hardware/remote control and not in your remote application (ROON/AV etc)

Cheers, Tom

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Hi Nik,
another candidate would be the Gustard X16, if you don't mind MQA on the chip, I have seen it with chinese sourcs today for below 380 Euro . Has got remote control, display, bluetooth plus AES and I2S in. Sounds like a good bet on the money if you go for the LUMIN mini, where you would have 5 different ouput connections to match the DAC's inputs (which one will sound best to your ears?)
Cheers, Tom
 

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37 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

Hi Nik,
another candidate would be the Gustard X16, if you don't mind MQA on the chip, I have seen it with chinese sourcs today for below 380 Euro . Has got remote control, display, bluetooth plus AES and I2S in. Sounds like a good bet on the money if you go for the LUMIN mini, where you would have 5 different ouput connections to match the DAC's inputs (which one will sound best to your ears?)
Cheers, Tom
 

Thanks Tom, I am thinking Lumin U1 mini because of its own player via a very respectful app and at the same time is a UpNp device which means it connects to other network software, roon, jriver, audiorvana etc. On the other hand wyred4sound music server MS essential is very attractive but very expensive regarding that only 4T HDD or SSD can be added on the internal storage. I am thinking about the DAC. Do you know https://eng.hifirose.com/RS201E-info

 

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1 minute ago, nikolaos1969 said:

Seen it at audiophonics last month, the price for AIO always includes the cost of breaking it up ...
means - If you have peace of mind with an AIO just do it, but better don't bother with your inner upgrade tiger .. that will cost you so much extra ...
The ROSE looks like a versatile on stop solution for VIDEO and Audio including AMPLIFIER and might be a favourable option for a 2nd system where tweaking isn't a necessary option ...
Having your Cambridge AX81 with an ext. DAC and the LUMIN (+ a Synology in the future) sound for me like an exellent strategy, given that you can buy The U1 mini for about 1500 €  and less in the used markets.
Re. Synology:  They usually run low on RAM, under 300 Euro you may better look for Thecus or QNAP with 4 GB RAM)  especially if you need to invest heavily in HDD's (if 4GB isn't suffice to your needs) for great amounts of data
Cheers, Tom

 

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