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At a crossroads (possibly)


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Evening all,
My current setup is Synology NAS-> Mac Mini running JRMC->Arcam IRDAC->Linn Kairn Pro preamp ->Linn LK140 poweramp ->Harbeth P3ESR speakers. I have a PC also with JRMC to manage my library and use Jremote on ios to control playback. I've had this setup for a couple of years now and mostly happy with the structure/useability. Also mostly happy with the sound......but have considered the DAC maybe in need of an upgrade at some point....
However, what is now 'forcing' my hand is that the DAC will not power up, and is bringing thoughts/questions about ways forward.
In the short term I'm trying to troubleshoot the DAC problem (power, or the DAC itself etc), linked with this is how I can quickly/cheaply get music again - I have a Fiio M9 which can be utilised as a DAC, plus I have an old Squeezebox Touch not doing a lot. 
Main point of this post is: if it turns out DAC is dead I have to decide on what to do. Would I replace the DAC with another (i.e. no structure changes), or am I better to consider some sort of streamer solution (with or without preamp) as a longer term solution. Currently I don't use any online streaming services (Qobuz etc), but I havent ruled it out at some point.
If I spent about £500 on a DAC I'd possibly be wondering if I'd be better off (in several ways) of going down the streamer route (streamer/DAC in one box). 
My general principles are to not have facilities I don't need (e.g. not going to get a box such as Naim ND5 XS2 if it won't improve sound over IRDAC and Linn Kairn preamp), but, if it will sound better I'd consider it (and I'd have one box instead of three). I'd rather spend £2500 if it gave me improved sound, easy useability etc rather than say, £500 to replace what I have.

I'm also aware that a huge amount of useability these days is the software involved......
I'll admit I am in a quandry, and waffling, but hope some folk can understand my apparent dilema. Any advice gratefully recieved.

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On 11/12/2020 at 2:41 PM, paulr said:

Arcam IRDAC->Linn Kairn Pro preamp

Hello, not sure if you would consider this option or not but I suspect that you would find a pretty big bump in SQ if you were willing to drop both items quoted above and replace them with a DAC/PRE combo device like the Benchmark DAC3.

 

You would shorten your signal path by a few boxes and gain the ability to build further from there if you so choose. The Benchmark would bring Balanced XLR Output connection options for future Amp upgrades, allow for several additional digital Inputs and has a digital output which can be used to feed yet another digital device later if you wanted.

 

You could use the Line Level RCA Outputs to feed your existing Amp which would be volume controlled by either the Benchmark or you can use the digital volume control found within jRiver (which it excellent) and run the Benchmark in Vol control bypass mode (ie..wide open).

 

I only mention this option because it appears you may be willing to spend up to £2500 and it sounds like you might be a fan of a minimalist type setup.

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