Anyone else feel like it’s the Wild Wild West?

I’ve been following the streaming threads here for a while now, and I find it both exhilarating and intimidating.  I mean, we all know everything in high-end audio matters to some degree or another, right (Ok, maybe except for the flat earth contingent)?  From what I’m reading and from my own experience the process of optimizing steaming has near unlimited potential, and some even say it rivals or even surpasses vinyl if taken to the max.  Cables, routers, optical, filters, extenders, power supplies, switches, etc., they all seem to make a significant difference despite the naysayers who say bits are just bits.  I’m all in on this steaming renaissance, but most of the jewels of useful info are buried in other posts, so I’d like to have this be a consolidator post of your best streaming experiences and recommendations for others who could benefit greatly from your hard-won victories and maybe save a lot of people the agony you went through to get to streaming nirvana.  So have at it — let’s empower this community in this noble task and help everyone realize the amazing potential of this magic gift to audiophiles.  What say you?


First, I'd like to call out that we need another word in our common vocabulary or we need to distinguish between streaming local files vs. streaming from a service. More confusion has been created by opinions about "streaming" without specifying whether they're talking about apples or oranges. 

TOTH to @mike_in_nc for format...

My setup gives excellent sound with the following:

  • Synology NAS for file storage connected to a TP-Link switch in a separate room, Qobuz for more
  • Roon Core running on a SGC SonicTransporter connected to a TP-Link switch in a separate room
  • ISP monopoly-chosen modem, Eero Mesh router in another room, wired Ethernet
  • Sonore opticalRendu streamer/renderer as Roon endpoint & Sonore LPS to a good DAC and system
  • Macbook, iPad & iPhone as Roon Remotes

What I currently believe:

  • Much of the progress in digital playback has been advancements in two areas: 1)reducing jitter(most recent gear does this far better than a decade or so ago) 2)reducing noise(low powered single purpose devices running simple OS & fewer processes, cable improvements & conversion implementations, better power supplies all are valid tactics to fight noise
  • it always comes down to the mastering of the music. the best SQ will almost always be in the native format of the recording be it analog or digital. better-mastered redbook will beat lesser-mastered hi-rez. Streaming from a service gives you unknown provenance, often volume-adjusted by the service(says Bernie Grundman), so blanket pronouncements are pretty meaningless when comparing to known local files, CDs or LPs. 
  • Macs & PCs are facing an uphill battle vs. streamers regarding noise. OS, multiple non-audio processes, low quality PS etc. make getting good sound from a regular computer more costly and troublesome than it's worth.
  • Running a NAS, server, NUC etc away from the audio system helps reduce noise a lot. Optical conversion and some fancy filtering strategies help fight noise too.
  • Wifi doesn't sound as good or work as consistently as wired ethernet. Network stability is a PITA and a more stable network will save any user from plenty of headaches and heartache.
  • For beginners, getting a decent DAC is first priority, but not the only priority if you want high quality sound. Anyone who says a Blusound Node is equal in SQ to better streamers is in denial or needs to listen to some better setups for comparison.
  • As a vinyl LP lover, Roon's UX is significantly more enjoyable IMHE than other software. It's a game changer and provides benefits that increase musical engagement. For me, it's worth the trouble to setup my system to optimize Roon's SQ(e.g. dedicated core in another room). While SOTA level alternatives(e.g. DCS, Aurender) exist, their cost of hardware ownership and depreciation is a huge factor that keeps me away from a closed system. 



You'll only become more confused over the course of this thread as nearly unlimited presentation of best subjective results with various equipment and schemes.


Believe this due to a technology in fast growth phase, expect much innovation in coming years. I'd expect more consolidation over the long run as some equipment and/or innovations are proven to be more universally superior. Until then, we're running real time experiment, sure innovators observing our, and their own test results, correlation to certain sound qualities being determined.


I see vast majority of streaming equipment as pretty disposable at this point, expect the churning to continue.

The best I've ever heard Dutch and Dutch 8c direct wired to switch coming from router. You're lost in a subjective wilderness,  getting incredible sound  in streaming is easy and exponentially cheaper than vinyl. The only flat earthers I see are those who deny physics. 

Hey folks, hundreds of millions of people around the world are streaming audio and that wouldn't be happening if streaming wasn't just as easy as pie. Easy peasy. That is the way it has traditionally been with audio, with many users taking the easy way out as we audiophiles dwell on details. For example, I'd wager that most cassette deck users didn't know what "Dolby level" was or how to align it, and that explains why so many people even now think Dolby NR isn't effective. It's the same with turntables and streaming and room correction and cabling and everything else in our little hobby - how far down the rabbit hole is your comfort zone?

For many audiophiles, optimizing setup details is all part of the fun. Maybe you're in the wrong hobby if you're not having fun.

It got me into modding for the first time. I have a PS Audio DirectStream DAC Sr. The designer of the DAC (Ted Smith) gave a bunch of tips about mods on their website forum. Other users shared pictures of steps they used to do the mods. One person even created boards that you can buy. I learned a lot about how the DAC works. It was quite fun taking the DAC apart and learning about the electronics.