Best streamer for a returning audio guy

Hello, hope you all can help. My question is what is the most reasonable streamer to try in my system to see if it works for me? 
  A little background is in order . I’m an older gentleman, who was into audio years ago. I’m currently rebuilding my system with newer technology. I have significant older components. Such as Adcom separates, ( not currently using), Yamaha reciever rxa 2000 as a preamp, Rotel amp driving center speaker and rears, crown class d driving main speakers, I have many speaker choices. Currently using Kef 105/2 as mains ( have Martin Logan’s as well) , Martin logan cinema as center, Martin Logan’s a rear surround. All interconnects and speaker wires are morrow audio. 
 I am / was old school with over 1500 vinyl album’s from years of collecting. About 100 cds. One interesting note, this rebirth of my interest in audio came with my wife giving me a turntable for Christmas several years ago. Finally joked it up and after 30 years I was hooked again!!!

  On to my question, it appears that almost everyone is now streaming their music. Ok, I understand the concept ( have Sirius in the car) . What is the best unit to try this out. Can’t break the bank, used is ok, actually preferred. Any outlet advice would be appreciated. 
  I’m working to eventually get to the level of most of you. I have visited my local real hi fi store and have heard the”great” components and eventually I’ll get there. Thanks, and looking forward to your replies. Twodogs112.


A very reasonable streamer, and a nice upgrade from a computer at a reasonable price, is the Allo USBridge streamer with the Shanti power supply.  

There are much more expensive streamers out there and I'm probably going to buy one eventually but the return per $ invested on this upgrade is much lower than just buying into the Allo unit.  


I have a Bluesound Node 2i for streaming. The newer Node is fairly reasonably priced. It works great for me as an addition to my high end analog system, and you can add an outboard dac at a later time if you feel you need the upgrade (I do not at this time).


Bluesound Node can be gotten used, so I will join in with others on that option. The best thing (less aggravation) is to run a hard wire Cat5 cable to your router or USB to a computer if you are playing files from your computer.

After owning the original Bluesound Node, I bought the Bluesound Vault and have gradually made copies of all my CD's. Now I have the original compact discs and a copy to play in the Bluesound hard-drive which is also a streamer. That option would cost you more cash....

@twodogs112  - What streaming service(s) do you plan to use? A super inexpensive, but easy to use setup is the WIIM Mini Streamer available on Amazon for $99 (sometimes on sale for $89). I own one and find it super easy to use. It does sound the digital optical output into an external DAC (you have a DAC in your Yamaha AVR), but you can also use analog outputs.

It does native Spotify and Tidal. I think it will do Qobuz, but not in native mode, so it may be a little more complicated.

So, for $89-$99, you can try out streaming to see if you like it, and then upgrade to a higher level streamer that should produce better sound.

If you want to skip over the inexpensive trial hardware, a good first step-up option is the current version of the BlueSound Node.


Good Luck, and Enjoy....

I’m also in the market for a budget yet still very good streamer and have done quite a bit of research, and the best option I’ve found considering performance, cost, and ease of setup/use is the iFi Zen Stream that retails for $399, but there are new units available from an authorized dealer for $325 that makes its value even more attractive. As others have said you can use the DAC in your Yammy to get started, but you’ll get much better results by upgrading to a better standalone DAC. Another component that should be at the top of your upgrade priorities is a dedicated stereo preamp as the pre section of mass market AVRs are huge bottlenecks in a system and are a death sentence to achieving good 2-channel performance. Just my $0.02 FWIW, and congrats on your return to this awesome hobby and have fun rebuilding your system.

(p.s. The audio gene never dies — it just lies dormant until something, like an awesome wife!!!, reawakens it.)

I like the idea of a raspberry pi set up as mentioned above (Allo). But be aware that you will need some level of network and computer proficiency to make it work. It's not too bad, but not plug n play either. The Bluesound Node is your best bet for something inexpensive that's easy to set up. The onboard DAC is not bad and will be adequate until such a time as you upgrade to a better external one.



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So your path is very similar to mine (and many others here)...I elected to keep my system vinyl centric and am putting my streaming system into the room we entertain the most in....I started streaming thru an AVR system to understand what was out there... I settled on Qobuz... from an equipment perspective I elected to go the Bluesound route as many others here have and recommended ($599)...the main resons for this is that the user app is very similar to the mConnect app I use now, the set up is very easy and the performance is very high given the price point above...should u feel the need to upgrade later, u can still use the Blusound as a streamer and connect your upgraded DAC thru it...

Good hunting, I had a blast researching all the variables and the folks here are very helpful

Another vote for the newest Bluesound Node. Certainly there are higher end units but a great place to start. Just as important, if not more, is that the user interface and setup are very simple. I use an external DAC with mine but that is something to consider down the road. I am about to buy one for my dad just for these reasons. 



Welcome back. I think the Bluesound streamer is a great recommendation.


I’m an old guy also. Just a note on today’s audio world. Streaming can sound just as good as vinyl… for around the same price if you carefully choose the components. This is a pretty new development although the trend of improving digital has been going on for decades.


This is important, because unless you just love fiddling with vinyl (nothing wrong with that… but as I get older I am less happy getting up every 15 - 20 minutes), streaming completely opens up the world of music. Qobuz has 1/2 million high resolution albums. 

So, I would just keep in your mind that if you like what you hear, with work and money the sound can be as good as vinyl.

Seriously and very much feel strongly about it. Try the iFi Zen. For the money, for someone wanted to try to see if they like it it really has no equal in its price range.

Sound, ease of use, access to all you need.

I’ll give you $2 if you find better for the money. My opinion of course (-:


I see a lot of recommendations for the Node.  I used one for a while and agree it is a good streamer.  I don't like that you have to buy a DAC with it.  I recommend a stand alone DAC.  The DAC is a much more important component of your system than your streamer.  I'd keep using a computer and do without a streamer until I had my DAC.  --Jerry

First streamer Bluesound. Period.

The Zen next and keep them both.

After a DAC investment.

Unless you're satisfied with the Mode you are going to spend a coupla $K.


“I see a lot of recommendations for the Node.  I used one for a while and agree it is a good streamer.  I don't like that you have to buy a DAC with it.  I recommend a stand alone DAC.  The DAC is a much more important component of your system than your streamer.  I'd keep using a computer and do without a streamer until I had my DAC.  --Jerry”

The Node has an internal DAC with RCA outputs. The newest model’s DAC is pretty good. Easy to add an external DAC later if OP decides streaming works well for him/her and wants to upgrade.


Thanks for all the suggestions. I’m currently using the Tammy as a pre amp b cause of the ht capability. My wife likes the movies on the system. I’m currently looking for a reasonable pre for 2 channel as well as ht. I already have an Adcom preamp with my Adcom amp( white faceplates, very rare, bought new!!!). Ran this for years before I could afford a tv!!!

  Sound like blue ode is for me. Like the options available. I already have a stand alone Dac. It made a real difference in my cds listening. So no problem there. 
  With regard to streaming audio vs lp. To my ears now there is no comparison. I have several direct to disc recordings, a few Gail recordings, and lots of mobile fidelity lp recordings as well. Comparison between supertramp, the planets, king james( on direct to disc) . Lp’s win every time. A reasonable turntable helps. I like cd’s for the convenience.

  Thanks for the advice, all suggestions are welcome. On a funny note, I just discovered Apple TV has music. Who new. Thanks, twodogs112 ( I really have 2 dogs), a westie, and a one eyed beagle!!!!

@twodogs112 ,

I started much like you are. 

My first streamer was the Bluesound Node bought used on Ebay.

It worked great. The internal DAC is good for the price, but the good part is you can insert a better DAC in the future.

As you have heard, your LP's produce a better quality sound. This I don't doubt.

But, when you get really serious about it (and have a bit of disposable income available), digital streaming gets very close to vinyl.

PM me if you want more detailed information.




”With regard to streaming audio vs lp. To my ears now there is no comparison.”… and why is that? Your particular components. Change those and the output changes.

Cambridge Audio Cxnv2.  The app works great, the sound is fantastic.  Best bang for the buck.  Balanced or rca out. 

I started the same path a year ago. I was certain I was heading for a Bluesound Node,etc. I ended up with an Auralic Altair G1 and have never regretted it. You can download to its hard drive, it sounds great, and I’m streaming Tidal with ease and constant enjoyment.

I, too, went down that path.  Bluesound Node2i is a fine streamer; great user interface app.  I bypassed its dac in favor of the dac in a Cambridge CXA81.  This was a major improvement in SQ.  So, I would recommend the Bluesound as long as you expect to upgrade the dac later.  An excellent alternative is the Cambridge CNXV2, as noted above.  I have a Node2i I'm not using.  PM me 8f you are interested.

I see many mentions of the BlueSound Node 2i and also mentions that you are using it with an external DAC. I understand that the newest (current) BlueSound Node has improved sound quality from it's internal DAC vs. the previous Node 2i. Can anyone that has compared the previous Node 2i with the new/current Node comment regarding any sound quality improvements they heard with the latest Node? Just curious. I have a DAC in my Rega Saturn-R CD player/DAC/transport that I could use with a new Node, if needed. But I would also be curious to know if the newest Node, using it's internal DAC, would be adequate free-standing for my needs in a second system.

To ghdprenice, your comments are way out of line. Just because my equipment is older and not a 100,000 system. You lol down on me. I should tell you that I was a sound engineer during my college days. I also worked the board for many well known artists visiting concert venues in my area. Just a few to mention a few, chuck mangione, Maynard furgison, and many others. I also worked the board for the Jacksonville symphony orchestra for several concerts. I am also a trained singer, although that was not my final profession. I am a retired master jeweler with over 40+ years of service to my clients. I have a better ear than most professionals I know. 
  My equipment is what I like, not what someone tells me what I should have based on their own opinion. I had Adcom separates before most people knew what they were. I purchased electrostatic speakers before most knew what they were( acoustat, still have them. Purchased Martin Logan before anyone knew who they were. My Kef 105/2 are perfect in sound and looks, even though they are 40+ years old. Despite the not up to date electronics , I’ll put my system up agains any ones. 
  After a long absence from this hobby, I was seeking advise from those who are more up to date. Not be looked down upon. I can afford whatever I wish to buy, if I so choose. A simple question for you, how many Rolex watches do you own? I have 3. In addition to a collection of fine timepieces you probably could only dream of. 
   Sorry for the rant, I just don’t Belitung being judged by someone who does not know me. Don’t like lp’s , come listen to king James on direct to disc on my system, you might be surprised. 
  Thanks to all who gave objective advice, it’s greatly appreciated. Twodogs112.

@twodogs112 no need to be sorry. Your gear is your gear and streaming is fine for some and vinyl for others. If you love your setup that is all that matters.

Yes there is some audio snobbery here for sure.


As an older audio nut I sympathise, some old equipment is still fine, some is not.  I had a pair of Royd Doublet speakers for 20 years, I must have bought 8 pairs as replacements but none lasted until my recent 2 year old Audio Physic Sitara 25's. It didn't matter what else I ungraded the Royds always sounded right. Everything else was too dull or too bright or well a lot of other things. I have tried about 10 streamers and most sounded good to very good.  The main issues were not really sound quality but other things, reliability, my MicroRendu, 3 years of hell,  was hopeless and an Allo USB Bridge sent my computer into apoplexy, however both use Audirvana as an interface which I loved. I bought a Stack Link, sounded beautiful, when it worked but the app was atrocious, don't even think of using it with a mac. Next was a Lumin U1 mini, sound good but no better than a Bluesound Node I borrowed at the same time., at over twice the price and no DAC. As I had a great DAC, Denafrips Ares 2, I tried it with the Node, didn't like changes of sample rate just popped and jumped when it changed from track to track. Now I have a Lindemann Limetree Bridge, a review gave it about -5 on a scale of 1 to 10. However the whole, I mean whole problem stated was its distortion at 0.003%????? Can anyone hear that, tube amps are about 0.1%. This cost AUD$1000, app is nice, it never drops out, no problem with the Denafrips, It sounds at least as good as any other platform I have tried or listened to, including $10,000 worth of Moon. Go listen, after all that is what we buy hifi for, in the end however unless your system cost squillions, it may well be other things that influence your choice.

No need to get worked up....there are several members who get their jollies from being condescending and judgemental while missing the whole point of the question.

I gotta throw in my vote for the Bluesound Node.

If you want to go used, the Node 2i has excellent sound, but the older Node 2 was a bit rough.

The Bluesound user interface is of the best. The DAC is serviceable and has good sound quality. The newest Node, I'm told is a little better than the older 2i, but I'm quite happy with my 2i.

I used the internal DAC for about 6 months and enjoyed it. After upgrading to a nicer integrated amp that has a DAC, I started using the external DAC for a slight improvement.  

The Node supports Tidal Connect as well as a couple dozen other services and radio station collections.

I'd recommend the $10 a month Tidal subscription for starters and beyond. It provides true CD quality sound. I'm not a fan of the $20 a month plan with "MQA Masters", but you can read plenty on that subject here in the forum. They just don't sound right to someone played with an equalizer before posting them.

I'm an audiophile from the early 70's with several hundred LP's and only 100 CD's. Before I started streaming my listening was 85% vinyl 10% CD and 5% Bluetooth.  Now, it's 75% streaming 5% CD and 20% vinyl. When I want the best music quality, it's vinyl. But the insane quantity of available music, great sound quality and ease of managing the several thousand tracks on albums and playlists make streaming an unbeatable choice, much of the time. 

Enjoy your journey and discoveries.

Yeah, yet another vote for the Node. Get the newest one, there is a good step up with the inboard DAC. Try it both ways to see what you prefer. Great little piece for the $$$.


the forums are not the place for you to be pushing and selling your crap, if you want to do that go into the regular audiogon sales area and push your stuff and the moderator should know better than to let people like you on here do that there's a place for it on here and it's not in the forums.


Hello. Feel free to start Node, you won't hurt anything. p.s. a common mistake many people make is to compare their analog set, which they have built all their lives, with the most basic streamer and then make judgments that analog is better ... everything wants its own. Enjoy the world of music.

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I like my original Auralic Aries, purchased used, with its ultra quiet power supply. I’ve only had it for a couple of months now to, like you, check out what this streaming is all about. Auralic recommends a wireless connection, so I bought a second router. Works well. I also purchased a Network Attached Storage (NAS) hard drive to store my files once I manage to start ripping my CDs to disk. The Auralic app (must have iPhone or iPad) manages both the streaming (I’m enjoying the included internet radio stations right now), the services (must purchase premium subscriptions for Amazon and Quboz, not sure about Tidal, have to use Spotify directly), and your library. The Aries is a Roon endpoint, and I expect I will probably wind up using their services, Roon is well regarded by people whom I respect. Long story short, Auralic goes to great pains to deliver great sound quality. I’m sure your dealer can help you, I wish I had someone to guide me through the options available toward a system that works best for me.

I have both the Node2 and Cambridge CXN 60 in different systems.  Either is a great into to streaming that are good enough to be endpoints as well.  The CA has AirPlay and Chromecast and sounds better, as well as great Internet Radio and podcasting ability.  It cost twice the price of the Node.


I'm not sure why you took @ghdprentice to task for his latest post.  I do believe that you took it as a swipe at you and your equipment.  I have read perhaps 1000 of his posts and I have never seen him look down on anyone or their rig.  He was simply being sincere in the post, as well as stating the obvious, which is your analog rig is of a much higher quality than your streaming/CD.

Hey, maybe I'm way off base, but I don't think so.  Also, I don't know him and I have never responded to a post on someone else's behalf.  I guess there's always a first time.

As to your original question, you won't go wrong with any of the suggestions made above.  Please understand that this will be your first streamer and you will then find yourself looking for one of higher quality.  Particularly if you are going to judge it against vinyl.  Best of luck.





audioTroy, the forums are not the place for you to be pushing and selling your crap, if you want to do that go into the regular audiogon sales area and push your stuff and the moderator should know better than to let people like you on here do that there's a place for it on here and it's not in the forums.

Since when are dealers discouraged from posting on Audiogon, @havocman ? Is that a new rule?

If you have a complaint about @audiotroy, why not bring it to the attention of the moderators?


I can afford whatever I wish to buy, if I so choose. A simple question for you, how many Rolex watches do you own? I have 3. In addition to a collection of fine timepieces you probably could only dream of.

I wouldn’t put a Rolex on my wrist if you gave it to me for free. And I have better things to do than dream about pricey watches.

Twodogs, you have another vote here for the latest Node as a great place to start. The sound quality is good out of the box without an external DAC, and the price is a relative bargain for what you get. 

Another thing to consider is which streaming service you want to use. Tidal has a great interface and plenty of hi-res choices, but its MQA format is viewed by some as inferior to other hi-res options. Qobuz and Amazon Music HD offer hi-res in larger file formats that might lead to more lag or buffering. And I've also read and heard plenty of opinions that streaming anything more than CD quality doesn't result in much improvement to SQ. Just another detail to obsess over for a while...


Bluesound Node hard wired. Very stable and user friendly app. Get an external DAC if you want to upgrade the sound later 😉 

And I’ve also read and heard plenty of opinions that streaming anything more than CD quality doesn’t result in much improvement to SQ.

I’d like to know where you heard/read that because I couldn’t disagree more. Switching back and forth between high-res and CD quality recordings on Qobuz (I had Tidal and much prefer Qobuz that avoids the overly intrusive and limiting MQA BS and all its unfolding crap) reveals the high-res versions to be much more refined with better tonality and much less edgy or brittle sounding. Put another way, high-res just sounds less “digital” in all the good ways. Just my experience FWIW.

Cleeds, I understand your reluctance of owning  a “pricey watch”. However you missed the point. Over many years I learned to respect a person’s interests. After all who needs jewelry? You can’t eat it, sell it, drive it, hear it, etc. I get it. Individuals love their hi fi, others their cars, some have houses, some have boats, on and on. 
  The point was/is I appreciate fine craftsmanship and function. If you wear a Apple Watch that’s great, I do to. I would like to have exceptional equipment like most of you. I’ll get there, but only if it sounds good to me. 
  Above all I learned in life, never judge anyone. I have had clients that drove rusted out pick up trucks purchase $100k pieces of fine jewelry. After I got to know them, I found out that they raised race horses, for tracks like the Kentucky derby. So, I don’t judge anyone, except for their actions. 

  Remember, everyone starts somewhere. To some Adcom is their holy grail. To others mark levenson or prima Luna. To each his own.
  Thanks to all those who have been helpful. I’ll take your suggestions to heart. 

Reading into a lot of comments here many advise dipping your toe in with a Bluesound but maybe going into a forever streamer/DAC could be a move to consider?

Please hard wire cat 5/6 (not 8) into streamer (I have gone all in with UpTone Audio EtherREGEN to clean up Ethernet line (Wow) and an external clock to keep those ones and zeros tight) I started from a computer into the stereo but that’s not as good. Hint. Hint. 

Bluesound (have one on a system in a poor acoustics room) is good but something like a New/Used Lumin T2 or Mytek Brooklyn Bridge (streamers with excellent internal DAC’s) with an external power supply and you’re close to records. I’m happy with Qobuz and it’s deep bench. 

And then there’s Roon! 

I’m in No Cal if…….. 


The Bluesound is always a solid starting point. But here is an alternative that is even cheaper way to dip your toe in the streaming waters (pun intended). Over on there is a SONOS Gen 1 Connect that has been modified by Wyred4Sound for digital out. Sonos still offers the Gen1 controller app. These are solid units and sound purdy good. I have had one for many years and the thing has been rock solid. You could go Coax from the Connect to the Digital in on the Yamaha pre. The price on the Connect is $200 but its been over there for several months and I bet they would entertain a little less. I still use my Sonos W4S ZP90 as a ROON endpoint on a secondary system and it works great. Then you can explore you upgrade path while have a rock bottom startup cost.


Darko Review from years ago. 


I was in a similar situation when I  retired and yes it was overwhelming.   Hadn't kept up for 20 years. bought a Node 2i.  The interface is the easiest to use.  I didn't like Roon.  And you pay for it.

I put a better power supply in it.  $132.  That really helped sound.

WiFi sounds better than Bluetooth.   I  ran a CAT 6 cable from router to node2i.  I use Amazon music 8.99 a month.  Tried Qbuz but couldn't hear any difference. 

Since you are a musician you will love discovering new and old music.  70MM songs to choose from.

Once you get this up and going then you may find it good enough.  I  think it would be difficult to have home theater and 2 channel all in one, especially if you start buying  amp and preamp., but I  haven't tried it.

All these suggestions will work.  Up to you to decide what to buy as it's your choice and money. 


I think you will love streaming. Mostly because you will have millions of songs at your fingertips. 


Best part is that you can find a song that you like and then have the service create a playlist for you. 


After all it's about enjoying the music,  not agonizing about your system. 

What @larry5729 said. I’d start with the free plan then go to Hi-Fi @ $9.99 mth. Jury is still deliberating on whether the HiFi PLUS Tidal (with MQA) is worth the extra $10.

I’ve A/B tested the $600 BlueSound w/Tidal against ~$10K worth of analogue gear and it is remarkably good. So much so that I have zero desire to ever upgrade the Streamer (barring a large win-fall).

Since HT has been mentioned a couple of times, with regard to Sound Quality, here's a solution. Build your quality 2-channel setup, using either an integrated amp, or seperate amp/pre-amp. If the integrated amp, or separate pre-amp has the HT bypass/processor loop output, you can simply add all of the HT functionality by connecting an HT receiver's front L&R pre-outs to the HT bypass inputs of the integrated amp/pre-amp. Now you have a dedicated 2-channel system without any compromising HT hardware in the mix. When you want to play HT, turn on both the 2-channel system and HT receiver, select the appropriate inputs, and off with go with multi-channel HT.


This type of combo system works like a champ. There is no compromise with the 2-channel sound quality. There may be a slight compromise to HT sound quality performance, based on the HT hardware you use, but you likely won't notice it, or hear a difference. I don't currently have this type of combo system set up, but I have had it on multiple occasions in the past. If I recall correctly, @erik_squires is currently using this type of combo 2-channel/HT setup.