Comparing streamer/DACs between $5-10k

I’m looking for a DAC/Streamer single unit, willing to spend up to $7-8k & not opposed to something like a recent model/demo/open box unit.  The only streamer/DAC experience I’ve had so far with my gear connected is with an Aurender A200 on demo from a dealer. Said dealer says it’s the “benchmark” at this general price point.  IDK,  It sounds great, but what would I likely hear differently with the following units?

-Meitner MA3

-HiFi Rose 150b

-Lumin T3 or P1



I appreciate the convenience of a streamer/DAC as well...I've been impressed with Moon's 280D and 390 and recommend giving them a listen if you and they are on the lower end of your budget.

If you do not need preamp functionality then a used Lumin X1 around $6-7k is what I would choose (owned it before). The LeedH volume control is great. Normally volume control on a DAC is bad at low volume. The Lumin is ALMOST perfect in this regard.

If you need preamp then the Lumin P1 is likely what I would choose based on the fibre streaming ability of the Lumin. It is better than the streamers in your other choices.

If you use ROON for streaming and use fibre then your dealers comments about "benchmark" is meaningless to mean. Especially, using fibre. If you are not aware getting setup with fibre can be very low cost if you have Ethernet near your stereo. If not using a PowerLine adapter to get ethernet to you stereo is super cheap. 

People will say this is nuts but the key is the use of FIBRE. Fibre is made of glass and cannot carry analog noise into the DAC. That is why the Lumin is the one of my fav streamers, along with Sonore and PlayBack Designs.

At your price level, and unless you’re extremely space constrained, get a separate streamer and DAC. Your future upgrade potential on both counts will be much easier, and you’ll very likely get better performance. Both the DAC and streamer are critical but very different functions and design, so what are the odds you’ll get both a streamer and DAC optimized for your tastes in the same box? I’d say spend about evenly for each and choose the individual streamer and DAC that provides the sound characteristics and features you’re looking for. Combo units are almost always going to be a compromise, so put in the time/effort to get separates and you’ll be greatly rewarded in the long run. If you specify what sound characteristics are most important to you and/or what improvements you’d like to hear over the A200 you’ll get some good recommendations here.  Just my $0.02 FWIW, and best of luck in your search.

Bricasti makes really good dacs. Adding Aurender N200 into the mix revealed the shortcomings of the DAC’s inbuilt network renderer in my system. 

Thanks for the opinions & input everyone.  I really don’t want to do separates, not for space reasons.  
As for limiting my choices, I’m open to other recommendations-as long as they are DAc+ streamers all in one chassis.

The A200 is great, but the MA3 & 150B both are highly reviewed.  Is either sonically equal or better than A200?  Bricasti??

The Cary DMS 700 should be on your list.  Down the road, if you're inclined to upgrade the DAC as technology improves, you can use the DMS 700 as a streamer.  They're offering it on sale right now at their lowest price ever.

I believe the DAC is a more important choice over a streamer/server(computer)

chicing the DAC will effect the sound quality more than transport/ Server


this is exactly the premise I’m operating from as well.  Aurender gets a lot of praise in no small part bc of their app/interface.  I put a premium on sound.  

@ yowser 

yes Cary has been recommended to me, but that dealer did not have a unit for me to audition.  Then I started reading reviews, & from what I interpreted/synthesized, the other brands I mentioned got more praise.  It’s hard to decide confidently if you haven’t heard these pieces play..

What is the rest of your gear?  What other DACs you have heard that you like?  Do you have a software preference? The items you have listed are good but I would never put Meitner and Lumin in the same system.  They sound VERY different.  Need to know the rest of your gear or this could be a very wrong suggestion.  

@rkfaberdds Just be aware that those brands you listed are sold through dealers with their markups.  Cary is direct to consumer, and you can audition in your room for 30 days.  I would suggest watching  hifishark.  Several available of those you mentioned.

I can’t comment on your possible choices but add that I’ve heard the Holo May and Cord Hugo TT,  I was not overwhelmed.  I demoed the new Aqua LaScala DAC  and loved it.  A friend of mine dropped over a Lumin U1 mini for kicks and I was surprised how good it was over my 1k streamer.  I liked the Lumin sound so much I’ve purchased the U2 Lumin which will arrive in a week.  At the end of the day, there was a comment made earlier that may help direct you.  given what you currently have what would you like to have more off? Detail, warmth, sound stage, weight, etc.  each component has its own signature and strength.  In my experience and system the Aqua LaScala and Lumin combo provides all the above.  The U2 should provide even more given the reviews I’ve seen.   I can provide an update on the U2 in a few weeks.

Thanks everyone!  My system is comprised of:

-Rogue dragoN power amp

-ModWright LS100 pre

-Chapman T-7 loudspeakers (upgraded & modded)

Shunyata & AQ power cords & interconnects.

It’s hard to say what I’d like to hear more of/what sonic signature I’d like to enhance because everything sounds excellent.  T-7s have titanium tweeters.  Maybe I’m looking for smoother transients & to minimize sibilants?? I have plenty of bass and a nice 3-D soundstage, imaging is good…could it be better?

I guess im just wondering if an entry level Aurender 200 is the Best Buy at $6300, or should I spend a little more and get something that wows.  Or spend less (HiFi rose or other) and basically achieve the same.

I own the HiFi Rose 150b and I’m a fan. The features I really like include the apps to tune in global radio stations, and the ability to stream 4K YouTube to a nearby television, while playing the audio, typically concert footage, through my system.  I also really like the large display, and I find the menus to be intuitive and helpful for using the device and setting it up.  I find I use the remote control app more than the remote control itself, but both are fine. If you’re buying it because of the meters, don’t, I find them more of a distraction and typically don’t display them.

As for the sound quality, I’m not the type of audiophile who can provide a lot of flowery descriptions. Though I will say the sound is very clear and detailed. For my tastes, I like things on the warm side, and while I think my overall system has something to do with this, the sound from the 150b is brighter than my analog, and I am looking to tame that.  I’ll be looking at cables, and maybe putting a tube buffer either in a tape loop or in line with the streamer.

Overall, I’m a satisfied customer 


That’s great you have the 150B and are happy.  Did you ever compare how it sounded sonically against other (more expensive) streamer DACs?

@rkfaberdds no, I didn’t compare. Bought online, sight unseen.  I live in a very rural area. I tend to research stuff quite a bit before buying. And also, I don’t have any audiophile friends with big budgets (relatively speaking) that I can hang out with and compare notes/sounds.

So I don’t have any comparative data for you.

Ok, for those who advocate for a separate DAC-like Denafrips terminator2 or Weiss 501….

Could this play & pair nicely with a lower price (older?) Aurender streamer? 

You might be able to find a pre-owned Rockna Wavedream DAC and pair that with an affordable streamer like Roon Nucleus  within your budget.  That would give you a killer combo.  You can always upgrade the Nucleus to the Wavedream NET when budget allows.  The Rockna DAC will have a much larger impact on sound quality than the NET streamer.

The Wavedream NET is an excellent piece of gear and besides serving as your streamer and storage device can play CDs with excellent sound quality.  I kind of like the savings, convenience, and sound quality of used CDs.    

This is where I ended my digital journey.  My digital front end is so good now that I have occasional thoughts of unloading all my vinyl.  Thankfully those thoughts are fleeting.


I’ll look into the digital rig you are running.  Thank you.  I must admit another bias against Roon-more equipment and subscription/monthly payment required.  That aspect would bother me

You might consider one of the Innous products such as the Zenith Mk3.  I understand there Sense App is very good so Roon wouldn't be required.

I must admit another bias against Roon-more equipment and subscription/monthly payment required.  That aspect would bother me

I felt the same way for a long time and tried some free and inexpensive apps to use for streaming.  I was always a little frustrated with them, but didn't realize how bad they were until I tried Roon (which is similar to many other experiences in this hobby).

If you have a single system and a single source of digital music and you like the app you're using, then no need to change.

If you have music on a server or on your network, and you use Qobuz and/or Tidal, then Roon is a game changer, even more so if you have multiple streaming locations.  The ease of use of Roon, being able to find whatever you want from all your sources in one interface, and getting Allmusic information about the release make it well worthwhile.  It also does a great job of creating playlists based on your listening habits.


....and subscription/monthly payment required.  That aspect would bother me

How are you listening to your music now without cost? 

Qobuz is my only cost.  And we all know by now that it’s worth the yearly fee many times over

Look into PS Audio Direct Stream DAC. The MkII version is out and the original can be had a a very significant discount. Visit TMR Audio website. 
For $1500-$2000 this is an unbeatable deal. 
Pair that DAC with either Lumin U2 (not the mini) or the older U1 or one of the Aurenders (N10, N200 or even N150) and I am pretty certain you’ll be happy. A very reputable US company and the two established brands of streamers. 

Just a suggestion and an alternative to the Denafrips Terminator and HiFi Rose. 

Up to $10k.  A RS250a (used) is available around $1.5-1.8k and a new Terminator 2 for $4.5k + cables gets it done for less & would be best & most versatile sonic value it seems.  An equation like that is appealing

BTW, been playing with a Lumin D3 home demo for a few days & not loving the app.  HiFi rose I have not played with, but I read it’s really modern & intuitive.  Lumin is pretty lame to Aurendef IMO though the Lumin sound is possibly better

Lumin app sucks. I’d go with a new or used Aurender before I would even look at HiFi Rose. Unless you like to experiment with new brands and take your chances. 

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Innuos and their Sense app seem pretty straightforward and simple to use.  But not much for meta-data on artists etc.  Lineup spans price points and tech.  Zen(ith) line rips/storage, Pulse do not.  Most require DAC. 

Thank you,  I have read everyones response and looked/read into your suggestions.  Those advocating for separates streamer/DAC have persuaded me.  The reason is I have now actually auditioned a streamer/DAC combo that I liked the sound of better than the A200.  It was the GoldNote- had a Bigger soundstage, more 3-D imaging and resolution.  But, Problem is twofold- it’s fiddly and I keep coming back to the reality that the Aurender app is what I want to use.  

HiFi Rose app reviews sounds full of glitches w irritated users on their forum.

I have had a Lumin D3 in my system for a few days & its app is not for me.  But I can imagine people like the Lumin sound better than the lower end of Aurenders. I might indeed.

 I’m shooting for a legacy/used Aurender paired with the Denafrips T2.  I’d rather send $ to CH, but Weiss 501 is a little steep pricewise.  Denafrips reviews sound beyond glowing.

FWIW, I just bought a used Aurender N10 and am using the OXCO clocked SPDIF output. It is amazing. I am using a Schiit Gumby for a DAC, probably looking at an upgrade there as well. 



Congradulations! Great sounding streamer.

You are quite right about the additional opportunity for improvement by replacing the Gumby. I recently compared the Yggdrasil with the Linn  ~$5K DAC and it was like night and day. There are so much better DACs.  I was using an Aurrender N100 for comparison. So, you have a big opportunity for improvement. Depending on the rest of your equipment.


@ghdprentice Thanks! As for the DAC, I am going to let things soak for awhile, having upgraded preamp, speakers and streamer in the last six months. It is tempting to just go with an Yggdrasil or Pontus, but I will exercise some restraint, unless the right deal pops up! I am wary of ending up with a system that is too analytical, or maybe that is what I want? Need to listen for now.

I test drove a lot of contenders and pretenders listed in this OP and elsewhere .

you may want to consider MOON by SIMAUDIO for three reasons:

- top shelf premium build (made and serviced in Canada in Montreal ….not somewhere Far East …), …..and it has a premium audio performance that takes a back seat to nobody listed herein.

- if registered within the 1st month, the warranty is upgraded for free to ten (10) years

- best of breed upgrades program:

(a) 100% of original price as full trade in value within 1st year of ownership from new

(B) 75% of original price as full trade in value within 2nd year of ownership from new




Personally I'd recommend using a separate DAC and streamer, technology in both is changing rapidly and easier and cheaper to trade up a single unit rather than a combo. A used Aurender N10 can be had for about $5,000, a used Aurender N200 for about $4,000. That would leave $3,000-$4,000 for a really nice DAC.

Buy a pre-owned Ayre Acoustics QX-5 Twenty streaming DAC!!!  I compared mine to much higher priced DACs and came home with the Ayre.  Brilliant piece!!! 

I’ve looked into most of your suggestions and have the following incoming:

HiFi Rose 250A(preowned) for streaming connected via Cardas high speed clear USB to a Denafrips venus2 12th(new).

Fingers crossed.  I tried to pick units that were highly reviewed professionally and also had largely positive forum discussions.  Denafrips def met this standard.  This combo will set me back around $5k, which is also appealing. 

Just found a video of a reviewer talking about his Rose vs. Antipodes K22 FWIW

(Yes, not fair as the K22 is quite a bit more, I know) 

He rambles on quite a bit, so skip to about 14min in if you just want the Rose comparison



I’ve been enjoying the Rose 250A for a few days now.  The rose app is really fantastic-maybe better than Aurender, & the sonics are about the same as the A200 that I home auditioned a couple weeks ago.  Now I am eagerly anticipating connecting my Venus 2 via Cardas high speed USB when that part of the kit arrives.  I will report back, but at this stage of my equipment investiture I am very pleased!

The Cardas high speed USB should be a nice improvement over what is packaged with the streamer.  Also keep in mind that both the cable and Venus need to break/settle in for a few hundred hours until you’re listening at full resolution.  Be patient. It kind of sneaks up on you.  One day you’ll be listening and realize, damn this really sounds good 😀

I had the hi rose 130 transport snd sold it after a week. In my system it had no life and no jump factor. I was very disappointed. I thought the Eversolo A8  was better.

I finally happened to get a deal on a aurender N200 and the foot tapping came back. The N200 was just so natural sounding. Everything just sounded correct. I only do local streaming from internal ssd. The n200 connected to my Pass 250 and Holo May KTE is just magic . I also use a Cardas hi speed usb cable. They do take a minute to break in.