dac and streamer or seperates

Want to spend about 5k

System right now is a Krell S-300  love it!

B&W 804's  love them too

Well treated medium sized room.

but I'm using the built in streamer and dac.  

I would like to take my streaming to the next level.

At 5k would you go separate DAC and Separate Streamer or all in one?


@vonhelmholtz  I read through the link you sent.   It speaks about clocking at both the source and at the target.  I have to say I'm mystified as to why clocking at the source is an issue.  Data being transmitted from one device to another is broken up into packets which are reassembled at the target.  That's how I can copy a data file from a PC in California and send it 2500 miles to a machine I have in Hawaii.  Those data packets have passed through more than a dozen routers, each router having physical connectors, wire and fiber cables of unknown nature, as well as the data bits being converted from electrical signals to light, etc.  And yet in audio, people seem to obsess over a single 3 foot length of USB cable.

When copying a data file from California to Hawaii, the copied file is precisely the same as the source file.  Not almost the same.  Exactly the same.  I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the copy of a file from a PC to a DAC cannot also be equally accurate.  I still fail to see how the data received by the DAC would be different from a streamer than it would from a PC.

The first program I ever wrote was in assembly language on an IBM 1401, which had 16k of actual physical core memory.  The IBM 1401 is proudly on display at the Computer History Museum in Sunnyvale.    You could ***SEE*** the core memory in a cage!  There were these little wire grids with ferrite donuts that were the actual bits of system memory.  One of the things I learned was that there are really only three things a computer can do, and that everything else we see a computer do are elaborate combinations of these three operations.

1.  You can copy bits from one place in memory to another.
2.  You can compare bits in one place in memory to another.
3.  You can do a numerical add of the bits in one memory location to the bits in another location and then write them to a memory location.

That's IT.  EVERYTHING a computer does is combinations of those three operations.  And that's the beauty of digital data.   Copying data is done perfectly or it's not done.  The data transmitted to a DAC, which also a little computer, is precisely the same whether it comes from a PC or a streamer (which is also a computer).  When data is not accurately transmitted, it is corrupt and useless.

I can understand that clocking the data for conversion within the DAC is an important design element, but the data it is working on will be identical coming over the wire regardless of whether it comes from a PC or a streamer.

@mgrif104 @vonhelmholtz   Of course all of this discussion is rendered irrelevant with a system like the Dutch & Dutch 8c when you connect to it over a local IP network as a Roon target.  Everything is fully contained in the D&D 8c - DSP, DAC, active crossover, digital power amp...  There are no USB cables, no interconnects, no speaker cables, no cable lifters, no balanced or unbalanced connectors, no source clocks, no...  did I leave anything out?

I think the D&D 8c is about $14k now, but consider what you can spend on all those components as separate items, $14k isn't a bad deal.


I’m not familiar with the D&D unit you’re referring to. But, it does seem like such a unit attempts to be a one box solution that cuts out the variables. The only thing I think you’re missing is that each component can be optimized for audio quality and there are necessary limitations to any one box solution whether that be in design topology, quality of parts, power supply(ies) and isolation. But, $14k all in is an attractive price point relative to what I have invested in my digital system.

If I read correctly, you’re still understandably skeptical of the source’s value in the equation and that because of your location, are unlikely to experience worthwhile alternatives. To that I say you’re fortunate as you won’t fall down the proverbial rabbit hole.

You’ve obviously spent more effort and $ on your vinyl rig than on your digital system - which I get. I used to have a vinyl rig and miss it at times. But it doesn’t take a lot of money to make notable improvements in even modest digital rigs.

As I experimented, I began to hear, and understand the benefit of optimizing all the disparate digital gear in my system. It is more than just 1s and 0s. As already discussed - files are being transferred bit perfect. But, the noise that’s carried along the same wire along with the slope of the voltage changes which the DAC reads as a 1 or 0 are critically important components and are plainly audible in direct comparison. The human ear can detect mere femto seconds of jitter. It is very well documented (in listening tests and actual measurements) the impact of incorrect impedance of a digital cable and the length of the cable.

The OP started this thread wondering about the merits of separate components and it has been a good discussion and one I hope helpful to you - a skeptic.  Being a skeptic is to be encouraged in audio as there are plenty of ways to separate people from their money. But, please keep an open mind and seek direct experience to weigh against the theoretical.



@mgrif104 The Dutch & Dutch 8c was originally conceived as a studio monitor.   As far as I can tell, EVERYTHING about it, and every component, have been optimized.  They have some of the most startling imaging I've ever heard, as well as a superb tonal balance, power, yadda, yadda.  


I have a vinyl rig because I first began buying records while Johnson was president.  Frankly I encourage newbies to NOT get into vinyl as I feel it is far, far too expensive for what you get.  I have about a dozen recordings in both vinyl and digital and feel there are things about each I like better than the other, but none that makes me want to abandon either format.


Just because there might be electrical noise on the wire is pretty much irrelevant to the transmission of a digital signal.   To quote another technically astute audiophile, 

"USB has error detection (in the form of a cyclic redundancy check, CRC, on each packet). It has no error correction as such - however, any packets with a bad CRC can be re-sent - there's plenty of time at audio rates! Yes, any cable bad enough to introduce multiple CRC errors won't work and should be binned."

Thus the data that is received by a DAC is precisely the same data regardless of whether the source is a streamer, or a Linux laptop like mine.  Noise on the sending end is totally irrelevant.  The musical information is 100% contained in the data.  Everything audible that you hear is what is created by the DAC.



The Krell is ROON endpoint, a really cool feature.  For about $1,200 you could get an SGC Sonic Transport i5 to host a ROON core, for a few more $$ doll it up with a LPS.  Then for about $150 you subscribe to ROON for a  Year.  Totally fun few months ahead of you figuring out whether its something for you.  If not you dump the SGC ST online and unsubscribe from ROON.  Totally cheap way to find out of ROON with worth it.   While you have ROON find a way to demo a streamer and run them head to head through the Krell.