Digital music questions

I'm somewhat new to hi res digital audio and I'm looking for some tips. I have been building my system and have purchased McIntosh c2700, which has a DAC built in, a 462 amp, and B&W 802d4s. Using Apple Music, I have been streaming music through a Macbook Pro via a USB cable to the DAC of the c2700 preamp.

The McIntosh preamp states the streaming quality is 44.1 kHz, which seem to be the low end of high-res streaming. I currently have so many subscriptions, including Sirius XM for the cars and Apple Music for my family, and more recently Nugs for concerts, (not to mention video subscriptions...seems it never ends), so I was hoping not to add another paid subscription.

That being said, am I leaving a lot on the table? Would a dedicated streamer sound a lot better than the Macbook Pro? Are there streamers without DACs, so I can use the McIntosh DAC without purchasing redundant equipment? I understand I cannot use Apple Music to get high res audio to the preamp, as they only provide it through Apple equipment at this time. Can I get a streamer that uses the DAC of the c2700 preamp? Finally, do I then need to add another subscription, such as Tidal or Qobuz, to get high res audio?'s a lot of questions, but I'm sure someone here can help!


Your system seems to be of a quality that would benefit by adding a quality streamer/server and your built in DAC is of fairly high quality. I consolidated the families music services and we all use Quboz. The only advantage that I see in using Apple is that I can listen to music from my Apple Watch. Apple does have an amazing selection of music. I think that a number of streamers will add the Apple services to their list of vendors, but as of now that hasn’t happened. I welcome someone to correct this statement.
I am also a big fan of Aurender, starting with the N200, but these are fairly expensive even on the used market. That said, the Aurender would provide quality in keeping with your components.



There are lots of long discussions on the 0’s and 1’s thing. It kept me from buying a good streamer for many years. Then you get one and your jaw drops and you stop worrying about the theory, it’s just true. But, a good streamer will cashe the bitstream, and the re-time it, it will isolates noise from the source… controls vibration. These things drop the noise floor phenomenally and increase the detail and dynamics.

Subject to the rest of your components, absolutely a Aurender is worth the cost in excess of a Bluesound. I have used PCs, MacBooks, iPads, inexpensive streamers… then $3.5K, $5K, $10K, $13K (extensively auditioned in my system), and $22K streamers. At each level I carefully chose the best… not just random only spending money. And at each level the sound was much better and worthy of the investment to someone who cares about sound.

If you listen to Classical, you might want to test out another streaming service -- Idagio. They don't provide hi-res, but their CD quality stream often gives Qobuz hi-rez a run for its money.  The Idagio honchos possess some fine sets of ears, and their library is truly vast. Yeah, I've mentioned it a dozen times, but even this former Tower Classics employee is impressed by the sheer amount of material they put at their customers' fingertips. Getting a little too jaded for Beethoven and Von Karajan? Go to Idagio and cue up a Busoni violin concerto featuring violinist Alexander Vedernikov and the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana.

“I was hoping to be in the $1000 range, for instance, or maybe a little higher, but the Aurender N200 is quite costly!!”

You may look for a ‘used’ bargain on Aurender N150 here and on US Audio Mart. Also look into Innuos Pulse Mini over Node 2. The sound and app experience (iPad recommended) with these two would be vastly superior to your MacBook and Node 2.

I started with a Bluesound to get into streaming: simple to hook/set up, use and operate. The built in DAC is fine, although you can in the future hook up an outboard one to the Bluesound to upgrade the sound.

I myself have moved on to a Aurender N200, but unless you plan to have digital files you want to store, it's overkill for just streaming. 

There are many great streamers for $1,000 or less that are all going to sound better then a laptop/PC.