Digital source upgrade suggestion?


I’m currently running my streaming (Tidal and Spotify) and digital files from a Macbook Pro (files on external HD connected USBC) with iTunes over Airplay to an Airport which is then connected via Audioquest mini Toslink cable to my Bricasti M1SE dac.

I have about 4TB of music files which are highly organized in iTunes (I run a record label and am a touring DJ, hence needing files portable on the external drive) so I’ve been hesitant to move into Roon simply because of the interface – the line spacing is huge and I prefer to view larger lists on the screen at a time – and I burn through new music files very quickly as I’m dealing with many demos, masters, etc. I know the consensus is Airplay is garbage, but feeling a bit stuck.

I’ve been thinking perhaps a NAS but I’d like something to also be an endpoint for Tidal, Qobuz etc. The M1 has the network upgrade, so don’t need a streamer per se. I’ve read many many threads here in the past 2 years but I’m in circles now. Thoughts?

If of interest (can’t imagine it matters for this part of the front end discussion) the rest of system is Cello Palette Preamp, Pass 1.2 Monoblocks, modded ADS L1290 floorstsnders.

Thank in advance, I know this topic is like beating a dead horse.


There are tremendous opportunities for increased sound quality. No question. But the practical problem is large. The huge effort you put into iTunes organization.

I have used iTunes, JRiver, Foobar, on PC, and MAC with direct storage, NAS, pocket drives. Then found out how much better a dedicated streamer sounds. On my streamers Streaming is better or equal to CD and stored files… if exactly the same files then they all sound the same… the same as my excellent analog leg.

But your issue is that you are trying to solve three problems with one system. If you want to continue with one solution for three problems, then it may require your low sound quality solution.

A high quality streamer (most still contain internal storage and can connect to NAS). So, theoretically you could have your master library on NAS and save and control by iTunes. Then you access it with your streamer if you want, but normally you can listen to music at home through streaming (Qobuz for sure). If you want, you can listen to your iTunes library through your streamer (minus the high;y structured organization). For DJing and other stuff you do what you are doing. This will greatly improve your home listening and you will learn all about streaming… maybe the next step would be to travel with a streamer with it’s internal storage… but that would not be the iTunes one. But that would be a later step.

Showing your audio components is important. There is no reason to pair a $22K streamer and a $22K DAC with a $3K preamp and $3K amp or visa versa. You want to match the capability of all the components as much as possible. High quality digital audio is available at $5K system level through +$500K system level. 


These are just some opening thoughts. This will require some work.


@kota1 I will have a look, thanks!

@ghdprentice Right. Well I am not totally opposed to losing iTunes/Airplay. The organization for DJ/label work is not so tied to my "pleasure" listening, I can always keep the iTunes organization and use that when needed, but therefore re-direct this topic a bit...

The Bricasti M1SE has the network streaming upgrade for UPNP, so I can connect to a server, but I believe I would need a combo streamer/server like Innuos or the like (I know there are loads) if I want to use streaming services, right?

My current digital path is Airplay > Airport > mini toslink > Bricasti M1SE > Cello Palette > Pass Labs Aleph 1.2 > ADS L1290 (modded xover). ICs are all Audio Sensibility OCC and speaker cables are Acoustic Zen Zen Hologram II. I have also just finished building this Japanese style TX box using Western Electric 111C transformers, as an experiment, to try between DAC and preamp as my vintage obsessed friend swears it cleans up digital hash and gives digital "a more analog feel", something Japanese audiophiles did a lot when CDs came onto the market. Sorry went on a tangent there.

AirPlay isn't ideal because it's limited to 44.1 kHz / 16 bit. If you want to use listen to high-res material, you should use UPnP instead.


And you're right - if the Bricasti has UPnP capability, then it can already serve as a media renderer for playback. Buying an external streamer / server isn't necessary.


To stream to the DAC, you need to do a few things. The first is to set up a UPnP server. This can be done on your MacBook or directly on the NAS itself, if you go that direction.


I use a free and open source app called Kodi to enable UPnP on my Mac mini. Once installed, you need to add your iTunes Library as a music source. Then you need to enable UPnP on Kodi, including the options to share your music library, look for remote players (will need to show advanced options by click on the gear icon in the lower left of the navbar until it says 'Advanced'), and allow remote control via UPnP.


If you'd rather use a NAS such as Synology, there are packages available to enable UPnP functionality.


You can control playback and stream to your Bricasti DAC by using a UPnP app. For iOS devices, I suggest mconnect Player HD. The Bricasti should appear as an option when you tap the 'Play to' button the upper left. If you're on Android, I suggest BubbleUPnP. The Bricasti should show up as an option if you tap on the cast icon on the lower left.


Alternatively, you can also use the Kodi app interface directly by right clicking on a song and choosing "Play using". This is a bit clunky though.

I also forgot to mention that mconnect and BubbleUPnP feature integration with Tidal / Qobuz so you can use them to stream from those services to any UPnP client.

I suggest you look at a dedicated music server like the i5 from Green Computer.  You can attach your 4tb drive and connect to the Bricasti and run Roon from the i5.

My setup is pretty much the same.  The beauty of it (WiFi) is that nothing on computer side matters (Computer speed, power supply, amount of memory, playback program etc), since there is no direct connection and no real time clock .  Airport receives bit perfect data in packets and converts it to music by adding timing.  AE is  pretty jittery on analog out but Toslink output is not that bad producing about 280ps of jitter.  AFAIK about 50ns becomes audible so some reduction is in order.  I use jitter suppressing DAC.  

Itunes is different story.   User interface is clumsy, so I created "smart playlists" for each gender  (Gender is ......).  After that each gender smart playlist shows all CDs on one screen as icons.  Unfortunately it is still not showing full screen because, for some reason, they decided to use almost half of the screen for the banner.  I had enough of this stupidity and bought inexpensive Jriver Media 29 (now Media 30).  Once you figure out proper settings it is pleasure to use.  Icons are displayed on whole screen, making it easy to browse thru records. My music is on external SSD connected to Mac Mini..

@kijanki I'm just so many years down the road with itunes and have a huge record label catalog system through it, also really cannot stand viewing by album cover, I need to see more at one time, i need the smallest text version in list format, this is why i didn't contiue with Roon - the amount of lines of text in the interface is idiotic, way too much space and not enough shown on the screen at one time.