Do I need a streamer?

Streaming devices, with or without an internal DAC, seem to be very popular these days, so I am wondering if I am missing out on something.  I have Audirvana on my iMac that streams Tidal and music from my 8 TB external HD.  My iMac resides next to my audio rack and I connect my iMac via an optical cable (Fibbr) to my Aqua LaVoce DAC.  It seems to me that my iMac and external HD take the place of a streaming device.  Am I missing out on something other than convenience?  My external HD was a few hundred bucks and streamers a whole lot more.  The sound of my system is fantastic. 


I swing both ways currently with my Cambridge Evo 150. Use it’s streamer and use PC as streamer to it via USB 2. Sound quality is not the determining factor. Both are top notch. Dead quiet and detailed to the nth degree. Had to use right driver up to the task on PC to accomplish that.

Did not sound as good with default usb driver on the PC. It had limited resolution.


Again, I have always kept my PC well away from my hifi gear, a good 8’ or so and use long good quality USB wire. BTW I have heard from reputable sources that short digital connections are not necessarily a good thing due to potential reflections and jitter. Probably less of an issue these days with a good quality jitter resistant DAC. That matters a lot!

Also use the same PC to convert vinyl to digital for my music library. My vinyl sound is superb and the digital equivalents the same.

For those who consider themselves not “computer savey” just buy a good streamer if not cool with having to tweak computers.

Dedicated streamer is about Audio only however computer has lot more different tasks purposes and to perform those tasks computer has lots of extra circuits with negative ER influence on each other so Audio outcome suffering at the end. 

@ghdprentice I've not personally done  comparisons to top line off the shelf streamers, but the group of people who built my streamer and other very similar builds  did hear and compare my exact build which at the time of comparison used HDPlex 200W ATX internal power supply combined with a number of nice external linear power supplies, so this build was last compared to Aurender W20SE, the custom build was preferred by the listeners. Information on this build, along with others and comparisons to various off the shelf streamers can be found at Audiophilestyle forum, thread is well over 700 pages at this point! This group does find the Aurender to be one of the top echelon streamers, only bettered by Wadax and Taiko Extreme.


Those exploring custom builds based on Windows motherboards have experimented with no end of hardware, optimized software, at this point have come to conclusion the best custom build can compete or surpass every off the shelf dedicated streamer with exception of Wadax and Taiko Extreme. The individual that built my streamer with the HDPlex power supply ended up purchasing Taiko, Individual I purchased streamer from also ended up purchasing same. Both have not heard this streamer with my JCAT Optimo LPS so who knows where it stands in hiearchy of dedicated streamers? I'd certainly like to do direct comparison to Aurender W20SE, undoubtedly one of the best streamers out there.

@mapman Optimized rendering via USB, I2S, coax, AES/EBU with PC requires JCAT or Pink Faun boards powered via external lps. Rendering via motherboard, even with optimized OS leaves much to be desired. Ethernet optimization effected with JCAT NetCard XE.