Do Streamer only devices really impact sound quality?

From a layman mindset, a streamer transmits electronic information to a dac via coaxial cable or other connection. The electronic information I believe is standardized for all streamers. That said, the streamer itself could not influence the sound quality heard by the audience. I think it is bit-perfect information coming across to the dac. 

So for instance a Bluesound 2i   vs  Cambridge CXN V2 streamer should sound identical with the same connections and equipment used and of course same streaming service and content.


thoughts appreciated if I have this correct?  



I'd only say believe those with top tier streamers, they are indeed hearing what they claim to be hearing, they are not delusional! I don't care about the damn theoreticals, audio is for our listening pleasure, not meant for some listening bot or textbook.

indeed... nor for "measurements are everything" geeks

@dvdgreco When I started off on my recent complete overhaul of my hifi, I was similarly convinced that surely 1s and 0s are sacrosanct, and what is the point in buying better than a budget Cambridge streamer/DAC.

It wasn't until I tried several different USB cables between my new Zenith and Hegel H390 did I fully accept that such a thing as quality exists in the realm of digital signals.  Not only that, and this surprised me, USB cables to my ears have definite characteristics, which myself and other reviewers could agree on.  For example, the Laboga Emerald USB has a lovely warm and rich tone to it.  Why?  who knows - maybe not even the cable designer.  

In my experience, everything between the router/switch and the DAC's input affects the SQ to some extent.  Filters, regenerators, ethernet cables, USB cables, power supplies and, yes, the streamer.

Of course, the impact of each will depend on partnering equipment, and I would expect that some DACs are more sensitive to noise and jitter than others.  

Thankfully, most suppliers have a returns policy - though burn-in can be an issue, and eventually you'll just get tired and even a little neurotic by continually performing A-B comparisons and "staring" at the music, rather than just listening to it.

My advice: aim for a warmish sound, then stop and enjoy.  High levels of detail, in the short-term, is impressive, but can soon fatigue.


@lollipopguild  Amen. The one nit is high level of detail can co-exist without fatigue. This is the plateau I finally surpassed after well over 30 years of trying. Fatigue in the digital realm is caused by jitter, I'm really beginning to believe humans can detect extremely miniscule levels of jitter. Some claim we've already attained levels of jitter below threshold of hearing, don't observe any evidence for this.

Fatigue in the digital realm is caused by jitter, I’m really beginning to believe humans can detect extremely miniscule levels of jitter.

i agree but would add that electrical noise is also an important contributor to a perceived sense of harshness to the music - this is why filters and cleansers such as network acoustics, etherregen, optical modules and so on are able to make such patently audible improvements