Ethernet streaming

Many high end dac’s now have built in streaming capability via Ethernet. Is this a better way to go than adding a separate streamer to feed the dac?  In my case, streaming Qobuz and using roon. Also have an Aurender dac/pre that wouldn’t be needed if dac only streaming was used. Wondering about the advantages and disadvantages of these two approaches. I’m sure this has been discussed before, but I can’t find it.


@joc3021 , @oddiofyl I have the Bricasti M3 using Ethernet running Roon Nucleus with Qubuz and I love it. I got a really good deal on the Bricasti from an authorized dealer though Audiogon to. 

No doubt the Bricasti is a great DAC  
I prefer a dedicated box to stream as I don’t do Roon.  
The M3 was on my short list.   Nice sounding DAC

Every review I’ve read about a dac with Ethernet and the dac I use with Ethernet has always sounded better with Ethernet, 2nd best option would be i2s, last would be usb. You don’t have to be a so called streaming audio specialist to know this. 

I use Bricasti M3 with network player/renderer as Roon end point. I had Lumin U1 Mini and preferred the M3, sold the Lumin. Bricasti has few more models up from the M3 with better DAC (M1S2, M21). The preamp section in the Bricasti DACs is not to be overlooked as well. It’s transparent with excellent volume control, in case you want to run the DAC direct into your amp. I prefer a dedicated preamp as to me the preamp just layers things better.

Other examples of one box DAC with network player are Weiss and Mola Mola Tambaqui. The all sound different and what you like will depend on your sonic preferences. Overall it’s a clean and great sounding setup with any of these options. You’d have to spend a considerable amount to beat the built in network renderers in these units. Just my opinion. 

I use a Matrix Element X (integrated streamer + DAC + preamp).  It supports Roon-ready ethernet or direct connection to a computer via USB.  The DAC chip is an ESS ES9038Pro, which seems to be quite good.  For significantly better SQ, in the streaming + DAC capabilities, I suppose I'd have spent more than 2X as much.  If there's a significant compromise, maybe it's in the preamp section, in particular the volume control.  But I've never compared it to having a separate, dedicated preamp.   

By integrating, you're not only reducing box and cable clutter, you're also shortening the signal paths. That might  actually improve SQ compared to separates of similar quality. But it'd be hard to set up a proper A/B comparison.

To me, one of the best things about separates is that they do give you more focused, step-by-step upgrade paths.  One function I'd like to upgrade is the connection to my TV audio.  I'd prefer an HDMI ARC connection rather than Toslink, but hesitate to spend what it would take for a new device just to get that.