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.


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. 

Has anyone heard, or owns, the Mytek Empire Streamer/DAC?

It has the DAC(ES9830PRO)inside the unit but the reviews I've read said it sounded fantastic. 

The very best Dave are made by DCS, and they all stream. They made a “Network Bridge” for a couple years, which was an outstanding streamer, but they got tired of supporting third party DACs. I am excited that there are finally starting to be very good streamers, without DACs.

I have owned a few dacs with a built in streamer. The dCS Bartok was pretty good and I found that the Ethernet input was the best sounding input. I also ran this Dac directly into a Krell duo300xd to good results. 

I have an MSB premier with their network renderer card. This input is really great it is an additional cost but I find it well worth it. I took a leap of faith and bought the gigafoil and an ifi lps to put in line between my roon core and the renderer. This is the best bang for the buck upgrade I have made. I actually brought the gigafoil and to my dealer friends shop and we tested against the Innuos statement with an MSB reference Dac. He listened back and forth with out hearing my thoughts and was shocked. The gigafoil was so close if not better than the statement that he bought one for the store. He now uses the renderer with a gigafoil and the Innuos sits on a shelf not being used. 

I think that a lot of it comes down to implementation and power filtering. If the designers do it right a built in streamer is great. The same is true of using a Dac as a pre-amp. I had D’Agostino momentum monos and the hd pre with an MSB discrete. I upgraded to the premier and was able to audition the MSB s202 amp in my system. I found that the amp and Dac paired together were so good that I did not hear enough of a benefit in owning the D’Agostino gear and sold it off and bought the MSB amp. 

Separates are generally better BUT the top Aurender and Lumin streamer/DAC’s are terrific and far less $$$ whilst punching above thier weight. There are some others too.

Upgrades to one’s room or Ethernet path might be a better solution