For those that have separate Streamers & DACS

What are some of your favorite streamers/servers strictly from a sound quality perspective?  Please assume a stand-alone DAC.  I've read such a variety of opinions on streamers and was interested in opinions from those that have tried different streamers on with their DACs.  


I moved from a Bluesound Node 2i to an Auralic Aries G1 with both feeding into the DAC on a PS Audio Gain Cell. 

The Node 2i is a great product and I always thought it had a great sound and features for the money.

The Aries G1 is a step up with great detail and overall SQ and is built like a tank with two heavy duty power supplies. The Lightning DS application is also a huge step up from the Bluesound application with a lot of features for those that like to fine-tune output settings.







Auralic Aries G2.1 and G1 streamers are the peak value for that category. 1GB in-memory processing cache and you get to use their Lightning DS control app, which obviates the need for a Roon Core or any other core, sounding better than Roon. In two systems, I mate my Auralic Aries G1 streamer to a Bricasti M1 LE Gold sigma-delta DAC, and in the other, the Auralic Aries G2.1 is mated to a Bricasti M21 DAC that allows sigma-delta, R2R or DSD in analog processing.

I have not found a DAC yet for which Auralic's streamers don't improve the sound over direct DAC connection from a computer-based streamer-server.

Auralic also put a high effort into their Wifi implementation to make it as quiet-as or quieter than Ethernet. It's true. This was important to me as I needed to feed two systems from a common 4TB ripped digital source along with Qobuz and Tidal Masters, without running Ethernet to both. Auralic suggests defaulting to Wifi, and I can say in my environment, the wifi input is quieter than Ethernet.

The fact that I have the Auralic streamers mated to Bricasti DACs (I've also used MHDT Pagoda Balanced and Atlantis to equal effect, and have a Holo May in for evaluation now) is less important than that the streamers improve the musicality of the DACs. I've tried. I can make many modest DACs perform above their segment with a stellar streamers. So while I am not making a blanket statement, in principle I advocate segratating streamers from DACs, and nailing the streamer first.



the biggest fault about the Innuos Zenith 3 is that it is a CD ripper. who needs that and why pay for it? Innuos needs to make a streamer only.

I have tried several servers, but nothing comes even close to the refined sound and resolution of the Evo master. To be honest, I do not use their highly proclaimed 432 Hz conversion, as I feel that with all possible plugins off it sounds the best.