Help settle a streaming argument!

This is a SQ argument and is as follows-  I argue if you connect your streamer to an outboard DAC the streamer does not matter it’s just serving the music to the outboard DAC to do the work.  Therefore, buy a basic streamer.  The other is that you need to buy a top quality streamer and DAC to get great SQ. 

I liken it to cd players or the more pretentious cd transport argument- if the intent is to connect to outboard DAC the cd player doesn’t matter the outboard DAC DOES!

features and functionality aside!  Thoughts…..


Well have you done it? I’ve been messing around with entry level streamers over the last few months, the Node 2i, all three Wiim products and a Zen Stream. The Zen came out on top but it’s not user friendly. Keep my Node 2i. I started researching higher end streamers and decided to purchase a used one thinking if it didn’t make a difference in sound quality I could probably make my money back selling it. I purchased an Innuos Zen Mk 3. It’s staying in my system. Completely blows away the above streamers and I had no expectations that it would. Totally transformed my system. Smooth, organic is the word I keep using to describe it. Everything increased- sound stage, depth, blacker back ground, full. Great tone. I think in goes back to the source being very important as Linn says. I added LPS’s to my streaming front end. I say get the best streamer you can afford, add a decent DAC and when you get the upgrade bug move into a better DAC. 

@cetla416 - didn't quite answer the question.  the better streamer I would expect to have better SQ in your scenario.  the question is basic vs. high end streamer connected to same DAC would they sound the same?  my argument is yes they would. 

I ask for a friend cause he wants to get into streaming and I say buy a basic streamer cause he has a killer DAC. so I have not tested.

For illustrative purposes. Assuming you really enjoy salmon. Would you rather consume fresh, off the boat, wild-caught king salmon from pristine waters? Or, a salmon at the end of it's life-span, after making a successful spawning run? 


For further illustrative purposes. Assume your Shining City DAC can be located in those pristine waters with schools of free swimming king salmon (no fishing boats in sight).

OR said Shining City DAC can be located at the end of the spawning run waiting for spent, successful salmon.


Hint: before you think its only about the salmon...stop yourself. 


He/she did answer the question. A better streamer into the same DAC yielded noticeably better results for them.

Many of us here have experienced similar results. I upgraded my streamer going into the same DAC and noticed a more significant improvement in sound quality than I did when I upgraded my DAC going into my previous streamer.

I’ve since concluded that the streamer is at least as important as the DAC - and perhaps more so. 

Try it yourself. But, try something that is supposed to be noticeably better than your Node so that you’re not trying to split hairs.  We look forward to hearing from you regarding your findings - whatever they may be.