Help with finding a new streamer.

Like the title says I’m looking into a new streamer. I currently use a Bluesound Node 2, original model. I resently purchased a Audio Mirror Tubadour III se, and now I’d like to see what a better streamer can do. My Tubadour has a usb reclocker added by Audio Mirror and I’d like to be able to give this a go as well. I’m willing to spend about 1,500$ tops and open to cheaper options though. I’m speculating that a cheaper option like the ifi or new Node with usb output could be a nice upgrade because the Tubadours reclocker option. I need Spotify, and would prefer Tidal as well but not a dealbreaker. I will probably buy used so I can resell without much loss if it’s not to my liking. I don’t think I’m looking for something warm, but definitely not something bright either. A tik to either side of neutral I think would be fine. Not sure if things like bloom and dimensionality are a thing streamers do but if so that’s the sound I’m after.

So to sum it up I need a streamer with usb output that’s close to neutral for under 1,500$ that plays Spotify. I would stretch the budget a bit if it truly seemed worth it, but unlikely. These are the models in no particular order I have come across so far that seem to check my boxes.

ifi Zen Stream

Bluesound Node (2021 model)

Sonore microRendu, not positive about Spotify though

Sonore UltraRendu, again unsure of Spotify

Lumin U1 mini, barely in budget, but think I could swing it

Aurender N100H, it doesn’t seem it does Spotify, but if it did I’d be very interested

Innuos Zen mini, I don’t love the aesthetics, but I might be open to it if the sound and value was worth it



I have owned and tried a number of streamers including Auralic Aries G2, Linn, and Aurrender N100, N10, And W20SE. I also tried a dozen or more combos of PC, and Mac (not the way to go).


I recommend Aurender. Each step up the Aurender chain is a significant improvement and it uses their control app Conductor which is very well liked by folks using it. They have outstanding support right from The conductor app. Their flagship streamer is the most used at audio shows… because of its performance.


I recommend switching to Qobuz. My audio guy recommended it every time he came by for a year… since it only takes a second, I don’t know why I was so slow to react. As soon as I did, I immediately canceled my Tidal subscription. More high Rez titles and many folks say it sounds better. 

Do you know if Aurender supports Spotify. I don’t use Roon and thinking I’m going to let my Tital subscription go as well. I do find the Aurender most appealing. I’m really not a fan of having to find a power supply that won’t match the unit as well as the extra cords and lack of support for upgraded cords. Ideally to me a streamer would have a built in linear power supply with an iec connection.  I’m guessing most that have these features are out of my price range though. 

Add to your list miniDSP SHD Studio, Magna Mano Ultra, Allo USBridge Signature and Pro-Ject S2 Ultra. They all are under $1K and have different feature sets but only the last two are USB out. My DAC is input agnostic.

Aurender does support Spotify but Spotify is not a high resolution provider. The service you use highly effects the sound. I would like to recommend Qobuz again… so do the free month.


Aurender has IEC power connectors. 

To get the digital ball rolling I bought a Pro-Ject Stream box, Ultra 2 I think it's called. I bought it for a few reasons. It gets out of the way. Ethernet cat 6 hardwired to modem and it can do hi-res, Spotify, Tidal and q=obuz. After trying all 3, I opted for Qobuz. I also have a SS hard drive connected to it.It is feeding a Antelope Audio Zodiac DAC and it sounds great
And it was relatively cheap...
That said...all my research points me to Aurender.

Does Spotify do AirPlay or Chromecast?  If so I recommend the Cambridge Audio CXN 60?

If all you need is a streamer for Spotify, get the iFi Zen Stream. It has Spotify Connect, is inexpensive, and sounds great. Simple. It does what you need and is a better sounding streamer than the Node. As you, I only desire the basics with good sound, so picked one up and am very pleased. Along with my Denifrips DAC, I would say my streaming listening (I use Tidal/Tidal Connect) is now on par with playing my CD’s. 

Why spend more if you don’t need more? It looks like you have a very nice DAC, so….


Do you have experience with node or just the ifi?  I’ve seen the one YouTube review saying the ifi was better and that’s about all I’ve seen far as reviews. 

Experienced with the Blue sound. BluOS is clutzy. I believe iFI when they state they a working on improving their player. Lenmark not so much


No experience first hand with the Node 2i, but was considering it. But, after reading and watching reviews of it vs the iFi Zen, the Zen was a no brainer IMO. I believe all which I read stated the iFi was better overall, and that was with outputting the Node to a common DAC used with the Zen Stream in order to compare the sound difference of the streamer itself. Sold me. I didn’t need a streamer/DAC, just a streamer that would perform well and sound good. It does.

Looks iFi ‘nutty‘, but it sits out of the way and not in my rack. 

iFi makes great stuff for the money. It wasn’t the first product I have of theirs, so I figured the quality would be there.

Ghdprentice is correct!  If you enjoy music on a level that you’re in this forum, you owe it to yourself to start with the best digital streaming source you can.  Why?

Well, first, improvement in sound related to the cost of buying a new piece of gear versus a better copy of one of your favorite albums, the cost of media is the cheapest upgrade you can make that will effect your enjoyment of music. Also I think it is super helpful to evaluate gear with the best media possible so you start as close to pure to the source as possible. 

third, and maybe least important, is that some streaming hardware doesn’t support Spotify  there are plenty of stellar options that do though, and some cool ones to look at above that do support Spotify.  Some products just don’t support it because of the amount and type of data it will stream to you.

Sorry for this long winded way of saying, +1 on upgrading from Spotify.  

Despite the positive experience others have had with Aurender products, they should be avoided like the plague by the astute consumer for a number of reasons which I don't think I would be allowed by the forum moderators to elaborate on here.

Also, while the products may have streaming as a function, the architecture is very much a server. If Aurender wanted to market music streamers then they should have thought about what having a full blown OS, storage, and a glorified FTP server would get them.

To those who enjoy them - my sincere message is to find something different, there are plenty of alternatives which not only perform better, but are easier to deal with and offer a more flexible solution for just about any system. The people and product you are supporting has done and still does absolutely nothing to actually benefit the realm of performance audio, despite what the press and the internet have tried to reinforce for you. 

My suggestion to the OP would be to build a Raspberry Pi and run Snakeoil OS, with the money saved you can hold onto it and either purchase a proper streamer/DAC combo (which have a lot of technical advantages, and most outperform something like an Aurender) or eventually a better DAC and music server/streamer configuration. Heck, with something decent you might actually be able to share music between rooms, something which Aurender has never been able to do for some odd reason....

I have owned the the Node 2i (with a linear power supply), an Ifi Zen streamer, and now a Lumin U1 mini.


The Node did perform better once I added the LPS. I do think the Zen sounds just a bit better and for sure is a great value to anyone who already has a DAC. However, I think the Lumin was worth the upgrade. I got it around your budget used. 

The Lumin is much more holographic than the Zen, but it was close to 4X the cost of the Zen.

I recently bought an Innuos Zenith Mark III & use Qobuz through it as well as CD’s ripped into it. Sounds  excellent ! It appears to be a very well engineered & built product & puts the focus on the quality of the components over looks & fancy displays. I don’t see the need for any video display on a streamer when you’re controlling them with an iPad or phone & you  probably can’t read the display anyway from your listening seat. The Innuos app works well, easy to use & the unit rips CD’s in just a couple minutes.  I also use the Border Patrol DAC which I know is a controversial piece but the combo is great; tight, clean, dynamic with minimal listener fatigue like many other set ups I’ve heard. 

It’s good to hear from someone who has used both and feels the ifi is at least a forward move from the Node.  Your Node is a newer model and upgraded which makes me think the ifi could be a decent jump from my older, unmodified Node.  Especially when I factor in the improved usb input on my dac that I’m currently unable to use. The Lumin mini is very appealing to me, but still uncertain if that’s the best way to spend my funds.  I believe my power distribution could also be improved, and have to take into account spending some there as well.  I know it can be hard but where do you think the ifi would land on a scale with the Node being a 1 and the Lumin being a 10? 

I think the Zenith is at least double my budget, even used. While I’m sure it sounds great not really an option for me. If anybody wants to let one go for 1,500$ pm me.