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




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.