Is there such a thing as a good medium priced music streamer?

OK, been using a Marantz ND8006 for 5 years or so for the infrequent times I stream music in my living room. (Infrequent cuz its a PIA) The unit is a better CDP than streamer as the HEOS app it uses is a pain in the ass in this configuration where it is resident on a separate tablet. It was a sound upgrade from a Logitech streamer I had for years which was easy to use and my wife liked but had lost support. She "dislikes to hates" the Marantz. It impacts the amount of time she listens to IR or Amazon or Spotify at home. Frankly does the same for me. So, I figured it is time for a step up to a better/dedicated streamer. I frankly was blown away by how many there are out there as well a how fragmented the functions are. I want something that will 1) stream from Tidal, Spotify, Amazon HD,etc 2) play FLAC or WAV files from my network NAS, 3) play IR like WBGO, etc. I am comfortable with spending say $2k new, maybe up to $3k if there is really a gain in sound or ease of use, reliability. I am assuming a dedicated unit will be superior to one embedded in an amp like the Marantz Model 40 or others like that. Am I "deluded", have a good enough understanding of the landscape technically (I question that frankly) and does this exist. BTW, I have heard a couple of the more costly units like 2 from Auralic and Aurender but they are out of my retiree price range. I have lurked/read alot of the posts on here on this topic and am frankly a little overwhelmed at the permutations and combinations. Im beginning to feel like a 66yo dinosaur...HELP!


I have the Marantz NR1510 and I use the HEOS app all the time for streaming Spotify and Tune-In radio. The interface isn't great but when I use Spotify to stream I'm using the Spotify app to control what I listen to. I only interface with the HEOS app to adjust speaker groupings and volume. I have the HEOS app set up to group the main speakers, remote kitchen speaker, and back patio speakers so when the wife and kids want to listen to music all she has to do is turn on the Marantz receiver and select HEOS. She controls everything through the Spotify app at that pont. She rarely opens HEOS app to adjust the individual speaker volumes in the group. 

As for a streamer upgrade...I bought the Cambridge Audio CXN V2 and I use that as my primary streamer for Radio Paradise and some select European electronic streaming channels and as the DAC for my CD transport. I've found that Spotify sounds different if I stream through the CXN first and then input into the Marantz vs streaming directly via the Marantz. Spotify sounds a bit choked on the CXN but Radio Paradise sounds great. Vice versa when I use the Marantz.

Anyway, there are ton of streamers out there that might be an improvement over the DAC in your Marantz but you might also find some streaming services sound different on either one. I do, but my wife doesn't notice at all.

Go to for PS Audio DSD. Trade-ins to PS Audio are tested and recertified. You can order them with or without the Bridge II. 

I am personally a great fan of Metronome DSS, for Metronome's house sound, analogue, sort-of. But it needs a DAC... It is one of the cheapest products in Metronome's lineup, but a great value soundwise for people who do not plan to play extremely high resolution files.

Personally I don't feel $2 to $3k is medium priced. In between that price range, considering new and used you could try out some streamers from company's with a proven track record of making better than average sounding streamers...Innous, Aurender,  to name a couple. The rest of your system (quality, resolution) should play a role into how much you should spend as well. 

Do you need a streamer with a built in Dac? Or just a streaming transport (no dac)Or do you already own a Dac/Amp/Speakers worthy of a $3k streamer? Built in Dac or not should be your first hurdle or question to ask yourself. 

Lots of streamers out there to choose from..many different prices. I've tried a bunch of the more budget one's looking for that best SQ for cheap. Never tried the Eversolo's or Pro-jects but i have tried the rest of the usual suspects. The Wiim's, Node's, Cambridge CXN2 and their newest AXN model. Tried the Ifi, Arcam, B&W, and Pi. Some of those I kept for a little while, some not long at all. Most of these more budget models sound mostly the same (some will argue all transports sound the same), so the software becomes important. Currently I use a Primare Prisma, it's a transport only and sounds good to me. I use Chromecast to connect from most my music apps and for whatever reason Chromecast sounds great thru the Primare. The Halo Red is another streaming transport that gets good user reviews but I haven't heard that one either. 

If you want to step up your game the Innous models and their software seem like a real winner. I've heard one of their higher models and it was good..but so was the rest of the system. You could start of with something much cheaper with a return window and see how that works for you. A WiiM Pro Plus might be all you will ever need. I've experienced streaming thru Heos on a Denon product. The WiiM is a step up in my opinion. That new Eversolo 8 has a lot of capabilities if you need all that. Can speak for their software though. 

Yes I have a cocktail audio x45 it is 2800 new and it dose so streams it plays and rips cd's it has a full digital recording unit in it it has a analog input and output allowing you to hook it in the tape loop of your preamp. It has 4 USB inputs a coax input a toslink input even a mm phono stage and can be used as a preamp if you want. I dont. Go to cocktail audio .com and check them out if interested .I really like the piece. Michael.