Looking for intermediate-step Streamer: better than BS Node and not @ Bartok level pricing


I have a BS Node.  Yggy DAC.  BAT electronics, Shunayata PCs, AQ SC, and Vienna Acoustic Beethoven Grand Reference Speakers in a wonderful room. I also have a Linn, Shelter 901 MKII and top of the line BAT phono preamp. It all sounds lovely.  I borrowed a Bartok.  AMAZING!!!  And then I returned it, as I cannot afford that level of playback.  I am interested in upgrading my STREAMER -- I think.  (Yes, I know I could upgrade my fuses, room treatment, and everything else I own....)

I am curious to learn if there is a MID-POINT step that others suggest before I spend $25K on the ultimate STREAMER/DAC setup when I retire in a zillion years.  It seems absurd that my system is dependent upon a $550. piece of equipment.  


I am looking for natural sound.  3-D.  I listen to jazz, classical, and rock from the 60s-90s.  No club music/ insane bass.  When the Bartok was in my system, I felt like I was listening to vinyl.  What might be a good landing place for the next DECADE or so??

Thanks in advance.



I'm looking for something similar, so I am interested in this thread. Most folks believe that a separate DAC and streamer are the way to go for better SQ. Naturally, this adds to the cost. I would think your Yaggy DAC would be a good place to start, and simply add the server of choice, without a combo DAC/Server unit. I don't currently own a separate DAC, so answers to your OP are of interest.

Lots of good info and nice system, but what’s your budget and are you looking for new or used?

Check out my recent thread on 10/18 titled - Streamer Selection-Thoughts Requested (64 responses) I too have/had a BS node and also a Yggdrassil LIM DAC. Net is you have quite a few choices dependent on your budget. I narrowed it down to Innuos and Aurender. Ended up over budget and just purchased an Aurender N200 that will arrive next week. I will cover this in my post in the next few days but wanted to give you a quick shout tonight so you had some background reading on a similar topic thats recent. Good luck!

In the last couple weeks I helped a friend choose a new streamer / DAC. He had a Yggy and my Aurrender N100 for comparison.

We were auditioning a Linn Selekt with only the Streamer / and the mid level DAC (total $12K. ~$4K streamer and $6K DAC). I was able to compare the two streamer / DAC combos. The Linn was much better. The treble on the Yggy was mostly high frequency hash, the sax was a lean characterization, the bass line was a single boom. With the Linn the cymbals were brass sounding… no distortion, the sax rich and finely detailed at the edges, the bass line resolved into three notes. Big difference! Then we compared the Linn streamer and the Aurender streamer through the Yggy. Wow. Most of the difference was the Yggy. The Yggy was by far the weak point.

The Aurrender N100 is a very good streamer for the money although a generation old… it held up to the new Linn well. But the Yggdrasil was simply the weak link.


I would recommend upgrading the Yggdrasil first… get a better DAC, then upgrade your streamer… I recommend the best Aurrender you can afford.

I have had a very good experience with the Bricasti M5.  I'm running it as a Roon bridge.  Can also be run using Jriver or Audirvana functioning as your OS.

List price is something like $2400, but can be found used in the $1300 to $1800 range.  

Prior to Bricasti M5 I had been running Bluesound kit and a Roon Nucleus streaming to itself.  The Bricasti was a big step up.






7,620 posts


Lots of good info and nice system, but what’s your budget and are you looking for new or used?


Hi,I don't have a fixed budget.  Something in the 3-6K region sounds reasonable to me to be a MID-STEP.  But again, that is part of the question I am asking.  If there is nothing shy of a $10k investment to make the move up...well...that is what I would like to know.  My system sounds pretty good.  But I know there is a world that is vastly superior -- for $25k.  I am not able to make that investment now.  I'm looking for a SIGNIFICANT upgrade at a modest price.  I am certain that for a few $1K I could do better.  Not interested.  I want to land somewhere where I can stay for a decade while I continue learning about the ultimate systems.


So what is my budget?  I ask all of you: what should I allocate for such an upgrade?



Can you let me know what in particular you mean when you say BIG STEP UP?





I don’t have a fixed budget. Something in the 3-6K region sounds reasonable to me to be a MID-STEP. But again, that is part of the question I am asking. If there is nothing shy of a $10k investment to make the move up...well...that is what I would like to know.

Well, you kinda have a low bar with the Node so yeah, you’ve got a lotta upside potential in your price range. An easy recommendation is the Innuos Pulse that in addition to being an excellent streamer comes with their Sense app that gets very high marks for both usability and sonics, and they also offer top notch customer support should you ever need it. That said, Aurender is likewise excellent although not sure they work with Roon yet if that’s a consideration. I’d start by reading reviews of those two makes, but I think it’s a 100% sure bet you’ll experience a significantly higher level of performance with either. Best of luck.




Streamers performance generally conforms to the audiophile rule that if you invest two or three times more in a carefully chosen component (meaning great quality and crafted to your sound values) then you get a very sizable increase in performance. So, an Aurender N200 would be a great improvement, a N20 would be better… but probably really held back by your DAC. 

My best advise to anyone looking for a better streamer is to get the best Aurender they can afford. That to me is a really safe bet. I have auditioned many other good streamers… most above $5K are good and get better with investment level. There seems to be less difference in character among them like there is in DACs. Streamers provide a quieter background, more dynamics, better imaging, and better bass. DACs do the same but also tip tonal balance and an influence the musicality and natural nature of the sound more.

At the lower end of your stated range the Auralic Aries G1.1 and then invest $500 in the 45 minute DIY Hoer-Wege power supply upgrade.  Going up the Innuos Pulse and at the top of your stated range the newly released Aries G2.2 at $6000.  Also worth a look is the Lumin U2 at $5k.  

If you’re satisfied with your dac I can recommend trying a Lumin U2 Mini (streaming transport). I believe they are running in the $2-2.5K range (used or new). I’m using one in my system and it sounds very nice- no complaints. Others mentioned above are well designed units as well, I just have no experience with them.

In answer to your question how was the Bricasti M5 a big step up in comparison to Bluesound Kit (a Node 2i) or to a Roon Nucleus with Sbooster LPS functioning as server/streamer: Lower noise floor, better sound stage and imaging; felt like I could hear further into the music. At the time I picked up the M5 I was using it with a Chord Qutest, and for the last 7 months it has been feeding a Rockna Wavelight in my main rig.

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Can you push yourself to a used Bartok? This is what I did. I have absolutely no regrets. I was previously forever upgrading Pre amps, dacs and streamers now everything is so much better and far simpler. It connects straight to my balanced amps and I couldn't be happier. It is the non-Apex version but I see no need (at the moment 😉) to pursue that.

Good luck with your search.


Hola! DCS is a good brand but also very very detailed and can be fatiguing, I used to have one, so it can be a blessing in disguise’s 😂 that it was out of your budget.  DAC and streamer or server are a team and you should be aware of that. Also cables play a super important role. But if you want to focus on streamer first there are two very commercial brands that you can buy used here on Audiogon that are pure quality. Aurender and Innuos. It depends of you want to use Roon or not.  Aurender is very sweet, N20 is amazing and you can get a used one for 7.5k but does not run roon. Innuos is more warm and they have tons of models but there are a little more sensitive to cables.  A good USB is key too and there are tons of brands in the market. I’ll recommend to go to commercial brands since they manage a better value in the market if you don’t like it. I use Final Touch Audio for USB and it’s very good for the price but it’s not as commercial and Shunyata, AudioQuest or Transparent but I found it better for the price. 

my 2 cents and good luck 

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I did not see your specific needs in your post, i.e., do you use Roon to stream from, and do you need a server to play stored files, either from an on-board drive or from a NAS?

If you use Roon, their own Nucleus or Nucleus+ show up in some pretty good systems (e.g., John Atkinson uses a Roon Nucleus+ in his review system).  However, the Nucleus+ is no longer available from Roon (base model Nucleus is still available) and Intel will no longer be making their NUCs (Next Unit of Computing), so Roon will need to make changes to their prescribed servers/streamers.

Another option is SMG (Small Green Computer) which offers their flagship i9 based sonicTransporter Optical server for $3K (you may want to add a LPS), but you will still need a streamer.

One thing to think about before spending big money is that the lifespan of servers seems to be about 5 years before they begin to get long in the tooth (go back and look at the historical model changes and upgrades from some of the better recognized server/streamer manufacturers). 

I have not heard or read any specifics of why it would be important to pay big money for a server, which is essentially a computer dedicated to audio.  There are potential advantages to certain programing and sound shaping options offered by some, but in the mid-price range, it seems SGC would be hard to beat given that they have been making and improving server products for years now, and many report that their support is responsive.  Things I have found to be important as I have upgraded servers include, dedicated to audio only, fast processing, quiet power supply, fanless cooling, and some Linux variant for the OS.  Other things I look for are on-board SSD file storage, easy transferring/storing of music files, headless operation, and responsive technical support.

Streamers (or endpoints, or renderers) that work well do not have to be expensive.  One thing to look at is connectivity (i.e., do you need I2S?).  As a start, look at the list of partners on Roon's website and check out the endpoints offered by the listed companies.   

I would spend more money on the DAC, as the technology seems to be more mature and IME, they have a greater impact on what you hear.   

A used Aurender N150 might fit the bill, several can be found if you search...at around the $3,000 level

Another vote for a used Bricasti M3 with streamer. They are upgradable over the years so you can feel comfortable having the latest experience.

I bought 5 improved streamers since I started with a Node. All were under $1K plus power supplies and some PCs.

All sound great to me. All require some effort. They all compare well but the secret is NOT comparing A-B. It is the ability to enjoy music.

The best value, all in one, is the Magna Mano ULTRA. If you have the space, the bucks and greed opt for the Farad powered version.

I use a DirectStream mk1 DAC.

The Schitt DAC I had failed in under 3 years. They will not repair it. They took old me to buy another.

Never again.

Good luck with that Schitt.

I will say that I had the Simaudio Mind2 Streamer in a secondary system and was in love with it. One of my children ended up with it in their first house, still uses it to this day, with the Simaudio HAD he clipped from me... 

I bought the new PS Audio Air Lens Streamer to replace their Bridge II streamer and mated it to a PS Audio Direct Stream Mark 1 DAC and the improvement was fantastic. I'm very happy with the sound, detail, bass and easy operation.

Airlens: $1600 direct from PS Audio

Used DAC $2300 The Music Room

The lower priced streamers as well as the earlier units were hard to keep connected to the internet. PS Solved that problem with the AirLens. 

I too have a Bluesound Node 2i connected to a PS Audio Directstream DAC Mk1,  and was looking for a better streamer.  The problem is the lack of support that the high end streamers have for streaming services.  The Bluesound app supports a much larger number of services.  I listen a lot to Idagio (classical music streaming), and Bluesound is the only app I have found that supports it.  Innuos says they are working on it,  but  aren't there yet.  So as an alternative,  I  upgraded the power supply in the Node 2i with a TeddyPardo LPS.  Seemed a little crazy to basically spend as much on the upgrade as the cost of the streamer,  but tried it anyway.  The result was significantly improved SQ!! Better bass, wider and deeper soundstage,  better separation of instruments. I  was really surprised.  There are some other LPS upgrade kits out there  (LHY) that are less expensive,  but I can't say they are as good as or better than the TeddyPardo.  Hopefully someday in the near future a high end streamer will have an app that supports all of the major streaming services,  and I can upgrade.  I'd love it PS Audio would do it with their Air Lens, since I have mostly PS Audio components. 

@ OP Regarding suggestions on thread about a used Bartok, if the Bartok you auditioned was the current Apex model, the older Bartoks sound quite different - still very good but less analogue sounding than the Apex model.

Hard to beat Innuos in the 2-5K price range.  I admit I haven't bothered with Aurender since they don't do roon.



Hi, Thanks for all the suggestions.  I don't use ROON and I don't have any stored music files (or not many, and I never listen to them.)  I am strictly looking for a streamer.  I use Tidal, Qobuz and Idagio.  Looking to keep the budget in the 3-6 range.  I have the better Shunyata PCs (everywhere) and Shunyata digital cable b/w BS and Yggy.  

FYI: When I borrowed the Bartok, I spent a lot of time with the various settings and did not find it harsh. 

Curious to learn more about the TeddyPardo LPS upgrade.  

Thanks again to all.



+1 on Innuos...I have the Zen Mini/LPS and it's a great combo.  I upgraded from the BS NODE.

Getting a $6k streamer and connecting it to Schiit doesn’t make much sense.
I would sell the BS and Schiit and pick up a used Bricasti M1SE with latest MDX and a network card around $5k-$6K then use iPad with Mconnect app (I think it’s about $6 to buy from the app store) to stream from qobuz and tidal.

Or get a one box streamer/dac solution like the HiFi Rose, Lumin or Aurender.

I have the latest Schitt Yggi+ Less is More DAC. I used to have a Lumin X1, which has a great streamer, and a very good DAC. I found the latest Schitt Yggi+ LM better on top end than the X1 DAC with everything else about the same. The top end had more detail with the Yggi+ LM.

If I were to get a Lumin again it would be the new streamer they have from what seems like the X1.

I compared the X1 steamer to the Sonore Optical Rendu and the PlayBack Designs Streamer-IF. The Lumin and Sonore used fibre and the IF is using SPDIF for now. They all sounded great, with the X1 the loudest and fastest sounding and the Sonore maybe more refined sounding. The IF was in the middle which was surprising. To be able to compete using SPDIF was unexpected, though I think there is fibre inside the PBD box. I just got a second OpticalRendu to hookup my 4th ROON streaming endpoint ($700 used)

My takeaway is that using fibre optic levels the playing field for streaming. Analog noise cannot traverse glass (fibre cable). Something like the Bricasti mentioned above with the RJ45 streamer input is a non-starter for me. I would use one of my streamers with the Bricasti before using RJ45 streaming input.

I had an RJ45 streamer in my now sold KRELL k-300i integrated, my Sonore OpticalRendu was better than the RJ45 streaming input built into the KRELL. The RJ45 is super convenient as was the Lumin X1 with the better built-in fibre input.

The Lumin streamer has the LeedH volume control that also works with the X1s outputs, SPDIF and others. That means you could use the physical remote control, which is better than the PlayBack Designs and Sonore in 1 aspect of operation.

Just some random things I learned about streaming.

@jazzman7 : +1 on the Bricast M5 renderer. I have been using a general purpose Windows 10 PC as my ROON core>Uptone Etheregen>Bricasi M5>Exogal Comet Plus DAC for my digital front end.  The sound is so good  I've stopped spinning CDs. I look forward to getting a dedicated music server (like your Melco) when the funding is available. Goof listening. Jeff

My Cambridge Audio CXN 60 was an obvious upgrade from Bluesound at about twice the cost of BS.  It is also great with Chromecast and Internet Radio and Podcasts 

+1 re Simaudio.  Friend of mine is replacing his Bartok with the new Moon 891 from the new North collection.  Way above your budget but couple of options are:

Mind 2 - $3,000 for streamer

280D - $3,900 for streamer/DAC

Their streaming platform is supposed to be quite good. 


I have a pretty modest setup with Lumin, U1 Mini w/S-Booster off board power supply into a Line Magnetic, LM502ca Tube DAC & using an Audience, AU24 Digital Coax Cable to connect them. Also use an Ethernet commection to the Lumin. I've listened to combinations costing 3-4 times as much and prefer mine to most all. I run "RCA Clear Top" 12AU7s in the LM DAC too which replaced the old stock tubes. Incredible synergy with all these pieces and the rest of my main system. Just what I use - it's a highly satisfying digital end. 

Interesting thread. I have a Bryston BDP-1 and nothing but trouble. Mains transformer burned out. On the advice of Bryston USA sent it to the Bryston agents in the UK who's performance was pathetic and received it back months later in some tatty packaging with a scratch on the rear panel and internal ribbons not reseated properly. I eventually bought, at 1/3 the price quoted, a better transformer with electrostatic screen and GOSS band. It skips, often does not read USB drives, sometimes sluggish response and on and on it goes!

This is not a fight with Bryston USA, I have a mate with a Bryston amp that has had zero problems and that's Bryston's area of expertise, they are not a digital company. I would happily own a Bryston amp but never again one of their digital products. Also as many will testify, their control app is universally criticised yet they consistently refuse to employ a specialist who knows what he is doing to create something user friendly and modern, instead they plod along with a poorly performing 20 year old frustration!

Used Bricasti M3/w streaming card. Always available 3500-4,000 depending if you need a remote. 
Run it from the XLR outputs to take advantage of its true balanced design. 
I run an EtherRegen with an LHY OCK 2 clock and took it up a few mote notches. 
Stock it is big and open. Great customer support. 


There are very few audiophile streamer+DAC combos in a single box, so your choices are extremely limited. Most have separate streamers apart from the DAC.

Perhaps a used Bartok? Seems to be in the $10-13k range.  Another option is a used Linn DSM streamer+DAC.  I purchased a used Linn DSM/2 with the Organik DAC upgrade which is a sonic bargain - review here

Hi All,

Thanks for the may suggestions.  For the next step (in an always ongoing process), I am looking to keep my Yggy DAC and -- for now -- only looking to upgrade the streamer.  Again, the budget is $3k-$6k.  I have heard the openness and realism of the Bartok v1.  LOVED it.  But it is out of my budget -- even used.  

Seems like Bricasti, Lumin, Simaudio, Cambridge, Aurender, PS Audio and Auralic are what is being suggested (did I forget any?).  The BS app is excellent.  And that has spoiled me.  The DCS app is terrible. I have used Aurender app.  Not bad.  Any thoughts on the apps for these streamers?  

Now I have to go out and find these and listen!!



@norust ​​​ and ​@jmfawdofile I'm in the same boat. I would really like to know what you (norust) think about the Aurender N200 as that is one I'm looking at closely. I don't think I want to buy Aurender used as they don't transfer warranties and I've read from posters that the service to authorized buyers is really good with many updates to the OS. 

I traded a nice integrated tube amp for a T+A 200 Dac which I haven't received yet (a week or two) and I want to have local storage as well as streaming. Right now I play from a PC through an ifi IDSD dac to the receiver so I think there may be quite a lot of improvement to a system I think sounds really great right now (because of the speakers and replacement integrated tube amp). 

So I would definitely like to hear how others like the Aurender or anything similar. 

@dz13   I recently made the decision on the N200.  Its in FedEx's hands now and I will be receiving in early next week.  Stay tuned.....

I have a Bartok w/o Apex.  It was excellent when I bought it and still is.  You can find the non Apex used.  The Apex improvement is in the analog output.  Some say it's nice but not critical.  I read some great things about the Mola-Mola Tambaqui.  Also available used now.

Seems like you have the big names for your price range covered.  Since you like the Bluesound app I think a very natural progression would be the Aurender Conductor app.  At least it was for me.  But I’ll also tell you from experience, I think you maybe disappointed keeping the Yiggy and upgrading the streamer first.  Again, I was.  Yes there was a nice improvement when I upgraded my Node, but It wasn’t until I upgraded my DAC, which btw I did very quickly afterwards that I really heard the improvement I was hoping for.  YMMV, but I doubt it :-)

Hello Joe, my name is Stu and I’m a roonaholic. Roon is my absolute control app of choice.  Given that you don’t require support for a streaming service other than either Qobuz and/or Tidal, then I don’t think Roon can be beat. It’s not cheap, but I believe it is worth it. Although you can run Roon on a Mac or PC, I strongly suggest investing in a dedicated Roon server like Roon’s Nucleus or from Small Green Computer (or if you are tech savvy enough building your own based on an Intel Nuc). The combo of something like a Nucleus or SGC Sonic Transporter paired with something like a Bricasti M5 fits nicely within your budget. Moreover, if you ever do move onward and upward to something else like a DCS Bartok, Roon could still remain as part of your desired infrastructure. Just my 2 or 3 cents.

@dz13 there seems to be quite a few people here on A’gon that use the t+a 200 and N200 combo at  least according to a dealer that participates quite frequently here and sells them both lol.  I have an N200 paired with a Terminator Plus which is on the same level as the t+a.  Imo they go very nicely together so it seems your match up would be very nice as well.