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.





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.