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.



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.