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.



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