New DAC or New Streamer?

This should be fun. After I pay to get my amp upgraded at VAC next month  I plan to either upgrade my DAC or Streamer next. I should have enough for that by late spring/early summer. I'm retired so I save some each month until I have what I need. My system is in my user profile. But to keep this simple my current DAC is the Dinafrips Venus II I got a year ago. (I also have the Hermes DDC)

My streamer is the Cambridge CXN V2 via coax to the Hermes-> I2s -> DAC which is also 1 year old. I was just getting into streaming then and knew little about it. I have learned a lot this past year, a whole lot.

I think the bottle neck is leaning more toward the streamer. It seems the DAC is pretty good, I know there are much better DAC's out there but it holds it own I think. Maybe not? I cannot afford the likes of DCS, Lampizator, etc.

The next planned upgrades are a Terminator II DAC and Aurender N200 Streamer. Both are $5000-$6000. (Unless I go for the Terminator + DAC that is $7500 but I am not sure it is $2500 better than the Terminator II)

So, since both will get upgraded a year apart, which should I go for first? Which would provide the biggest upgrade?

Thanks. Happy holidays to all.



My point is that everything between the ethernet port of your router/switch and the input of your DAC matters a hell of a lot.  To state it's only 1s and 0s is to frame it in too binary a statement.  You need to understand the digital signal is actually an analogue representation of a digital signal, along with noise and jitter issues.

Well stated .

You own the Zenith music server and I’m contemplating buying an Innuos Pulse network player. What is your opinion of Innuos “Sense “ sound quality and user interface compared with the Roon alternative? I’m just seeking online streaming usage (Internet radio/Tidal/Qobuz). I’d appreciate any feedback.


Hi @charles1dad 

Good questions.  I bought the Zenith Mk3 a few months ago, but effectively don't use the internal hard drive.  99% of my listening is new stuff, so I stream Qobuz.  It's also the case that many of my CDs have since been remastered and rereleased to Qobuz, so sound better streamed than ripped.  So, if I had to buy again now the Pulse series would be my preference.  

I also added a 2nd hand PhoenixUSB (with great success), so I would look seriously at the Pulsar, which reportedly bundles a USB reclocker.  You'll need a good USB cable though.

I recently trialled Roon.  Basically, Sense 2.x sounds better than Roon - many would agree with this.  The only thing I miss about Roon is their rich DSP feature.  We all need a form of tone control occasionally.

Interestingly, one of the biggest gains I made was only a couple of weeks ago. I replaced my 25 year-old entry-level mains conditioner with an Isotek Gemini to feed my Innuos boxes.  Was only £300, but brought about huge gains.  Innuos put huge emphasis on the quality of their internal PSUs, but it seems to me that they're still very sensitive to mains noise.  A decent-ish shielded mains cable will also help.  Belden 83803 is very affordable.


Thanks for your reply. I like things that are straightforward and simple. Does this apply to the Innuos Sense app/OS or is there a considerable learning curve involved? They do seem to seriously address power supply quality and that’s important to me. I use a very high quality AC balanced isolation transformer that has served my audio system well.


@charles1dad . Roon is more fully featured, but Sense is simpler and more than enough for me. At least Sense is free, and enabling the Roon trial is also easy. Give it a few months for it all to settle before trying it though.