Noob question about streaming . . .

Okay, I’m not exactly a Luddite, but my audio journey started in the 70’s with Marantz separates, JBL speakers and a Dual turntable. Thaw about thirty years ago I got into home theater, with Parasound separates and four Bose 901s (no haters please — they work well for watching movies). 

Anyway, my Parasound AV preamp died, and I replaced it with a Marantz AV7706 preamp. I’m starting to explore its capabilities, which are light years beyond the old Parasound unit. I’m also exploring using it for music listening in addition to home theater, but streaming is new to me.  (I’m also exploring new speakers, but that’s a discussion for another day). 

So, with that background, here are my questions. I’m using the HEOS in the Marantz to stream music through Spotify, which I’ve used in my car for several years. Would a separate streamer be a significant improvement over what I have now?  My understanding is the Marantz’ built in DAC is good enough that I don’t need a separate DAC, unless I’m going to spend big money on one, which I’m not inclined to do right now (speakers first). Second, would a streaming service like Roon or Qubuz or Tidal provide significantly better music quality?  Spotify provides access to all the music I want, but I do realize that it’s limited in terms of sound quality. Help educate this old dinosaur. Thanks!


With your system I’d recommend getting a Wiim Pro streamer for $150 and do a free trial of Qobuz and/or Tidal and see if the increase in sound quality is worth it.  Best of luck.

WiiM makes great stuff, and factory refurbished can be found at great prices...definitely try Qobuz and Tidal...

Okay, I’ve already signed up for Tidal, and am using the Hi-fi plus version. Here’s my next question to demonstrate my ignorance: if I can stream Tidal to my preamp via HEOS, what does the Wiim do for me?  I’m certainly not adverse to spending $150 to try it, but either way I’m relying on the same wi-fi to stream, and playing through the same preamp. Is the DAC in the Wiim the difference?  Thanks again. 

Listen to Tidal for a bit before making any more moves just to get a baseline. Helps to understand the improvements in each addition, if any.


How is the Tidal stream getting to the Pre?


Note: ROON ain't a streaming service. Its just software. 

A lot depends upon your current system, I can't tell if you are still using the 901's.

If so, there are many speakers that will out perform them these days, and their tech is pretty much in dinosaur land.(Though I did enjoy their sound, back in the day).

If you are using them, I wouldn't be too concerned with digital specifics.


And, I don't mean to be dismissive. I only want to save you from spending on equipment that won't be fully appreciated. HTH

I am still using the 901s (and a Monoprice Monolith M-10 v2 sub) and even though they sound better with a pair of Deer Creek Audio equalizers, I recognize that they are the weakest link in the chain at this point. As I read the spec sheet, HEOS is capable of playing Tidal files at 24 bit/192 khz, and can decode FLAC, ALAC and Wav lossless files. I believe I’m listening to FLAC files on Tidal. I’m streaming Tidal wirelessly to the preamp. 

You have a long journey to get good sound ,for 1 the junk $5 power supply to your router needs to be replaced by a linear power supply ,little green computer  sells them $300 , then you need a decent Ethernet switch ,LTY SW8

2 decent Ethernet cables the end point cable is more important 

Pangea dual wire $50 each is good enough for yours . These are bare minimum 

to get better sound. I would though save for the Denafrips Aries which is just under $1k which is night and day better then your current built in dac.

Whichever streaming service you go with, tidal or qobuz, I’d still look at adding Roon. 

I have the AV7704 and it’s a solid HT preamp. I would definitely try the Wiim Pro and Tidal to determine whether it’s worth the difference. Personally, I typically utilize Spotify Connect from either my iPad or phone with this preamp and it sounds pretty good. I also appreciate the convenience of staying within Spotify and simply “Spotify connecting” to the Marantz without having to switch any inputs. Convenience and simplicity override ultimate fidelity in my situation. 

I’m still waiting for Tidal Connect, but don’t think this is in the future anytime soon. For clarification are you going through HEOS to access Tidal or are you staying within the Tidal app and AirPlay to the Marantz? Apologies in advance if I missed that.

I don’t think you should pay for another DAC, but I do think it’s worth it to have direct streaming of Qobuz or Tidal that doesn’t involve a tablet or phone as an intermediary. I have Roon and while it’s OK, I find the overhead of keeping another server, and paying for it as yet another subscription kind of burdensome. If I didn’t have so much music on disk I’d probably give it up for something simpler.

IMHO, you want a little box with Ethernet on one side, and S/PDIF on the other.  You could get a combined streamer/DAC, which would improve the digital resolution you can download also.

Here is one example, so I’d say don’t spend more than the ifi Zen streamer.

You should be able to stream Tidal through HEOS in your Marantz. I have no direct experience with HEOS, but most reviews I've seen consider it inferior to the Wiim or Bluesound software. Try it, and if it works fine with your Tidal subscription, then leave it be. Note that Tidal also has Tidal Connect which allows you to use their app as a controller, which is usually preferred by many users over their streamer's software. I don't believe that HEOS supports Tidal Connect.

The advantage of the Wiim streamer over HEOS would be a better software suite and the ability to use Tidal Connect.

In a nutshell:

#1 A different streamer would possibly provide for a better software than HEOS to control your music access but if you are OK with it, then there is no need to change.

#2 Tidal Connect is merely being able to use Tidal, with the interface you see from your computer or mobile device, Tidal connect sounds the same as Tidal through HEOS, It's the interface that changes , the streamer and built in DAC detrmine sound quality.

#3 Roon is yet another interface. It integrates Tidal and any music files you have on a hard drive or server plus has way better functions and album/artist information but requires  separate computer or hardware to run it, and what is called an endpoint, which means a streamer that is compatible with ROON. It is also subscription based.

#4 I have no direct experience with your Marantz but the DAC has more iof an effect on the sound than the streamer until you spend the big dollars.

#5 You are not likely to hear what a better DAC and streamer will do until you upgrade your speakers so until then, Getting a Wiim streamer would only improve how you access Tidal.

With your current speakers I’d evaluate if you hear a meaningful improvement with Tidal over HEOS, and if you do just stick with that but if you don’t just drop Tidal and stick with Spotify with HEOS.  I wouldn’t bother with a separate streamer until you decide to upgrade your speakers.

I believe with HEOS you are able to access the Amazon Music Service.  I found it provided a better quality than Spotify with pretty much the same access to about any music you should choose to listen too.  I never had a HEOS so I could be mistaken but the other side is I believe that you'll get a more noticeable  change in sound with a better DAC than a different streamer.

I had a Marantz integrated amp using HEOS as well, likely the same setup you have. I did not like the HEOS app so I got an ifi streamer no dac. I used the Marantz dac. That way I was able to use Tidal Connect, and much preferred the interface. 

My second system is my Marantz 7704 going into a NAD M25 7 channel amp into Soliloquy 5.3 speakers. I use HEOS to play tidal. I think it’s amazing. I would say spend the money on a nice used power cord on the preamp. Puritan makes a classic power cord for $200 brand new. A long time ago I put a Nordost Blue Heaven power cord. It made a huge difference. Even an Audio Quest NRG can be nice. I would put my home theater system against a lot of two channel systems. HEOS is good, the DAC in the Marantz is good, and the services are good. If it doesn’t sound good start at the wall. 

Marantz AVR user here. I use mine as a pre-amp and stream Spotify and Radio Paradise via HEOS as well. I bought the Cambridge CXN V2 a year ago to see if it would be an improvement over the Marantz DAC. It has better detailing and sound stage when playing my digital library of FLAC files and as the DAC for my CD transport. I use the CXN when I'm doing critical/focused listening but default to using the Marantz & its HEOS app when I'm using Spotify to stream music through out the house.

I think if you have higher-res digital sources a separate DAC may be worth having in the system and for critical listening but for casual listening of Spotify premium, I think the Marantz will serve you well. 

The nice thing about the Marantz AVR is having the Audessey software to do room correction. Which I never thought  I'd take advantage of but do. 

It’s Amazon unlimited music for me.. I had Spotify for a couple of years but they don’t do ultra high res then I tried Tidal, the music was tissier which made it appear like there was more information but there wasn’t..Amazon does 24-bit high res and then my opinion sounds better than both and you can catch a break on it if you have Amazon prime

I am new to streaming as well except for the use of an Amazon echo device through a vintage system. I just purchased the WiiM pro plus streamer and I am using it with a Peachtree Nova 150 driving Thiel 1.6 speakers. I know I am just dipping my toe in the world of streaming, but it sounds significantly better than what I had been hearing before….the WiiM is super easy to use and their app makes playing music extremely simple for this spaz when it comes to technology. The WiiM app will connect with Tidal or other music providers and can all be played and or controlled through the app.

Side question, when not in use, do you power off the streamer?

I haven’t read all the threads after the first dozen or so, but my take:

1) Wiim is a great bargain, but it at best will be a lateral move from HEOS, and probably worse

2) Spotify refuses to adopt High Resolution streaming.  Any of the the other services mentioned would be an upgrade.  I personally had a bad Qobuz experience when trying to use it in my car so I would caution switching to them (and their Customer Service is a joke).  You can improve Spotify if you get a Streamer with Spotify Connect .

My advice is if you are going to use Spotify stay with HEOS but perhaps investigate Spotify Connect 

Much also depends on the role streaming will play for you...casual background listening, exploring new music, or more "serious" listening...will it be a primary source or a less important source...

same applies to features...I do not make playlists, but rather seek out new and individual albums, and streaming is not my primary source...

Spend the money on a good dac. There are many cheap streamers that do a fine job. 

Don’t feel the need to swap digital cables and power supplies.  That’s advanced stuff of questionable effect.  I’d say consider a speaker swap.

Spend the money on a good dac. 

Eventually.  The thing is, with a Marantz AV preamp, if the OP is using any form of room correction, surround processing, or anything other than direct mode, the Marantz is going to run the external signal through an ADC for whatever the pre- is doing.  That would defeat the point of an expensive external DAC.  Point being, the OP would have to change the paradigm of his system to benefit from that unless he uses direct mode. 

There are many cheap streamers that do a fine job. 

I agree with this. A streamer with an SPDIF out would plug into the Marantz and possibly improve the sound and improve over HEOS software if desired. 


To circle back on this, I’ve been listening to a lot of music on Tidal, in part just to listen, and in part to pick out four or five songs to use to audition speakers. While I’ve been really impressed with the overall quality of listening via Tidal (even on the Bose 901s), its probably time to get some better speakers for listening to music.

My budget is probably on the low side at this time -- $2500 to $5000, tops. I’m considering: Martin Logan Motion 60XTi or XT F100, Bowers & Wilkins 704 S3, Wharfedale EVO4.4, Totem Bison Twin Tower, Paradigm Founder 80F or Sonus faber Lumina III (maybe the V? but price is a stretch). Any thoughts on these, or others I should consider? I’ll be streaming through the Marantz AV7706 and a Parasound A51, bi-amping as long as the speakers support it. My listening area is 15x20, high ceiling, but no particular issues that would need special attention.

I’ve not heard any of these, and want to audition as many as I can before making a choice.

What improvements are you looking for, and what sound characteristics are most important to you?  Sharing this info will get you much better recommendations here, and glad you’re upgrading your speakers — you’re in for a real treat!

I’m looking for something that’s clear and crisp across the sound spectrum. I appreciate being able to pick out the individual drum beats, cymbal crashes and guitar strings being played. I have a sub I’m happy with, and I’m not looking to piss off the neighbors with something really heavy and bass forward.  Hopefully that helps. 

Yes, that helps a lot.  I’d highly recommend looking at the Usher Mini Two DMDs for several reasons.  First and foremost, they deliver the sound characteristics you’re looking for and look beautiful doing it.  Their build quality and components are very high for the price — they make their own drivers, and the Mini Twos use the same diamond tweeter as their flagship $40k speakers (try and find another speaker with a diamond tweeter anywhere near this price — check B&W804 D4 for comparison).  Their cabinets are not only beautiful with real wood veneer but they’re also very inert and way roughly double of the other speakers on your list, and their bass capabilities also far eclipse the others as well.  Frankly, I put these at a higher level than the others you mentioned, and although at $5290 they’re at the top of your price range you’re also getting a lot more.  And this seller offers a 10% discount putting it within your budget, free shipping, and a 30-day return policy (minus return shipping), which is a nice option to have.  For what you’re looking for and the value/quality on offer I’d be all over these, but if they’re a little too much there are the Mini Ones that offer the same build/sonic qualities but with less bass output and are $1200 cheaper.  Just another option to explore, and best of luck.

I wasn’t familiar with Usher, but the reviews are very positive and have certainly piqued my interest.  In fact, unless someone else here tells me otherwise, I think I’m going to order a pair.