Old days & steamers vs newer stuff?

Given that there are a ton of variables depending on speakers and other equipment. What are the generalities in comparing? something like...

1) an old blusound node 2i with an ayre codex dac

2) lumin d2 for dac & streamer

3) node 2i with giselli labs dac

Basically,  I'm asking if you think expensive old dac and streamers (lumen, node, ayre codex) still beat out the newer cheaper stuff like denafrips ares, gishelli labs, etc.

I want to improve my setup, but I'm not sure if used older higher end stuff is better than newer mid end stuff.

Quality improvements over time can often yield a newer less expensive product that is superior to older high end items.

Whatcha think in this regard when it comes to dacs and streamers?

Newest tech one can afford, or highest end used stuff one can find?


a newer less expensive product that is superior to older high end items.

The Martin Logan Unison streamer comes with the best automated room correction among all streamers available (ARC), and is a bargain at the MSRP of $399 and it is on sale for $199, unbeatable unless you want to spend at least 10 times that amount:



@kota1 that's wild. I had no idea it existed. This is cheaper than my node2i was. Does this item come with the microphone for ARC too? it looks like it has a digital out (to go to another better dac)?

Is there any downside to this only having optical input instead of spdif/coax? I'm really green at all of this digital stuff, but I love the ease of streaming spotify.

Yes, it is a GREAT streamer. Martin Logan is owned by Anthem and both Paradigm and ML makes a streamer with ARC. They are the same price but the ML also has airplay. I own the Paradigm version because I don’t use Apple and have the digital out connected to my Sony TAZH1ES dac and it is very versatile. This streamer also has RCA input so you can use it as a preamp and connect a CDP or a turntable, and also a digital/optical input to use it as a DAC. Yes, it comes with the calibrated ARC mic and the ARC software just had a major upgrade called Genesis and its free (unlike Audyssey and Dirac major upgrades). The streamer can be used with the DTS Play-Fi software run from a mobile device or a PC, spotify. and even DLNA. I have Bubble UPNP on my phone and can basically stream any file/service using DLNA if it isn’t installed on the play-fi app. The SQ is great and well worth the MSRP, the sale price makes it even sweeter. If you need an amp they also have the Forte amp which also has a steamer built in.

BTW, I also own the Bluesound Node but no comparison, when you use ARC this streamer is the winner.

There is no downside to an optical input.




What’s your budget, what do you have now, and what improvements are you looking for?

@kota1 I have no idea what dnla or UPNP is. I had a helluva time getting my node 2i up and running. If the dts play is just an app to control the streamer, I could handle that, but I'm not computer/ IT savy at all. Nevertheless, $200 for room correction seems like a bargain of an upgrade, so maybe I'll see if I can get help here or though Martin Logan to set it up. I never use the Bluetooth feature,  so I won't miss that. Maybe I can sell my Node or set it up in another room. I'm not sure how these "roon endpoint" things work, but I don't have roon, so I doubt I could use the node 2i in conjuction with the unison, so I could sell it or make a second system. I'm also am using an old Parasound Zdac that may be lower quality than the dac in the unison (your thoughts on which I should use?) I'm tempted to buy this and possibly improve my sound for only $200. Wish me luck and give me your thoughts.

Current integrated is a Yamaha A-S500 btw. Acoustic Energy Aegis 3 speakers.

@soix I'm just trying to gradually increase my sound quality by upgrading the weakest link, or item that would make the biggest bang for buck improvement. My budget is "poor". Which probably quantifies as $400 per month to spend on stereo.

I don't know how long they're on sale for, But now I need you to decide between the unison and the forte. I'm leaning towards the unison simply because my Yamaha A-S500 integrated is a class AB which may yield a little more grunt. And watts than the class d amp in the forte.

Apologizing in advance for my ignorance on digital. (I'm a 2 channel tube/ vinyl dinosaur) 

What is the best uncompressed source to play through this Martin Logan Unison device? Can I use my Pandora on my iPhone linked via blue tooth? (seems like I may need another box to receive this signal?)

I recall reading that the music played through the iPhone is compressed.  I hooked my iPhone into my ARC SP 15 and it sounded like crap. I assumed it was due to the audio being "clipped off at both ends"

I'm hoping somebody can give me understandable advice as I'm ignorant of the digital developments. 

That particular martin logan streamer does not have bluetooth. It operates by pairing both devices on the same.wifi network. I believe  streaming over wifi actually gives a better signal than bluetooth. There are other Bluetooth streamers like the Bluesound Node that have a bluetooth option to stream along  with wifi method but wifi streaming is always better I believe. Maybe others here can elaborate because I too am a dinosaur and not computer savy.

The DTS Play-Fi app works fine and they update it for free, here is a video about the app. It will show you how to play uncompressed and hi res files with the app. I think Tidal, Quboz and Amazon Music all off hi-rez streaming which works with the app:


@yesiam_a_pirate, I stream using spotify premium I don't think pandora has a high bit rate option for their music streams, But streaming services such as Tidal and Qobuz Offer uncompressed high resolution flac file music streams to choose from. Those are probably the best type of streaming options along with streaming uncompressed flac files from a network attached storage device such as your own hard drive that. Music has been ripped to in an uncompressed format.

I am another old guy still trying to figure out the ins and outs of streaming. The ML Unison seems like an incredible deal right now but I read this review and it has me wondering if I have to bypass my outboard DAC in order to get the ARC.  

“This is when the DAC inside Unison comes in. It does its job and it sounds quite good, but don’t expect the performance of a high end DAC. Having a power amplifier, I had to play with the volume from the Play-Fi application and I found it a little hard to get my desired volume, as it’s not very smooth. However, it did its job and it was really easy and convenient to access and to listen to my favorite musicon Tidal. I was wondering if I can use the Optical Input  from the TV to Unison and the Unison to my DAC and still use the ARC correction software, but it didn’t work.”


Looks great. 

I like the BlueOs software but if you can do the Apple play, go for it. 


I have my streamer connected to a DAC. You use the optical/spdif out from the ML Unison to the input of your DAC. Once everything is hooked up THEN run ARC and you are all set. See page 8-9 of the manual. Anything you connect to the Unison inputs (RCA or optical in) will be passed through to your DAC and get the benefit of the ARC room correction. For example you could connect a turntable to the RCA in and a CDP to the optical in and they all will pass through to your DAC if you want via optical out OR you can use the RCA out to your preamp. No matter how you connect it everything will benefit from ARC, Just remember, you have to run ARC after connecting your DAC. That review/article is from 2018, both ARC and Play-Fi have had many software updates since then:



One more thing, DTS Play-Fi whole house audio is da bomb. There have been many updates to the app since it first came out. I have products from Klipsch, Paradigm, Deftech, Martin Logan and Philips throughout the house. Most of them were purchased on sale like the Unison. If you are going to add additional rooms to your system let me know and I'll post some updates. 


I saw you are leaning between the unison and the forte. If you get both you can use the unison with your yamaha amp and the forte in another room with a separate pair of speakers. Play-fi is designed similar to Sonos so you can use whole house. I own the Forte amp too and it sounds like Martin Logan speakers, HUGE soundstage. Here is my review:


@kota1 will spotify on my phone allow me to diectly connect to the unison like it's a wifi device/speaker, or do I have to use dts play fi to hear spotify on the unison?

@labguy , yes you can connect directly to the unison with spotify. Just open spotify and connect the same way you would with any other device, no need to open the playfi app.

I am interested in the Unison..  I have 3 systems in my house.  The basement system is surround sound.  It doesn’t currently have a streamer since a Bluesound Node died about a year ago, except for anApple TV.  The ATV will only play compressed files and it won’t recognize my Melco N100 server that Feeds the other two systems.  Otoh I don’t really wish to do much in the way of 2 channel streaming down there, but every now and then I get the urge.  So I don’t want to spend much there.  I already use an Anthem AVR with ARC down there so I assume it would just be plug and play.

  My reservation is Play Fi.  Before the Pandemic I bought a Arcam streamer that used Play Fi.  It didn’t work for anything besides Internet Radio.  It was unable to interface with my server which at the time was a popular Synology model that worked fine with other streamers  Both Arcam and PlayFi did not respond to CS inquiries, so I was never able to nail down the culprit, and wound up returning the streamer within the allotted time window.  The lack of any response from Play Fi was most troubling.  That was several years ago and perhaps they have better CS now but as I type this the whole unpleasant experience is coming back to me and I think I have talked myself out of buying the Unison..

  I would be interested in hearing the experiences of others besides @kota1 who have purchased this unit, or anyone who uses PlayFi


@audioguy85 There is a very good chance that you are partially deaf...start learning sign language.   😁

At $199 the ML Unison is only slightly more expensive than a Wiim pro.  Has anyone had the opportunity to compare them?