Point of higher priced streamer?

Assuming I have separate DAC, and I just want to play songs from iPad by Airplay feature.
In this case, I need a streamer to receive music from my iPad -> DAC.

What’s the point of high price streamer? I’m bit surprised that some streamers are very high priced.
From my understanding, there should be no sound quality difference.
(Streaming reliability and build quality, I can see it but I do not see advantages in terms of sound quality.)

Am I missing something? If so, please share some wisdom.
No the pointnis that more powerful streamers present the dac with a better cleaner data packet which produces audible improvements

We are server experts with years of experience and these differences are large especially between models

We had run a test of several high end music servers a baetis reference vs a Lauder technik memory player vs an innous statement and each one had their own sound and clearly made an audible difference

Do you think that companies such as aurender or innous or 432 Evo could succesfully sell and market an entire line of servers if there was no sonic improvement between models which are more expensive from one another?

Dave and troy
Audio intellect Nj
Us importers 432Evo music servers
No point regarding sound quality but does provide options that may appeal more to traditional hifi buyers.
Bluesoud node 2i seems to be the best deal for me. 
Indeed, mostly what I need is Airplay feature, so I can send songs being played in my iPhone to the external DAC.

The funny thing is, one of the most common (also I’m curious about this too) questions regarding node 2i is, “How to Bypass Node 2i?”

Bluesound should give an option to omit DAC. 

I totally understand more features and better build quality parts, but some prices are hard to believe in terms of this aspect. 

Sending better cleaner packet might be a reason? I’ll study more on this.

Can you tell me how Wifi sounds better than Airplay?

All I play is 16bit/44 from ripped CD, or CD equivalent streaming services.
How to Bypass Node 2i?”

Bluesound should give an option to omit DAC.
To bypass the Node internal DAC, simply use a digital coax cable from Node to external Dac.
Select Dac as your source on the preamp/amp.

You're not bypassing the Node, that's the streamer, you're bypassing the internal DAC.

I’m really surprised there are so many who say no difference at all. My experience says otherwise.  And yes, I have DACs which reject jitter well.  

My journey started with a fully optimized and dedicated Mac mini for serving music only.  I then bought an Aurender N100H.  It also outputs to my DAC via USB.  Very noticeable difference in sound between the two.  I then tried using an outboard USB to S/PDIF converter on the Mini  - which helped, but the Aurender was still much better.  

I bought a Node 2 for a kitchen system and out of curiosity  compared it (as a streamer only) to the Aurender.  The latter sounded much better.  

I took my Aurender to an audio shop where I’m friends with the sales team and manager - and it’s the shop where I bought the Nodes (2 of them actually as I gave another one to one of my kids).  That dealer was interested in bringing on a line of better streamers.  We directly compared the  Aurender, a Lumin U1 mini (about the same price as the N100H) and the Node 2 - all going into a Marantz reference player/DAC.  The sales guys and I all agreed separately that the Aurender and Lumin U1 mini were close but the Aurender was best.  The Node 2i - as a streamer only, was not close.  

I more recently bought another streamer/server - moving upstream from the Aurender N100H - an Auralic Aries G2.  I did a comparison between the two (because I could have returned it). Was it night and day such as listening to a true high performance system vs a budget system?  No, but the new unit is absolutely, unequivocally, and unmistakably better sounding than the Node 2i and it’s also better sounding than the Aurender.  The differences are primarily revealed as spatial information - more openness and clarity - that information that helps us listen more to music and less to boxes.  In fact, the difference between the Auralic Aries G2 and the Node 2 (as streamer only), was greater than the difference I found when I very recently replaced my DAC with one 5x the cost.    

Though some posters make me wonder, I assume these forums are generally populated by audiophiles - people who enjoy listening to music and who seek ways in which to better the experience through system development.

Some of us have modest systems and seek highest value.  From that framework, I would suggest the Node 2i might be the pinnacle.  I still have mine in that kitchen system.  However, for those here are looking for higher performance, it’s readily available, but like in most things, it’s costly to get there.

Peace to all this holiday season - however you may celebrate.
There's not really any difference. If the software passes the stream without interference a raspberry pi4 is as good as anything else. Those who claim all these exaggerated differences are not doing proper or even any type of controls in their listening experience. Take them all with a grain of salt.
Lowrider 57 : I can’t edit the thread. I omit DAC.

mgrif104 : I’m not debating. More like curious.

I’m saying this because in case of DAC, its neutrality can be measured. Then designers basically do coloring. Some people like this coloring factor, some people don’t like it. Personally, I pursue peculiar coloring (it’s really specific pattern of distortion technically) for the speaker. Maybe the most among components. Then I like to maintain neutrality to fair degree for other things like Amp and DAC. 

But in case of Streamer, technically, as long as it delivers, there should be no quality difference.
At least this is my understanding.

If you feel any difference, I’m really curious what kind of technical perspectives factor in.

Fundamentally, saying streamer makes SQ difference is like stating my room router affects the sound quality and character.
My experience is that there is a difference.  I own the Arcam rPlay streamer (now discontinued) and bought the highly touted Node 2i to see if it was an improvement. It wasn’t nearly as good.  Returned it.
It totally doesn't matter what streamer you use.  Just like it doesn't matter what turntable or arm you use on your turntable, as long as you have a good cartridge that measures well.  Wait, that's not how things work, is it?
In an audio system, everything matters. Obviously, some stuff matters more some less. It's up to us to determine where we spend our money. Hopefully by trying for ourselves, rather that posting something online to simply confirm our biases. Confirmation bias works both ways
No. It’s not confirmation bias.

Not everything matters unless there are reasons.

Most of them matters - basically subjectively.

I get it. But some facts should not matter.

Dac matters, but remote control for that DAC should not matter

as long as remote control works properly.

Have you heard about audiophile grade router?

I do not find a reason for streamer yet.

Then don't buy a "higher priced streamer". Simple. What are you trying to accomplish here? To me, it is more than clear that you have made up your mind on this already.
My point is if there is any technological aspect that I’m not aware of. It’s not just about pricing. I’m very open minded. 

If someone can tell me the technical reason, I’m more than glad to listen and learn.
Again, I totally understand spending more money for brand name and pure aesthetic. I do that too.

But when one claims there is “technically better something”, I want to know technical reasons. 

My point is if there is any technological aspect that I’m not aware of. It’s not just about pricing. I’m very open minded.
If you're serious and open minded, why not visit a dealer and listen for yourself?

Why do you think I’ve not tried that?

I compare some but don’t hear the noticeable difference.
Still there is more price gap than I can understand.
I thought that I’m the one who doesn’t hear the difference or there might be more things to consider than I know.

As I explain above, in case of DAC, manufacturers are clearly aware of neutrality. They even states something like for instance, their filter 1 provides most neutral signal, but filter 2 gets the highest point from subjective tests so they recommend filter 2. - when something is out of neutrality it’s becoming custom subjective matter, and pricing is really up to consumer’s level of desire to pay.

But in case of streaming, there is no coloring (custom) factor, as far as I understand. Thus, there is no difference in sound unless some other factors kick in. I want to know this possible other factors.

I repeat that if one simply claims that streaming has different sound, it’s same as saying different router can make different sound.

Do you hear the difference? If so what would be the possible factor?
It sounds like you hear the difference, then could you explain?


May I suggest you go back and read your postings?  I, too, have a healthy sense of skepticism.  Further, I don’t enjoy throwing money around - I enjoy saving it.  But I also enjoy music immensely and so I feed a hobby which costs more than I’d like it to.

Your dialogue here suggests other than an open mind. While I can relay what I’ve read, and what I hear, I cannot fully explain the technical reasons for why a some units sounds better than others.  Djones51 clearly enjoys proselytizes here frequently about there being no difference. I get that he can’t hear anything.  Or, maybe he listens only to compressed rock music at loud volume.  Some of it’s great music but I can see how you’d not perceive a difference. 

But, if you are open minded as you say, how about you take the more logical approach and listen first and then try to understand the why?  And, if you don’t hear a difference, don’t buy.  But if you have a decent system at all, try a better unit. Put on some good jazz or reasonably well recorded acoustic music.  I’d be very surprised if you didn’t hear a very clear difference.  

Again - for me - a bigger difference than when I significantly upgraded DACs.  YMMV.

Do you think that companies such as aurender or innous or 432 Evo could succesfully sell and market an entire line of servers if there was no sonic improvement between models which are more expensive from one another?

Yes, It’s called expectation bias. The same phenomenon that largely drives the high end cable market. That and listeners neglecting to level-match when conducting comparisons.

Then there are those who simply buy the most expensive gear they can afford from the outset. It’s not like Tom Cruise is going to start off with a Chromecast and incrementally upgrade. If you’re the type that buys into Sci******gy, you’re very likely to buy into high-end streamers. 
Good grief.  Expectation/confirmation bias goes both ways.  All devices were level matched.  I went in a skeptic.

“Do you hear the difference? If so what would be the possible factor?
It sounds like you hear the difference, then could you explain?”

OP, please outline your complete audio system before any of us give away our valuable time in explaining why and how streamers differs in SQ.

13 posts
12-21-2020 10:11am
Why do you think I’ve not tried that?

I compare some but don’t hear the noticeable difference.

Then why worry? You tried it for yourself, did not hear any difference, case closed, no "higher priced streamer" for you. Simple. Again.

Although, from your post nine days ago here (https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/basic-dac-streamer-questions)

First of all, please be generous about old fool’s first step to the digital source.

I’m planning to switch to the digital source, and I’m looking for a product like Matrix Element X.
(It’s like Lumin X1 - DAC / STREAMER / Have its own Pre-Amp)

Do you actually have a DAC? How can you possibly know what is all there is to know on "high priced streamers" in nine short days?

My Lumin U1 sounds orders of magnitude better than my Node2 when streamed through the same DAC. This should be impossible according to many posters here. I had 60 days to return the Lumin U1 but of course I kept it. It also handily beat out an Auralic Aries G1 streamer...all using the same outputs. Look, I return gear that doesn’t make a difference in my system and keep the components that do. I don’t want to waste money and I have zero expectation bias. Many professional reviewers note the exact same thing. Line noise can absolutely get transferred through these devices if not designed correctly. It’s not all about 1’s and 0’s as people like to ignorantly reference all the time.
Expectation/confirmation bias goes both ways. All devices were level matched. I went in a skeptic.
I think that explains many audiophiles and that many of us are inherently skeptical. There was a time I found it difficult to believe that a cable could make a sonic difference. But my dealer at the time put a pair of Fultons in my hand and told me to try them at home. And so I became convinced.

I bought an Aurender N100H as a more elegant solution to a Raspberry Pi, which I was using with the DigiOne hat. It was easy to A/B the two by feeding the same file from each into my DAC - the outputs inherently equal in level - and the difference was more than enough to warrant the Aurender’s cost. Of course, that’s a subjective evaluation; for someone else the price difference might not be worth the expense.

I grew weary of the Aurender’s rocky software updates, intolerance of power outages and indifferent support, so I upgraded to a Bryston BDP-3. For a while I had both connected to the system and in A/B’ing the two I found subtle differences. Again, I realize it’s subjective for me to characterize the differences as "subtle." Someone else might consider them major differences, or perhaps hear no difference at all.

Technical explanations for these differences are really just a matter of curiosity to me.  Because of my own first-hand experiences, I tend to ignore those who insist that there can be no difference.
I know one reason the Node2i may not measure up to other streamers: the power supply. It is a small SMPS. That's why there are upgrade kits being sold which are more robust and use a linear PS. Even with the stock PS, a higher quality power cord is an upgrade. 

The Node is built to a certain price point, has good sound, and doesn't claim to be more than it is. I haven't compared mine to other streamers, but in combination with a very fine DAC, my CD playback is superior.

All the streamer does is deliver the packets to the DAC. It's purpose no more affects the packets of audio data than the miles of cables, myriad of switches and routers affects the packets delivering this post from my keyboard to your screen. Sangbro just get whatever streamer that has the options you want and forget about it. I've  used streamers from raspberry pi4 to Lumin, Bel Canto, Auurender, Auralic and others not a dimes worth of difference when level matched .
Yes, It’s called expectation bias. The same phenomenon that largely drives the high end cable market. That and listeners neglecting to level-match when conducting comparisons.

That's is an extremely wide brush to use to simply dismiss differences that many folks hear, myself included.   

I've been using a RaspPi (running Roon) with a Digi+ SPDIF interface and iFi power supply as my primary streamer for years.  I recently spent less on a new DAC than I was expecting (because the most expensive one and it also has the most brand cachet didn't sound as good as I was expecting); I settled on an an R2R NOS DAC that costs considerably less but to me sounds better.

I then decided to spend the extra $$ on a better streamer to see if I could hear a difference, knowing I could flip the streamer (a Bricasti M5) easily if it wasn't worth it.  It made a significant difference in my system that I'm now disappointed I didn't try a better streamer years ago.   And yes, I have a sound meter (my trusty old analog Radio Shack meter).   So no, I don't buy your expectation bias or level-matching argument for my scenario.  I choose what sounds best to me and gives me the most musical enjoyment, working within my budget.

There is no doubt in my mind the Pi with a good quality SPDIF board is an excellent audio value relatively speaking, but in absolute terms in my system and using my ears, the M5 takes my listening enjoyment to another level and the difference in cost is more than worth it to me.   If the Pi sounds the same or better than the M5 to some folks in their system, then they should be happy they are saving some money, but that doesn't change the fact I prefer its sound quality more and am willing to pay for it...

Steamer upgrades made a difference in my system. My A/B testing were double blind with friends as test subjects. I used to be a skeptic about streamers - trying to understand how a streamer could possibly make a difference above and beyond Sonos and Bluesound - I mean my SQ was already tremendous.

But then I took a risk and purchased a better streamer (more expensive) and it was a very significant upgrade for me. Yes, I then purchased an even more expensive Streamer and there was still a noticeable SQ uptick (more openness, more immersion in sound - would be the best way to summarize it) The difference was almost the same as when I upgraded my Denon SACD player to an entry level Esoteric SACD player and then to higher- end Esoteric SACD player - with different levels of improvements along the way.

I could go on about the differences in SQ (or why I think there are differences), but could you perhaps describe your system in some detail?  It would be helpful to know this in order to better answer your original question.  Because - yes, in some (many) cases, upgrading to a more expensive component (steamer) may make no difference within a particular system - most of the time it depends on the rest of the chain.
I’m not saying streamers can’t make a difference.  Obviously they can. Only that in practice I have not found them to be a big factor compared to the other usual culprits.  So at best a streamer upgrade alone is one of the last things I would consider.  I just find that when things are going well most any good quality streamer will do.    

Assuming I have separate DAC, and I just want to play songs from iPad by Airplay feature.
In this case, I need a streamer to receive music from my iPad -> DAC.

If this is really your goal, "play songs from iPad by AirPlay", you may want to consider just getting a quality bluetooth receiver. You can connect from your iPad to the bluetooth receiver and play anything that you can play directly on your iPad. 

I have the Auris BluMe HD bluetooth receiver and find it to be very good. It costs just over $100 direct from Auris and I believe they have a return policy. It does have a built-in DAC, but it also has a toslink optical digital output if you choose to use an external DAC. I have mine connected via RCA analog connections and via toslink digital connection to my DAC and I hear only minor differences in my warmish sounding (not highly resolving) 2-Channel Audio System.

If you're unsure about the value of a dedicated streamer, and just want to listen to songs played from your iPad on your audio system, you might want to just give a quality bluetooth receiver a try. Certainly doesn't cost much. Oh, and my understanding is that the old, original Chromecast Audio was surprisingly good too. You can find used Chromecast Audio (only the dedicated Chromecast Audio, not the plan Chromecast) for around $50 on eBay. That might work for you too, although I have never tried it myself.
All the streamer does is deliver the packets to the DAC.

How do you think the packets get there?  Via electrical signal of course...so therein lies the opportunity for sonic degradation or improvement by better design

With this said, I do agree with @mapman that it's all about prioritizing your spend and where you get the most bang for your buck.  A streamer upgrade is not the first place I'd look to allocate funds towards improving sound, but when I finally started running out of areas to improve I finally went to the streamer.
How do you think the packets get there? Via electrical signal of course...so therein lies the opportunity for sonic degradation or improvement by better design.

No not really. The signal arrives intact or not. The DAC is able to reconstruct or not. Did this post make it in one piece or is every other letter missing? 

Post removed 
Airplay is basically indisinguishable on a $50 Ras Pi 4. If your DAC has USB in.
helomach nailed it. Evacuate your purse.
Thank you for all the input.

Still no single scientific explanation about how the sound can be better.
(Except cleaner sound packet... at least this, I want to study.)

Okay, for some people here. Let me provide some reference.
My budget is about $50k. Not much for some, maybe big for some.
I’m on business trip in Asia, and my business partner here is in a local audiophile group spending 6 digit USD easily for their system (some of them show 7 digit system and I could have a dinner while listening his system all night long). And he is more than glad to help me experiencing stuff. (Everybody loves talking about hobby isn’t it.) Thanks to his and his friends’ help, I can now do many auditions with dealers here. Due to Covid, there are not many customers too. I usually spend 5-6 hours in here just listen and compare set up. Asian hifi market is like having 10 mega dealers in one place. They seem small but somehow their stock level is impressive. They have almost everything.

Before though I was not really into gear and stuff, I happen to live in a house with B&W803D with Classe mono set up sound system. It was good but I wanted something different. Then I moved, so lived without good speakers for a while. Now I’m in shopping.

I’m a long time classical music fan, and used to go to local orchestra (LA) on monthly basis before kids in my late age, and used to travel to attend concert too (mostly vienna). I prefer live concert over speaker. I just love the energy, passion and emotion that I can feel in the live stage.

This year’s special situation makes me consider the audio system.

I don’t think I have golden ears, nor particularly good at listening.
But I know the difference among Yamaha / Steinway / Bosendorfer or Argerich / Richter playing Rachmaninoff.

Also my goals are - less maintenance possible/simple as possible.
Personally I want to listen music more, rather than shopping more. Also, my needs for new music every year is less than 20 albums per year, so for me playing musics that I already have is more important.

I don’t have a big listening space (14ft x 14ft), so optimizing speaker system is a key. I plan to hire some professional to do acoustic treatment first. Or I plan to just put some acoustic panels if it’s not that complicate.

About the system after some auditioning,

1) I decide to go with Pass Int-60.
Because I do not personally deal with tubes. They are charming, but not my style. I try bigger/separate system, the problem is with my room size and situation, sadly more money would not make noticeable difference.
-so about 9k is fixed here.

2) Speakers - It is still hard due to room size.
Also my obsession about piano sound makes the situation hard. I do not want to just buy a neutral speaker. Also bigger speakers simply do not fit in my room. So far some names I remember are Revel Salon 2, Magico, Wilson Sabrina, Vienna Acoustics Beethoven, Brodmann VC 7, Boniecke . Still I’m in search. I’m interested in horn, so I just heard Avantgarde Duo, but not sure. Sadly there are not many horn speakers in Asia somehow.
- thinking 10k - 30k here.

3) DAC - I have couple pairing in my mind for speakers so far. Mola Mola sounds interesting, but I also find some other cheaper options sound good too. In fact later I discover that the US importer uses my selection of cheaper option during the audio show. So I study, and figure out why some DACs are expensive. I get idea
- my initial budget is around 10k here but now I find a good option with significantly lower price.

4) Cables - Long story short. I want to keep Cable as fixed variable as long as possible. This, I take a advice from a guy who basically re-build his house to have totally separate power lines for his different set ups. Personally I agree. So not much money here.

5) Streamer - In fact I have much room left in terms of budget. It can be from around 8k - 22k depending on last of set up. Even minimum 8k would get me decent middle range price product.

The problem is, I simply can’t hear the difference when I switch, and dealers here do not really provide any scientific explanation. Streaming itself also should not make any sonic difference unless there is additional coloring factor.

I was curious how manufacturers implant that coloring factors to a streamer.

My question is, if you think streamer itself alone matter sound, then your room router should matter too. This is my understanding.

I have B&W duo because I needed a simple wireless speaker for home. (I don’t consider this as speaker set up though.) I have dedicated mesh network for this speaker once I realize that traffic burden on 2.4 band can deteriorate the sound quality. I use orbi. (Btw B&W duo shows the importance of system optimization. This speaker has Speaker/Amp/DAC/Streamer all in one box in a way that designers precisely intend. This creates very impressive sound quality considering its price if one like B&W house sound. Same goes for Dutch & Dutch 8c. If you do not want to play with gears and likes their house sound, especially D&D8c is really hard to beat not just in its price class but in its room size class regardless of price range.)

Do you use a separate router for streamer too?
Changing power cable of router improve sound quality?

Again, I do understand that neutrality is not the final goal for everyone including me. Certain distortion is pursued. For my business partner here, he also doesn’t think streaming alone doesn’t make difference though he has 20k streamer, simply because he wants it. (After certain wealth, people doesn’t think that much, not me. But I also do not think that much when I pick up 10-30 dollar product.)

So my study about streamer keeps going on.

And about Airplay, for me I do not have any music source better than 16/44. So airplay is sufficient. Idagio streaming (so as primephonic) also provides 16/44.
There is still big difference between Bluetooth vs Airplay. Just read technical specs.
I wish bluetooth to stream 16/44 fully in the future.

Are you saying 16/44 cd quality doesn’t make difference in system?

Honestly, most of classical music that I listen to, I do not think there is no music source better than CD quality available to consumers. If you know any source Polini’s carnegie hall performance with better than CD quality, please educate me. I’m more than willing to pay fair price for this one.

I like LPs, and consider collecting some. But in terms about sound quality alone, I think digital source is better.

So, here we go again.
I’m not that rich, but I think I can afford some range. For me, throwing money without understanding the point of it is more than meaningless. I’m totally okay with “because I just want it”. But for some parts, I simply do not want it because personally I do not see any reason. I want to at least know how things make different and want to determine whether I want to pay for it. 

After certain price point, sound becomes really subjective, and it’s all about one wants to pay for that specific customized distortion.

About the streamer.
I still don’t have much answer. Again 3 question.

1) Do you have any scientific explanation behind it?
(Again and again, I do understand why DAC and Speakers have distinctive distortion patterns and these make different price point.)
Any data I can find?

2) Does better streamer send better digital signal?

3) Does your router matter too?

Thank you.
I can’t explain the technology but I recently upgraded my streamer (we selected the Innuos Statement) and the difference in sound quality, starting with the sound stage, and is very much noticed and appreciated.  I wholeheartedly agree with the Statement’s positive reviews.
I might need to check again.

When I test it, the room is a dedicated for listening, but not even have a dedicated router. 

I start to think then, the router should matter too, if this whole thing works in that way.
I can’t explain the technology but I recently upgraded my streamer (we selected the Innuos Statement) and the difference in sound quality, starting with the expanded sound stage, is very much noticed and appreciated.  I wholeheartedly agree with the Statement’s positive reviews.
You should keep pursuing this on your ASR thread. Streamers have one function take the TCP/IP stack and convert it to USB or SPDIF or whatever you connect to your DAC with. The OS handles this function and if it doesn't get it right the DAC won't know what it's getting so this process has to be fairly universal considering all the streamer/ DAC combinations. There could be variations in the amount of distortion or noise that is passed to the DAC but any modern well designed DAC will be able to handle it. You mention all the expensive items your accociates have in their systems but you haven't mentioned one of the most important in the entire chain, what modem do they use? Odds are it's a basic $100-$200 modem required to work with their ISP. If this $100 box is good enough to make your digital stream from the analog input from the wire outside why worry about the router or streamer passing it on. Same deal here in the US everyone talks about enormous SQ improvement with every cable, box and fuse they toss in but combined none of it not one single component, unless it's really freaking bad will be audible above the amount of distortion in speakers. It took me more years and money wasted than I care to admit to realize that one simple truth. If you have the money and want the bling go for it. 
@sangbro For the purpose of playing music via airplay from an iPad to a DAC you don’t need a streamer. Just get a used airport express with digital optical output into your DAC and then you select this airport express as your speaker.
Sound will be good.
If you get a streamer like Bluesound configure the iPad such that it serves merely as remote control, I.e. signal path is from your Wi-Fi to Bluesound to DAC, iPad is not in the path. This solution is very good. If Wi-Fi is good (eg, Google or Linksys mesh), connecting Bluesound via Wi-Fi is superior to Ethernet, I.m.e.
Even better: Get Roon. I run a roon core on a dedicated MacBook via WiFi to a couple OPPO 205 - I have yet to find better (and I have been looking quite a bit).
Since we're talking about digital data, shouldn't it be easy to prove there is a difference? Couldn't you checksum packages and compare the same content from two sources?
Hey @sangbro, you provided a totally different prospective now, thanks for sharing. It seems like you are starting from scratch, but with a sizable budget for starters. I’d say figure out the big items first. Like speakers, amp, DAC. Get a modest streamer just to get you started, like Node 2i, or a microRendu and such, then upgrade down the road if you still have the desire and satisfaction.

+1, @thyname, follow the solid advise and you won’t be sorry.
A streamer wired with a quality RJ45 cable (like Supra CAT8) will sound better than WiFi or Bluetooth connection.
Oh by the way, that Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC you mentioned, has a streamer built in. A network bridge. Hook up Ethernet to it, and you are set! No need for “high priced streamer”. And when you say “the US distributor “ of Mola Mola, you are talking about Bill Parrish? I know the guy. What exactly were you talking about “using your selection of cheaper stuff in audio shows”? I have been in at least two of his Demos, and I know what he is using 
For $100? total you could buy an OTG USB cable, a Nobsound USB to SPDIF/Optical converter and with a 75 Ohm digital or toslink optical cable, plug that into your DAC.

That's what I am doing with my Android and Tidal. But I needed to buy UAPP and their Bit Perfect add on app to get TIDAL MQA first unfold.

Does the music sound as good as a Node 2i? Maybe. I don't know about higher priced units like a Cambridge etc.
I've been told that streamers are merely computers. Nothing more.
Sangbro: wonder about your long business trips around Asia (it must be tough having to do a 2-week confinement in a hotel room every time you change country) coupled with a couple of concerts a year in Vienna (how romantic)).
You shops for ‘mid-range’ streamers between 8-30K (what is top of the range then?) using Mola Mola Tambaqui dac whilst not knowing that the Tambaqui has a built in streamer... and ask the classic ‘a bit is a bit, why should I spend more’ questions to get folks excited on audiogon. The whole story seems built on shaky grounds, probably to amuse you whilst listening to music on a basic mp3 setup.
I find Mac book vs streamer very noisy. Music seems to come across much more relaxed more detail and much better soundstage with a dedicated streamer to me.