Questions from a noob on digital streaming


Ok, I am a noob.... I apologize here in the beginning.

I have been a vinyl guy since forever....

I have been considering a change to digital for several months and finally started to make the transition. I just sold my turntable so there is no going back, and believe me the decision was brutal to make. But I am happy with my new path....but still a bit anxious.

I am currently using a Cambridge magic plus through a tube Pre and tube mono blocks. I am planning on getting the direct stream Jr. and this is where my questions start.


I have been using Audirvana to play Tidal with my current Cambridge Dac...

I see that DS Jr. has installed ability to play Tidal, and use Roon.....

Does this mean I can play Tidal without using Roon or other player with the DS Jr. and MConnect Controller?

What are the pros and cons of this if true, compared to using Audirvana or Roon or Jriver?

Can I use Audirvana to play tidal through the DS Jr. ?

What are the pros and cons of this vs Tidal direct through the DS Jr.  or roon  or Jriver  etc.?

What I think I understand is...Tidal is a streaming service (check), audirvana and roon are players used to play the stream and send to the Dac (check)????? But the DS Jr is a streamer ????? Why is one better than another? And which should I use?

A bit confused, and I have been trying to do my own research, Im just not quite getting what is what and why one may be better than another.



I am trying to sell a quicksilver pre-amp to complete my purchase of the DS Jr.....It's on audiongon YOU SHOULD BUY IT !!:-)

Also, since I am selling the tube pre and using the Jr as a pre.....will the power tube amps smooth out the digital sound????

OR  should I get the Gain Cell, which I could today, and keep the Tube pre???? Seems a waste to have a tube pre with no turntable and switching strictly to streaming.

I HATE confusion....

Thank you,

TD


128x128tonydennison
The DSjr is a DAC with a built in streamer, the Bridge II. There are other streamer/DAC combos that you may want to consider.

I think you need to slow down a little and keep your preamp and amp so that you have a solid reference to judge the sound of whatever streamer/DAC you purchase. Also, some people like to go direct from streamer/DAC to amp, some, like me, prefer a preamp in between. I’d try both ways before you sell anything.

Some streamer/DACs require a wired connection to your wifi router (that’s called an ethernet connection) and that will require you to have your router near your stereo or run a long section of cat 6 (or 7 or 8) wire to your stereo. Some streamers will work with a wireless connection (wifi).

What I would suggest that you do is buy a Bluesound Node 2 for $500 or less. It is a streamer/DAC combo, it is Tidal ready, you can run it with either a wifi or ethernet connection and it has analog outputs that you can connect to your preamp or amp.

It has its own own app for your phone or tablet which you download (for free) from the Apple store or Google Play for the Android version. You use the app to connect to Tidal (or other services), to select music and to control the volume if you go direct to amp. It is as close to plug and play as you’ll get. There is some setup involved but the instructions are clear and you can email support for help or whoever you buy it from can probably help with any problems you have.

The Node 2 may sound plenty good enough for you, but if you want to spend thousands for a better streamer later, you won’t lose much reselling it.

I think you can get access to the Tidal webpage that lists all the devices that are Tidal compatible without having an account so you can research some of them, if you want. Tidal offers at least a 30 day free trial so take advantage of that when you sign up for an account.

That’s my advice. We can talk about roon or other programs once you get comfortable with streaming with the Node 2.
There is an ad for a Bluesound Node 2 for $375 but the description says the title is a mistake, it is a Node (1).  I'm not familiar with the Node but I would get a Node 2.

Also when a streamer is Tidal ready it means you can access Tidal via their own app (which is horrible). If its ROON ready you can access compatible hardware and mix and match (well easily enough), and if a device such as a streamer is Tidal and Roon ready, you are on your way, just use ROON if preferred. It is IMO very good. Just remember the Tidal app is rubbish, but it accesses Tidal via various hardware including mobile phones...

It may be helpful to realize that there is a chain of components and functions, and that in some units some of these functions are combined, but need not be.
1 streaming source, like Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz or TuneIn, to mention a few.
2 a streamer to capture the audio stream, with an app to play that particular service
3 a DAC to convert the digital signal into analogue output
4 a volume control plus source selector
5 a power amplifier.

Some streaming units combine 2, 3 and 4 (e.g the Sonos Connect). Others only combine 2 and 3, e.g. the Chromecast Audio or the Apple Airport express, others only serve as 2, e.g. the Chromecast Audio or the Airport Express using their digital output.

In your case, you already have the Dacmagic Plus, which is a DAC with a volume control. The simplest way to use it is to omit the pre amplifier (you do not need one if you are not using analogue sources). Just connect it to your power amps. No need to worry about ’digital sound’. If you are using a decent DAC like your Dacmagic, digital is perfect.

If you do this, the remaining question is how to get the audio stream to your DAC. One option is to use a computer - even a very simple one like a Raspberry Pi is good enough. Use the usb output into your DACmagic and you are done. Roon is nice software to handle the meta information, but you do not need it. Another option is to use the optical digital output of a streamer like the Sonos Connect, the Airport Express or the Chromecast Audio. Your DACmagic will convert the digital signal to analogue, and serve as a volume control. Of these, the Chromecast Audio is by far the cheapest, and the digital output is excellent (the high jitter level will be taken care of by the DACmagic). Personally I am not a fan of dedicated streamers from audiophile brands, as these tend to lock you into their software limitations (and are often obscenely expensive for what they are). Units like the Sonos, the AE or the Chromecast Audio sell in such large numbers that no streaming service can afford to ignore them. Digital standards change fast, and since the output is bitperfect, there is no sonic need to spend big. If you want to spend money on better sound quality, spend it on a better DAC. However, realize that no streaming service offers more than redbook CD 16/44, and converting that to analogue is a piece of cake for any modern DAC.

So, in its simplest form, all you need is a Chromecast Audio and you can get started. Of course, you may want to improve on this by replacing the DACmagic by a Benchmark DAC3, but the sonic benefits will be relatively small. And you do not have to do this now. Get started gently.
Thank you everyone for your responses.

I have been led to another question.....

I read serveral persons say "Audirvana sounds better than Roon."
others say "Roon sounds best."

Are there different qualities of sound if these are file managers?

Thank you,

TD