Recommendations for good sounding streamer

I am looking for a decent sounding streamer without breaking the bank. My daughter has Spotify premium and it would be nice to connect up to my audio system (de Havilland UltraVerve tube preamp, McCormack DNA-1 amp, Martin Logan SL3s).

I mostly listen to vinyl (Pro-ject RPM5) and CDs (Ultech UCD100) using the internal DAC. I do have a V90 DAC however that I used for playing digital from my phone. 

I don't really have the money any more for expensive digital playback. So what a recommendations for bang for the buck system. Could include using my V90 DAC. 

Reading through the forum here it seems that Spotify is not the best quality digital (Tidal seems to come up a lot). But for now we have tons of Spotify playlists - just looking for an affordable way. 

Some considerations:

Bluesound NODE 3

iFi Zen Stream

Any others? Pros/cons?


The Martin Logan Unison is on sale for $199, AND it has ARC room correction. You hook this puppy up via digital out to your DAC. Download the app to your phone and you are streaming. You will love what ARC does for your system and it is the same version that comes with $$$$ preamps/streamers from Anthem.:



Whim Pro Streamer will be out later this month. Bit perfect delivery with excellent streaming options for under $160. It’s going to change the space. 

Those are good inexpensive choices.  One that I like a bit better in this pricerange and it is incredibly well priced, you can get it for $300 if you look around, is the US Bridge Allo signature with Shanti power supply.  

Personally I would stay away from WiiM and the Unison as the both lack USB local play (there is no substitute.) Although when the network goes down (as it seems to weekly around here) nothing can be controlled with ANY "network" player. You might want to find something that adds Bluetooth so she can at least listen to Spotify from her phone during those instances.

The iFi looks like the best value but I only have a Bluesound, Allo USBridge Sig/Shant and a RasPi/iFi Elite in the budget space, so I can't comment on it's functionality.

I’d recommend the Zen Stream with the caveat that you should run it hardwired from either the router or a Wi-Fi extender as using it over Wi-Fi can have some frustrating connection issues.  I’d also recommend getting one of iFi’s upgraded power supplies if it’s in budget.  If you don’t need the DAC in the Node there’s no reason to pay for it.  I will say iFi’s customer support is non existent if that’s a concern.  Last, forget Tidal and do a trial of Qobuz — many here much prefer it and no need to mess with silly MQA unfolding BS.  Best of luck.

I had the Bluesound, good quality, it's  no-hassle, very easy to install and use. Very good tech support, something many companies don't have. I used it with Qobuz and Spotify. I had to jump up the $5K range to get better sound then Bluesound. 

There are many to choose from, but for someone starting out, it's great and inexpensive.

I have the Bluesound Node N130 and find it does everything I want. Oh and it’s a hundred dollars off almost everywhere. 😁

I'm very happy with my new Bluesound Node---just purchased it a few weeks ago. SUPER easy set up and it sounds great to me. Crutchfield had $100 off just before Thanksgiving. I also have Spotify. Good luck! 

Another vote for the Node N130. The iFi Zen caused me nothing but headaches with my android phone, hard wired or not.

PS- I own the Node too for MQA, no contest the ML Unison with ARC puts it in another league IF you don't already use a DSP.

+1 for Bluesound. It competes really well against my much more expensive analogue front end and although I have not done any side-by-side comparisons, like @deadhead1000 said, I’m guessing I’d have to spend a LOT more (even used) to get substantially better.

I run mine wired but I honestly can't tell the difference between wireless and wired. Paul from PS Audio has a YouTube video on this...and he makes a good point. I ran my Amazon TV box over Wi-Fi for years into an OLED TV and just hardwired it - no difference at all.  BUT, it makes sense to hardwire especially if you have a bunch of devices in the household using Wi-Fi as most of us do.


You don’t need $$-$$$ expensive streamer to stream Spotify. Get something like a Google Audio Chromecast, connect it to your DAC with optical Toslink to Mini Digital cable and use it as a streamer from your phone or tablet. 

Pardon my hijack… but I’m a repetitive learner!

I have the Node n130 hardwired to my router and connected to my Dynaudio hub. The hub sends music wirelessly to Dynaudio speakers. I listen to Radio Paradise a lot. 

Would the Unison replace the Node and give me access to ARC? Or does the wireless aspect of my setup negate ARC’s effectiveness?

Thanks in advance-

Really great feedback. I will do a little research into the gear mentioned. 

I am totally fine with used gear - just means I don't have to break in the analog components.

Feel free to keep coming with suggestions.

I use the ifi Zen Streamer and it sounds good when powered by a good supply. The streamer has low noise in the output. Yet it still will benefit from a USB Isolator (powered by a good supply).

Avoid the Bluesound.

Why? It is all over the net. Check this video:

I believe surfmuz is right, if you use Spotify then no need to waste money.


I second a Google Chromecast Audio. You will probably need to find one on eBay or something since they don’t make them anymore. That would be a great starting point in my opinion. 

I second a Google Chromecast Audio

@zerofox Uh, no.  Just…no.  It’s complete shite. There’s a reason they don’t make them anymore.  RIP Chromecast Audio.  

I certainly wouldn’t use Spotify.  Use either Tidal or Qobuz and stream hi-res.  Otherwise why bother.

For the money Bluesound is a good bet. You’ll need to spent a lot more to get noticeable improvement IMO. The streaming journey is a good one but spring for Tidal or Quobuz for the real experience.

Bluesound node for sure. Don’t listen to the “has to be hardwired” nerds. At this level it doesn’t matter. But you should upgrade to tidal. That will make a difference in sound quality for sure. 

Node all the way...  the Vault 2i  ( Node's cousin) was my introduction to streaming and it literally changed my life.    I've enjoyed for three years ,  like deadhead1000 I spent $5k to better it.   Best value in streamers in my opinion.  Continuous support and good user interface with any Tablet ,iPad, or phone.   

I discovered more music in 3 years with that thing  than I have in 50 years 

Don’t know where your budget would land, but the Pi2design Mercury streamer is outstanding. I’ve got the first iteration at $600, but the version 2 has some additional improvements at $800. Blows my Allo Digione out of the water. It is a bit fiddly at the start. But definitely worth it. 

I love my Bluesound Node2, sounds great, takes all music services, decent app plays everything, I connected my TV (EArc to Node). It is perfect and sounds good as is. You can upgrade sound quality with an external DAC, then you have music nirvana. 

@soix Uh, no.  Just…no.  It’s complete shite. There’s a reason they don’t make them anymore.  RIP Chromecast Audio.

Can you mention that reason, and why it’s “complete shite” for streaming non Hi-Res files?

Google's official reason when they discontinued the Chromecast Audio was that they already had a few devices that could do the same job that it did.

If you're just going to listen to Spotify and if your DAC has a toslink optical connection, just get the WIIM Mini for under $100 (I bought mine when it was on sale for $79) and connect it to your DAC. If you are concerned about it's low price, just go listen to the Darko Audio reviews of WIIM Mini and the new WIIM Pro. Darko says the WIIM Mini is his "favorite Network Streamer of 2022".

Seriously, the WIIM Mini is fantastic for $79/$99. Not saying it's "the Best" in any capacity. But it is good enough, especially if you are only streaming Spotify, and you can use an external DAC. And if you decide you love streaming, and want to invest in a higher-end streamer, you're not out much money. Oh, and the WIIM Mini works fantastically with Spotify Connect. 

As others mentioned, Spotify is quite low-rez.

I felt tied to it because of playlists and album lists like you and your daughter, only to find, during a Tidal trial, that when switching to Tidal, they offer links to online utilities that can import playlists and favorite album lists between the different streaming services. In a couple hours, my 8000 tracks were all available to me in Tidal.

I tried Qobuz as well, but on my Node, I did not hear an appreciable difference and more importantly, Qobuz on Node did not compare, in functionality and ease of use to Tidal Connect on Node.

CD quality music is available on Tidal for $9.95/month... no more than Spotify Premium. It’s much better sounding. For $20/month you get "Tidal Masters"...MQA. I was not thrilled with MQA and saw no point to paying extra for it.

The higher quality streaming was especially noticeable using a higher quality external DAC, as well.

Dump’ll kick yourself for not doing it sooner!

I have a Node 3 and am very pleased with the sound quality.  I haven’t compared it to anything else though.  I upgraded the power supply for a positive improvement and will next try a separate SMSL DAC.  I like controlling it from an iPad.  Audio features include controls for bass and treble, and it has a separate sub out with adjustable crossover.  Nifty!  I listen a lot at low levels and I still get a lot of detail.

I have the BlueSound Node streamer. I bypass the internal DAC and go digital coax to an MHDT Orchid DAC. I am also soon buying a Teddy Pardo external power supply to further improve the streamer.

The best in terms of price is the Chromecast Audio. It also has an internal DAC so you could go from that direct to the amp. Or you can connect it to your dac. And it is tiny and can just dangle out the back of the amp or dac. It costs only a few tens of $ new on eBay (they don’t make them any more). The sound quality is excellent for everything, especially for Spotify and CD quality files. Spotify Connect recognises the device and so streaming from your daughter’s phone is so easy.

The device, made in the millions hence the low price, was the best value piece of audio equipment ever produced.

I had Logitech Transporter, then Bluesound Node 2i and now a N100H by Aurender.  The Aurender has more refined, clean soud and its USB output is great.  The music is cached by a SSD, isolating it from a lot of noise. Qobuz hires is indistinguishabe from the same songs downloaded on the internal drive. You can get one for around 2k used. Worth a try.

I'm partial to Cambridge Audio streamers.  They are a bit more expensive (around $1,100), but are very versitile in terms of connection options.  I have an Azur 851N that I use primarily to play purchased music from a hard drive, but it also has support for Spotify, Deezer, etc.  I love how it sounds in my system.   My son has the CXN V2 and is very happy with it too.

Another vote for the BS Node. I have a Denefrips Pontus ii on order and look forward to running the Node through it to see what happens. Mostly I got the DAC for CD sq. 
I stream Spotify for the same reasons mentioned. Note that you can select your sound quality in the Spotify setup menu. At the highest quality (and bandwidth) setting, I hear little difference vs Tidal. Sounds very good. Once the DAC arrives, perhaps that will change. 

For Spotify quality, utilizing your V90 DAC, the simplest, most inexpensive, expedient solution is a Wiim Mini. I use it in a 2nd system over WiFi with Qobuz at up to 24/192 into an external DAC through optical, controlled by the iPhone app. The interface is adequate, the setup is easy.

I do like the Bluesound app better. The Node also has a much better internal DAC than the Wiim so it may not be worth the trouble of connecting the V90. It also has more connectivity options for external DACs which might be helpful if you later decide to scale up. 

I’m assuming your home WiFi is decent. You can hardwire the Node. I don’t because WiFi is more convenient for me, and the little LED showing the connection was bright enough to annoy me.

I’m sure there are better sounding solutions, but either of these is a good start.



I used the blue sound for a couple years and thought it was a bargain 

very reliable and reasonably good sound quality 

underrated DAC

Given how good their DACs sound, I'd be curious about the HoloAudio streamer: 


As far as cheap streamers go I've had or have the Node, Cambridge CXN2, Ifi Zen Stream, WiiM Mini, and Arcam SA30. If Digital really isn't your "thing" and you mostly will be using Spotify, along with wanting the Streamer to be family friendly (Bluetooth) I would go with the $80 WiiM Mini or wait just a bit for the WiiM Pro which will have an Ethernet port. With the WiiM I'd suggest using the toslink out into your existing Dac input.

Spotify is not Hi-Res, I find it along the lines of quality as YouTube Music. Nothing wrong with that, I just don't see the need to over pay for a higher end streamer when your choice of Streaming Service doesn't call for it. The WiiM's Home app is better than most in my opinion, but I also feel like most of them out there have issues or a pain to navigate. 

When using my external DAC and streaming services such as Quboz or Tidal I didn't hear much of a difference if any between the WiiM and the Node. The Zen Stream is a step up in sound quality but I'd say the Zen can have issues at time..not so much a problem I can't navigate around but I wouldn't call it family friendly. Others may disagree. 

So that's my 2cents on the subject, I think the WiiM is a fabulous entry level product. It doesn't have a wired Ethernet port but that was never an issue with my Wifi. Its so cheap that if you ever decide you need better I doubt you will cry about what you spent. Move it to another room or a cheap secondary system. Good luck 


I have been using the BlueSound Node since July... I really like it...

Sound Quality with the new DAC chip is very good

The Streamer is BULLETPROOF, I am using WiFi and have not dropped a song once...QoBuz exclusively 

The App/OS is outstanding...The interface is the best in the market, easy to use, easy to set up...

Gapless is a must and the BlueSound supports this...

There is a MASSIVE amount of choices /pricing (and opinions) on this component segment...and a ton of excellent data on this site...enjoy the journey!

I went with the "ZS is better in SQ than Node" flow and was very happy with it. 

Can you mention that reason, and why it’s “complete shite” for streaming non Hi-Res files?

@surfmuz Because the OP mentioned the Node 3 and Zen Stream, and next to them the Chromecast Audio is at best a toy. And as Spotify now offers higher-quality streaming options a better streamer would provide meaningful sonic benefits over a toy. That’s why the CC Audio is shite on a relative basis. Also, you can read Darko’s review of streamers where I think he may have compared the CC Audio to the Node and some others and it was complete shite. So yeah, in the context of the question asked by the OP the CC Audio is just not on the same level.

The Chromecast Audio 30-40$

Bluesound Node  500$

Zen Stream 400$

These are just basic streamers, some are better than the other. Buy used.

Which one to choose depends on what demands you have from the system and what upgrade plans you have for the future. 


Try the Grace Digital Link, on sale at Amazon for $159....I love mine...


Also, another cheap but good option, that I also own and use, is the 

Topping BC3 ES9018Q2C Hi-Res Audio Wireless Bluetooth LDAC Receiver @ $69....

http://Topping BC3 ES9018Q2C Hi-Res Audio Wireless Bluetooth LDAC Receiver with Headphone/Opt/Line Output (Black)


My first foray into a separate streamer was the new Bluesound n130.  Definitely a step up from my Macbook air.  Super easy setup and works great with my iphone. Then, recently purchased a used Ares 2 dac.  I was surprised at the huge step up it was from the Bluesound dac.  I've been messing around with them both over the past few weeks and the Ares is just much better sounding to my ears.  

Anyways, now I'm thinking of buying one of these less expensive streamers like the Wiim just to see what the difference could be.  Maybe sell the node?  We'll see.  Long story short - if you already have a dac then try a stand alone streamer first.  It might be all you need.  Until you need something better of course!  ;-)

Another vote for Bluesound Node 2 , very user friendly. Streaming Qobuz into a Schiit Yggdrasil GS dac and have been very happy. I’ve been getting better sound with it over an Audiolab 6000cdt going through the same dac. Maybe its the coax over the opt input, I’m not sure. 

Post removed