Stepping into streaming, finally

As the title states finally I have gotten into streaming realm. Wanted ethernet streamer connectivity and started with Wiim feeding Denafrips Venus II 12th then into Pathos Inpol Remix and finally to Sonus Faber Venere. Well, I was not thrilled with the sound quality not to mention lack of cooperation from Wiim with pure ethernet path. Tried Bluesound Node, small steps. No dice with Node either. Came across EarMen Stacatto with exclusive ethernet connectivity and no DAC built in, exactly what I needed, very few reviews but took a chance. Well, all the boxes of my needs checked, with sound quality matching CDs, transported by Jay's Audio CDT2 MK3. I think that says a lot. Very satisfied, expectations exceeded.


Congrats on the new streamer knock1 and glad it sounds better it should looks like it's twice the price of the Node. I do have one question what does exclusive ethernet connectivity mean?

The price I paid was $249 from EarMen web site. There is no WiFi connectivity with Stacatto.

The Wiim and Node are entry level.  I haven’t heard the Wiim but have seen enough negative comments about SQ to not want to investigate, although the price of admission makes it tempting.  I have a lot of experience with the Node and it gets most things right but you do notice the improvement when you go up the ladder 

I had the Node into an external DAC and upgraded the streamer. I cannot say the streamer alone made much of a difference in sound. For me, the differences always come back to the DAC. Streamers always fed with ethernet and the BluOS interface is very very stable and convenient. 

@mahler123 No question about Wiim and Node being entry level and definitely going up the ladder will make improvements. I am sure all of us experienced it in our ladder climbing process.

@hilde45 I was very much surprised how much improvements were due to only different streamer designs, all other components were the same. Virtually every aspect has been affected, mostly totally black background and expansion of the stage. The streamers are ether fed with ethernet or WiFi, this is undisputable fact.

@knock1 I had modded my streamer with an LPS. Should have mentioned that. Once that was done, I have not heard much difference. People spend thousands on their streamers, even with external DACs. I am putting those $$s into places in the system where I can hear a greater difference. To each his/her own.

Interesting. I never heard of EarMen. Looks like a decent option for those using Tidal connect and or Spotify connect.

@knock1 I'm not trying to say anything. I've said it. Relayed my experience. Over and out.

So, if I read the description of the Staccato correctly, it is 100% Bluetooth.  I don't doubt what the OP says he hears, but that's something if BT outperforms Wifi, especially at this modest price.

Bluetooth for controlling the Staccato by phone. The streaming is done via ethernet. I can control the Staccato using computer being signed to Spotify that I subscribe to.

“sound quality matching CDs, transported by Jay’s Audio CDT2 MK3”

Not to parade on your happiness with Staccato…but if you subscribe to Spotify then you’re in for a big treat if you give a chance to Tidal. Spotify streaming quality is among the worst and it certainly not close to CD quality.

Spotify's maximum bit rate for streaming is 320kbps. The audio quality of a CD is 1,411kbps.  

@knock1 That is very strange from the Earmen site I went to reviews and the Hifi News review listed the Staccato as 999 British pounds. 

Nice performance for a bargain streamer but curious if it doesn't do wifi why does it have an antenna?

@jond The antenna is for Bluetooth connection with the phone as a remote control.

Indeed the pricing is quite "interesting", I have seen prices as high as about $1100, "regular" price on EarMen website is $429 and for about a week it is on sale for $249, that's where I bought it from.

@lalitk I do not know what to tell you. Maybe my system is not revealing enough. I have Caladans coming, will see if they better the Sonus Fabers or maybe my hearing? I think at this point the sound quality is comparable, granted I have not spent long time comparing. But I am certain that there is huge difference, for better, from both Wimm and Node using only the streamer sections.


Perhaps you misunderstood my post. I was pointing the fact that Spotify is not CD quality (not even close). Step up to Tidal and enjoy higher resolution. 


If you’re going into a Venus ll, I wouldn’t mess around with the Wiim.  I’d be looking at Aurender or Innous.  I have the BS Node N130 with a Teddy Pardo LPS going into a Pontus ll and Am eying a Aurender N200.

All the best.

Have the Wiim Pro in an original tube monoblock system.

Some recent and other important changes. Always ran the WiiM Pro with a 5v external LPS. Changed the out from coax to optical into a RME ADI-2 with a glass toslink cable I had available. Surprising result: 20% improvement in quality.

More recently, I’ve been streaming via layered Cisco network switches from a Verizon fiber optical router to the WiiM. Inexpensive and major improvement using fiber optical cable between the Cisco switches with two inexpensive transceivers, $18. (Awaiting some Finisar ones to try out arriving soon.)

The sound is the most transparent, best separation and most musical with the absolute best I’ve had in any of my home audio applications over two decades. Never imagined streaming (Qobuz) could be so amazing.

Happy listening!



@romanesq I was thinking to try optical connection between Staccato and Venus, but I thought, based on opinions I came across, that optical was inferior to high quality coax. Well, I will give it a try. What toslink cable do you use?

This is one of the aspects of this hobby that I like a lot, experimenting with, not necessarily uber expensive, changes. Sometimes it works sometimes not. I have recently tried XLR interconnects (Mogami) between Venus and Pathos, change for worse in comparison to DIY Duelund Helix Geometry coax (Williewonka recipe).

Hello knock1, was in the same camp as you and thought coax was superior because folks have repeated that over and over. Had been using that glass toslink from the RME ADI-2 to a plasma TV. The cable is pretty old. I don't even recall the year and manufacturer. There are lots of substitutes these days and for a lot less.

Had bought a very good Mogami coax last year just for use with the WiiM Pro. You can imagine my surprise that such a simple cable switch produced such a dramatic improvement. One reason may be I'm in an area with a lot of competing WIFI so the RFI interference is very high. That's my theory anyway. 



Well, I have devoted today to ABC comparison in a serious way, I think.

Here is what I found. CDs outperforming Staccato after all, mostly in soundstage region. My original assessment must have been due to being greatly surprised by how much better Staccato fared while comparing it to Wiim and Node. The strangest thing was that Tidal took the last place despite choosing the highest streaming rate. MQA sounded even worse, but this probably due to Staccato not being MQA capable.

So, after all I am satisfied with this little, but quite hefty, streamer and it probably will better itself since I had it only for three days.

Thanks for tips and participation in this discussion.

Just an add on for those considering or using a fiber optic solution run between switches (Cisco here) to the WiiM Pro.

The Finisar FLTX1474D3BTL (10km 1310 Single Mode) SFP+ is a significant improvement with one added to either end of a three meter fiber optic connection.

So, here it’s Verizon fiber optic router with ethernet out to a Cisco Meraki MS220-8P 8 Port Gigabit Ethernet Network Switch, one Finisar in the gigabyte port to another with fiber optic cable to another Finisar transceiver.

A very short (Blue Jeans) ethernet cable to the WiiM Pro (again run on a 5 volt LPS) and absolutely splendid results to tube monoblock amps.

Significant improvement for little cost: cascaded Cisco Merarki switches(unclaimed), Blue Jeans ethernet cables and Finisar SFPs. Great bang for the buck.




@romanesq can you check that model number? I can’t find reference to a Finisar FLTX1474D3BTL, 1471 maybe?

My mistake, somehow I muffed the model number:

Finisar FTLX1475D3BTL 10km 1310nm Single Mode.

Have also heard very good about other similar Finisar models (typically used with 1GB limited switches) like this one: Finisar FTLF1318P3BTL 1310nm SFP Transceiver.

Thank you zione. Happy listening!

@romanesq  So what's the difference between the Finisar you are using and something like this:

For someone like me who is not tech savvy, the DX Engineering looks like an easier fix, although I see it's not optical.  IOW, what, besides the cabling, do you need to add to the Finisar?  How is it powered?  Does it need an enclosure, or you just run them naked?

@knock1 if your streamer and DAC don’t unfold MQA you are probably better off just playing 16/44 versions on Tidal. 
One other suggestion, if you are using USB cable between streamer and DAC you can try a better cable. Might close the gap with the CDT some more. 

@audphile1 I am using coax Audioquest Cinnamon. The other option is toslink, but I do not have cable on hand to play with this one and remember that when I had Wiim and tried toslink, granted the one supplied with Wiim so might had been of not great quality, this path was worse than Cinnamon. However, as @romanesq suggested, I am thinking of revisiting this connection with good cable.

Also, as I had mentioned, I was surprised with Spotify bettering Tidal, it was similar while using Wiim and Node. Spotify has three dimensional stage unlike virtually flat of Tidal with all three streamers and all other components the same. What gives?

AQ Cinnamon should be good. As to Tidal…not sure. Are you using tidal connect?

you should check your Tidal settings...even though you paid for highest tier, Tidal settings have 3 tiers to choose from, and you need to select the highest tier there..,it’s not automatic based on your subscription...sometimes people temporarily choose a lesser tier when signal is weak or there are data issues...Spotify should not sound nearly as good as top tier Tidal...checking this just now, I saw that the Tidal on my computer was set to lowest tier !!!

I was asking whether or not you were streaming using tidal connect. Or were you using Bluetooth?


bondmanp - that's just a filter there. 

This is about cascading Cisco switches. Ethernet goes from the router to the Cisco. The Finisar transceiver goes into the gigabit port on the right. A fiber optical cable is connected to the transceiver and runs (3 meters in my case) to another Cisco switch.

Another Finisar transceiver into that second Cisco switch where the fiber optical cable connects. Then a short ethernet cable out to the streamer. 

@audphile1 Tidal, as well as Spotify, were streamed through Staccato. So, it was Tidal connect. Right?

Tidal Connect is only used from the Tidal App as opposed to your streamers app or something like MConnect 

@knock1 were you controlling tidal streaming from the tidal app? Just trying to figure out how you’re streaming your music. What do you use phone or tablet? What app?

In all instances Tidal was controlled from Tidal app, using ether phone or laptop. 

The Staccato uses Tidal and Spotify apps.

Is this how you’re streaming? Just making sure you’re getting the best quality…

Hello, I also just purchased an Onkyo RZ-50 & started streaming via bluetooth to my tube setup. Now IDK if this is the best way to to hear my music from this receiver but, it's no way the SQ of my vinyl collection. Just more convenient at times.