Please post your system and a few pics in your profile to get the best responses.
I have owned and streamed using PC, MAC, IPad, $2K, $3.5K, $5K, $10K, $13K, and $22K streamers. In each case absolutely worth the increased sound quality supplied by that level of investment / performance assuming you have a system.. DAC, Preamp, Amp and speakers to support that level of performance. Also, you choose the best in class at that level of investment.
I have found that with a good quality streamer it does not matter if feed by wifi (wall wart wifi extender) or Ethernet direct from router… but for some reason I have not had good luck with onboard wifi receivers.
Great quality streamers like Aurender clean up the incoming signal, cashe the stream to make up for network deficiencies and do not require any fiddling with your network. My Aurrender work flawlessly from a wall wart extender even when I cannot get the pages to refresh on my iPad.
With your experience, care to estimate the appropriate importance of streamer relative to rest of the system? I assume Speaker + Amp far more important, then the DAC, then streamer. So would that make streamer worthy of 1/3 your speaker investment?
If you do your research and buy best of class then Streamer ~= DAC ~= Preamp ~= amp. Over time for me again and again my end system after an upgrade ends there. Typically my speakers will be the more expensive than my components. I’ll put 35% investment for component / speakers into speakers. I don’t include interconnects… I blow my whole budget… then as I learn about the sound of my new system and as my finances recover I start purchasing cables. My objective is to reach the maximum sound quality for my system so I can happily stay there for 7 to 10 years.
So for my headphone system my streamer $3.5K, DAC $4K, amp $5K. Main system: Streamer $22K, DAC $17K, Preamp $17K, amp $22K. I tried a $13K streamer… definitely lost a lot… I tried a $22K DAC and it was a tiny bit better, but a tiny less musical. So, it is only a rough guide.
But it also makes sense to me because another of my rules of thumb are that it takes 2x careful investment to make a “wow” that is a lot better. I find the high end audio industry is pretty competitive and if your component doesn’t outperform lessor ones, then your not in the running.
This begs the question, what music service are you using and what’s in the rest of your system because this flies far in the face of the experience of the vast majority of members here. Put another way and more directly, something seems really amiss here. The more info you provide here the better and more meaningful help and recommendations you’ll receive, so please share more if you’re willing.
Greatly appreciated @ghdprentice, I expected DAC ~= Preamp, but didn't expect Streamer to be equal.
I owned the Node and the Vault and thought that they both sounded better wired. I had used computers for streaming prior to that and thought that the Bluesound sounded roughly equivalent, but I enjoyed having the computer out of the system and Bluesound made Internet Radio so much easier.
Better streamers are out there and I don’t think $5K is required. My Cambridge Audio CXN 60 sounds better than Bluesound at roughly twice the Node price.
I would definitely go wired. For a few hundred dollars you should be able to hire an IT installer for 1-2 hours to wire your dwelling. Once done you should never need to repeat. Think of it as part of the cost of the streamer. You could try this with the Node first
Thanks all for your input. I think I need more of that.
@carlsbad2 , did you mean 92% instead of 2? Just an elementary calculus. I I compared of course CD reproduction with streaming with Tidal. I hear a bit cleaner and little bit of more space on CD, but I would not call the differences crucial. Given that the difference between wired and wireless connections cannot be more than that, 2 % seem too exaggerated.
As to my main system, I have Thiel CS6 speakers, and interchange different amplifiers, a few class d, and a SET tube amplifier. CDs are reproduced by Jays Audio transport and a t&a DAC. I suggest both give high quality CD reproduction. Despite this, the differences between wireless streaming with the Node 2i and CDs are non-critical. So my logic just says that there cannot be a big difference between different streamers. Besides, it may depend on the type of a streamer, if you have one with a buffer then the information is first loaded in the buffer and then is reproduced from the buffer, as if you were reading from a hard drive. So whether you are streaming wireless or with a cable, roughly, the outcome should be similar, with a little more delay with wireless connection. @troidelover1499 , your arguments sound logical and reasonable.
@ghdprentice , does Aurender produce wireless streamers, how you came to a 22k streamer, would not you get a better overall result to invest part of this to upgrade the rest of your components? (There is a boom on Aurender streamers on this site, to me, it looks more like an intentional advertisement than statement of objective reality.)
No Aurender does not produce wireless streamers.
I would say my components are very well balanced. I tried a $22K DAC for several weeks… there were two small differences one positive and one negative. If I upgraded my other equipment it would basically be $20K/ component to $40K / component ( my TT and Phonostage are also of this value). I can’t really afford that… well at least now. Typically once I reach a well balanced system, I will stay for seven to ten years.
How did I get to a $22K streamer. After years of trying to get digital even remotely near vinyl and failing (, MAC laptop, PC, etc.) I finally broke down and bought a Auralic Aries G2 ($5K). That changed everything. I realized there was the possibility of high quality digital. Then I bought a Aurrender N100 for my headphone system. this changed everything, I realized there were better streamers than the G2. I auditioned a N10 ($10K) streamer… the noise floor dropped precipitously, imaging improved, the sound quality really jumped… not to vinyl level, but the music started to be engaging. After auditioning a Aurender W20SE, I bought one, the difference between my vinyl rig and digital simply vanished. Both are completely engaging with the same level of detail, tonal balance and musicality. So, for me that signaled; done. I recently took home a $13K Grimm streamer… no question my Aurender is significantly better. I have also auditioned Linn streamers (several >$20K), SQ better from Aurender to me.
I am friends with a dealer, he uses wall wart wifi extenders on his and has installed many $200K systems that run on them. Good streamers make up for deficiencies in networking.
@niodari I meant 2% and that is probably an exaggeration. We audiophiles spend inordinate amounts of money on the last 1%. Whenever anyone posts a tweek here they are talking about something to make just a tiny improvement.
So if you're ok streaming with 1% of the music being dropped bits that are filled in by the streamer interpolating and putting the best guess where that bit of music should have been, that's fine.
when you compare to CD, are you using a transport and the same DAC? When people say they compare to CD, it is hard to reall make have useful data if they are using the onboard DAC in a traditional CD player, which is usually inferior.
ghdprentice , Your experience with digital audio and LP reproduction is valuable. It did not come to my mind to compare streaming with LP reproduction, partly, because my turntable is not so good. Besides, I have not so many LPs of the quality I like. I did A/B comparisons of some well-recorded jazz LP with the corresponding CDs. The frequency range is always better with CDs, but LPs give smoother and non-harsh sound reproduction. Besides the T&A DAC, I used other DACs in my comparisons, including a Reimyo DAP and an Ambar Lampizator DAC, with similar outcomes . So for me, a streamer that doesn't sound better than a CD would not make much sense. I strongly doubt that a streamer may sound better than the combination of a good CD transport and a DAC, hence I see no sense in spending $22k or even $7k on a streamer. Your experience is different though.
@carlsbad2 , I agree that the DAC in Node 2i is no good, I never used it, and of course, while doing comparisons, I used the same DAC for both, the CD transport and the streamer.
My CD / DAC and Streamer / DAC sound the same when playing the same red book files… from CD (I am using the same DAC I either scenario), stored files or streamed. This is true for me by design… getting the highest quality sound at my level of investment. However, streaming sounds better when streaming high resolution files like the half a million albums on Qobuz.
I am not completely sure at how you are looking at the CD comparison. what a CD sounds like is dependent on the transport and DAC. I am going to use cost as a shorthand for performance. So for instance if you were to compare my streamer to say a $5K CD transport (with the same DAC being used) or $10K+ CD player, my streamer would sound much better, as well as having far greater functionality.
Sorry if that is either over explaining or a bit jumbled. I’m just not feeling very concise at the moment.
I understand your point of view. But in my experience, the price does not necessarily determine the SQ, and they are not necessarily proportional (and not only is audio stuff). Jay's Audio CD transport is known to be one of the best, hence I don't think that by replacing it with a $20k CD transport the picture will essentially be changed, and the same with the DACs I use. Overall, while measuring the SQ we are often subjective, and it is a matter of an individual taste.
But I think you reached the most important thing - you are completely satisfied with your choice.
It’s true price does not equal performance, but better parts and additional R&D increase costs that must be passed on to the customer. Moving up a brand’s product line, like Aurender, one would expect better performance. Whether the increased performance is worth the price is a matter of a subjective opinion.
I understand. You cannot randomly choose equipment at a price point and expect to realize this relationship. It must be carefully chosen to be the best at the price level and to be purpose built to your sound quality values… like highly detailed, or musical… warm… etc.
I do not come to this opinion by comparing two or three auditions and purchases but from hundreds over fifty years of dedicated pursuit. In general, if you do good solid research… you get performance at the level of your investment. Each 2x in investment gives you a “wow… I can’t believe how much better that sounds!”
Ghdprentice is one of a handful of people here that I almost always agree with regarding an upgrade path. I use his formula or rational, if it does not cost 2 to 3 times more that what you are replace, it's probably not an upgrade. In this hobby there is nothing worse, or a greater waste of money than a lateral move. Happens all the time in this hobby
It also has a lot to do with your existing components. Can they fully exploit the new streamer ? Is the new component a good fit ? Does other gear need upgrading too? Only you can decide if pulling the trigger on something is worth the money.
I have a Bluesound Vault 2i.... a great machine that has served me well. In my search for it's replacement I got a deal on an Aurender that I could not refuse. I did a cash and trade deal to be able to afford a N200 but it was well worth it. I still use the Vault , it still sounds good and for the price it's hard to beat but it's no Aurender. It is perfect for my 2nd system , better suited with that level of components.
I stream 80% lately so for me it was worth while.
There are a ton of good streamers out there. They are not created equal though Aurender was one of if not the first company to build dedicated streamers. Build quality is over the top , they sound great and have an excellent interface. Their support is excellent
Personally I would avoid a wireless streamer or at least choose one that is wired ether/ wifi
There are simple exceptions from the rule "the more expensive, the better".
Some time ago I bough a Chinese clone of a very expensive Swiss amp. The clone is claimed to perform 99% as the original one and it costed about 15 times less than the cheapest amp I had before. On the one hand, it is a clone of an amp which costs about five times more than the most expensive of my amps. On the other hand, it is 15 times cheaper than the least expensive amp I had. How the Chinese amp sounds? Excellent, better than some of my expensive amps, the sound is open, extended highs, deep lows 3D soundstage. And it also looks beautiful. How cheap or expensive parts it has inside? According to the info I have, the parts are not cheap, however the amp is cheap. Does Aurender use extra super expensive parts to charge so much for their streamers, or does it have an exceptional design/patent that makes their streamers so expensive?
Well, good for you. How can you confirm the internal parts aren’t cheap crap and will hold up over time? You’re just gonna trust the word of some Chinese knockoff product company? If something goes wrong how will you get the amp serviced? Aurender has an excellent reputation and makes some of the best-performing streamers extant, which speaks for itself. I suppose you can maybe try to buy a cheap clone of an Aurender as well, but good luck with that and with your cheap Swiss-clone amp. You roll the dice and you take your chances. To each his own.
The answer is very simple - it was so cheap that I don't care. So far it feels working reliable and doesn't get hot at all. As to the parts, there are photos without the cover where you can see even some part numbers. It would be a complete ignorance not to admit the build and the sound quality of such a gear.