Streamer upgrade - best path forward


I’ve been running an NAD C658 for about 2 years now. I was using Amazon HD initially, but dropped them after several months due to inconsistent playback. I have a decent collection of ripped (FLAC) cds that I stream from a local USB drive connected to the C658. Recently began streaming Quobuz, and I’m really enjoying it so far. I will likely do a full year subscription with them after my trial expires. That’s about the extent of my digital interests.

I also have a decent sounding (to me) older Pioneer Elite dvd player that I play newly-acquired music or guest discs on from time to time. For vinyl, I have a separate phono pre that I run into the C658. So essentially the C658 is being used as a streamer, dac and a preamp.

The C658 has performed admirably during time of ownership, but I want to up the ante in terms of streamer and dac. The onboard dac has reasonable stage width, but not very good depth at all in my setup. The clarity and instrument separation are also decent, but I have definitely heard better. I find very confined in that I cannot run a separate dac with the C658. I use the dirac function (full spectrum), but I can honestly live without it. I find myself disabling it with more and more frequency as time goes on.

I have some additional closeted components that I can push into duty to serve as temporary preamp and dac so my plan is to upgrade the streamer first.


So my question to anyone willing to take a crack at this would be what is a good option for improving the streamer portion of the C658 within a budget of $3000? That would include the streamer itself as well as any LPS, switches, etc. I don’t want to go too far down the exploratory/DIY rabbit hole. I’ve already done the Pi and Volumio thing, but found the hardware rather finicky, slow and frustrating. BluOS is pretty nice, but it has many limitations when it comes to playlists. I am not at all interested in Roon.

I will likely want to output to USB which my old dac/preamp supports. Other associated gear in the chain is First Watt J2 running Zu Druid V. Subs are REL B2. The temporary dac/pre will be an Emotiva Stealth DC-1. Analog is Sutherland KC Vibe outputting for a Pioneer PLX1000 with Nagoaka MP150.

From time to time I sub in Philharmonic BMRs and a Jolida/Black Ice Audio Fusion 3502S. Just for a different flavor.

I have cross shopped most of the usual suspects, but I’m honestly confused at this point. One thing I am certain of is that I want the ability to upgrade the unit itself or the ecosystem in which it sits as time rolls on. The major downside of the C658 is lack of options outside of what it was originally packaged with. I’m currently intrigued by both the Innuos Zen mk III and the package of the Exasound C62 dac and Gamma server, but I’m uncertain how that would function without Roon.

Thanks in advance. 



MOON 280d Mind 2 ( by SIMAUDIO)

I just upgraded to this unit from my BRYSTON stablemates, that weee damn good in their own right.Highly recommended.


MOON Warranty

For original buyers who register within 30 datpyd, thecessnty is bimpred up for free to 10 years 

MOON Upgrade Path

If you upgrade within one year (1) of purchase from your authorized dealer. MOON will give you 100% of your original purchase price as long as it is a brand new unit of higher value

 If you upgrade within two years (2) of purchase from your authorized dealer, MOON will give you 75% of your  original  purchase price as long as it is a brand new unit of higher value


Sample Reviews herein ( Google the rest )





Thanks for your suggestion. That does look nice and feature rich. Not much information about the dac from the Moon site. I’d really prefer separates so as to upgrade/tweak over time.

MOON Tutorial – MOON MiND Controller (App)




scroll,down farther down to the specs and CLICK on the extended narrative. also click on each panel narrative,


I had separates with the BRYSTON BDP network player feeding a BRYSTON BDA DAC. …. high quality build and great audio performance…for sure. I did have to get  a high-end CARDAS CLEAR USB cable from the player to the DAC to plat at its best . I would caution against drinking any KoolAid that preaches ordinary quality cables with high-end digital can pass muster. 

- BUT ,,,

the MOON app destroys the clumsy BRYSTON ‘Net controller interface with the BRYSTON dodgy and cryptic interface and long user learning curve . . Not even close. It was the prime reason I started looking ….EZ and intuitive use of the MOON MIND2 app and its streaming QUBOZ as well as ripped stored files via USB or NAS provides file management ease that is paramount in choosing a suitable. unit

with MOON’s 1 yr/ 100% or 2yr/ 75% trade in credit , the upgrade itch is nicely managed, as is the obsolescence hedge in lockstep. 

- MOON app is much better intuitively, much faster, and surprisingly sounds better in my $50,000 system …. and is miles better in terms of EZ PZ flawless workings. Who knew?

fwiw ….

I think you’re on the right track with the Innuos Zen Mk3, and here’s a nice used one that’ll save you around $1000

For a DAC this is a great R2R NOS DAC (that I own) along with its companion Pisces DDC that’ll let you take advantage of the DAC’s i2S input that takes the sound to a much higher level.  I also included the HDMI cable I use for the i2S connection — shorter is better and this one is available at 6” and works really well for under $6.  Just some options to ponder, and best of luck.

All high end streamers are good. You need to look hard at secondary considerations.

1. Do you or are you planning to use roon? if so, Aurender doesn’t work with roon.

2. If not, then look at the HMI program for each of them and read reviews. You will spend thousands of hours selecting songs so get an interface you like.


PS  I use Innuos Zenith MK3 and roon.


The onboard dac has reasonable stage width, but not very good depth at all in my setup.

What if this is due to other components, or room acoustics?


I mentioned in the original post that I have no intention of using roon.

Mainly looking to separate out components so that I can address bottlenecks or other issues as I see fit (or as I hear them) instead of having everything pre-packaged for me with no options down the road. I like the functionality (on paper) of the innuos Zen. Just wanting some educated opinions so I feel like I haven’t missed an obvious winner.

thanks for your response

@vonhelmholtz This is possible, but I have done as much with it as I can under current conditions. I have put a couple other dacs in place with better results though still not where I think it is satisfactory. These were sub $500 dacs. I have read other reports on the C658 that at least agree with my assessment.

thanks for your response 

I would recommend that you check out Lumin.  They have a variety of solutions and often there are great values on previously owned here on Audiogon or usadiomart.

Let us know how you make out!

My advice is to look at a used 2015 vintage Auralic Aries streamer. They can be had for around $800. It was a design well ahead of its time with an external linear power supply that is huge. Especially since you don’t want Roon, you get Auralic‘s excellent lightning Operating system, which is still being supported by them and updated regularly. I have used this running into a RME ADI to dac and an Denefrips Ares dac  with great results. I have also noticed that an extreme high-end dealer near me that I have visited quietly uses one of these as a source for some of his Uber expensive systems. The funny thing is he’s in Auralic dealer, and when I pointed that out, he said that the older Aries still Competes well against the current models. 

Wattson Emerson Digital + good LPSU ( I use a plixir) is amazing for the money. 
Will go toe to toe to any streamer around 10k mark.

Lots of reviews online.

I just sent back the Auralic Aries G1.1 that was streaming into my Denafrips Venus II Dac, was not impressed. The WiiM Pro streamer for $150 sounded as good or better. I am only using the streaming portion of the WiiM Pro…just my two cents worth 

Lumin U2 Mini. ~$2k, amazing resolution, transparency, image depth, and natural timbre. And excellent software. Dual USB ports, plus the usual others.

Not sure if this is allowed, delete it if it is not. but I have my Aurender A10 for sale right now for $3000 Canadian ($2300USD) $6k new USD. Its listed on US audiomart/canuck audiomart currently. Sorry A-gaon i did not list it here yet later in the week. 

The A10 has an excellent internal DAC and 4T hard drive on top of the Aurender streamer. 

OP, I’d be curious to know which direction you go with this since I’m in the same boat as you (NAD C658 + DIRAC full spectrum). My experiences and observations mirror yours in respect to the C658. My timeline to make the next jump is a little longer - perhaps 1-2 years. I’m also not fully off the bandwagon with an all-in-one device while also preferring Roon as my UI. Here’s what I’ve been looking at on the used market:

- Lumin U2 Mini ($1800 low)

- Innuos Pulse ($3,000 low/recently sold) or Pulse Mini ($1,000 low)

- Lumin T2 ($2400 low) or T3 ($3800 low), but kinda all-in-one with DAC + streamer

In terms of Lumin, I’ve heard great things about Lumin’s Leedh Processing. In respect to Innuos, I’ve read great things about their Sense App, which competes against Roon’s UI, but reportedly sounds better. Both can run Roon, which is a plus for me.

I’ve also been reading up about the NAD M66 ($5499) which will be released later this year - essentially a Masters series of the C658. Unsure how much "better" it’ll be, but it could take you back to feeling confined with the DAC in the future.

Please do not take for granted the quality of your current ethernet digital signal path before upgrading your current streamer. I do not see a list of equipment in your user profile to be sure, but take that into account too. You may get an improvement with a separate source like Lumin or others listed above, but they will only perform up to the limitation of the signal they are fed. To be able to achieve the top quality from streaming you'll need to invest in high quality ethernet cable(s), ethernet switch and good quality router and cable modem, including upgrades to their standard LPSs.

For separates:one  solution you could do the Moon Mind2 streamer for ~$2.4K.  Then spend the remaining on a schiit modius and you're in under budget.  Then upgrade the DAC when funds allow.


Mind2's hard to find used at this point.



@toro3 I will post updates as I decide what to purchase as well as my experiences post purchase. Thanks for your response. 

@kellerjr01 Can you offer suggestions as to items in your suggested categories that are within reasonable pricing when paired with a system as I’ve described in op? Thanks in advance.

Sure Adamator. I really like the Shunyata ethernet cables and if you look at reviews, they are probably listed as the top performer ones. You have the list of components of my main system in my profile, but they will be out of your current budget. In my office system I use Shunyata Ethernet Alpha between the wall and an UpTone Audio EtherREGEN and between the EtherREGEN and my ifi Pro iDSD Signature DAC/streamer/preamp/headphone amp (also an excellent choice for potential DAC/streamer/preamp upgrade for you). In the office I also use a dual rail Keces P8 LPS feeding the EtherREGEN and the ifi Pro with excellent results. If you have patience, you'll find all these in the used market and could be within your budget. Most of my system was built from used gear. Good luck. :)


As others have mentioned, I would look at Innuous, Lumin, and Aurender; you already mentioned the Zen 3 MkIII looks like a great match. I'd also look at Lumin and Aurender, though you are probably looking at used for your price range.

Good luck in your journey

Why would anyone spend more than $700-$800 when you can buy a Holo Red streamer. Beautifully engineered and built  component and upped my audio quality by 25% over the Bridge II in my PSA Mk I DAC. Neal



If you have the rest of the system to support it, because better streamers which produce better sound quality. I have used $200 streamers, and $1K, $2K, $3K, $5K, $10K, $20K streamers, and if you have a sufficiently good system, each is significantly better sounding. 

But what if a $700 Holo Red sounds as good as or sounds better than a $2000 streamer, which many have said? I have been at this obsession for some 50 years and I have learned that the incremental qualitative increase narrows precipitously as you move up the cost chain. At some point moving up the chain one stops at the pain cost level matches the audio quality satisfaction. Neal

Post removed 



What is the rest of your system? This is what matters. There is a place to put your system under your UserID. 

After that the question is what is your experience with high end sound quality, preferences, and range of gear that is affordable to you.


I’ve been contacting several folks with what would seem like items for sale on here and on that other site, but I can’t get anyone to respond to just simple questions about the item.

I’ve received trade in offers from a couple of places toward new/used products.

I’ll update again once I’ve gotten some traction on making the purchase.

Thanks for contributing to the discussion everyone.

Keep an eye out for the new HiFi Rose RS130 dedicated streamer it's coming in the next month. No word on pricing yet. It's capable of accepting an SPF plug which is fiber optics. 

The Eversolo DMP A6 is another newcomer, shipping starts at the end of the month.

There's a regular version and a more expensive master edition.

The only ones I’ve seen talking up Eversolo or Rose are the usual suspects on YouTube. I think I’ll pass on both of those. When folks start losing their minds on new to market brands I immediately call a time out. This comes from experience.

You're absolutely correct there. I'm sitting on the sidelines until I can hear the Rose 130 for myself.  

Good to hear. If you do hear one in person please comment on what you heard (or didn’t hear). Thanks for chiming in!

I'm very happy with the Project Stream Box S2 Ultra, which replaced my MacBook Pro and Halide Bridge. Have just bought a Teddy Pardo linear power supply to go with the Project streamer.

After lots of research, I settled on Triode Wire Labs Freedom Ethernet cables for wall to switch to streamer. On the router end I found some used Meicord Opal ethernet cables.

For steaming I use Qobuz, plus a SanDisk 512GB Ultra Fit and Samsung Fit Plus 256GB flash drives into the streamer. Works really well.

According to a post from a dealer for HiFi Rose who has their upcoming RS130 on order, the expected US retail is $10K.

I'm not surprised by the $10k price tag. The RS 130 looks to be the real deal. I almost pulled the trigger on a RS 150 but didn't like the idea of paying for a DAC in the unit I would never use. 

Thanks for the info!

@dubz Thats kind of the subtext of this post: the value in NOT having everything crammed into one box.

To ghdPrentice:

Regardless of the cost or level of my system, I can hear the difference in audio quality. That said, my system comprises:

Magico A3 spkrs w/Fidelium cables;

Krell FPB 300cx amp, Shunyata Sigma IC's from preamp;

VTL 7.5 iii preamp, Shunyata Sigma IC's from DAC; Elrod Gold Statement PC;

PS Audio DSD Mk I DAC, Nordost Odin digicable from Holo Red Streamer;

Audioquest Vodka Ethernet cable from Router to Holo Red Streamer;

Audioquest Niagara 3000 power conditioner, Elrod Gold Statement PC to wall;.

I can pretty much afford any streamer you have quoted, but why would I?




@nglazer What, if any, room treatments are you using? And what dimensions are the listening space? Is it a dedicated room? Not being critical in the slightest. Just would like to compare and contrast use case and rooms.

I find myself currently leaning toward a DirectStream mk1. In my research it just keeps coming up with descriptions that sound like a good fit for me. And just learned it handles MQA via the bridge with more recent firmware update. 


Hello adamtor,

Believe it or not, I am in a NYC one BR apartment, though relatively spacious for a NYC apt. No room treatments. The LR is about 12W x 20L x 10H. Not a dedicated room; TV on low console in between speakers, components on two racks away from TV and speakers. Equipment is filled up as much room as I can without overpowering the room.

I like the PSA DSD Mk I and will not upgrade unless and until there is truly an "upgrade" without stupid $$. Good luck. Neal

Well…finally pulled the trigger.

Bought a Sonore UltraRendu with an SGC i7 Streamer and the optical converter.

Going to run my current standalone DAC for break in. Then I’ll decide where to go from there based on how it sounds. I’ve had my eye on a nice dac for about a week but the stars haven’t aligned yet. Maybe that’s for the best.

I feel like this is the basis for a system that can be upgraded in many ways down the road as funds allow and I see fit.


Excellent choice, OP. I would be curious to know your experience. I almost forgot about the offering provided by SGC in lieu of recently purchasing their basic FMC bundle. Is my assumption correct that you’ll be using Roon - I know that wasn’t binding for you in your initial post.

Ended up a long way from where I started.

Now running FMC optical from switch to opticalRendu then to ultraRendu. Huge step forward in clarity up and down the spectrum.

I would recommend this to anyone BEFORE dropping piles of cash elsewhere.

Saga continued...

After the SGC i7 and Sonore gear I then focused on preamp/DAC. First bought a used PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell. Liked the build quality and soundstage depth but felt like it was lacking (especially when I originally was considering a Directstream with Bridge II). I returned the PS and opted for an Audio Research LS17. The LS17 is exactly what the dr ordered even when I was then pairing it with a much lesser pedigreed DAC (Emotiva Stealth). A sudden influsion of midrange clarity and beauty coupled with better etched stage with tighter midbass.

Next up, I injected Kimber Hero XLRs into the mix and bass definition and top end clarity inched up even higher. Nice gains for a reasonable price even when new.

I also started using Quobuz and then Roon about that time. Quobuz is very nice. Roon? I am still on the fence given their more recent price hikes - especially for the lifetime membership. I do like the integration and information, but the price hike I'm not on board with.

My last component upgrade was my most controversial (for me). The DAC. After much reading (and re-reading) of forums and reviews I decided to take the plunge on a Gustard R26. I took delivery of it about 4 days ago, and I have been putting it through its break-in paces ever since. Overall, initial impressions are outstanding even when using it straight out of the box and via the usb input which is supposedly its achilles heel. The soundstage is super wide. The clarity is incredible. The depth is probably a hair shy of what the Stellar GC was offering up, but bass definition is hands down better. The detail is there but it is not forward sounding. It's very relaxing but engaging at the same time. The build quality is superb for what I paid (msrp).

So there it is. I now know that when I sit down I'm going to be there a while. The system is leaps and bounds better than when I began this post a couple months ago (seems longer than that). One of my goals was to increase versatility with regards to upgrades and tweaks. I've attained that in spades. Speaking of upgrades, I will toy with an external clock and perhaps a D/D convertor for running I2S into the R26. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, calling a medic for my wallet and listening to beautiful music.



OP, thank you for all of the input and keeping us informed - please keep on doing so, especially in regards to the external clock and D/D convertor for running I2S into the R26. From what it looks like, this is how you have everything set up with your configuration: 

SGC i7 server > ethernet > FMC optical from switch > optical > opticalModule > ethernet > ultraRendu > USB > R26.

The ultraRendu is providing the stream while solely using the R26 as the DAC, is this correct? From what I've read, this is reportedly the best sonic path for the R26.

Because I'm thinking of following your footsteps, and if you don't mind, I have a few questions: 

In relation to the C658, is it safe to say that you have a wider soundstage, better separation of instruments/vocals within the soundstage, and not as forward of a presentation - a few rows back in comparison to the C658? Do you find the R26 to be "warmer" than the C658? 

Maybe I missed it, but I'm assuming your running the R26 directly into an amp. If so, volume control with Roon question since it sounds like you played around with it. Do you by chance know whether the R26 allowed Roon to use it's device controls? For example, if I move the volume slider up in Roon, is the R26's volume control utilized instead of Roon's built in volume processing? I've read conflicting information about this. If not, how did you control the volume? Fixed volume in Roon and then used R26's volume/remote or were you just using Roon's DSP volume?

Yikes, that's a lot of questions! If you answer just one, I'd be grateful.