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. 



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. :)