Streaming Spotify

Currently I have a basic system consisting of pre-amp, ss-amp, Dynalab tuner. cd player and (2)speakers . Currently, I subscribe to a music streaming service mostly for running and workouts. Basic question: If I stream into the home system via my cell phone, am I missing out on better audio by not having a DAC connected to the cell? Would I bypass the pre-amp?  Does the pre-amp have a DAC circuit built in?



Too answer your question in a very general sense - 

Phone DAC - if you can, definitely move to a high end DAC over the one in your phone.    Keep in mind it mpeg music is what the phone designers figured would be the most common format.

Bypass Preamp - if you don't need the controls and the external DAC has a volume control option, then you can easily bypass it.

Preamp DAC - some do, some don't.   Check your owners manual to be sure.

Hmm. Today streaming can sound better than red book CDs and certainly FM tuners. The advantage is a nearly infinite music library and  low cost ($14.99 / month). The best streaming service for high quality sound right now is Qobuz, and secondarily Tidal. To do this a high quality streamer (think Aurender) and DAC is required. This can be a single box with both DAC and Streamer (think Aurender) or a separate Streamer and DAC . One can use a PC or iPad as a streamer, but that is not as high quality as a separate (no, a PC are not as good).

So streaming can be as good as other digital sources or even analog, but it requires carefully choosing and investing in a streamer and a DAC, and with carefull research, you get what you pay for. So if your preamp cost $2k and your amp cost $2K you should think of investing $2K in a streamer and $2K in a DAC and your jaw will drop, you will have access to basically all music and you will be amazed. 

Thanks for your response. Here’s something else concerning streaming with a DAC: the connection to the amp. Since the amp inputs are connected to the pre-amp, would I have to choose which music input -- preamp or dac.

OR is there another solution that gives me the flexibility?



If you don’t know all hope is lost. My previous one did. I didn’t like it.

If you want decent sound lose the phone and get a dedicated player


Streamer —> DAC —> preamp —> amp —> speakers.




Streamer/DAC —> preamp —> amp —> speakers


While theoretically one could output DAC to amp. Well, let’s just say except for a very few people with incredible dedication and desire to do it. Keeping a preamp in the middle will result in the very best sound.

Since you are talking about Spotify, I wouldn’t sweat it. It’s lossy audio so what does it matter?

Generally audiophiles prefer Qobuz first and then Tidal. I had Tidal for a year or so, my audio guy persistently pestered me to switch to Qobuz… I did, he was right.

First, if you’re not willing to upgrade your music subscription to Qobuz don’t bother as Spotify is a lossy, crap source and nothing can save it.  And yes, if you upgrade your streaming service you’ll need a separate DAC to get decent sound.  Next, do you need wireless control or can you go wired from your cell to a DAC?  If it’s the latter I have some good suggestions, but if wireless a Node 2i might be your best bet from a cost/benefit perspective, but you’ll still eventually want a better separate DAC if you want better sound. Hope this helps, and best of luck. 

Of all the audiophile hardware, the DAC has the least impact on your listening experience. With the right settings, a DAC will improve your Spotify listening experience. If your listening device (phone, computer, etc.) has a poor internal DAC that introduces a lot of static or noise, then an external DAC may be a much needed upgrade. If you want to stream Spotify to any device, you will need to convert Spotify songs to a format using a third party tool such as AudFree Spotify Music Converter.