Using streaming as a main source ---DSD, FLAC, MQA Streamers and DACS

As I read these forums, and watch copious amounts of Youtube, I'm struck by what a bad idea some of the streaming / digital formats are doing. I'm trying to build a system where I have a streamer, dad, and amplifier (with pre-amp) as separate components but what I keep finding is that the streaming/digital world is totally confused.


MQA seems to be both advancing with new MQair support and dying (few audiophiles seem to like it).

-- DSD -- 

Seems to be favored by High-end audiophiles but not streaming services. 

-- FLAC --

FLAC seems to be pushed by Qobuz which seems to be the preferred service for high quality audio (but not for music recommendations). 


Choosing a Streamer / DAC is a nightmare -- given the industry going back and forth on quality, formats, special licensing. Does one choose the formats they want to use and then find appropriate DAC etc or does one choose a DAC that sounds great and then accept its limitations.

I don't understand why streamers don't commit to upscaling to 24/192 or DSD256 for any format so the DAC peeps can focus on a single format. 

So how does one decide where to start? 






The T&A 200dac is fantastic and only $6900 it beats or competes with anythjng out there at 2x the price ,plus it’s built forHQ player and Roon.

OP, for $1000 I would get an all in one streamer/dac/pre for example the NAD C-658 or the Cocktail Audio N-25. If you need an intregrated amp the Marantz Model 40N does everything pretty much.

If I were going separates I would get a streamer/dac combo designed for each other like the Sony Signature TA-ZH1ES + Sony Signature WM-1ZM2 or an iFi Audio iStream and Zen One Signature DAC. 


@kiwiscott this thread would confuse me too

1) Sign up for Tidal, and play it on a MacBook or other laptop (so that’s the source, and the streamer). Plug the laptop into a DAC. iFi Zen2 for $300. are streaming. You can be up and running in about 10 minutes. Seriously.    That’s it.

Then…reread the entries above & the ideas will make more sense

2) Buy & instal Roon on a computer - Roon is an overlay on all sources of music - Tidal/Qobuz, and will also will pull in any ripped files from CDs, or hi-res files that you buy & download. Roon only runs on a computer (Mac or Windows), not an iPad or iPhone (you can use those as remote controls).  So, I’d recommend using a laptop to start, since you can plunk it by the system when you are playing music

3) Then decide on a more permanent DAC. For the most part, it’s the DAC that will determine if you are able to use MQA or not. I ultimately decided on the Benchmark DAC3, even though it does not support MQA

4) Then go back & decide how you want to stream - a laptop, a dedicated computer, a dedicated streamer etc.

Start really simple (step 1 & 2), and then go back and decide how complex you want to make the chain

Tell us how where you decide to start, and enjoy!


I recommend getting the new blue sound node with an external power supply. It is quite good as a streamer only for about  $1100. That would leave you plenty of cash left over for a stand alone DAC. Good luck!

Thanks all. I’ll start demoing blue sound vs innous to see what I enjoy more as a streamer. Once that’s sorted I’ll get an external DAC. 

MQA seems pointless for what everyone is saying so I’ll ignore that for a while.