What DAC/HA/Streamer should I audition at Axpona in April? Dealer comments welcome, too.

I am looking for a kind of “ all in one” unit for a vacation home.   Will primarily use headphones, but would like a one box solution of the electronics.  The main requirements, in order of importance, are:

1- headphone amp

2-DAC- so I can just bring a NAS or hard drive with my current music library

2a- hard drive would be nice, as it saves me from bringing my NAS

3- streamer with simple software. I have never used a streamer, but I think this might be good time to dip my toes into it.  
4- preamp out- so I could eventually add some powered small speakers down the road.

and with Axpona only a few weeks away, I plan to spend my time there listening to stuff that fits the bill.

quick research suggests the Auralic Altair fits the bill and includes the hard drive, but I don’t know how good the dac is. The mytek brooklyn bridge 2 fits the bill, too.  I understand the Benchmark HGC3 has a good DAC and HA, but no streamer and no HD.  As far as I can tell, brands like Lumin, Aurrender, Innous, Naim, have great streamers, but no HA, DAC or DAC in a separate unit, making them cost prohibitive and not a one box solution (correct me if I’m wrong).  

so I’m looking for recommendations as to what else makes the list- and might be available to audition at Axpona. Help me here. And yes, I am aware that all models/brands might not be set up for demo there. 

I am happy to buy used. Ideally, I would like to be under $3k, but could easily do $6k.  For comparison, my home rig is Maggies driven by PrimaLuna HP monos, Conrad johnson ET7 pre, PS audio direct stream DAC, with digital files from a Naim uniticore hard drive/ripper.


The Matrix Mini-iPro 4 solves the streamer and DAC problem. It also has a headphone out. You would just need get an amp. I have a Benchmark DAC3B (same as the HGC) and the Matrix is not bad in comparison. I had the prior iPro 3.

Matrix Mini-i Pro 4 Music Streamer

The Cambridge Edge unit is also pretty good but costs more. I got that for my nephew to take to college. A simple one box solution.

If you want to step it up later for headphone and preamp. Get a Benchmark HPA4 preamp and hookup the Matrix DAC to it via XLR or RCA. The streaming connectivity options on the Matrix is amazing. 

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