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.



Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is a set of networking protocols that permits networked devices, such as personal computers, printers, Internet gateways, Wi-Fi access points and mobile devices to seamlessly discover each other’s presence on the network and establish functional network services for data sharing, ...

Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is a set of interoperability standards for sharing home digital media among multimedia devices. It allows users to share or stream stored media files to various certified devices on the same network like PCs, smartphones, TV sets, game consoles, stereo systems, and NASs.

What is the difference between DLNA and UPnP?

As mentioned above, UPnP is a set of protocols that allow different devices to discover each other and use the services that they can offer. On the other hand, DLNA covers a broader scope since it includes media formats, management systems, and even content protection systems.


DLNA uses UPnP for interconnectivity so that the DLNA-certified devices such as Blu-ray Disc™ players, TVs, computers, smartphones, and tablets can find each other and communicate. DLNA also uses UPnP to control different devices. In general, all DLNA-capable devices are also UPnP-capable since the former is derived from the later.

Listed below are some of UPnP and DLNA’s differences:

• Relatively mature
• Networking protocols
• Supported by more devices
• General
• Very young
• Device standard
• With restrictions
• Specific


in brief: it allows you to see your NAS with its files and media art connected on your network, .and play your digital media through your smartphone or tablet over WiFi  using the digital player app.

For cheap, BS Node.  For cheaper, Wiim Pro Plus, though it’s missing a headphone jack.  The Bluesound Node is a perfect entry-level solution.

I am at AXPONA now. Respecting your upper price limit, I suggest two: the Limin T3 and the aSPL Director, at $4,950 abd $4,200, respectively,.