Which of these 3 simular streamers do I select - help!

  1. Arcam rPlay ??
  2. Bluesound 2  ??
  3. Aries mini  ??

Hi please help:

I need help choosing a streamer and would prefer it be of the giant killer variety category if possible (I’ll pay a little more to get something better than Arcam rPlay, Bluesound 2, Aries mini, but prefer not to) .

I’ve having trouble finding a review on these streamers that does not factor-in their on-board DAC. I will be using my Benchmark DAC-1, so how do I judge which is the better (pure) streamer? There is also the concern of what pairs best with my revealing DAC and the sometimes mid-bloat of my 300b amp.

Equipment (I listen to Jazz mainly):
  • Benchmark DAC-1 v.G
  • Softone 300b amp with passive PA (whose volume control I will be using)
  • Druid MK IV 101db speakers
I will be streaming mainly Tidal, some flac (NAS), all exclusively via WiFi .

My dilema;
  1. Arcam: appears to have the best fidelity and power supplies of the three, though also heard it unfolds Tidal poorly...
  2. Bluesound Node II: has all the "bells and whistles’ though is 2015 technology and usually comes in 2nd or 3rd and I’ve heard it tends sacrifices natural for smooth.
  3. Aries: Also highly rated, faster pace than Bluesound, though discontinued and hard to find

Thank you in advance


@saffy Just to clarify, TIDAL does not get unfolded. MQA is unfolded by licenced manufacturers who have been approved to use MQA.

I cannot vouch for the abilities of Arcam or Aries, but you also may consider MYTEK as it offers MQA and has had good writeups/reviews.

I do own a Bluesound 2 and find that it does all required for my listening pleasure (streaming digital etc) and sounds very good, with the rest of my modest system to back it up.

Thank you all, please keep in mind that I require wireless and that my budget is $500-750 for new or used.
I was in a similar boat a couple of years ago and decided on the Bluesound Node 2. I like the multi-room capabilities of the Bluesound platform among other features (nice app!). While I haven’t heard your other choices, as long as you will be using your Benchmark DAC any perceived differences between streamers should be miniscule. Focus on features, benefits, and negatives of each streamer instead. For example, while researching the Aries Mini I learned there were issues using Apple’s routers, which took it out of the running for me. Best of luck.

BTW, Bluesound does a nice job with the Tidal implementation.

Given that you have a good DAC, you may want to try a Chromecast Audio just to start your wireless streaming experience. For a $35 investment you will be pleasantly surprised. I compared it with my Bluesound Node2 and for regular CD quality non-MQA content it came pretty darn close. I compared them using a Schiit Modi Multibit DAC. Some caveats; you’ll need an optical cable with mini plug on one side, it supports only up to 24/96 and no MQA, and you’ll need to use the native Tidal application on your phone/tablet, which is decent but not as good as the Bluesound app, IMO.
Thanks all,

So what I'm hearing that may come down to a good Power supply, or good wireless(in my case),and desired features -  if you the DAC out of the equation?? Then the differences are marginal?

The highest resolution Tidal files, MQA, may give you some playback and dropout issues using wireless, even with the best fastest wireless in house you can muster. One reason why Bluesound upmarket Vault only supports wired internet (amongst other reasons).
That being said Bluesounds app handles Tidal way better than Tidals own does imho, and of late I have also been using Deezer as I got 3 months trial for just $0.99 a month, again through my Bluesound vault.
If there is any way you could go wired internet I think you will find your streaming options will improve period.
Thanks, how about an Ethernet connection through my AC wiring, or is that worse?

Though if acceptable, does that not expand my options in streamers?

Like the  SOtM sMS-200 music server for instance.
@saffy For what purpose? Are you playing via Bluetooth active speakers? Or via amp?
FWIW, I stream via wifi and rarely have playback issues. Tidal has frustrated more than a few with reliability regardless of wired/wifi connection. They've been very stable as of late in my part of the world.
I'm hearing that Ethernet extenders slow down speed somewhat.

Does that matter?  Is the only thing that does a consistent signal?
I wouldn't worry too much about the wireless vs. wired connection unless you already have access issues using your mobile devices around the vicinity were you'll be locating your streamer. We have a two story house with the modem upstairs in a corner (office) room and the Node2 downstairs in the opposite corner. of the house No connectivity/streaming issues since I've had the Node2, around 3 or so years. Worry about it if/when you actually run into any issues....or if your audio system is in a basement way out of the reach of the (wifi) signal. Like I said before, a cheap way to try the hypothesis is getting a Chromecast Audio plus an optical cable (mini one side) and see how it works for you. You may like the sound so much that you may not consider anything else. It just sounds too good to only cost $35, especially when fed through a decent external DAC.