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Can you recommend a high quality DAC less music streamer

Discussion in 'PCs & Music Servers' started by DangerBoy, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. DangerBoy

    DangerBoy Active Member

    Messages:
    118
    I'm in the process of re-imagining and re-configuring my music system. I'm looking at selling my current amp (a PS Audio GSS 500) and replacing it with a Peachtree Nova 300 or 150 because those amps give me so many more options and capabilities. The Nova amps have a ESS Reference 9018K2M Sabre DAC built in so I want to take advantage of that.

    I want to take my large CD collection and convert the files to FLAC which I intend to store on my 4TB QNAP NAS drive. I have a lot of FLAC files stored on it already.

    What I want is a good streamer box that I can use to process the FLAC files over Wifi and feed the digital input into the Peachtree DAC and let everything else happen inside the Peachtree. I also want to be able to control the streamer from my Android Tablet and phone. Don't care about Apple support as I will never own an Apple product.

    I know there are quite a few very good media streamers out there like the Cambridge Audio CXN and Azur 851N but those have DACs and analog output capability. I won't need that and I don't want to pay a lot for parts of a streamer that I won't actually use if I don't have to. So what I want is just a streamer with wifi, that can handle FLAC and a few other file formats and will output a digital stream through fibre optic and/or coax, can be controlled from an Android device and doesn't have a DAC or analog outputs.

    Can anyone suggest some streamers that fit into this category that are worth looking at? If streamers in this category are few and far between then I guess I'll just have to look at streamers with DACs. Then maybe the CXN or Azur 851N might be possible candidates. Onkyo has a similar device too. Or should I go for something cheaper because I won't care how good the DACs and analog side of the streamer is?
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017

     

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  2. E.Auer

    E.Auer Super Member

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    2,063
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    Tablet or laptop to DAC.

    Eric
     
    ldatlof likes this.
  3. DangerBoy

    DangerBoy Active Member

    Messages:
    118
    How do I get a digital output into the DAC via the Coax or Fibre Optic digital inputs via a tablet or even a laptop for that matter? Besides, I don't want my tablet channeling the signal from the NAS drive to the DAC in any way. I just want to use it to control the streamer via an Android App front end.

    This is kind of the device I'm looking for. I'm just wondering if there may be others out there a little cheaper.

    http://www.simaudio.com/en/product/61-streamer.html
     
  4. dodog

    dodog Addicted Member

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    5,114
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    Why not a raspberry Pi with a HAT Digi board from HiFiBerry?

    https://www.hifiberry.com/products/digiplus/

    The Pi and board in one case will only be the size of a few decks of cards. You'll just need to flash an image to an SD card (PiCorePlayer maybe) for the Pi and add a power cable and USB WiFI antennae.
     
    Mike-48 likes this.
  5. judsonw

    judsonw Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    740
    Location:
    Bellingham, WA, USA
    The newest raspberry pi has built in wifi, so you do not need the USB Wifi antennae any more. This is what I currently use. I cannot guarantee what sort of android app there is, but the web interface works well enough for me (if your phone is on the same wifi network as the device, there is generally an easy webaddress that links to the pi. It varies based on which program you are using. I use max2play (free version) and so it is max2play:9000 or something like that to access the LMS controls).
     
  6. DangerBoy

    DangerBoy Active Member

    Messages:
    118
    That certainly looks like a doable option but it'll be somewhat of a learning process for me to figure out how to build it and make it all work. Thanks for putting that on my radar.
     

     

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  7. dodog

    dodog Addicted Member

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    If you buy the Digi board, you can also get a case at HiFiBerry (plastic or metal). You literally push the Digi board and Pi together, after aligning a few pins, and those two either snap in or screw into a case. You're looking at 5 minutes of work. For the Pi, you just have to download an image (e.g. PiCorePlayer, max2play,etc.), then use a program like Win32 Disk Imager:

    https://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/

    You put the SD card in your computer (if it has a reader), point to it in the WDI program, point at the image (PiCore, etc.) and hit a button. Wait a few minutes and it's done. Put the SD card in the Pi, plug in the power and wait a few minutes for it to boot and get things going. As judson said, you use an app or a browser and you'll be playing tunes in no time.

    It may seem intimidating but really anyone here can do this, and probably in less than an hour or so.
     
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  8. judsonw

    judsonw Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    740
    Location:
    Bellingham, WA, USA
    It is also worth mentioning that most of the options like picoreplayer or max2play do have a reasonable amount of documentation and active forums that can help set things up if you are having trouble accessing the NAS.

    Edit: Also, while the Pi has wifi, for first set up, you should probably be connected to the network via ethernet so you can access it and set it up with the wifi connection details.
     
  9. DangerBoy

    DangerBoy Active Member

    Messages:
    118
    Thanks dodog and judsonw for the great suggestion and information to help me along. I did give the Raspberry Pi/Digi Board some thought but in the end I've decided to go with a more elegant/high-end solution. After a lot of looking and reading, I've decided to go with the Simaudio 180 Moon Intelligent Network Device (MiND). It's exactly what I was looking for. A well built high quality streamer that has all the money spent on parts that I do need and none of it spent on parts that I don't and won't need like a DAC and an audio output stage. All this thing does is steam audio files and output the digital stream to my DAC and gives me a fairly sophisticated Android app to control everything with including cataloging and playlist management and also gives me access to several on-line streaming services like Tidal and Spotify.

    Here's an informative review on the device:

    http://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/779-simaudio-moon-180-mind-music-streamer

    The problem is that model was discontinued a while ago and is pretty much NLA across Canada. The manufacturer has none left in stock and the device they replaced it with costs more than double what the 180 Mind retail price was at the end of its run which was $990 CAD. It listed at $1300 or $1400 CAD before that. I'm getting about 20% off of the last price it was sold for as a "clearout" price.

    I spent the better part of an afternoon going through Simaudio's dealer list Province-by-Province calling all of the dealers on the list. I called dozens of them with no luck. Sold out everywhere. My persistence did pay off and after going through five and a half provinces and around two dozen or more dealers I FINALLY found a dealer that had two left in stock: A new one and a demo. I'm buying the new one. He gave me a nice price just above his cost so I'm a happy camper. :banana:Given that this unit is way more expensive than the Raspberry Pi/Digi Board solution, I'm feeling some trepidation about pulling the trigger on it but never in my life have I ended up regretting paying more for higher quality when making a purchase. Time will tell I guess.

    If anyone is interested in picking up the other one you can PM me and I would be happy to give you the contact information for the dealer. That might be the very last one left in Canada. There was a used one just listed on Audiogon but I'm not sure if it's still there. I imagine it'll sell pretty quickly.

    Thanks again to dodog and judsonw for their kind suggestions.
     
  10. judsonw

    judsonw Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    740
    Location:
    Bellingham, WA, USA
    No problem. The Simaudio looks great and you definitely put your work in for it. 5.5 out of 10 provinces called to find it (and I realize that not all provinces would have the same density of dealers, but still...). Good work, and I look forward to hearing how you like it.
     
  11. +48V

    +48V hi-fi or die

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    Care to share what you paid? Just curious.
     

     

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  12. dodog

    dodog Addicted Member

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    Congrats on the SM 180. I'm not sure it's really that "elegant" and pics of the inside show that it's just a few boards sandwiched together, but if you're happy with your purchase, win! I too am curious about what the cost was for the unit. If you're not comfortable posting in the open, feel free to send a PM.
     
  13. DangerBoy

    DangerBoy Active Member

    Messages:
    118
    I hinted as to the cost in my posting when I said "retail price was at the end of its run which was $990 CAD. It listed at $1300 or $1400 CAD before that. I'm getting about 20% off of the last price it was sold for as a "clearout" price." The price I was quoted was $800 which is roughly 20% off the $990 that it sold for at the end of its run. This morning I got an e-mail from another dealer that I had contacted by e-mail yesterday and they said they had one left in stock and would sell to me for $749 CAD. Now here's where the story gets a bit ironic. When I spoke to the owner of my local dealership yesterday, the shop was closed but he was in doing paperwork. When he checked his computer for stock on the 180 it said they had none in stock. Today, before I pulled the trigger on the $749 deal, I decided to call the local dealer again and check with someone on his sales staff who might have a better idea of what they have lying around. Turns out they have one they've been using in their headphone room as a demo and they would sell me for $650. I decided to go for that one since it would still have at least 6 years of its 10 year warranty left on it. I spent 2 hours contacting over 20 dealers across the country yesterday and it turns out the guy about 1 km from my home had one to sell me all along! Go figure. :rolleyes:

    Then, after that happened I got a call from another dealer that I had left a message with yesterday and he told me they had a demo unit they would sell me as well. So now I know where there are 4 units still available in Canada. Tthe used one on Audiogon is still there although the ones in Canada are cheaper when you do the USD/CAD exchange.

    Anybody who wants to know where these units in Canada are just PM me and I'll be happy to tell you where they are.
     
  14. dodog

    dodog Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,114
    Location:
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    It's raining units! :) A 10 year warranty? That's crazy (in a good way).
     
  15. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,261
    Absolute no brainer for me is using the Raspberry PI platform. I have a more expensive microRendu streamer, but my RPI solution is far more cost effective.

    It does require assembling parts from different suppliers, but is not terribly difficult to achieve. In my garage system, I use a RPI 3b with an Allo DigiOne digital board along with a couple of power supplies. You can choose among many choices. I use both an inexpensive 5V linear and a Jockery phone charger. Mine runs piCorePlayer neworked to my office computer running LMS (Logitech Media Server) for library content. Both applications are free. Since it is "headless", I use an iOS based app called "iPeng" with either my phone or pad. Total cost about $200 for Raspberry computer, case, Allo digital board and power supply.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. bigx5murf

    bigx5murf Super Member

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    1,186
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Chromecast audio? Optical output into peachtree dac?
     

     

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  17. DangerBoy

    DangerBoy Active Member

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    Nice job! Very slick, How's the sound quality? Are you streaming FLAC?
     
  18. cpt_paranoia

    cpt_paranoia Well-Known Member

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    661
    I see a DAC-less streaming device purely as a computer network/processing device. It is NOT an audio device.

    What it needs to do well is connect to a network (wired or WiFi), and render the stream it receives into a serial data stream, most likely S/PDIF.

    Provided it has a decent network connection, an adequately-sized buffer, and a bug-free protocol stack and renderer, it doesn't need to be 'audiophile'; it's all digital processing, not analogue. It's just a means to deliver a digital stream to a DAC.

    Most of these things are built around Linux and open-source libraries. So the code in one device is likely to be very similar to the others; they're all likely to be running a version of ffmpeg for the rendering.

    Save the money for the audiophile DAC on the receiving end of the S/PDIF; the thing that converts the digital stream to analogue.

    My solutions:

    - cheap (£35) Android 'media box', running BubbleUPnP, outputting optical S/PDIF (or analogue audio)
    - Chomecast Audio (£30) outputting optical S/PDIF (or analogue audio)
    - cheap (£18) UPnP/DLNA DMR outputting optical S/PDIF (or analogue audio)
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
  19. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Messages:
    29,351
    Location:
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    ALL STREAMERS HAVE DACs IN THEM. PERIOD.
     
  20. cpt_paranoia

    cpt_paranoia Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    661
    Well, the OP found one that doesn't...

    My point was that you can buy a cheap streamer with a DAC, and just use the digital part of it, which does not need to be 'audiophile'
     

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