Streamer newbie (maybe) seeks advice

6and8

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Hi all. I listen mostly to vinyl, sometimes CDs and sometimes Spotify which I stream via my MacBook Pro into the DAC on my Audiolab 8200CD. The sound is pretty good and Spotify is a good way to explore music that would otherwise pass me by. I know absolutely nothing about streamers but am curious to find out if it's something for me. How does a streamer work in comparison to my current set up? Will a streamer give me improved sound? No idea where to start, perhaps one of you could give me some pointers.
 

johnnyboy1950

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how is you mac pro connnected to your DAC, optical cable or wifi? A stand alone streamer will normally connect to your network either via wifi or better still ethernet cable. Mine is the Cambridge CXN. It has high quality twin Dacs which have made a difference to the SQ. Spotify never sounded so good and although the CXN sopports Tidal theres not much difference in SQ. Streamers are a bit of an indulgence, but the ones with the colour screen look great and as they are self contained you can play music without a tablet, desktop etc. Not forgetting hooking up to a NAS drive where you can store all your music.
 

newlash09

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Aug 28, 2015
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Additional convenience. It does exactly what your mac is presently doing. Below are some things a streamer does. Please do bear in mind, that all streamers don't do all the things. And you get different combinations at different price points. Hope the below will help you identify what you need. Then you can choose one with the required functionality.

1. Streamers connect to the network either via ethernet or WiFi. But ethernet is recommended.

2. Come with inbuilt storage for music, and can stream from NAS or any computer on the same network.

3. Have a control app to control via phone, tablet or pc.

4. Some have inbuilt dac's and some don't.

5. Some have inbuilt cd ripping and album artwork tagging and some don't.

6. Some have dsp in built and some don't.

As you can see they do exactly what your mac does. Mostly it is about convenience. If you interested in testing the waters, you can start with a chromecast audio. Most of us use it here, with good results.
 

amormusic

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Feb 24, 2016
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Interesting thread.

Ive an A29, so similar amp, but no DAC. Currently am using the Chromecast Audio (which is decent), straight to amp, but planning on dropping some cash in Oct.

On my shopping list is a streamer upgrade, so I’m interested in this... I was thinking a CXN, but keen to hear the advice given as it will be similar for me.
 

insider9

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Sep 20, 2016
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For Spotify alone I'd suggest Chromecast Audio via optical to DAC. Operated via a mobile from Spotify app. Neat and cheap solution. As long as your WiFi is decent enough should be all you need.
 

amormusic

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Feb 24, 2016
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Hi Insider, (sorry OP, last question then I’ll quit)

I only use Spotify. For my own ‘upgrade’ I was thinking CXN as has DAC and I don’t. Already have a CCA (OP - these really are great and worth way more than the £30 they cost!!), so should I get a decent dac and connect to the CCA or go full hi-end streamer with DAC inbuilt? Which is better?

Are there any threads you can point me to in this?

back to you OP, sorry for my slight hijack (although still related to your intitial thread).
 

muljao

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An often overlooked gem in my opinion is the Raumfeld Connector. It can be bought for about 140 pounds and had an eight week no quibble return period.

It's sound via RCA (from inbuilt Cyrus DAC chip) to me sounds great. It plays with Android/iOS and others and deals with Spotify tidal, basically everything sonos does.

It does have an optical out if it's dac isn't good enough. One of my favourite features is you can rip Cd's in flac and put them on a usb , plug in and play them from the app. Of course tune in radio is also there.

Brilliant little no risk cheap box of tricks
 

insider9

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Sep 20, 2016
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amormusic said:
Hi Insider, (sorry OP, last question then I’ll quit)

I only use Spotify. For my own ‘upgrade’ I was thinking CXN as has DAC and I don’t. Already have a CCA (OP - these really are great and worth way more than the £30 they cost!!), so should I get a decent dac and connect to the CCA or go full hi-end streamer with DAC inbuilt? Which is better? 

Are there any threads you can point me to in this?

back to you OP, sorry for my slight hijack (although still related to your intitial thread).  
For just Spotify Chromecast Audio (CCA) to a DAC is ideal.

I only would suggest a streamer if you would need more functionality. Be it DSP, other streaming services or playback of local files, or if you want to make sure bit perfect playback or play hi-res albums. It's not that it isn't possible with CCA but functionality is limited. It really depends on how you see your digital end evolving.

There's a huge number of devices that offer advantages when it comes to specific features. It's worth doing your research.

As to threads probably to start your own as it will be down to the functionality that matters to you. There really isn't a universal unit unless you spend a lot.
 

Blacksabbath25

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Sep 20, 2015
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Obviously it depends on how far you want to go what’s your budget because as I am finding out prices can range around £40 for budget to really silly money and they all kind of do the same job but all sound different so I’ve been told or do different formats .

Then your got choices to buy a Nas drive if you want to rip your CDs or any other media you wish to store on to it or store the music on your Pc and then stream it across to a streamer though your network weather that’s a Nas or from your Pc or MAC .

If you didn’t want to spend loads of money the google cast is the cheapest and the Yamaha wxc50 is pretty good which is about £350 or less secondhand and with the Yamaha wxc50 you can use you tablet or phone with it to select the albums in your library .

Or if your looking at what I am thinking of buying something like the Cambridge audio 851N streamer £1400 or secondhand £1000 or a linn streamer £3500 but I’ve still got to buy a Nas as well and any software I would need .

Sometimes you just think to your self how simple a CD player is and how good it sounds *dash1*
 

muljao

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Blacksabbath25 said:
Obviously it depends on how far you want to go what’s your budget because as I am finding out prices can range around £40 for budget to really silly money and they all kind of do the same job but all sound different so I’ve been told or do different formats .

Then your got choices to buy a Nas drive if you want to rip your CDs or any other media you wish to store on to it or store the music on your Pc and then stream it across to a streamer though your network weather that’s a Nas or from your Pc or MAC  .

If you didn’t want to spend loads of money the google cast is the cheapest and the Yamaha wxc50 is pretty good which is about £350 or less secondhand and with the Yamaha wxc50 you can use you tablet or phone with it to select the albums in your library .

Or if your looking at what I am thinking of buying something like the Cambridge audio 851N streamer £1400 or secondhand £1000 or a linn streamer £3500 but I’ve still got to buy a Nas as well and any software I would need .

Sometimes you just think to your self how simple a CD player is and how good it sounds *dash1* 
Then there is the train of thought that it's all ones and zeroes and how good it all sounds depends on the DAC used. If this theory is correct buying a streamer with the functions and ease of use you need is the best option, rather than over spend on the streamer itself.

But that is a subject that some differ on
 

CnoEvil

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A Linn Sneaky is about 1k. A Linn Majik is Just under 2k. A Majik DSM Is just under 3k
 

CnoEvil

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Blacksabbath25 said:
CnoEvil said:
A Linn Sneaky is about 1k. A Linn Majik is Just under 2k. A Majik DSM Is just under 3k
I am having trouble finding a dealer who sells them Cno around my way or I would of booked a demo by now 
Have you tried inputing your area here: https://www.linn.co.uk/find-a-shop
 

CnoEvil

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CnoEvil said:
Blacksabbath25 said:
CnoEvil said:
A Linn Sneaky is about 1k. A Linn Majik is Just under 2k. A Majik DSM Is just under 3k
I am having trouble finding a dealer who sells them Cno around my way or I would of booked a demo by now 
Have you tried inputing your area here: https://www.linn.co.uk/find-a-shop
 

Blacksabbath25

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Sep 20, 2015
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CnoEvil said:
CnoEvil said:
Blacksabbath25 said:
CnoEvil said:
A Linn Sneaky is about 1k. A Linn Majik is Just under 2k. A Majik DSM Is just under 3k
I am having trouble finding a dealer who sells them Cno around my way or I would of booked a demo by now
Have you tried inputing your area here: https://www.linn.co.uk/find-a-shop
no not yet thanks I will have a look *smile*
 

CnoEvil

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Blacksabbath25 said:
Thanks Cno your a Star there is one in Cambridge which is called Criterion Audio so I will phone tomorrow for a demo  *smile*
Remember, I'm not trying to push Linn down your throat....it's for experience/research purposes only.

I'm not a big fan of Linn Amps and speakers....so it may be worth either bringing your amp, or lookIng through their brands and choosing something as similar as possible to what you have.

They have brands like Kef, Devialet, Boulder and Plinius.

Apologies to OP for diversion.
 

Blacksabbath25

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Sep 20, 2015
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CnoEvil said:
Blacksabbath25 said:
Thanks Cno your a Star there is one in Cambridge which is called Criterion Audio so I will phone tomorrow for a demo *smile*
Remember, I'm not trying to push Linn down your throat....it's for experience/research purposes only.

I'm not a big fan of Linn Amps and speakers....so it may be worth either bringing your amp, or lookIng through their brands and choosing something as similar as possible to what you have.

Apologies to OP for diversion.
Yes sorry OP

ive just looked they sell some very expensive hifi but anyway the linn streamer I was looking at was the one you recommended which is £1990 new so will ask to listen to that as I can’t afford what there top streamer costs £76,000 *shok*

but they also do trade ins as well so I will see if the dealer keeps a straight face when I say I want to trade in the Yamaha wxc50 considering the prices of his other products .

Anyway he stocks Kef reference 3s and 5s so I will see if I can listen to the Kefs reference 3s at the same time *man_in_love*
 

CnoEvil

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Majik DS -> Your Yamaha -> Kef Ref 3 would be very interesting.

Have a chat with them and see what they can set set up....but don't commit to anything until you have had time to consider what you heard and the vfm that it gives.
 

6and8

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Jan 20, 2014
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Thanks, this has been really helpful.

If I've got it right, my current set-up - MacBook Pro to Audiolab 8200CD, connected by a USB cable, does the basics of what a separate streamer would do? And a Chromecast Audio does the same job for about 30 quid? Or I can spend £3k on a Linn streamer. Presumably there are significant improvements soundwise the more you spend?

Some of you have mentioned ripping CDs and storing files, don't think I need that. While storing my LP and CD collection takes up most of a back bedroom, I'm not (yet) ready to let go of the hard copies of my music collection. With Spotify I have a further 700 albums saved online, as long as I keep up the subscription.

Adding a streamer to my set-up means another box on the equipment rack. Would you say that one of the main benefits of getting a streamer would mean saving all that space used storing albums and CDs, and that it's a more convenient way of listening to music?

At this point I'm not sure it's for me but you've given me something to think about, I shall explore some more. Really appreciate your help.
 

Blacksabbath25

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Sep 20, 2015
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CnoEvil said:
Majik DS -> Your Yamaha -> Kef Ref 3 would be very interesting.

Have a chat with them and see what they can set set up....but don't commit to anything until you have had time to consider what you heard and the vfm that it gives.
Cno do me a favour and look at there website https://www.criterionaudio.com/ and see what you think

My Yamaha amplifier is bloody heavy that’s the trouble and it depends if I can get a demonstration tomorrow or not but if not tomorrow some point in the week .
 

Blacksabbath25

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Sep 20, 2015
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6and8 said:
Thanks, this has been really helpful.

If I've got it right, my current set-up - MacBook Pro to Audiolab 8200CD, connected by a USB cable, does the basics of what a separate streamer would do? And a Chromecast Audio does the same job for about 30 quid? Or I can spend £3k on a Linn streamer. Presumably there are significant improvements soundwise the more you spend?

Some of you have mentioned ripping CDs and storing files, don't think I need that. While storing my LP and CD collection takes up most of a back bedroom, I'm not (yet) ready to let go of the hard copies of my music collection. With Spotify I have a further 700 albums saved online, as long as I keep up the subscription.

Adding a streamer to my set-up means another box on the equipment rack. Would you say that one of the main benefits of getting a streamer would mean saving all that space used storing albums and CDs, and that it's a more convenient way of listening to music?

At this point I'm not sure it's for me but you've given me something to think about, I shall explore some more. Really appreciate your help.
your problem is roughly the same as mine I love my CDs still I like having a hard copy of my music collection but see the befits of having a better streamer sound quality wise as I will find out for myself when I can get to listen to what’s on offer at some point in the week .

currently I do have a Yamaha wxc50 streamer which does an excellent job of streaming and not bad price £350 streamer but I need to know if a really good quality streamer does improve sound when you spend a bit more money .

So I would find a dealer like I am doing and just look at what’s on offer at different prices and see if you think it’s worth spending a lot of money or not or you will just be wondering like myself .*smile*
 

newlash09

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Aug 28, 2015
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6and8 said:
Thanks, this has been really helpful.

If I've got it right, my current set-up - MacBook Pro to Audiolab 8200CD, connected by a USB cable, does the basics of what a separate streamer would do? And a Chromecast Audio does the same job for about 30 quid? Or I can spend £3k on a Linn streamer. Presumably there are significant improvements soundwise the more you spend?

Some of you have mentioned ripping CDs and storing files, don't think I need that. While storing my LP and CD collection takes up most of a back bedroom, I'm not (yet) ready to let go of the hard copies of my music collection. With Spotify I have a further 700 albums saved online, as long as I keep up the subscription.

Adding a streamer to my set-up means another box on the equipment rack. Would you say that one of the main benefits of getting a streamer would mean saving all that space used storing albums and CDs, and that it's a more convenient way of listening to music?

At this point I'm not sure it's for me but you've given me something to think about, I shall explore some more. Really appreciate your help.
I've been shot before for saying the below in the past. But I will repeat again. And please bear in mind, that all the below is from reading alone, and none is from my own experience :

1. CD rips sound better than a CD transport through the same DAC. A CD transport has to read the CD and send the bits in real time. So if the CD is in less than pristine condition, it can't read some bits off it. And it skips these missing bits when sending the signal out.

When we Rip a CD, the drive goes again and again reading the missing bits, as it can take it's own time , and doesn't have to complete reading the disc in the exact track time of the song. So this gives you a more accurate rendering of what is actually on the disc.

2. CD players have spinning mechanisms. Which cause physical vibration and EM interference. This carries on in the translated signals.

So having said the above, if Spotify is your own interest, then as insider9 correctly mentioned, you probably don't need to spend more than a Chromecast audio. And at most an external DAC if you are not happy with inbuilt DAC of the audiolab.

I will stop here, because I don't want to start confusing you with all the options. The next step of choosing streamer will depend on whether you want to rip your CD's or not. And then next step will be, if you want the streamer to rip your CD's or will you rip on your Mac and upload them. All the best and take your time :)
 

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