Upgrade amp or add a streamer..?

SteveR750

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Mar 11, 2005
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'm mulling over the best way to enable more hi-res streaming to my system, the option are either to upgrade the amp from a Denon PMA-600ne to the 900HNE. Ticks the streaming boxes, and offers a bit more power, cost to change around £200 (I have some unburnt amazon gift vouchers).
Or I could add a stand alone streamer, the Ifi Zen stream seems too be the obvious choice given I'm an Android user (so the Wiim is off the list, cost to change / amend is around £140
I had also thought about a Bluesound Node N130, but £550 or so is a lot for a streamng box, and have no need for the inbuilt DAC. Ideally the device has a built in DSP, otherwise it will have to Roon compatible.
What have I missed?
 
'm mulling over the best way to enable more hi-res streaming to my system, the option are either to upgrade the amp from a Denon PMA-600ne to the 900HNE. Ticks the streaming boxes, and offers a bit more power, cost to change around £200 (I have some unburnt amazon gift vouchers).
Or I could add a stand alone streamer, the Ifi Zen stream seems too be the obvious choice given I'm an Android user (so the Wiim is off the list, cost to change / amend is around £140
I had also thought about a Bluesound Node N130, but £550 or so is a lot for a streamng box, and have no need for the inbuilt DAC. Ideally the device has a built in DSP, otherwise it will have to Roon compatible.
What have I missed?
good question as I have no idea as to the streaming quality of the 900HNE. Are you happy with the Denon 600 as it stands?
Unless you need the extra power, I for one don't like all of my eggs in the same basket so to speak, so I would look at the iFi Zen Stream if I were in your position.
From another thread it is apparent that @robdmarsh wasn't happy with Denon streaming abilities.
 
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SteveR750

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If I go down the route of a streamer, then which one...some of them are ridiculously overpriced! Ifi Zen looks reasonable, but reviews mention a really poor glitchy app (I would use probably use Bubble anyway), and the latest Bluesound Node is not cheap, and has a not great app.
 
If I go down the route of a streamer, then which one...some of them are ridiculously overpriced! Ifi Zen looks reasonable, but reviews mention a really poor glitchy app (I would use probably use Bubble anyway), and the latest Bluesound Node is not cheap, and has a not great app.
Not my field of expertise but there must be a reasonably priced streamer around with a decent operating system..... Or maybe not I don't know.
 

robdmarsh

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So here's one to ponder. I was talking to a guy over on AVforums who has the ifi Zen One sig DAC and the Zen Stream. Remember the Zen stream has no DAC. I asked him to compare the sound of the Zen One and Zen Stream together (full-fat hi-res) with the Zen One on its own with bluetooth LDAC. He said the difference in sound was very close, so close in fact that he wondered if his hearing was going. The Zen Stream is £400, is it not? So what are you actually getting for £400?
 

npxavar

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Nov 30, 2022
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So here's one to ponder. I was talking to a guy over on AVforums who has the ifi Zen One sig DAC and the Zen Stream. Remember the Zen stream has no DAC. I asked him to compare the sound of the Zen One and Zen Stream together (full-fat hi-res) with the Zen One on its own with bluetooth LDAC. He said the difference in sound was very close, so close in fact that he wondered if his hearing was going. The Zen Stream is £400, is it not? So what are you actually getting for £400?
You have the possibility to reduce your exposure to radiated energy. Especially if you are using your smartphone as the source and holding it.
 

npxavar

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The pi does need software to run but all streamers do .the DAC does the hard work so the processing in a streamer is minimal
The streamer requires way more computer power and memory than the DAC because it has to 1) run the OS (some linux flavour, needed to handle Ethernet and Wi-Fi network connectivity among other things) 2) run the software that connects to various services or network drives and crucially 3) decompress the FLAC, Ogg, AAC, etc data that it receives to uncompressed PCM that the USB Audio link can transmit.
 
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aversaurus

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That's true the pi is only a single board computer.i use mine with a sound board.theres a single board computer in my ifi zen streamer.
They both do the same thing .in a blind test I can't tell the difference.
But at the end of the day build one buy one find out for yourself .
It's whatever your happy with .
 

SteveR750

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Mar 11, 2005
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So here's one to ponder. I was talking to a guy over on AVforums who has the ifi Zen One sig DAC and the Zen Stream. Remember the Zen stream has no DAC. I asked him to compare the sound of the Zen One and Zen Stream together (full-fat hi-res) with the Zen One on its own with bluetooth LDAC. He said the difference in sound was very close, so close in fact that he wondered if his hearing was going. The Zen Stream is £400, is it not? So what are you actually getting for £400?
I think I read same thread, or similar. I just want a network player, I don't need a DAC. It needs to be visible to Roon, so I can use the DSP to correct some horrible standing waves in my room (which I've already setup). My Gen 1 sonos connect cost me £20 used, and works faultlessly, never drops out, and the app works fine, and Roon can use it as a bridge into my amp's DAC. The only reason I want to upgrade it, is so that i can stream hi-res 24 bit tracks from Qobuz. Maybe I don't, but I'm absolutely not convinced that £350 for that privilege is remotely vfm. How on earth folk justify £700-£800 + on some of these devices is beyond me.
Back to the ZS, if it was reliable like the Sonos kit, I'd take it more seriously, but the number of posts I've read where folk had to send it back as it just never worked properly is putting me off. Maybe I should buy some cable lifters instead, that will fix all my woes.
 

npxavar

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Nov 30, 2022
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I think I read same thread, or similar. I just want a network player, I don't need a DAC. It needs to be visible to Roon, so I can use the DSP to correct some horrible standing waves in my room (which I've already setup). My Gen 1 sonos connect cost me £20 used, and works faultlessly, never drops out, and the app works fine, and Roon can use it as a bridge into my amp's DAC. The only reason I want to upgrade it, is so that i can stream hi-res 24 bit tracks from Qobuz. Maybe I don't, but I'm absolutely not convinced that £350 for that privilege is remotely vfm. How on earth folk justify £700-£800 + on some of these devices is beyond me.
Back to the ZS, if it was reliable like the Sonos kit, I'd take it more seriously, but the number of posts I've read where folk had to send it back as it just never worked properly is putting me off. Maybe I should buy some cable lifters instead, that will fix all my woes.
Have you tried using a tablet? If you are listening to Tidal or Spotify you can control it with your smartphone, by having the app open in both devices.
 

aversaurus

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The ifi zen works really well most of the time .
But sometimes mine won't connect it maybe my phone Google pixel.
When it does this I have to reset it with the app and the app with my phone can glitch.
This doesn't happen often but does happen.
There's other users on here that never have a problem.
 

npxavar

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Nov 30, 2022
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The ifi zen works really well most of the time .
But sometimes mine won't connect it maybe my phone Google pixel.
When it does this I have to reset it with the app and the app with my phone can glitch.
This doesn't happen often but does happen.
There's other users on here that never have a problem.
How can a company that specializes in audio equipment be expected to write dependable and user-friendly software that works with everything in the jungle of mobile phones? It just won't happen.
 

aversaurus

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I don't find it a massive problem and I've just changed from the pixel 4 to the 7 and I've not had to reset it with the new phone .
I've used tidal with this phone and my Chromecast audio and it works perfectly
 

Gray

Well-known member
Surely the Pi needs software to operate and streaming quality will depend on this....?
One of the various OS choices for the Pi, 'Volumio' for example can be as good (for SQ) as any OS on any streamer.

I say 'can be' because, in the setup menu you have a choice for control of volume:

1) 'Software' - gives you the convenience of volume control - by compromising what the external DAC gets.

2) 'Hardware' - controls the volume of compatible DACs - with no compromise.

3) 'None' - gives no control of volume but sends a full, bit perfect signal to any external DAC.

2 and 3 above arguably* makes the Pi as good as any other streamer.

*The more people have paid for a streamer, the more they will argue that it isn't as good as theirs 😉
 

SteveR750

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Mar 11, 2005
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Have you tried using a tablet? If you are listening to Tidal or Spotify you can control it with your smartphone, by having the app open in both devices.
Sorry I don't follow, use a tablet for what? Atm I have two options:

1. Use my tablet to control the source using a sonos S1 app (I have a separate sonos S2 system for the TV 5.1 system that I control from my phone). Spotify and Qobuz in 16/44 only.

2. Use the Roon app on either phone or Tablet to stream qobuz in native resolution + DSP, dowmsampled (in Roon) to 16/44

I'm using the optical out on the Connect and doing the DAC conversion in-amp. Ideally, it would be great to stream both qobuz and Spotify in native resolution from one device controller.
 
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SteveR750

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Mar 11, 2005
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So, plan B might be to use an rpi for the network player duties, and invest in a better amp. As nice as the little denon is, the Elacs canbpotentially benefit from a better signal. Question then is, what to consider; I wouldn't need an amp with built in networking capability.
 

npxavar

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Nov 30, 2022
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Sorry I don't follow, use a tablet for what? Atm I have two options:

1. Use my tablet to control the source using a sonos S1 app (I have a separate sonos S2 system for the TV 5.1 system that I control from my phone). Spotify and Qobuz in 16/44 only.

2. Use the Roon app on either phone or Tablet to stream qobuz in native resolution + DSP, dowmsampled (in Roon) to 16/44

I'm using the optical out on the Connect and doing the DAC conversion in-amp. Ideally, it would be great to stream both qobuz and Spotify in native resolution from one device controller.
My suggestion was that you can connect the tablet to the amp with a USB cable. The Denon PMA-600ne does not have USB input though, I didn't consider that. How about adding a DAC with USB input?
 

James105

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Oct 30, 2019
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'm mulling over the best way to enable more hi-res streaming to my system, the option are either to upgrade the amp from a Denon PMA-600ne to the 900HNE. Ticks the streaming boxes, and offers a bit more power, cost to change around £200 (I have some unburnt amazon gift vouchers).
Or I could add a stand alone streamer, the Ifi Zen stream seems too be the obvious choice given I'm an Android user (so the Wiim is off the list, cost to change / amend is around £140
I had also thought about a Bluesound Node N130, but £550 or so is a lot for a streamng box, and have no need for the inbuilt DAC. Ideally the device has a built in DSP, otherwise it will have to Roon compatible.
What have I missed?
I just saw on another forum that NAD are launching a streamer in March, goggled the price £299. I assume it will be a Bluos product, says its roon ready, looks tiny if you want to hide it.
 
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SteveR750

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I just saw on another forum that NAD are launching a streamer in March, goggled the price £299. I assume it will be a Bluos product, says its roon ready, looks tiny if you want to hide it.
Sounds interesting, do you what it's model name is etc?
I've decided I'm not in a hurry. I'm fighting the mistaken need to upgrade my amp too. I've got Roon streaming through the Connect into the amps built in dac and it sounds perfectly good with a bit of room correction.

EDIT: It's a NAD CS1. Has an onboard DAC, and SPDIF coax and optical out. No app, so no bluesound, it's operated from the native apps, and is Roon ready. So you can stream directly from the Tidal or Spotify apps, and use Roon or something like Bubble for Qobuz. It's still £300 though, that's £280 more than the used Connect I'm using.
 
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James105

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Oct 30, 2019
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Sounds interesting, do you what it's model name is etc?
I've decided I'm not in a hurry. I'm fighting the mistaken need to upgrade my amp too. I've got Roon streaming through the Connect into the amps built in dac and it sounds perfectly good with a bit of room correction.

EDIT: It's a NAD CS1. Has an onboard DAC, and SPDIF coax and optical out. No app, so no bluesound, it's operated from the native apps, and is Roon ready. So you can stream directly from the Tidal or Spotify apps, and use Roon or something like Bubble for Qobuz. It's still £300 though, that's £280 more than the used Connect I'm using.
Strange that they leave Bluesound out,esp as Roksan and Dali use it but I guess otherwise in would cut into sales of the Node. I assume you won't be able to group it with other NAD amps as they use Bluesond.
 

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