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What is your DAC software/app experience

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
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For me the usability/user friendliness of a DAC's streaming software is as important as the sound. I'd be curious to hear people's experiences with various manufacturer's apps to see which are the most user friendly, bug free, etc...
 

ThisIsJimmy

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2020
147
65
170
Hello

That's a bit of a broad question. Could you be more specific?

DACs themselves are hardware rather than software. Proper external DACS either come with no real software, with drivers either being automatically detected and installed or downloaded if applicable from the manufacturer's website.

Companies like Topping, Schiit and SMSL release firmware and driver updates for their products, but they don't have any streming software with them.

My Topping D90 came with some plugins for Foobar 2000 to make use of ASIO and instructions on how to set this up on JRiver.

If you are talking about Soundcards, then that is a completely different kettle of fish. Typically Creative's X-Fi soundcards had the better software feature set, but didn't sound as good as the Asus Xonar soundcards. However unfortunately Asus didn't go any further whilst Creative went well into Sound Blaster Z series and then finally the AE series.

For pure music listening with the soundcard, i have all the added effects off. If i'm gaming for example, some of the software such as Scout which helps with positioning is helpful but nothing else for pure music listening.

If you are talking about streaming software such as Tidal/spotify/Amazon Music that's an entirely different ballgame. If I was to go into streaming I would be looking at Hi-Res in which case it would be Tidal. However you only get the artists music that have subscribed to the platform, and these can change at a drop of a hat. Spotify unless you pay for it is plagued by adverts.

In the most case therefore I either use youtube with a popup/adblocker to stop the adds, or I just purchase the music myself.

If you are talking about physical streamers on a Linux platform or a physical streaming product then that's something i'm looking into at the moment and can't comment on further.
 

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
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40
I don't think I was clear. Several DAC manufacturers have their own proprietary streaming apps. Naim has one, Gold Note another, etc... Tidal, QoBuzz, Spotify and other services can be run though these apps. This eliminates the need for a computer to stream. I'm looking for feedback on the various DAC mfr's apps- i.e. the apps that control the streaming services through these DACs.
 

superhans

Well-known member
Oct 19, 2020
31
10
45
Here is my lockdown activity on this. Tried out various mix-ups.

Chromecast Audio with external DAC's - Topping E30 & Loxjie D30 ( optical)
Fantastic all round. No need to use 3rd party apps. Simply hit the 'Cast' button from the Tidal/Qobuz apps. Can stream bit perfect up to 24/96. One downside - no gapless playback

NVIDIA Shield TV with external DAC (USB cable)
As above, just use the 'cast feature' so great experience but the NVIDIA resamples all USB audio to 192 so not bit-perfect. Still sounded great, but I'd need to use a 3rd party app on the SHIELD to bypass the 'android re-sample' so gave up on that.

Bluesound Node2i - no external DAC
Great experience, the BluOS app is fantastic. No issues and if you are a Tidal user, then 'Tidal Connect' feature is great and works perfectly from the native Tidal app. Was hassle free in the month or so I ran this.

Arylic S50 Pro+ (no external DAC)
Cheapest way to add Hi-Res streaming up to 24/192 to your system
You must use the 4STREAM app through. No cast feature. The app is fine, but can freeze, lag from time to time. Will get better no doubt as regular updates are pushed out. Also has a decent Sabre DAC & supports APT-X HD codec for Bluetooth. No gapless and if looking to use external DAC - outputs are limited/fixed to 16/44 CD quality only
I really liked this streamer. Sounded better than you'd expect for £140.

In the end, I settled on the first option - CCA with external D30 DAC to my M2si amp and Dali Oberon 5 speakers.
D30.JPG
 

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
27
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40
Okay, thank you tech-heads for the clarification. The question is still the same. I'm interested in the apps used by the streamers- not wanting to build an overly complex system. I prefer to use an ipad or phone to control the 'streamer'. So i'm interested in learning which ones have the most user friendly, and reliable apps. I've seen Naim and Gold Note's offerings.
 

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
27
0
40
Here is my lockdown activity on this. Tried out various mix-ups.

Chromecast Audio with external DAC's - Topping E30 & Loxjie D30 ( optical)
Fantastic all round. No need to use 3rd party apps. Simply hit the 'Cast' button from the Tidal/Qobuz apps. Can stream bit perfect up to 24/96. One downside - no gapless playback

NVIDIA Shield TV with external DAC (USB cable)
As above, just use the 'cast feature' so great experience but the NVIDIA resamples all USB audio to 192 so not bit-perfect. Still sounded great, but I'd need to use a 3rd party app on the SHIELD to bypass the 'android re-sample' so gave up on that.

Bluesound Node2i - no external DAC
Great experience, the BluOS app is fantastic. No issues and if you are a Tidal user, then 'Tidal Connect' feature is great and works perfectly from the native Tidal app. Was hassle free in the month or so I ran this.

Arylic S50 Pro+ (no external DAC)
Cheapest way to add Hi-Res streaming up to 24/192 to your system
You must use the 4STREAM app through. No cast feature. The app is fine, but can freeze, lag from time to time. Will get better no doubt as regular updates are pushed out. Also has a decent Sabre DAC & supports APT-X HD codec for Bluetooth. No gapless and if looking to use external DAC - outputs are limited/fixed to 16/44 CD quality only
I really liked this streamer. Sounded better than you'd expect for £140.

In the end, I settled on the first option - CCA with external D30 DAC to my M2si amp and Dali Oberon 5 speakers.
Thank you Hans, exactly the kind of feedback i'm looking for.
 

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
27
0
40
I think I need an education on this. I thought I understood it but perhaps not. I want to stream Tidal tracks at the highest quality w/ MQA unfold but don't want the phone/ipad/laptop to be the source of a degrade in quality.
 

superhans

Well-known member
Oct 19, 2020
31
10
45
Okay, thank you tech-heads for the clarification. The question is still the same. I'm interested in the apps used by the streamers- not wanting to build an overly complex system. I prefer to use an ipad or phone to control the 'streamer'. So i'm interested in learning which ones have the most user friendly, and reliable apps. I've seen Naim and Gold Note's offerings.
I think the bluesound at £500 would be a good fit. Good looking unit, well made, Very good app and all round experience.
You also have the option to bypass the internal Burr Brown DAC ( I thought this was just 'ok') and add a killer external DAC down the line. The digital outputs on the node2i will do Hi-Res to your chosen DAC.
I don't know what your budget is, but this may also be of interest - all in one, DAC and streamer. Needs a 3rd party app that is not as polished as BlueOS but worth a closer look maybe?
 

superhans

Well-known member
Oct 19, 2020
31
10
45
I think I need an education on this. I thought I understood it but perhaps not. I want to stream Tidal tracks at the highest quality w/ MQA unfold but don't want the phone/ipad/laptop to be the source of a degrade in quality.
Ahh - So you need MQA
Go for the Blusound option. MQA out the box , Tidal Connect feature means you'll never use the BlueOS app and you still have the option to add an external DAC later if you want
 

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
27
0
40
I think the bluesound at £500 would be a good fit. Good looking unit, well made, Very good app and all round experience.
You also have the option to bypass the internal Burr Brown DAC ( I thought this was just 'ok') and add a killer external DAC down the line. The digital outputs on the node2i will do Hi-Res to your chosen DAC.
I don't know what your budget is, but this may also be of interest - all in one, DAC and streamer. Needs a 3rd party app that is not as polished as BlueOS but worth a closer look maybe?
Thanks for the recommend. Do they have a streamer such as this with a really good DAC? Trying to avoid too many boxes: Streamer, DAC, Amp, Headphone Amp... Ideally i'd have a really good DAC + amp (w/ good built-in headphone amp)
 

superhans

Well-known member
Oct 19, 2020
31
10
45
Thanks for the recommend. Do they have a streamer such as this with a really good DAC? Trying to avoid too many boxes: Streamer, DAC, Amp, Headphone Amp... Ideally i'd have a really good DAC + amp (w/ good built-in headphone amp)
You don't mention what you are looking to spend......but if I had the cash this would be my goto choice for a one box solution - MyTek Brooklyn Bridge. (£2K+) This ticks all the boxes you are after
BB.JPG
 

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
27
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40
I'm hoping to keep the following components to under $15K (ideally $12K) (in order of importance:)

Quality Bookshelf speakers (want to spend 1/3rd of budget here)
Amp (prefer tubes)
Headphones
Turntable
DAC/Streamer
 

superhans

Well-known member
Oct 19, 2020
31
10
45
Doesn't ship til June. Did you see the Empire?! $20,000!
This one - Been out for about 18 months I think. Worth a look with your budget.

For bookshelf speakers - are the Buchardt S400 on your shortlist ?
 

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
27
0
40
This one - Been out for about 18 months I think. Worth a look with your budget.

For bookshelf speakers - are the Buchardt S400 on your shortlist ?
I like those. I wonder how the sound quality is on that Brooklyn?
 

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
27
0
40
Anybody like the Gold Note IS1000 Deluxe all-in-one at $6K? Thinking about going with this and pairing with Encore ENC-5's for my small office. Just need a good headphone stage to pair with it.
 

ColonelBlimp

Active member
Apr 11, 2021
5
1
25
I think I need an education on this. I thought I understood it but perhaps not. I want to stream Tidal tracks at the highest quality w/ MQA unfold but don't want the phone/ipad/laptop to be the source of a degrade in quality.
If you use Tidal connect the music goes directly from the cloud to your streamer. Your mobile/tablet is just the interface not the channel. It's better explained here:
How does it work?
Pull up the Tidal app, push play on some music and click the ‘available devices’ button in the bottom left. Tidal Connect devices appear alongside Chromecast devices. Click to pair — the music stream will be moved from the smartphone to the paired device. Unlike Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth, Tidal Connect streams do not travel through the smartphone or tablet on their way to the paired network streamer. Think: Google Chromecast stream routing.
 

ThisIsJimmy

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2020
147
65
170
An IPAD/Phone/Laptop will qualify as a 'Core MQA Decoder' and provide a 'level 2' unfold with the qualifying App/Audio player.
If you want the full 'level 3' unfold, this can only be achieved with an 'authenticated MQA DAC'. If your streaming device doubles up as an MQA DAC you'll get the full level 3. If not then it will have to be played via a qualified MQA DAC to achieve the 3rd level unfold.

See here for more info: https://bobtalks.co.uk/blog/mqaplayback/origami-and-the-last-mile/
 
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iMark

Well-known member
May 16, 2008
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19,070
I have serious doubts about lossy Tidal.

Hopefully Spotify Premium will go to CD quality sooner than later. At the moment we use Spotify Connect through our Yamaha RN-602 stereo network receiver. That already sounds pretty good. The Yamaha also supports AirPlay so I can stream all sorts of audio from my Mac, our iPhones and our iPad. Streaming BBC Sounds works very well.

A stereo network receiver is a great solution if you have both analogue and digital sources. The Yamaha has a very decent phono stage and a pretty good DAC. If you don't want to spend a fortune on separate boxes and listen to almost any source you can think of I can really recommend a stereo network receiver.
 

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