What's a streamer for? Do I need one?

Kutusov

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Sep 13, 2021
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Hi,

So this might seem a pretty basic question but I honestly don't know the answer. Might be because of the way I have my system set up.

So I have a PC hardwaired to a DAC via USB. I can play Spotify etc via the app.

I also have an IotaVX amp stack that can have Bluetooth connection. I know it's not the greatest connection available but I guess I can connect a phone or ipad to it and play wirelessly.

Many streamers have dacs and amps built in and I think that would be redundant or worst than what I'm using.

So judging by their price, what's their use case? Is a Bluesound Node something for people that don't want to plug a PC/laptop/Ipad to their system? Or does it replace a dac, adding the streaming capability?

In my case: PC--> Denafrips Ares II --> IotaVX --> speakers... is this something where you would use a music streamer with?
 

barcpc

Well-known member
Mar 23, 2021
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Streamers basically give you the ability to connect via Bluetooth, play your favorite radio via Internet, connect any external hard disk with music you have plus of course your favorite streaming music provider (Spotify, Tidal, etc.)
In the market you can find some that have a DAC some without, cheap, expensive, everything.

Looks like in your case you have it covered with your set up, personally with what you have, I would not spend on a Streamer.
 
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Gray

Well-known member
...something for people that don't want to plug a PC/laptop/Ipad to their system?
That's what it was for me.

The way I see it, you've got a simple choice:
If you're happy having your PC (with or without fan noise) on when playing music, stick with it.
If not, get a streamer (without a built-in DAC) - something like the Zen Stream.
 

Witterings

Well-known member
Sep 17, 2020
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1,870
Hi,

So this might seem a pretty basic question but I honestly don't know the answer. Might be because of the way I have my system set up.

So I have a PC hardwaired to a DAC via USB. I can play Spotify etc via the app.

I also have an IotaVX amp stack that can have Bluetooth connection. I know it's not the greatest connection available but I guess I can connect a phone or ipad to it and play wirelessly.

Many streamers have dacs and amps built in and I think that would be redundant or worst than what I'm using.

So judging by their price, what's their use case? Is a Bluesound Node something for people that don't want to plug a PC/laptop/Ipad to their system? Or does it replace a dac, adding the streaming capability?

In my case: PC--> Denafrips Ares II --> IotaVX --> speakers... is this something where you would use a music streamer with?
A streamer won't improve the quality of your PC connected to a DAC but it will probably improve your quality against using the lotaVX amp's bluetooth (depending which versions of BT they have) so it depends how important it is for you to be able to use a mobile / tablet and be wireless.
Another benefit you're not then playing it via the phone relayed to the amp, the phone in essence becomes a remote control telling the streamer what music to play directly from the internet.

Not sure which DAC you have but if it has an optical in, a lot of streamers will have optical out so could possibly use the same DAC, this combo will theoretically be the same quality as using your PC as you're not dependent on the quality of the DAC within the streamer.

You could also look at a WiiM mini streamer although they're about to release un upgraded version with more connectivity so I wouldn't buy one until they have.
 
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RoA

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Feb 11, 2021
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Using a phone/tablet/dedicated streamer is a more elegant less involved process than using a pc/laptop. It also frees you up from having to sit in a specific place to operate. It will improve upon BT as long as the source is higher quality too.

Strictly necessary? No, but considering you can get streamers for very little definitively worth it imho.
 
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MrSinghsStereo

Well-known member
Feb 22, 2022
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the terms server, streamer and DAC are being used loosely in the hifi field. Maybe I attempt an overview. Hope it’s not too dry…
A music server retrieves music files from a storage device. The server can be located in ones home (e.g. Roon Nucleus, MinimServer running on an Intel NUC) or it can sit in a data center somewhere in the wider vicinity (e.g. a mirror of the Qobuz servers). The files might be stored inside the server or in attached storage. The retrieved music files represent the original analog signal. The server takes the music file, slices it into small pieces and wraps those pieces into a transfer protocol. These protocols at home could be RAAT for Roon or UPnP for standardised media data transfer. In online streaming there are proprietary protocols of Qobuz or Tidal and so on. The protocol is necessary for transfer as the whole file can not be sent in one fell swoop. Also, networks based on the Internet Protocol behave more like London city traffic than two tin cans connected with a wire. Alas traffic management is necessary, which the transfer protocols help with.
A streamer or player (digital to digital converter) receives the data stream coming from the server and processes it further. The transfer protocol is unwrapped, the original data reconstructed and then readied for the DAC. This is because the DAC in itself can not process music files the way they are encoded for storage. A stored file might have a FLAC or WAV format but the DAC needs an input of a PCM or DSD stream. At this point the output needs to be synchronous too. Meaning that what gets sent is delivered without delay. Because of this, now jitter becomes an issue.
The DAC (digital to analog converter) in the end receives a time sensitive stream of PCM or DSD data and then turns it into an analog signal that feeds into the amplifier.
 
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Kutusov

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Sep 13, 2021
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Thanks for that explanation and sorry to take so long to read but I've been away.

I feel I have a better picture of what they are and what they are for. Thanks guys!
 

jjbomber

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Dec 22, 2006
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Thanks for that explanation and sorry to take so long to read but I've been away.

I feel I have a better picture of what they are and what they are for. Thanks guys!
Go on. You know you want one!
 
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Kutusov

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Sep 13, 2021
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Go on. You know you want one!
AHAHA, you saw my other recent post :ROFLMAO: It would actually make sense because of the CD transport... I have more than 5000 CDs stored away but I'm hoping to have the space or a definitive place to get them back out
 

Witterings

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Sep 17, 2020
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I have more than 5000 CDs stored away but I'm hoping to have the space or a definitive place to get them back out
Get a streamer and you won't need to get them out :ROFLMAO:

Joking aside, it's streaming that's totally rekindled my love of music and it's accesability.

I've never liked paying subscriptions or buying anything on finance always preferring to pay for it outright.
A friend asked if I used to buy 1 or more CD's a month ...the cost a minimum £12 a month.
It made me think, for the same cost you have access to 80 million songs .... a lot of them at a much higher quality than CD.

The biggest thing though is the covenience, I'm sitting here listening to Pink Floyd ... Hey You .. as I type this in HD/Ultra and without having to move I can choose virtually any song / album I could ever want to hear ... it's a kind of compelling reason to at least try it.
 

Kutusov

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Sep 13, 2021
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I begrudgingly signed up to Spotify a couple of months back and, to be honest, I think I don't know how to use it.

I have all my CDs ripped and I play the entire library on shuffle if I don't want to listen to a specific thing. That's how I've listen to music for a very long time and I can't replicate it with Spotify. I guess I could build a playlist with everything I have on my HDD but that would take me ages!

That being said, putting on a premade playlist while I'm driving works very well for me and made aware of a couple of bands I like that otherwise I wouldn't know about. BTW, that's when I found out that Android Auto has its use afterall :LOL: I'm always the last one to join some new tech, took me ages to see the point of the mobile phone.

And I do get the price argument, it's way cheaper than buying CDs.
 

Witterings

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Sep 17, 2020
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I have all my CDs ripped and I play the entire library on shuffle if I don't want to listen to a specific thing. That's how I've listen to music for a very long time and I can't replicate it with Spotify. I guess I could build a playlist with everything I have on my HDD but that would take me ages!
You don't need to doi it all at once, I just sayt of an evening listening to music and going through and adding them bit by bit, you'll be surprised ho wquickly you get through them

I'm not famialiar with Spotify as use Amazon but they also have songs suggested for me which is based on what I've searched for / played before and 95% of the time it's great, just like having a favourites on shuffle. If you don't like the current track playing just click next and it moves on.

Good luck with it, you'll enjoy in time :)
 
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