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Will a streamer make a difference?

Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
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545
Hi everybody,

Was wondering whether I should be adding a HiFi component to this year's shopping list? :)
For streaming, I use Tidal HiFi and Lossless music stored on a local server using Plex. My main HiFi setup has an older Airport Express running into Musical Fidelity MX DAC and the Headphone setup has a choromecast audio running into a Topping E30 DAC.
Now my question is will a streamer replacing the AE make a significant difference? Obviously, when I am talking about a streamer, I am referring to the price range of $500 - $700. Or should I be allocating the fund for buying more Vinyls, which is always a lot of fun!!
 

gregvet

Well-known member
Dec 24, 2008
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18,595
Hard to say without knowing the rest of your system whether the streamer would give you much improvement in sound quality. I used to use an airport express in a similar way for many years without any issues.
having said that, maybe look at a bluesound node 2i, as the app is good and the sound quality excellent, it would also allow you to access tidal masters

more vinyl is always a good idea tho😉
 
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myrrhman

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2020
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I'd also say buying more vinyl is a better option!
You can spend a lot of money on streaming options, I'm not convinced MQA is always better than hearing the same files Tidal Masters files streamed through a non-MQA DAC - results seem very variable to my ears (comparing Mac mini running Audirvana>Meridien Explorer2 (MQA) with iPhone / Tidal app>Arcam irDAC (high res PCM)).
The problem with dedicated streamers IMHO is you are essentially paying for a dedicated computer / software solution, and unlike hifi components, computers have a short shelf life and risk becoming obsolete within a relatively short lifespan.
 
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Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
40
9
545
I guess that makes sense...I do have an old Intel NUC PC which I can connect to the DAC as well, never really compared it against the Airport Express. The only annoying factor is to have the TV on while running Tidal.

Might as well start snooping around for some vinyls. I do have a pretty large "must get" list.
 
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myrrhman

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2020
71
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70
I guess that makes sense...I do have an old Intel NUC PC which I can connect to the DAC as well, never really compared it against the Airport Express. The only annoying factor is to have the TV on while running Tidal.

Might as well start snooping around for some vinyls. I do have a pretty large "must get" list.
The advantage of a Mac Mini is you can in theory run in 'headless', and select tracks on Tidal using an iPhone or iPad using Audirvana. I haven't quite got that solution totally figured though, and have it connected to the TV to boot up and close down. You can also set Audirvana to maximise its use of system resources, optimising the Mac for music playback. There are lots of Mac Minis available second hand on eBay, I got a late 2012 model this year for just over £200 - you don't need a huge hard disk in order to run Tidal, or if you are storing downloads on an external hard drive. Audirvana is a one-off cost to purchase the software of I think around £80. Later Mac Minis are less customisable, but can run the latest software - support for late 2012 models stopped recently with the Big Sur OS, but this isn't an issue (yet) with Audirvana. Mine runs Catalina with no issues, and is significantly faster and less flaky than my high-spec intel i7 Windows laptop, also 2012 vintage but really showing its age now.
 

Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
40
9
545
Ok, that is another interesting idea - running Mac mini headless. Need to do a bit of research on how to get that done. That is critical considering very soon, I will not have the Television with my HiFi. This NUC also works as a Plex server, guessing the Mac mini may (even a slightly older model which I can find for cheap on eBay) may do a better job at that.
 

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