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Streaming DAC recommendations?


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I'm currently using an exaSound Sigma streamer and e32 Mk II DAC as a digital source (there's an Intel NUC server and Synology NAS elsewhere in the house). These sound pretty good to me but I beginning to wonder if there isn't something better and simpler (the DAC and streamer are fed by linear power supply). I need to be able to use Roon and play DSD files and MQA streams from Tidal. I'm thinking about these:

(1) DCS Bartok about $14,500

(2) PS Audio DirectStream w/Network Bridge, $6899, although I've got a (former PS Audio) dealer who'll give me a new-in-box unit for about half that.

(3) Mytek Brooklyn Bridge, $3,500 or Manhattan Bridge, $7,000 (although neither unit is currently available as the company is moving)

Are there others I should consider? Am I going to hear a difference?

Thoughts, experiences and suggestions are welcome.

 

 

 

 

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Hi John 

I just upgraded my digital to an Aurender N10  and still using my Ayre Codex DAC

Very happy with it the app is simple to use I streaming Qobuz you can stream Tidal too don't know about Roon 

When I upgrade my DAC its going to be the Aesthetix Pandora

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I own both the Innuos Zen Mini and the Zen MK3's, and I have no complaints.

I ended up getting them as they were the only streamers that would work with my Ayre QB-9 Twenty's and could play music to two separate systems-Like my old Bluesound Node did.

I bought an Aurender N100 with the hope the new ACS 10 would do the same, but no go. Aurender will not support linked systems.

Bob

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I should also add that the Innuos can be used with Roon.- And, though I hate having to pay more for software, the Roon app is one of the nicest I have ever used. It is very Classical music friendly. Like Spotify, it can also provide recommendations based upon your listening habits.

B

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I have a PS Audio DirectStream DAC with the network bridge and couldn’t be happier.  It is a crazy good value.  I also have the PS Audio memory player for physical discs and while it is better sounding than the network bridge it is very close.  I also understand PS Audio is releasing another DAC software upgrade imminently which if anything like the previous software release will wring out further improvements. 

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I am slowly getting into streaming and have been shuffling cd's which is embarrassing since I work in technology. Nevertheless, I have the cheapest setup imaginable with an Audioengine streamer/Mccormack DAC1 deluxe and Amazon HD streaming at the source. I am amazed at what I am able to hear through streaming vs. my CD transport/DAC combination. Curious to hear what options you throw out. 

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If you are able to go to 14,500 for teh Bartok, here are some suggestions:

If you cna go a bit more, that Brinkmann is a special DAC.  They just know how to do everything, which is rare these days in audio.

Under 10k:

Ayre QX5/20 digital streamer, DAC.  I owned this unit and may purchase it again.  Roon end point and it just sounds great.  I like it better than Chord Dave and others in the 12k under range.  The headphone amp is also of the highest quality as I have some expensive cans for Sunday morning listening.

Auralic.  I haven't heard it yet, but was told that it's right there with the Ayre.  The Vega also has a built in streamer and a top analog volume control.  I'm highly intrigued by this player.  Rutan has one on the way.  It also has an external clock, the Leo that will take it's performance up a notch I assume.  Again, waiting on Rutan to hear it first.

Holo, Denefrips are others I'd audition before purchasing.  I won't put down any units as it's so personal.  I will say that you MUST make sure you are feeding your digital the cleanest of power.  Conditioners and cords matter here more than any other product I've heard.  It's that big a deal with most digital.  I installed two isolated circuits behind my system for about 800 or so.  I used Audioquest Edison outlets, but just hospital grade Hubbells for the second circuit.  I have TV and digital on this line and it made a difference isolating it from the Niagara 3000.  The 3000 is very good at cleaning up digital though.  

I would love to find a dealer that had the QX5/20 and the Bartok.  I have head both. I liked both, but I gravitate to the Ayre as I owned the AX5/20 at the time and I knew the guys at Ayre and trusted them as a company.  I have owned the top Empirical Audio DAC with upgraded caps. Steve Nugent is as good as anyone designing and making DAC's.  I love his gear and Steve is a great guy.  He's out of Portland, OR.  The only reason I even sold his DAC was because I knew that he would retired in the next few years and I was concerned that folks wouldn't be able to fix it if it broke down or even needed service in teh future.  It's the ONLY reason I'm not picking up the phone and getting his newest DAC in.  I got goosebumps from his DAC using a top server.  

I felt the Mytec sounded nice, but I didn't think it was better than most others in it's respective price ranges.  Nice gear though.  The MSB Discrete DAC at 10k needs to also be auditioned.  

My short list that will be expanded on (potentially) is:

MSB

Ayre

Auralic

Denefrips

Holo

These are the ones in my price range. I lean towards the MSB or Ayre based on sound quality alone.  I may just get a Roon NUC Plus to use as my server/streamer and then use the DAC with it.

So many good choices. 

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12 minutes ago, ctsooner said:

If you are able to go to 14,500...

Once you start paying four figures for line cords, nothing is unimaginable. 😉

Thanks for all the great suggestions.  Bruce at Stereo Unlimited carries Esoteric and if he can give me a loaner I may try that. I have a NUC and NAS in a closet downstairs with all the other telecom stuff, and the Ethernet up to my listening room passes through an Uptone EtherRegen before arriving at the current exaSound streamer and DAC. They're fed 12 vAC by a linear power supply but I'd really like to cut the clutter with a single box streaming DAC that takes 120 vAC.

Edited by John Gallup
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I just finally jumped on the streaming bandwagon last fall when I picked up a Bluesound Node 2i.  I ran it through my Lampuzator Amber 2.2 DAC and it was a great combo.

I just recently upgraded to EMM Labs digital equipment. I bought a DAC2X v2, and an NS1 streamer bridge.  They connect via a proprietary EMM Labs Optilink connection.

 The DAC itself is just mind blowing, but the improvement of the NS1 over the Node was totally unexpected.  I recruited my 15 year old daughter to do since A-B listening between the NS1 and the Bluesound.  Even with her non -audiophile (and indifferent) young ears, she easily picked up differences on the same tracks, both streaming from Qobuz.  She actually sat up and said “wow” at the differences when playing Taylor Swift’s “August.”

 Streaming has become a favorite pastime at night.  I cannot deny the convenience, and now the sound is right up there with top tier vinyl rigs

Edited by Drew769
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So today I went up to Excel Audio in Newport Beach and bought the dCS Bartok. Listening now and could stay up all night playing new and familiar music, which is now transformed. Bill Evans "Peace Piece," for instance, is sparkling like a fireworks display. Didn't expect them to have a black one with no headphone amp, but there it was, so I took it home.

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1 hour ago, Steve Edwards said:

Outstanding John!  

I don't recall if you have a turntable, but isn't Mike's vinyl selection wicked good?  Anytime I'm anywhere near John Wayne Airport, I try to swing in.

Yeah I do spin vinyl too, and Mike's got a lot of stuff for a relatively small store.

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Thus Reichert in this month's Stereophile, which arrived a couple of days after I brought the Bartók home and listened to it. This squares with my experience. 

Reichert.jpeg.f5736ffe1abb23362ae83999fc6bc625.jpeg

Now of course I'm wondering if I need to add the Rossini clock, and where I could plug it in if I did so. Anybody have any experience with such a device? Since it doesn't process audio at all, does it need a fancy cord and power conditioning?

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The Rossni is better when used with the clock.  I've not heard Bartok with the clock.  I think that once you add the cost of the clock with a 15k DAC, it would put you in a position to just get a better DAC at the combined cost.  JMHO...  

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