DAC/Streamer: Separates or Integrated

If integrated is meant to include any single box combination of distinct functions this might be the place to ask this question.
Starting with the streamer and DAC, I want to update what I perceive to be the weakest link(s) in my system (GCD, Bluesound Vault2i). I’m intrigued by the Weiss DAC204 and Lumin U2 Mini but I’ve also come to the realization that I need to scale back my ambitions (another whole topic). Sensible (if that even applies to this obsession) single box solutions to otherwise separate functions offer some advantages, including cost, without significant compromises. But what is sensible?
Integrating relatively evolved tech like a pre amp and amp make sense to me. I resisted the idea of an integrated DAC and streamer for fear that the evolution of one technology would obsolete the other. But @Chops experience with the Auralic Altair G1 has me wondering if that concern is valid for streaming and DAC technology. Thoughts?

I appreciate your concerns on technology evolving, which of course it will, but does that mean that you will not be able to enjoy combo equipment in 5 years or 10 years, or possibly longer? I suspect it will depend more on the state and viability of streaming services. For higher resolution content, I believe existing and emerging content providers/streaming services would want to make their platforms compatible or at least software upgradable for current hardware for customers to easily subscribe. I personally am not interested in MP3 quality streaming, but it does have strong draw for non-audiophile consumers. I have grown weary of proprietary marketed “enhancements” that have added to expense of equipment through licensing and possible hardware requirements, MQA for example. My equipment supports it, but I do not use it. I have equipment that will support resolutions I do not or may no longer buy or not even be available yet.

There are some companies that have good track record of software updates, LUMIN being one. I have more than one option for streaming and multiple DACs. However, I could, and frankly should have been content, with more simple and streamlined system, like my LUMIN X1. LUMIN P1 and now T3 are getting very good feedback. Leedh Processing offered by LUMIN (without additional charge) is really quite good and can be used with or without preamp. From my experience with the X1, I would suggest a combo streamer DAC can be very enjoyable.

Weiss DACs enjoy very good reputations; I have not heard one to date. My understanding the DAC204 is new and a very reasonably priced unit, especially for the quality of sound early reviews indicate. My guess is you will be seeing some owner reviews where a “better” external power supply will be advocated.

Hopefully, you will be able to audition your prime choices before purchasing. Once you purchase and enjoy the results, the sensible thing is to minimize the opportunities for the audiophile serpent tempting you with shiny new audiophile apples. Good luck.

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Hello. I had the same thoughts and concerns a few years ago. I bought a Cambridge edge NQ before the price increase and am very happy. Preamplifier, DAC and streamer in one device. It sounds great and to this day I have no desire to change it. I paid €3200 when the edge NQ was introduced, today it is listed at €5500. That makes me feel good. Curse and blessing is that I only need an SR Master fuse and a power cable. No more connection cables to play with. :joy:


I have four streamers that can be servers and also endpoints. I have used them as streamer only devices with separate servers, and as server streamers. In no situation did I ever hear anything that would lead me to believe there was an advantage to separating the devices. If you can serve and stream out of one box, chose that method IMHO.


Just remember one thing…

No matter if you buy integrated components or separate components, there’s always going to be someone out there coming out with something better, whether it be features or performance.

I’m my case, I was completely satisfied with the Schiit Bifrost 2 DAC for years. Two reasons that I bought it was because when Schiit first came out and introduced the very first Bifrost, it was getting rave reviews left and right. The price was right and I got one. The other reason was that it had the ability to upgrade the boards in it, which I did as those improved boards came out.

Years later after I had long sold that first Bifrost, Schiit came out with the Bifrost 2 Multibit, which I have currently (though not using). It too allows you to swap out to updated boards PLUS the option to update the firmware. To this day, I am unaware of any updated boards or firmware that ever came out for the Bifrost 2.

When I bought the Cambridge a few months back, I had planned on running it through the Bifrost 2, but quickly realized that what I was hearing straight out of the Cambridge was clearly better, so the Bifrost 2 went into the closet for safe keeping.

Now I have the Auralic Altair G1 since last weekend. An amazing sounding unit to say the least. You can’t upgrade any boards in it, but can update the firmware in it which it has done once since I powered up last Saturday for the first time in my system.

My point being, some audio equipment these days are so heavily software driven, that it’s quite possible to get substantial performance upgrades through firmware/software updates alone.

As a streamer/server/DAC all-in-one unit, I have no issues going that route… Obviously. Of course, going with a separate power supply, streamer, re-clocker, DAC combo would way out-perform any all-in-one unit.

Now when it comes to preamps and amplifiers, that’s a different story. I strongly believe that going separates where preamps and amps are concerned is a must if you want the absolute best within your budget.

Yes, there are excellent integrated amplifiers out there by companies such as Accuphase, Luxman, Yamaha, etc, etc. But again, I strongly feel that spending say $10k for a separate preamp/amp combo is STILL going to surpass a $10k integrated amp.

Anyway, I think I may have wondered off a little into left field with my post…


I’ve been very tempted by the Weiss DAC204 but ultimately decided to keep my focus on the MK ll based on four factors.

  1. The form factor of the Weiss just doesn’t fit my system aesthetic. It doesn’t come in black. The two small box design isn’t ideal for me either.
  2. Weiss only offers a 1 year warranty.
  3. The price of the Weiss is compelling but the MK ll offers its amazing trade in program. I will have my old DAC plus an unused power amp that I no longer need. With that factored in the price difference isn’t all that great considering the advantages listed above.
  4. I am invested in the MK ll. I’ve been actively following this product for well over a year. I feel l personally know Paul through his videos. PS Audio is a company based in the US and I think they are truly invested in making the MK ll outstanding. In my opinion all will be addressed in reference to it measurement issues. Finally, I really enjoy the exchange of ideas on this forum. I’ve come to appreciate the friendly community here.
    PS. Generally I prefer to keep my components separate. Better for noise and more upgrade flexibility. Having said that, I will be exploring the built in DAC of the Eversolo. It would be useful to have a second DAC in the system to provide some variety.

Hear, hear!



It is a good bunch.


Sometimes we’re actually ok, LOL

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It’s why we keep coming back.

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Many thanks to all for your thoughts. I appreciate the help.

I hadn’t thought of firmware/software updates but it makes sense. I don’t have to look any further than the fairly frequent updates to multiple Bluesound devices I’m running. And of course, further and chops are spot on that shiny new temptations are distractions only if you let them be.

I don’t know why I should worry about it. The more I mess with this stuff the more convinced I am that I’m fairly deaf to much of what people hear. That should make it a lot easier to settle into a system and be content. That may not happen anytime soon but you’ve helped sort out my thoughts about this part of it. Thanks again.

Over the last 13-14 years I’ve used Linn Accurate DS, Devialet Expert and now Lumin T3. They all integrate streamer/DAC. They all have superb proprietary power supplies, ethernet input and reclocking.

The only time I separated streamer and DAC was when I had a PS Audio PWD Mk2 DAC and a Auralic Aries, for about 3 years. I’m not going back to that and would not consider the DSD Mk2 because it cannot have a Bridge fitted inside.

I can only see advantage of everything in one box, as long as it is done well, and there many such products.

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Very recently, I was actually planning on either purchasing the Lumin T3 or HiFi Rose RS150B, but then life happened. All I’ll say is “stupid lightning storm”…

So after that nonsense was taken care of, funds were a bit lower, hence why I settled on the Altair G1. However, I still did my research beforehand, which is exactly why I settled on the G1. And it makes me glad that the order for that Eversolo unit fell through. I feel much better knowing I have something that’s a known quality unit.

That sums it up nicely. The Lumin T3 and Auralic G1 both sound like solid options.
Many thanks!


Lumin are a known quantity for streaming and DACs, I had a loan unit as well. No risk. Perfectly happy. Rose has too much going on, EverSolo DAC is OK but not great.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have had the Altair G2.1 on my list along with the T3 and RS150B.

I have to say, I am completely happy with the G1. And it will only get better once I upgrade my preamp. :sunglasses:

I consider the DAC in the Eversolo as being a freebie thrown in. Its real value, and what you are really paying for, is the streaming function.

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4 and still counting! Lol


Except that for most people the DAC is probably perfectly acceptable.