Digital sources are the worst and most confusing part and about hifi audio

I just ordered a Zenith MkIII because I’ve just been playing music off my MacBook and it seems to be the major bottleneck.

But now I wonder, should I have waited for the Octave Server so I wouldn’t need an ethernet cable, or so I could get rid of my Matrix X-SPDIF2? I reasoned that there is always a chance that the world economy could crash before Octave is out, and if I move to Europe (my dream) someday it might be better to have an Innuos for service reasons, and for compatibility with a future DAC like DCS. But then I got thinking, maybe I should have a DCS Network Bridge and a NAS. Maybe I would need a bunch of ethernet cleaning devices. Should I sell my DS and get a streaming DAC and NAS, and some fancy isolators? Do I need a USB re-clocker?

And stuff like Roon, I’m not even going there. The hardware stuff is crazy as it is without adding new layers of software.

It’s so confusing the different configurations now, and how many different units you need. I’m going for best sound quality, but also try to for relatively future proof. Every decision makes my head spin. I miss the simple player->DAC->Preamp->Amp->Speakers layout. That, I can handle. Even the idea that you would need a server, streamer, AND DAC is kind of insane. Or that you would need a server, re-clocker, network isolators, and DAC, and that the whole thing requires multiple kinds of digital cables. Argh.

Hopefully I did right today on my purchase decision. There is probably still time to reverse it, but man, I just want something that plays my files and sounds good.

Re: Octave, I also imagine I’m going to be stuck at home for months before it is available and it’s time to get passed laptop digital audio.

Welcome to stereo analysis paralysis. :grin:


A year ago I was proud to not be using a streamer and prouder still of not using Roon. The I tried Qobuz, and luckily I did the lifetime subscription to Roon before the huge price increase. It was not all that difficult and I do enjoy it. Roon Radio especially. (Something I turned my nose up at initially)

The learning curve is not nearly as steep as you might think it is. But the business of getting only the best performance in the most cost-effective way might be another story. But we each write our own.

I might get to streaming someday, although I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable to pay to listen music I don’t own. What happens when the network goes down?

What seems difficult is when you get to the digital side of the signal chain things stop being linear, and the options get more abstract and complicated. All of sudden you aren’t in a chain, but a network and the level of the number of laterally interrelated parts increases. I’m not a CD guy, but I do understand those that stop there for this reason.

A week ago I was wondering if I sell my headphone amps and DAC to get a DCS Bartok that would save me money on needing a fancy server. As far as I can tell, even with a high end streamer you still need an expensive server to get the best audio quality (and probably fancy isolators/switches), so that idea fell out of favor (and budget) quickly. Some people do ALL this and still run Roon. This seems way more complicated than just connecting a source via USB or I2S.

Why do you need a server or fancy parts and pieces. I have been happily streaming Qobuz and Tidal for five years and never found a need for any of those things. Buy a quaility streamer from Lumin, Auralic, Innuos, Aurender, etc. and you are good to go. Most of them save Innuos even have models with the DAC built in. Then all you need is the connecting cable of your preference and if you feel the need a better than in the box power cable. If I want to hear something from my CD or Vinyl library I just spin them. Not a fancy accessory in site in three different systems.

1 Like

For me the network does not go down. Nothing fancy, just a DSL connection to the phone company. Not even very high bitrate. But I can listen to and enjoy a 24.192 recording and marvel at how black the background is.

The thing about paying to listen to music you don’t own is pretty simple. When I read a review of an album, why not just listen to it during or after. Chances are better than not, it is there. If I want to hear something I have just learned about, type in a portion of the title and there I go, listen and enjoy. And with Roon Radio, play a track of a music style you are in the mood to listen to and then let Roon Radio take over. Soon you will be hearing wonderful music from artists you were perhaps not familiar with. It’s better than it sounds and I love how well it works

I have come to believe that artists now get more of their income from streaming than they do from round disc sales. I don’t know for sure if this is true but many say it is so.

My best advice: if you are thinking about purchasing a Bartok, do it and enjoy it. LOL.
I may do it but it may make more sense to just spend more money on the bigger stack.
Or go after the Nagra gear which some feel goes well beyond DCS performance. My My.

1 Like

That’s a different paradigm. I never seriously thought about listening to music off the internet because it seems a bit precarious. I guess this is really what the fuss is about.

I’ve got over a terabyte of mostly HD files, so kind of wedded to that at the moment. I suppose if I have the Innuos I can supplement my own files with Qobuz or something if it comes to it.

Actually come to think of it, maybe I should have gotten the smaller hard drive version and relied on streaming for more new music. Hmm.

Well you can try Qobuz for free for 30 days and go from there. I don’t think streaming is going away in some form or the other and the streamer manufacturers will adjust to whatever the current landscape requires. If they did go away you have your terabyte and I have my 3500 albums and CD’s so still music.

1 Like

Do you drive a car or ride a horse? You’re late to the party. :grin:

I come from the world of pro audio where we still use these ancient things called “Files”. I’ve been more concerned with audio quality than convenience or visual interface, and I’ve never liked paying rent.

And let’s be honest, unless you plug a streaming DAC straight into the wall and don’t own any of your music, these ARE complex setups and they require a lot of parts to keep noise and digital garbage out.

With a disc player that is one piece of digital hardware, but if you own a DSS want to play your own files with the best audio quality (and stream stuff) you need two or three boxes, not counting stuff like Ethernet or USB regenerators, or a Matrix XSPDIF2.

Different strokes. My Roon subscription is paid for in full. Lifer for over four years. On Roon’s dime now. Streaming is a good source for music, especially to fill collection gaps. No doubt personally stored flac files are best. I’ve had Deezer Elite, Tidal, and Qobuz. Qobuz currently.

Personally, I like listening to music files via Bryston MPD. It’s a Roon Ready device, but MPD sounds better to me.

They are only complex if you make them that way.


View it as “try before you buy” - if you hear something fab, go buy it if you wish, compared to other methods of discovering music and then buying it, it will give you a much wider range.
And as the folks here have said, it doesn’t need to be a crazy chain of dongles and widgets, get a streamer, connect to your DAC (or get a streamer with analogue outs if you like) and away you go.
If you find you cannot be bothered spinning discs compared to the convenience of a streamer (controlled, say, from a tablet of phone), then you can look at getting a server for your own local files, but it is only an option :slight_smile:

I use both playback methods. I have over two thousand digital rips and HD files on my server and also listen to Qobuz via Roon. Roon has a feature that makes suggestions for similar music based on what you are listening to at the moment and uses your local library as well as files that Qobuz has available. That is a good way to find new music. The “what are you spinning now” thread here is also a good way to find new music. You can purchase music that you like directly from Qobuz and put it on your server if you want to own it. You are correct that if the internet is down then streaming is no longer an option. That is where the local library really shines.

I guess you made the right choice. Innuos is known for very good quality usb interfaces, and sports an internal HD. you put your files in there, and use your network only to control the playback. It should not be complicated. It will rip your cds also.

And I agree. See streaming as an option. To me, it plays the role of FM radio. Tidal, Qobuz, even Spotify, do a great job curating radios and playlists.

Enjoy your Innuos!

@IanB52 I believe you have to make the decision:

  1. Buy a solution and just enjoying the music
  2. Buy a solution and get in the mindset of always thinking you can improve on it.

I tend to think option #2 is where “Audiophiles” fall. This is where you will always be trying different power supplies, ethernet isolations, etc. There is nothing wrong with this option if this is what you like. Heck this was me for many years.

I would just connect up your Zenith when you get it and just enjoy it.

Two years ago, I was repulsed by the thought of streaming; I expected poor sound quality and little entertainment. After a free trial and 1-1/2 years of streaming, these are my likes.

  1. Discovered a lot of new and (old recordings) by artists that I would not have played.
  2. Have bought a few CDs and Hirez downloads for periodic comparison and have decided the streamer service was good.
  3. Appreciate ROON’s algorithmic selection of music for my listening.
  4. When other audiophile’s recommend a recording, I can play it in seconds.
  5. If I like 4) can immediately add it to my playlists.
  6. I like Tablet, laptop and iphone control convenience and organization features.

I do hope artists are making money off my streaming.



What is this?

When a playlist or album ends, ROON guesses at what music to stream while waiting for my next selection. I thought the ROON people referred to it as algorithmic, my memory could be clouded (pun intended).