How Many Use Streamers With A PC/ Mac?


Just wondering how many DS/J owners, who use a PC or Mac as a music server, also use a streamer of some sort to further isolate the computer from the DAC? This would be something like the offerings from Sonore or SOTM, or similar. This does not include devices like an Aurender, Innous et al.

I ask because I find it interesting that Paul and Ted prefer to connect their computers directly to the DS via USB, and Ted has intimated that the DS/J is less sensitive to jitter than other designs. Yet if you read Audiophile Style, or watch Darko videos, streamers are really celebrated as vital.

I’m hoping to figure out what’s real, and what’s just internet chat room hype.

Do you use a streamer with your computer? How has it benefitted, or not, your system compared to direct connection via USB, or even the Matrix?

Not sure how to create a poll. Just thought it would be an interesting topic to explore.

I use a Pink Faun 2.16x as music storage, Roon core, and music server via i2s to a DS DAC and BHK preamp. I do use a PC to run Roon on but no music exists on the PC. I have used a USB connection from the PC to the DS DAC but it is not as easy to use and I could see no difference in SQ. Before the PF 2.12x I used a Roon Nucleus+ > Matrix > i2s > DS DAC. The PF 2.16 is a large improvement over the N+ and Matrix but is also about 6 times the money.


I was using a Mac Book Pro as my streamer/server into the DSD for some time. I would then from my listening position use a remote connection from another laptop to control the Mac Book in the audio rack. I thought the sound was excellent. I gave it up for similar reasons @Baldy mentions, it was just cumbersome and slow.

Now I serve the DSD via an Auralic Aries G2. I stream Tidal and the Aries also gets local files from my network via an Synology NAS. The Ethernet to the Aries passes through an Uptone Audio EtherREGEN first. The Aries then sends USB to the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 then to the DSD via Is2.

I use an iPad with the Lightning software from Auralic to control everything. It is a far more enjoyable experience than the laptop solution on usability alone.

I have some high end cables making the connections and a LPS powering the Matrix and EtherREGEN so that has to be considered too but the sound quality is a huge leap over the Mac Book >> DSD solution.

I’m really content with this setup. Hope that helps.

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Modified Mac Mini serving over Ethernet/wifi to an UltraRendu.

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Roon Core software on an iMac --> wifi --> Apple Airport Express --> CAT6 --> DSjr

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I use a Pink Faun 2.16 (single unit as opposed to Vern’s 2.16x which is two identical hardware units) as an endpoint I2S to DS.

Roon Server Core runs on a Windows 10 PC elsewhere on the network. I’ve also used a Roon ROCK PC elsewhere on the network with the Windows 10 PC hosting music files. There was no difference so I moved Roon Server to the Windows 10 PC and cut out the middle man.

I used to run Audio-Linux and Roon Core on the Pink Faun directly connected I2S but found by replacing Audio-Linux with Signalyst HQP-OS (dedicated to hosting HQPe) making the Pink Faun solely an endpoint and removing Roon from the signal path increased SQ incrementally.

I also found that Roon Server runs MUCH better on Windows or in the form of ROCK than it did on Audio-Linux, the Linux version of Roon.

Machines dedicated to a task is the way to go in my experience much like a separate DAC, preamp, amps, etc. improve SQ.

No general purpose computers perform or sound quite as good and HQPe does away with the ‘layer’ Roon overlays (subjective of course).

HQPe also now is a UPNP renderer and accepts a number of inputs. I really don’t like the UPNP servers (clients) I’ve tried on either iOS or Android so I stick with Roon (I’m a lifer for 3 years now) and without Roon ‘touching’ the files it’s just a front-end interface.


Imac Roon Core>Sonore Microrendu>Sonore Ultradigital>PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC (via i2s)


I’m not using PSAudio DACs so waited a while to chip in on this one.
Not having to use a PC of any flavour when using my HiFi was my goal (I until recently worked in IT on hardware/OS then tech architecture so that may be why), so I have a server (LMS) running elsewhere (was on a Synology NAS, now on its own dedicated VM when the library got too large for the NAS to index in a sensible time frame, though the files themselves are still on the NAS).
That way I only have to deal with a streamer front end (Squeeze Lite) when relaxing with music and not get sucked into fiddling with the PC :slight_smile:


I think a lot of this depends on where your thinking started.

We all used CD players for years that spun discs and had a D/A converter. Some manufacturers separated the spinning (transport) and D/A conversion into two boxes. When streaming audio came along they took the view that the files were most likely to be downloaded and stored on a computer of some sort, so added a usb input. Problem solved, except that usb is a problem in itself for audio DACs.

I started streaming with Linn, who’s thought process was different. They decided 15+ years ago that there was no future in spinning discs to get digital data and that stored files were the future. So they stopped making disc spinners, a major product line, and thought about streaming from first principles.

  • It was easy to see that accessing files and converting them to analogue was one function, so they never separated streaming and D/A conversion. It has always been in one box.
  • It was also easy to see that network storage and ethernet transmission was best, so they only provided an ethernet connection and you had to use network storage. In the early days (2009) I used an Iomega network drive, basically an external hard drive with some network hardware in it.
  • usb was never considered acceptable. They have added optical and AES/EBU, but never usb.

Consequently, I have almost never used usb (only as a stop-gap when I had connectivity issues with 24/192) and never used a computer source. It seems that this approach is a legacy from the 1980s. Newer manufacturers like Auralic use similar thinking to Linn, unconnected to older technology ideas, with integral streaming simply requiring a network source.

Roon throws in a spanner because of it’s processing needs. My old QNAP TS-451 with Roon Server and an attached SD drive for Roon Core struggled a bit. I now have (for business use) a TS-473 with 2x2tb SD an if I used it for Roon it would probably be perfect.


USB is a dirty dirty bus…
(Didn’t a computer bus used to be spelled with an extra “s” on the end, or am I imagining that?)

I think a verb only, as in “we bussed in a coach-load of OAPs …”, an offensive expression being grammatically lazy as well as ageist.

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I had a look at the Linn product archive here:

They call their DS devices “network player”, a precise name as all they can only play networked sources. From the 2007 to the current 2018 model, the only additions to the original single ethernet input and line/balanced outputs have been a single optical input and an SPDIF digital output.

The DSM units are full digital streaming pre-amps with a multitude of connections and an option to install a phono stage, but still no usb.

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“Network Player” is a good descriptive term.

Ted Smith commented on this a while back.

He said “If you have an I2S source it’s a quick and easy way to get great sound. If you don’t, personally I’d get USB, AES/EBU or S/PDIF going before buying some kind of I2S interface.” This seems to recommend against using the Matrix usb to I2S converter that seems so popular.

No one seems to say they use his option - optical usb - toslink with added bandwidth.

I find Ted to be much more catholic than this, far less doctrinaire.

I read this comment to suggest trying the other interfaces first to see if one meets your needs (as this is easier, cheaper, less complicated, already available, etc.) before trying a converter, not as a recommendation against anything.

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Indeed. When I said “If you have an I2S source it’s a quick and easy way to get great sound. If you don’t, personally I’d get USB, AES/EBU or S/PDIF going before buying some kind of I2S interface.” I was trying to encourage people to not be dogmatic about any given configuration, but instead to first get music, get used to the DAC and then consider tweaking. Then they will know where they stand with any particular tweak. Pursuit of the best can keep you from enjoying what you have. (Also the post quoted was in a context.) FWIW I now use a Matrix so I have all of the USB features I like (high bandwidth, more universal connectivity, etc.) while still allowing me to use whichever input to the DS is convenient at the time.


Here, here!

Thanks, Ted.


Mac Mini into an opticalRendu.

I’ve been a huge fan of the TOSLINK option for the DS DAC for years. If you have a little bit of luck your DS will work just fine with up to 192kHz optical input and that includes DSD64 via DoP at 176.4. I like it so much that I have used an iFi SPDIF iPurifier to sort of give me a second TOSLINK input on the DAC’s coax port (acknowledging that whatever electrical noise comes in from the 5V power supply and gets past the iFi’s internal filter could be detrimental to SQ).

The only sources connected to my DAC are my TV (via optical alone) and a SqueezeBox Touch (via optical and then the iFi converter).

For music I have Roon Core on a QNAP NAS, streaming via the SqueezeBox. The NAS is a PC of sorts… i3 processor, runs Linux, has hard drives, does computer-like things. No way would I want that connected via USB. The SqueezeBox plays a role for control (play/pause/skip via IR remote) but it’s also there to separate the DAC from the NAS physically and electrically.

I’m most curious about how a streamer effects sound quality, and how much of it is a doctrine, or belief system that has swept through audiophile forums without the audio science to back it up. I wonder if it’s possible to achieve comparable sound quality without a streamer?

You have built two highly regarded DACs. With a 3rd even higher quality DAC on the way. I find it curious that you don’t use a streamer. Recently watched a Darko video on streamers, a symposium with Michael Lavorgna, in which they spoke as if all DACs are inherently susceptible to jitter and noise from the source. That there’s essentially no way to cure that fundamental reality except by using a streamer. It’s simply the way things are.

Yet here comes Ted, no streamer in sight. This makes me wonder, certainly all high end DAC makers are aware of how upstream noise adversely effects sound quality, right? If one is making a $6000, or $10,000 DAC, doesn’t it make sense to put something in the DAC design to substantially mitigate, or eliminate income jitter and noise?

Is the only solution to the noise issue an expensive streamer?

How do your DAC designs specifically address the issue of incoming noise? Or is this something DAC designers don’t consider?