Run a Streamer to the BridgeII for Better Results?


#1

I want to continue using my BridgeII with my DS. Does it make sense to replace my computer setup (laptop/server/external HD>router>Ethernet>BridgeII) with an ‘audiophile’ streamer? I’m not grasping this topic…

…Does an ‘audiophile’ streamer interface with a network (router) or directly to the DS Dac? From what I’ve read, many folks connect their streamers directly to the DS via USB or i2s. But what if you use the BridgeII, does it make any sense to run the same streamer into the BridgeII via your network, or does the streamer interface directly with the Bridge via Ethernet or USB? A streamer seems to be a better solution than running a server on a laptop with an external HD into a router. The BridgeII however, may not be fussy about how it receives the music files…Hell, maybe the Bridge isn’t set up for a streamer??? Duh…sorry_gif


#2

The whole ‘streamer’ business is very complicated. Many (Most?) DACs don’t have an ethernet input, so some companies made boxes that would take an ethernet input and output USB or i2s. Over time these have evolved beyond the basic function and other types of products have come along, sometimes also called streamers. But if you go back to the origin you can see it’s not necessary to use a streamer if you own a Bridge.

I think the easiest (and very good sounding) way to reduce the number of boxes in your audio rack is this: buy a good NAS, install MinimServer and your music on it, and connect with two cables, one from the router or switch to the NAS and the other from the NAS to B2. That’s what I do and I am very happy. (It helps if you own an Android tablet so you can use BubbleUPnP control point; control points for iOS are not as good, although they certainly exist.)


#3

Good advice, although there’s nothing obviously wrong with your current set-up Ben. I have never really gone the NAS route but I doubt there would be much, if any, difference in the sound as between the NAS and your current netbook. Fewer boxes would be nice but you have more options on the software you run by using a computer. It all depends on your priorities.


#4
magister said

I think the easiest (and very good sounding) way to reduce the number of boxes in your audio rack is this: buy a good NAS, install MinimServer and your music on it, and connect with two cables, one from the router or switch to the NAS and the other from the NAS to B2. That’s what I do and I am very happy. (It helps if you own an Android tablet so you can use BubbleUPnP control point; control points for iOS are not as good, although they certainly exist.)


You have an Ethernet running directly from the NAS to the Bridge 2?

#5

I think that’s a typo.


#6

Sorry, should have said “one from the router or switch to the NAS and the other from the switch to B2.”


#7
magister said Sorry, should have said "one from the router or switch to the NAS and the other from the switch to B2."
Okay, thanks. I seem to recall someone using an Ethernet crossover cable from their Synology NAS to the bridge.

#8

Thanks Magister. Thanks Steve.

That is what I ‘kind of thought!’ It’s just that in other areas of the forum I read something about using “streamers” directly with the Bridge. I was confused, but that in itself is not out of the ordinary! It’s my ‘audiophile’ obsessive nature that triggered another obsessive response…It’s good to know that another expenditure isn’t necessary. beer_gifbeer_gifbeer_gif


#9

“Necessary” is in the eye (or ears) of the beholder. Some people think they hear an improvement when using a maxed-out server to feed the Bridge. I don’t own a maxed-out server so I couldn’t really say but it seems more than plausible. I do have an Auralic Aries (connected by USB) that gets close to my Mac Mini feeding my Bridge II but the B2 still has a slight edge (even with a Jitter Bug and Regen on the Aries). I don’t feel a pressing need to spend a bunch of money on another box to feed the Bridge. Others would.


#10
stevem2 said "Necessary" is in the eye (or ears) of the beholder. Some people think they hear an improvement when using a maxed-out server to feed the Bridge. I don't own a maxed-out server so I couldn't really say but it seems more than plausible. I do have an Auralic Aries (connected by USB) that gets close to my Mac Mini feeding my Bridge II but the B2 still has a slight edge (even with a Jitter Bug and Regen on the Aries). I don't feel a pressing need to spend a bunch of money on another box to feed the Bridge. Others would.
I'm glad you posted, I've been trying to find a concise answer to whether the B2 sounds better than an Aries via USB to DS (I am also running Regen and Jittebug combo).

Every time I search the topic I have to wade through 300 posts and I give up.


#11

Nothing against the Aries. It sounds great and does things the Bridge does not (double rate DSD, for example). You would probably be happy with either one. I prefer the B2. Others might well disagree. I have no plans to sell the Aries, which continues to evolve.


#12

@lestes…“I’m glad you posted, I’ve been trying to find a concise answer to whether the B2 sounds better than an Aries via USB to DS (I am also running Regen and Jittebug combo)…”

Steve always posts helpful answers. That being said, as this thread gasps its final breath, I will try to squeeze a bit more useful info from our friend Steve…RE: USB / Ethernet cable quality when using your ‘HD>Mac Mini>Router>Bridge’ setup; I wonder if the “quality” of a USB cable between the hard drive and computer really matters at that stage, and whether or not the type of Ethernet cable used between the router and Bridge has any real bearing (i.e.: would CAT 7 really provide superior performance over CAT 5 in this particular setup)?

As always, beer_gifbeer_gif


#13

Short answer: I dunno. I haven’t really experimented that much. I recall our estimable foremre leader (Gordon) saying the hard drive USB cable mattered when feeding an Auralic Aries. I never tested it. I did stick a Jitterbug between my powered USB drive and the Aries but I didn’t notice much, if any difference. I also put one between the drive and my Mac Mini but didn’t notice any change. But then I’m not as sensitive to such small changes as some of our colleagues. On the Ethernet cable front, I thought I heard an improvement when I went from mass market Cat 6 to Blue Jeans Cat 6a. That was back when the server was on another floor and the cable runs were longer. Currently I’m using a cheap Cat7 but the server is now in the rack so the cables are very short. I didn’t notice any significant differences when I made that switch. Others swear by high-end cables. They may well have better ears than me, or better trained ears, or better systems. Some people think shielded cables are better. Again, I haven’t really compared though the Blue Jeans are unshielded and the Cat 7 cables I believe are shielded by definition; don’t know if the shielding connects to anything. So your mileage may vary. I do recommend using good quality cables in general for more reliable connections.


#14

The way I see is - Bridge 2 itself is the streamer you are looking for. Instead of being in a separate box it is within the DS dac itself. On top of that with Bridge 2 you get great album art display which I didn’t see in most of the high end/low end separate box streamers (recently saw one from Carry Audio which has good cover art display).

Most of the high end Streamers (I know Naim, Marantz) are actually more on the functionality side than in sound quality. Though they have inbuilt DAC but most of them say that they will work better if you pair them with a good DAC. The functionality are more around integration with streaming service, digital tuner, ability to work seamlessly with NAS, better navigation from remote, etc. I personally didn’t see much value add in that. These days you can integrate B2 easily with Tidal and Quboz if you use Bubble UPnP as controller for streaming to B2.

One downside of Bridge 2 is you cannot get digital out of it if you want to experiment with another DAC.

Coming to the sound quality I have two setups working in parallel as below. I switch to either one depending on my mood. I prefer the second one compared to other from sound quality perspective.

  1. Macmini + Audirvana + DS (through USB2).

  2. Macmini + Minim Server + Router + B2 in DS (through ethernet cable).

Regards,

Sourav


#15

Great answer Sourav. Thank you!beer_gif


#16

The way my setup is, is that I have my imac and an external hard drive with all my music on it in a back bedroom. Using JRivers and going through an Apple Airport Extreme I’m streaming the music to an Airport Express in my living room which goes into the bridge on that DAC. to me the sound is awesome. Of course I have a decent system, the results on yours may vary.