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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:29 pm 
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Installed some streaming services on my computer and it got me thinking.

Since I have no digital sources for my hi-fi other than CDs I am considering streaming and or using a server via Bluetooth/wifi to my system.
Currently I am short on preamp inputs so ideally a preamp with a built in DAC and streaming would be good though I don't mind separates if need be.. This is my first foray so want qualiy but not exotic pricing.



Ideas welcome from those in the know.

PS I don't have any budget set as of yet but the market will ultimately decide to some extent what I will need to pay for what I want.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:19 pm 
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a few things to consider as well.
Control of the unit is important. some will have remotes however they may be tedious for streaming as the screen size is usually small.
most, if not all, will have a dedicated app for control. few however have desktop apps so you will need a tablet or phone to control them.
is there a streaming service you subscribe to? a dedicated app on the unit allows complete bypass of a computer for them.
if looking to bypass your current pre, then what output is needed for the second input on your amp.

no shortage of options out there but considering these may help narrow the field. An idea on your spending tolerance would also be helpful.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:44 pm 
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Location: Edmonton, AB, CA
You got PM.

There aren't a lot of quality units out there that do everything well, but PS Audio is one of those companies that does.

The biggest problem can be in the preamp section of these types of devices, which tends to deteriorate sound quality once volume is lower than 100%. The PS is bit-perfect regardless of the volume which is a really nice feature.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:30 pm 
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The current preamp has phono, aux and CD inputs only. i am using an external phono preamp in the aux, and a CD player. I have run out of available inputs.

My philosophy for a preamp is volume control and source switch only in a compact package. I don't want to bypass my preamp. I like minimalist. The dac and streaming with maybe onboard Tidal or Spotify. Android on my phone is good.
Due to my son's recent orthodontist appt it looks like I'll be searching awhile :shock: . Just moved my computer to the spare room in the basement so just a few feet away for streaming to the hi-fi. Loving old music in analog form doesnt meant I dont appreciate high quality CD or better digital. It makes finding stuff so much easier. Even stuff I will track down in analog.
I thought maybe Pro-Ject stream box but the RS is pricy and DS I am unsure. Very happy with my Tube Box DS.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:19 pm 
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There are very cheap options that also work, like a Squeezebox Touch or Pi3 device. Both would work since you have a preamp.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:32 pm 
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Location: Calgary, AB, CA
Yamaha WXC 50, Oppo Sonica Dac and Teac NT 503. The Teac does not have analog inputs though


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:45 am 
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Not knowing your current setup or budget, another option may be to simply get a DAC and run both your CDP and your computer through it. It may be cheaper than replacing your preampp


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:24 am 
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Here's a Yulong U200 DAC that might work for you. You can toggle between RCA and USB inputs to RCA outputs. At $295, it should fit your budget: http://www.canuckaudiomart.com/details/649354204-yulong-u200-dsd-32-bit-usb-dac-and-headphone-amplifier/

Here's a review: http://headphone.guru/yulong-audio-dac/

No affiliation to seller.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:39 am 
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Location: Lower Sackville, NS, CA
Are there spare digital inputs on your pre-amp since all of the analogs are used up? If so, the cheapest route is Chromecast Audio (appox $45.00), with a stereo to toslink cable to a spare optical input on the pre-amp. You can stream from the PC or use a phone/tablet app and send streaming services to the amp that way.

I recently purchased a Chromecast Audio for this purpose. I can stream Spotify through wi-fi to it and also, using BubblePNP, make it a renderer for J-River Media Center to play the digital music located on my PC.

I chose it as a solution since what I really wanted to use was the Yamaha NP-S303 (approx $450.00), as I'm becoming a big fan of the MusicCast total home streaming function it has for AVR's, would not get used a lot in this room.

https://ca.yamaha.com/en/products/audio ... index.html

https://www.google.ca/chromecast/speakers/


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:07 am 
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I am wondering if it would be less costly and more convenient to just buy a new laptop and a small external DAC and use that to play music on my system.

I wonder what a good not overpriced DAC would run then?

A media streamer still relies on the remote computer or wi-fi, so might as well just have the computer right there with the easiest interface.

Not to forget analog, but digital has so much to offer it would be a shame not to have that all figured out.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:51 am 
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msommers wrote:
There are very cheap options that also work, like a Squeezebox Touch or Pi3 device. Both would work since you have a preamp.


+1

I am running a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B with an add-on DAC board. Software is Max2Play (approx $15 for a year). I feed this into my current analog preamp.

It can receive connections from
  • My audio media server (Logitech Media Server (LMS)) running on a PC
  • Any airplay device such as an iPhone or iPad
  • Any device playing Spotify

I added a 7" touchscreen to emulate a Squeezebox touch. This video shows all the steps to setup the software: https://youtu.be/FxOEyVHgxko

Even simpler is that the Pi can run LMS itself and thus be stand alone. This setup can also be controlled by any browser on a tablet or a laptop or desktop computer so the screen attached to the Pi is actually a luxury. All this an be done under $120 CAD w/o the screen.

Good luck
Cheers!

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:31 am 
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Location: victoria, BC, CA
racecars wrote:
I am wondering if it would be less costly and more convenient to just buy a new laptop and a small external DAC and use that to play music on my system.


If you already have an older laptop lying around you can always install the x86 version of Volumio onto it. Volumio is an audio optimized Linux based O/S, so no need to go through the hassle of optimizing Windows or OSX for audio. For music storage you can connect an external USB drive, use a NAS or just play files from the laptop's HDD. This is what I use in my office system with an old 2007 MacBook.

https://volumio.org/

Then, as you say, you will only need a DAC with USB input and you're away. Before you buy a DAC, if you want to try out Volumio and see if you can get this working it can be installed and play audio through the laptop's speakers.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:49 am 
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Great suggestions so far, thanks all.

I am leaning toward getting a laptop and using an external DAC into my preamp. The question is what is a good external DAC going to cost? Assuming I will not go exotic and want the best possible sound quality but need to get my foot in the door I'm not sure what DAC to get. Also, are the little USB external DACs of sufficient quality or do want a box?

The laptop will be loaded with Tidal and Spotify, as well as store the saved music so all I really want is a great sounding DAC for FLAC or ALAC files. Also, if I hook laptop>DAC>preamp, will a "box" automatically recognize and feed thru streaming service signalsor will I need to unplug the DAC and bypass to the accessory in on the preamp? A box should have a switch or automatically recognize.

I have had PM's offering me $5000 hardware but that's really not what I am after. I want best uncompressed sound with least elaborate and expensive setup if possible.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:52 am 
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You really need to set yourself a budget.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:05 am 
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msommers wrote:
You really need to set yourself a budget.


I am not necessarily making the purchase immediately, so things can change. Typically I like to research before deciding budget and features needed.
If I can get a decent external DAC that meets my needs for under $700 that would be good. Not to say I wouldn't be happier if I can get away spending less and would spend more if I need to. Plus I will probably need to buy new notebook computer which will be minimum $700. for an OK one. I can only afford a Macbook Pro for my kids LOL.

I am a little concerned with using a box with online streaming service apps built-in due to quick obsolescence and difficulty with the interface. I fully expect to change computers every so many years so the laptop/DAC makes more sense. That is, unless there is a quality box with everything for a very reasonable price.

I see a Pro-ject stream box DS for sale here under $500 which would be a no-brainer except the reviews aren't great so again if the interface is an issue I will buy a DAC and a computer. I just started thinking about this yesterday so I am not in a hurry. So far I have my system very close to where I want it and the digital source issue is worth thinking through properly rather than jumping and regretting afterward.

My system presently is British Fidelity P270 Class A amp circa 1988 with BF preamp, excellent (but irrelevant to this discussion) analog source, Totem Hawks, and a Musical Fidelity X10V3 tube buffer on an Onlko 7030 CD player. High quality interconnects throughout.

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Last edited by racecars on Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:37 am, edited 2 times in total.

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