Best music streamer without DAC

Hi- I’m new to this business of streaming devices vs computers (and relatively ignorant) but having used a MacBook Pro for storage/playback for years, it seems time to upgrade to something a bit more appropriate (as well as Roon-ready). I currently have two headphone-based listening systems- one is a Sonoma M1, the other is a Chord MScaler/Dave combination with Audeze LCD4/LCDX (and using an Equi=tech Model Q to balance/stabilize/condition power to all devices). I’m mainly concerned with sound quality- bells and whistles, not so much. Budget-wise, I’d like to stay around $3K but will go up to $5k. The Innuous products look interesting, as does the Sonore Signature Rendu. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated- thanks. .

Lumin U1. Job done.

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Have a look at Lumin

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If it were my money I wouldn’t look past Lumin

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If I had the budget I would definitely go for the Aurelic Aries G2.

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I have the Auralic Aries G2 and enjoy it. I selected it over the Lumin, but I am certain I would have been happy with the Lumin as well.

The newer G2.1 resolves USB issues in some systems and has a slightly larger and more isolating case. Last checked, both were concurrently available.

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I love the sound from the Allo One Signature on a Raspberry Pi 4. I feed the digital output into a Schiit Modi III external DAC. It requires a bit of assembly but sounds great.

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I am happily listening to the Allo right now, powered by their Shanti 5v linear ps into a Meridian system. It does sound great, but costs only a fraction of the OP’s budget.

Wouldn’t ten times as much money spent on brands like Auralic or Lumin buy a superior listening experience?

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I found a rock solid 5V power supply on Amazon with two outputs. Works great for Allo Digione.

It would certainly help pay for Auralic’s and Lumin’s marketing!

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If using a single power supply for the “clean” and “dirty” sides of Signature, Allo recommends one with multiple rails, like their Shanti. Their otherwise excellent Nirvana fails this test, as does my cheap Chinese “Breeze Audio” lps (even though all of these offer two 5v outputs):

They say that you compromise the benefit of galvanically isolated boards if you don’t have separate rails.

I’m using this for my mscaler/Dave combo. I like that the solid aluminum case goes well with my Dave. It’s just plug and play as far as roon goes. Turn it on and shows up as an end point.

Same here, using the Link with a Qutest. Moved from a ND5XS via a Allo DigiOne (not signature) and definitely no regrets.

If you can afford it, I’d get the Sonore Signature and not look back. I run the opticalRendu (Roon lite version) with their Sonore Power Supply and an opticalModule bridge beforehand and it’s excellent. If you don’t mind the separate boxes and cables, then one can save quite a bit of money doing that as well, thought the Signature is supposed to be a step above. Yes, many on here say an Allo or Pi is good enough, but the quality does matter, and in this world one has to pay for it, or you’re just missing out.

Edit: that Link is interesting as well; I’d never seen it before. But considering you have an $11k plus DAC, I’d go higher. I know that even with my mid-range Naim DAC V1, everything improvement I put before it I can hear, including putting my NUC into an AKASA case and upgrading the M.2 SSD to an NVME, which I did yesterday.

Do you have measurements to show that’s the case? I’d like to see them. I’d like a clear depiction of just what one would be missing out on.

Sorry, not going to go ‘there.’ We’ve all been around the ASR block one too many times - with this reasoning the OP may as well sell his DAVE and get a cheap Topping. Plenty of reviews and comparisons out there. And I’m sure for many the Allo, etc is a great option and good VFM. I’ll leave it at that. Best, Charles

Hey, you’re the one talking about “missing out”. What exactly are we missing out on?

And why is it when pressed those talking about “missing out” on some ineffable benefit never want to identify exactly what it is?

Indeed. That’s what I’d recommend.

It’s called ‘sound quality’ Bill.

Sure, somebody doesn’t have to pay $500 for one of my nice fine art 16X20 prints when they could just make themselves a blurry 4X6 print from my Instagram feed - it’s the same picture but an entirely different experience viewing it framed on the wall. But if all one is after is the objective representation of the subject pictured, then I say go for it.

But you and I have been through all this before so not taking the bait any further, and I do realize the above is not a perfect metaphor because it doesn’t include measurements - or does it?

Yes. And how do you measure that? Some folks have found ways, at ASR and Archimago’s Musings, and when they measure the difference between expensive stuff and inexpensive stuff like Pi’s used as endpoints – guess what? There’s no difference in measured SQ!

That’s the truth of the matter that you’re avoiding, seems to me. I don’t mind if you want to hold that misconception; I simply object to you talking about it in a forum without some way to back up your assertions. “Just missing out” – pshaw!

I measure it with my ears. And the happiness it brings to me, no matter the cost or measurements. Pretty sure the early seventies vintage Naim CB 160BD amp I bought for $470 earlier this year doesn’t ‘measure up’ to some cheap Chinese knock off, but man it sure does sound good. Sorry, if it seems I insulted your coveted cheap solutions, wasn’t my intention as I’m sure they work well for many, and I won’t make that mistake again, but the O.P. stated a budget and intention and advising a Pi would probably just be a waste of time $ for him considering his front end. Can’t you just let us have our fun for once?

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