I’m new to digital music. A year or two ago I replaced an old and partially working stereo setup with new equipment. I enjoy music, and wanted to get decent/good sound quality, but wanted to avoid going overboard. Like many people, I have the ability to get gear-crazy and escalate the amount of money that I put into an activity. I have been a long-time computer user, including microcomputers back to the early 1980’s, but my only real use of computers with music was streaming a couple of my favorite stations and listening to archived broadcasts. I am not looking to rely on my home computer setup for listening to music.
After giving it some thought, I ended up with a Marantz 6006 CD player, Elac UF5 speakers with their 10EQ sub, and a Yamaha RN-602 receiver. I may have to move the receiver to another use - if so the likely replacement will be an Outlaw 2160. Overall I am happy with the sound quality.
I was slow to learn about the entire streaming world - it was seeing mention of the Elac discovery server that got me thinking about it.I will be digitizing a few hundred CD’s to FLAC. As it happens, I could simply use the Yamaha receiver to play the CD’s, and recent firmware updates make it possible to use the receiver to access Tidal directly. Still, partly because of the user interface, I think that I will take the plunge into the setup of a music server that does roon and others, and a network player and dac. I would like to be able to explore the world of MQA, so I would prefer that the dac handles MQA.
For the server, the sonicTransporter i5 looks like the best choice for me, and I have been impressed with the involvement of the firm on this community’s boards. The issue is with the player and dac.
If price was not much of an object, I would end up with the Sotm ultra and Mytek Brooklyn+ - but I cannot justify spending $4K+. Two options seem to make the most sense:
the new Cocktail Audio N15(D). This handles both player and DAC tasks, and because it is powered by line power avoids the rabbit holes of increasingly costly audiophile power supplies and USB cable connecting player to dac. Because this is an all-in-one option, it can always be moved to another room and used as an endpoint, and the primary system player/dac upgraded to something else later.
the pro-ject Pre Box S2 dac. I have read the threads about the dac, and I suspect that it will work for me. As player, there is the pro-ject stream box, but that is not yet listed for sale in the US. There is also the Sonore microrendu. I see that SMC offers a bundle of the transporter and microrendu. At this point I am leaning toward the microrendu. Doubtless there are other options - I will appreciate suggestions.
I understand that there is no free lunch, and I am not looking for high-end audiophile performance on a (lower) mid-range budget. My current sound system has decent sound quality, and I would like my additions to at least be consistent with that, preferably a bit higher in case of other system upgrades.
I would appreciate any comments or suggestions, either general or specific about the equipment choices.
Thanks. Tom S