Over the years I have been enjoying forums such as this one where I was able to ask opinions and help for trouble shooting. When I can and fell it has added value, I try to contribute. Hopefully, this may interest someone (eventually…).
I was recently trying to simply my system (read: sell a few pieces to generate cashflow for new gears). I experimented with the digital signal path. That was triggered in reading a discussion (on another site) where the member compared the performance of a NUC with another streamer (multiple $K) and found no difference in SQ despite having a very revealing system. I then wondered if I can do something similar. Let me explain.
Current setup: NUC 7i7 with ROCK + LPS(very low noise) in my mechanical room; Lumin D2 as an end point (not using the internal DAC) with external LPS; and Audio Alchemy DDP-1 with external LPS as the DAC.
I decided to plug my NUC directly to my DDP-1 (no Lumin in the path) - USB connection. My theory was the less equipment in the path, the better the SQ. Asked the wife what she thinks - answer: why is the sound so flat, so dull, lifeless… OK, no success. Not to mention a few “pops” in the sound and lots of sibilance
Now, less get rib of the DDP-1. New test: NUC back in the basement, Lumin as an end point but also as a DAC. Asked wife again: smooth, good voice (especially female’s) but the rest of the music is “blended”, not define. Basically, a good mid-fi system, not more. Hum… failed again.
After a few hours of experimenting with cables, etc, back to the original setup - wow, so detailed, no sibilance, you can finger point the musicians.
So what? Why is there much difference when using the NUC directly on my DAC? What is the added value of the Lumin in that streaming chain? Honestly, I have theories but no real answers. What can I do to have even better SQ - better digital cables? No sure it would change anything but…