Upgrading Streamer / DAC - Looking For Opinions

Hi! Would greatly appreciate any feedback or experiences anyone would like to share. Realize this is casting a wide net!

Currently using a Cambridge CXN (V2) -> Cronus Magnum 2 Amp -> Vintage Klipsch Cornwall speakers. Using Roon w/ a beefed up NAS and it’s working quite well! No playback issues. Super happy with the setup. Previously was only listening to vinyl but in the past year I have been obtaining more and more FLAC files as I become more lazy in wanting to flip records over.

So after a year, I am of course curious if it could sound “better”? I prefer for “warm” or “vintage” sounding setups. No jazz or classical. More modern records if that helps any. I would like to keep the option of playing records / sticking with the Cronus Magnum amp. So just looking for a single unit streamer + DAC (built in amp not needed). Hard wired ethernet is not an issue and have modern wifi setup in the home.

Budget is around $2-$4kish. I think that boils down to something along the lines of an Auralic Vega or Altair G1 / Lumin D2 (like that Lumin is v active on the forums here) / Mytek Brooklyn Bridge (but seems like lots of folks have issues with this?) / Naim ND5 /

I guess the big picture question is would any of these provide a dramatic improvement from the sound of the CXN. Would appreciate any experiences from folks who have previously upgraded into the next category price-level of DAC/Streamers. At this moment, I do not think I would ever want to step into spending $6k for one (famous last words?)

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Do you want a combination DAC /streamer?

Yes looking for an combo / two in one!

If it is “warm” or “vintage” sound you are after, I doubt that any of the integrated streaming DACs will give you that.

If you can live with 16/44.1-48 digital files (no high-res, no DSD, no MQA), I’d recommend you get in touch with Victor Kung who represents Sparkler Audio from Japan in North America. Their Sparkler S512 DAC produces the most wonderful sound out of 16/44.1 recordings I have come across. And you’ll be set for half your budget.

If you need a DAC which does high-res PCM and DSD, you could look at what Denafrips has to offer. The Ares II will cost you roughly the same as the Sparkler S512 and will do 24/192 PCM and DSD 1024 on its USB entry.

To stream to any of those two DACs I recommend a Raspberry Pi 4 with a Pi2AES HAT and from there via coaxial S/PDIF into the DAC. So not a two-in-one solution, but wonderful sound.


Lumin. Any day.

Lumin streamers work perfectly with Roon, and sound sublime.

Get the best Lumin in the range you can afford. You’ll never look back.


Your Cambridge is a good unit. I’d definitely audition something much more expensive before I’d replace the Cambridge with it. I wouldn’t assume one of those units will sound so much better that you will really hear you are getting a worthwhile upgrade for your money. It’s possible you won’t hear much of a difference.

I’m not saying one of them won’t be a serious SQ upgrade; I’m just saying try before you buy (or only buy with the possibility of a return).

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I wonder if you might have more luck playing with the Roon built-in DSP to alter the sound characteristics, instead of switching out what is already a good and working solution?


To follow up on that, do you want a DAC streamer combo, or a Player. Eg, a streamer that has a DAC in it…like a CD player does.

Lumin has a couple of good choices. I like Bryston stuff - Bryston BDP3.14, Auralic would be another good choice.

I think @Martin_Kelly is bang on…buy the best Lumin player you can afford. Support is great and @wklie is Johnny on the spot to answer questions for Lumin users. As a Roon endpoint, Lumin would be a good selection.


While the idea of using a combination streamer/DAC is a very good one it does greatly limit one’s choices for the DAC. Using a Roon endpoint feeding a DAC gives one more choices.

My recommendation for the DAC is a Benchmark DAC3 HGC - excellent DAC with USB input, a fantastic headphone amp and a very nice preamp.

The Roon endpoint can be a simple microRendu with a linear power supply and USB output.

Total cost for both units is well within your budget.

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I have that setup in one of my systems. Hence the earlier question posed if he wanted a DAC streamer or a streaming player. The Benchmark DAC3 is a nice setup.

Somewhat new to streaming, so I dont think I quite grasp the difference. Am I off with this assumption? Is a “DAC Streamer” primarily a DAC unit with secondary considerations on streaming (and vice versa?)

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Going to give this a more thorough shot this weekend. Appreciate the note. I have played around with a bit here and there and have had varied results that seem to wildly depend on the song (it’s been a bit easier to just roll with the mostly default settings of Roon and the CXN)

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This was super helpful, found a local dealer who will allow me to try different units for 60 days until i find the right on (and they made their suggestions based on my original post, which was Lumin)


No streamer, but you can’t get warmer or more vintage than tubes.


A DAC is a Digital to Analog Converter. Normally have multiple inputs for USB, BNC, SPDIF coax and Tosink optical.

A streamer is a music transport. (An example would be a Bryston BDP-3) It needs a DAC.

A player has a streamer and DAC chip in one build. Just like a CD player. It offers analog out connection to your preamplifier or receiver. A transport is a CD unit without the DAC chip.

A Sonore microrendu is a streamer
A Lumin D2 is a streamer player
A DAC is a self contained unit without a streamer. It has digital inputs and analog outputs. For example, Benchmark DAC3 is a DAC (different models exist with things like a headphone amp built in)

Do you have other devices to connect? If so, a split DAC, and streamer might be a better option. If not, an all in one Lumin is probably the ticket.

Hope that helps.

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  1. Appreciate that breakdown. Thank you sooo much! I am looking for “player” then …

  2. One other device - a turntable (which I am using less and less as I gor more comfortable w/ Roon and find higher quality files)

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+1 for Lumin - fantastic products, literally transformed my system. I’d go for the best you can afford - T2 over the D2 if you can, looks like it’s $4.5k US.


Sean are you in the US, or elsewhere?

Strongly considering it. Local shop offers third party financing for the budget difference. Which already has me leaning towards a bad financial decision =)


What’s wrong with the CXN ?

It still wins awards, maybe try the Edge , I have seen good reviews.

Money may be better spent elsewhere in your system to improve SQ

Ps Happy CXN user :face_with_monocle: