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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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)

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

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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.

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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 =)

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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: