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?)
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.
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).
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.
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?)
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)
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.