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Why do people buy expensive digital streamers?

Discussion in 'audio' started by maxflinn, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. maxflinn

    maxflinn pfm Member

    I see that Naim and Linn streamers are often recommended on hifi fora, but why? Apart from them looking nice and perhaps fitting in with the rest of ones kit, what do they do that an Apple Airport Express can't?

    There'll be no difference in sound between the cheapest and most expensive streamers, bar whatever tiny difference the various DACs might make.

    Also, why do Naim offer extremely expensive external power supplies for their streamers? Such things have no bearing on sound :rolleyes:
  2. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    Some people buy them because they handle 24/96, 24/192. Some people buy them because they don't cause data drop outs because they output so much jitter. Some people buy them because they are easy to set-up and have interfaces that they like and understand. Some people buy them because they hate Apple and some people buy them because they fit into their hifi rack along with the gear that they already have.

    There are actually almost no products on the market that just do what the AEX does, most all of them have many additional features.

    How do you know Naim PSU's have no bearing on their digital products, have you measured them all with every possible dac in existence?
  3. Yank

    Yank Bulbous Also Tapered

    My main concern with streamers that cost thousands of dollars/pounds is wondering how quickly they'll become obsolescent in a field that's still rapidly evolving?
  4. Joe P

    Joe P certified Buffologist / mod


    Why do people bother with digital, when analogue is so much cooler and better?


  5. Joe Hutch

    Joe Hutch Mate of the bloke

    I make a point of not speculating about other people's purchasing choices.
  6. maxflinn

    maxflinn pfm Member

    Jitter is not a problem at all, tests have shown that virtually all audio components keep jitter well below an audible threshold.

    A streamer, or DAC, will be getting perfectly adequate amounts of electricity from the stock power supply, so what can an external PSU do? They serve no purpose, one doesn't need to measure them to know that!
  7. M@ver1ck

    M@ver1ck pfm Member

    I wasted two years of my life trying to make a squeezebox sound good into an Arcam Rdac, a Rega Dac and a Naim Dac.

    I'm now using a ND5XS and am extremely happy with it.
  8. maxflinn

    maxflinn pfm Member

    Because they're not "Klingon's"? :)
  9. Joe P

    Joe P certified Buffologist / mod


    I did some blind testing of the AEX against something else (can't remember what) on zerogain, now Rob and Tenson's audiosmile forum, some months ago.

    I could hear a difference between the AEX and the other widget, and I preferred the other widget. Make of that what you will.

  10. maxflinn

    maxflinn pfm Member

    Assuming you believe the ND5XS sounds better, what do you attribute the improvement to?
  11. maxflinn

    maxflinn pfm Member

    Were you using the DAC in both, Joe?
  12. Joe P

    Joe P certified Buffologist / mod


    I can't remember the details of the test -- maybe Rob can help -- but I thought the AEX was very good for the money, though not as good as the other thingy, whatever that thingy was.

    I don't hear huge differences between digital sources and I don't think you need to spend a king's ransom to get good sound, but not all DACs sound the same.

  13. M@ver1ck

    M@ver1ck pfm Member

    Both a better streaming section and integration with the dac module. Transport makes a big difference. You can get into a theoretical argument that it shouldn't, but with today's engineering it does.
  14. M@ver1ck

    M@ver1ck pfm Member

    Now, I'm open to using a PC and a $100 sound card instead of the ND5XS if used just as a streamer, but why bother. Got rid of the Naim dac, and just using the streamer's dac section.
    Just like with cd players..
  15. maxflinn

    maxflinn pfm Member

    I do believe that there can be very small differences in sound between DACs, Joe, but I think much of the time, these differences will be due to unmatched volume levels, or incorrect implementation of the DAC.

    Basically, I think that far too much emphasis is put on the importance of the source, and I agree with you in that a good sounding one need not be expensive.

    FWIW, I'm of the very firm opinion that nothing pre-DAC can effect sound quality, ie, nothing in the digital domain, beyond dropouts resulting from a lack of error correction in some wireless transfer protocols (very rare).
  16. Joe P

    Joe P certified Buffologist / mod


    I'm of the firm belief that you should buy the biggest speakers that will fit through the door. Bass drivers start at 12 inches and cabinets at 100 litres.

  17. maxflinn

    maxflinn pfm Member

    I'm of the opinion that the transport makes no difference, and blind tests back that opinion up, as they do when it comes to differences between DACs, actually. While arguably there, they're not big enough to pick out in ABX tests, it seems.
  18. maxflinn

    maxflinn pfm Member

    Lindsayt? :)
  19. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    You don't really have a clue do you, you are totally assuming, yet you say it as if you're talking fact when in reality you are opinionating an idea.
  20. maxflinn

    maxflinn pfm Member

    Oh here we go, audiophile armed with manufacturers spin lines up attack on forum member who has science and logic on his side :rolleyes:

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