Importance of Streaming Transport Quality?

I never hit any bugs in the 2+ years I’ve used mine. But I did replace the PSU. I do acknowledge others had poor experiences. But not me.

Worth noting that the quality of the PSU of any bit of hifi has the potential to affect the performance of the system as a whole depending on what leaks back the other way over the mains.

Sometimes when you hear a difference it’s not obvious where it comes from. You might change a transport and hear a massive uplift, but that could be a secondary effect on something else like the preamp responding better to less noise picked up via the mains or RF from the new transport compaired to the old one as opposed the transports impact on the DAC.

These things are rarely straightforward. So while bits are bits holds true, it’s perhaps the least relevant part. These days, I’d expect anything reasonable to deliver an accurate datastream. It’s everything else that’s more of a concern.

Essentially that is what you, me and everybody else bases whatever they say here on. Our own beliefs and opinions. Even if I had tried then I would still just be recounting my own belief.

After improving my system with various noise reduction measures my gut feeling was that, good as it was, my N100/Plixir/Qutest source was now letting the side down. Due to cost Dave was not an option for me. So I investigated the better Melco.

To be honest with you I was really half hoping that it wouldn’t be much better. I couldn’t really sensibly afford it so I had made up my mind already that if I needed to listen carefully to discern any improvements then it wouldn’t be staying. Unfortunately for my finances the vast improvement it brought was obvious literally within a few seconds of pressing play on the app. No evaluation was necessary. I just knew I had to have it.

Could that sort of improvement or better had been had using a Dave with my N100/Plixir? I’m sure that Dave would be better than my Qutest with the N100 but I don’t see how it could bring about the same fundamentally musical improvements that the better Melco did. It’s like sticking a top class arm/cartridge on a low cost turntable. It will probably be better than a cheap arm/cartridge but improving the turntable first will yeild much more fundamental musical improvements. That’s my feeling. I haven’t ‘proved’ it but it’s irrelevant to me anyway since Dave is way out of my league.

If I were in your postion I would put aside any preconceptions and listen to a high-end digital transport through my Dave to see if there was anything I was missing. But that’s just me. If you’re happy with what your MacMini does then save your money.


Indeed yes. In the very early days of streaming and before the vital importance of eliminating noise in digital streaming systems became known I think that there was less of a performance advantage to be had from dedicated hi-fi streamers over a computer.

But that was many years ago now. Things have moved on very considerably. Using a computer as a streamer in a high-end system these days makes no sense to me, unless done purely on cost grounds. The notion that a dedicated hi-fi streamer has no musical performance advantages over a computer is simply not borne out either in theory or in practice.

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I’m not sure I’d 100% agree with that. As a generalisation it’s fine but not computer based implementations of transports are created equal.

Take Luxman for example. Their DACs support optical, coaxial, and USB input but their recommended conenction of those three is actually using USB with the Bulk-Pet driver instead of standard ASIO. And that driver is only available for Mac or Windows. I used a combination of a fanless Lenovo IoT brick with Audirvana feeding the Bulk-Pet driver for a couple years. It was clear that when comparing standard ASIO to Bulk-Pet, it was a game changer in terms of performance and their claim that it dramatically reduces processing noise on the receiving end seemed to bear out in listening.

I did move onto a dedicated transport in the end. Mainly out of frustration with Audirvana (and people moan about the Naim app!). But actually a dedicated streamer, even with a extra power supply, was significantly lower cost that the PC route. The presentation is certainly very different, but I don’t think the other PC method was low end.

The transport matters a great deal in my experience. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to cost or dedicated purpose. As with so many things in this hobby, I find generalisations to be “generally” true, but living by them as absolutes will absolutely catch you out.

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I had a modded mini with audirvana as my transport for years, firstly into a hugo, then hugo 2 and then tt2 and it was a capable transport that I enjoyed. There was a very very considerable improvement when i changed it for the zenith 3 though, as you would expect, and even more so with pheonix usb attached.

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That sounds great. It is not, however, any indication of what sort of improvement might happen into a Dave DAC instead. I am aware that NDS is a pretty old design and I’m not sure how much awareness there was at that time of the real significance of RF getting into the DAC, including via the ground plane. Whilst I have no personal experience I would not be surprised if the improvement you heard would have been considerable lessof a change with, say, the 555.

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To me the resolving power/clarity etc is is primarily in the DAC (based on experience with 4 DACs and on reading), but in use it will certainly be the combination of transport and DAC - if the DAC is potentially good but limited by its performance by, for example, RF, a transport that fixes that will enable it to perform at its best. A DAC that is good because it already takes everything into account might perform near its best with every source, the best sources just making a marginal difference. I am guessing there are things in its design of Dave compared to Qutest that explain the huge difference in cost, though I only compared with Hugo and TT. However whilst I compared base level Melco with my Mac Mini/Audirvana (into Dave, through Bryston 4Bsst amp, no pre, and PMC Fact 12 speakers), in a dealer’s partially treated demo room), I have indeed not heard top level Melco, or any Innuos, and so I don’t know how much difference they might actually make - but the detail and clarity of Dave means I have no drive to spend time and effort trying to find out if a good few £thousand makes much difference. If I were to try I’d have to also try the m-Scaler. One day when my Mac Mini dies I will be forced to pick something new as a transport, otherwise it will wait till I have time on my hands and a lottery win for money to be no object.

Hi :slightly_smiling_face:
Wahoo,.and you hang here devotedly on the Naims forum,with a lot of writing and have that opinion.
Fascinating,.the view you express probably most people left during the 80s.

As always there are absolutely no absolutes in hi-fi. Something will always be there to turn everything on its head and go against all that you have believed. And these instances and experiences are truly fascinating and precious to me - I have encountered a few in my time. But they are rare.

Much of what you say regarding transports and your Dave and other DACs does seem to be based not on actual listening experiences but rather supposition on what you think will/should happen based on various technical factors. How many digital transports have you actually listened to with your Dave or other DACs?


In a context of the Naim system/sound as I perceive it transport (nd5xs2 or ndx2) has a major importance. Whether to be used as a full streamer or transport only. Its power supply and network organization are critical.

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I think more people these days are discovering that “source first” us not the be-all and end-all…

Too much doctrine.

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Well that makes sense.

My own experience suggests to me that the transport is of vital importance in maintaining musical integrity. The DAC is vitally important too of course, and changing from using the internal DAC in my Moon amp to the Qutest, with the N100/Plixir was a giant leap forwards for sure. Both changes were highly significant. Comparing N100/Plixir into Qutest with N50-S38 into Moon amp internal DAC would have been interesting and informative but I honestly couldn’t be bothered.

What I can say for sure is that the transport makes a big difference in my set-up - and so also does the DAC. I can’t imagine your Dave not sounding a lot better with a high end dedicated transport. But equally of course I can’t be sure it will either. And whether it will justify the extra cost is of course another matter. Anyway you seem perfectly happy with things as they are so no need to change unless you enjoy spending money.

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Depends what you mean by source first. For an end state system everything matters and your system is as good as its weakest component. Synergy is key imo. However, for an evolving system I believe source first makes perfect sense as it allows all the following components to work at their best until each is upgraded to the same level. Others may feel differently

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If the one has around 6k for the digital front-end and deciding whether to go simple transport + Dave vs advanced transport + Qutest, I would go for Dave. However both options are intermediate, there’s no point to stop there.

Hi again :slightly_smiling_face:

Please present the facts on your statement above…!!

In other words,.you are of the opinion that a hifi component after the source (Source First), can improve the signal and thus the musical message.

Just as your conclusions are clearly just suppositions/beliefs! But as I have indicated my mind is not closed to the possibility that there could be improvements to be had.

As for your question, the information is all somewhere in on this forum, and how many I’ve tried doesn’t alter anything in what I said, as I’ve already indicated I haven’t tried one of the top level transports with Dave… But anyway: With Hugo I listened with ND5XS as transport, and Mac Mini/Audirvana (not just Mac Mini) on its own and via Gustard U12. Hugo was notably susceptible to RF, and Gustard made a very big difference.
With Dave I have only tried MM/A and Melco (was it N10 that was the base model in about 2017?)

How many different DACs have you tried with your Melcos?

OP here. It’s surprisingly difficult to find a dedicated streaming transport without a DAC that is also wireless - looks like the iFi Zen Stream is one of the few options. The likes of Lumin appear to require a wired ethernet connection. Having gone down the internet rabbit hole, I am now mulling an Eversolo DMP-A6 to pair with my DAC. Seems a shame to pay for a built-in DAC that I don’t need, but from all accounts, it’s a very well-executed and trouble-free streaming transport that would presumably sound better than the WiiM options. Anyone tried it?

Lindemann Bridge II for example. Wireless and ethernet support. Great product! Same manufacturer of streaming board in Bridge II as in Naim products. Stable software and product with great sound quality.

The Primare NP5 is wireless and doesn’t have DAC.

I use one with an ifi power supply into ndac.

I’m very pleased with it. People are using it to add functionality to first generation Naim streamers and finding an improvement in sound quality.

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