Is ‘Source First’ Still Valid In The World Of Streaming

I know…tell me about it. I should have known second time round i would be drawn to a 500 based system. It was a fun exercise, but not the cheapest route, i thought i could have stopped at 252/300😬

You say that but look at the previous gen streamers. All about 10 years old now and still playing a treat and sound amazing.
I personally think the new range will deal with changes (if there is much) better than the first gens.
The processing power the new ones have and the built in chromecast is a blessing…

Umm…can’t agree with point i), just listen to the enormous gulf in SQ between an Atom and a ND555.

As to your point ii), I suspect the real advances in streamers going forward will be in the area of noise control and DAC technology, rather than computing power. But I do get the point that longevity of streamers is way shorter than amps and speakers.

I think ‘Northpole’ Peter has it right. The 250DR isn’t much of a bottleneck with easy to drive speakers but will be with anything more demanding.

My (recently fully serviced) 250DR sounded lovely into Kudos C10s - not the most demanding speakers but at 87dB not the most efficient either. When I swapped to a 300DR the improvement wasn’t subtle…

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One other possibly obvious but worthwhile points worth mentioning relates to the listening room. If you are looking further ahead Nigel, worth factoring in the room and or house in which your system is located. I think speakers can be very room dependent, unlike the other boxes in your system, hence for example, if you are likely to move house in the next few years, buying speakers in advance of the move would be a greater roll of the dice than upgrading the power amp. IMHO. This may not apply however, I thought worth raising as another box to tick on the checklist!



Well hopefully the introduction of Qobuz on only 2nd gen MuSo isn’t a template for future services/enhancements. The industry is still clearly evolving and I guess there’ll be product casualties on the way. It’s a relatively small market and there’s a lot of different technologies/services/operating systems to support with limited income. Or maybe there’ll have to be an ongoing service fee for software updates.

Excellent point, well made, Peter.

Surprisingly, my relatively large, rear-ported floor-standers work remarkably well (and indeed were designed to) close to walls in my rather small listening room. I am very aware however the likes of the Kudos Titan range probably would not work in this room. But I will be moving, so you point is very relevant

I personally don’t think there will be the need of directly integrating companies like Qobuz in the longer term. I reckon companies like Roon will dominate the higher end audiophile market and will basically just be using UPNP.

Just a guess.

It seems to me that sooner or later you will end up with a NAP500 and Titan 707 or 808 depending on your new room
You probably won’t be able to drive them properly, especially the 8, with the 250 so wait for the right 500 deal to come along, enjoy with your existing speakers for now, and then when ready and settled in to your new house,upgrade the speakers. With the 500 there will be few if any limitations

I have heard the 808 with 3x 250DR active at @Cymbiosis pre was a 552 the quality of the music is astonishing

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The source first thing was always about the long game. You seem to have it pretty well covered and I seem to remember you were one of the cheer leaders for the speckley arsed power block so presumably you’ll have found the most musically satisfying plug arrangement too. Your task seems nearly complete and with a move in the offing there’s no point in changing speakers in advance so all you have left is the power amp, keeping an eye out for a decent price on a used 500 DR might not be a bad idea, unless you have a very good lump sum coming and are tempted by a Statement.

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@Gazza, I believe your last black box upgrade was going from 300DR to 500DR with ND555/552/PMC 25.26.

Would you kindly describe the impact the arrival of the 500DR had?

Depends what part you’re thinking of. I realistically expect my DAC to last many years, and if it is ever bettered it will only be marginally (but then it is a rather special one). Renderers and there associated library and control software, including for online streaming, is rather another matter, though I don’t think computing power is the issue. One problem of course is that there is such a proliferation of implementations, and cost is not necessarily a good guide to which is better - and different people have different needs/desires for how/what they want it to interact/do. With all-in-one streamers that means the whole caboodle evolving, and limitations of original computing power specified may come into play at some point.with developing update firmware.

Separate out the DAC and it can be more flexible and easier/cheaper to update. I agree with Popeye in part with Popeye, in tgat I guess the accessibility of different online services will become easier, without the need fir additional code to be added to existing hardware - but not Roon for me, at least not unless it improves its library file handling and gets cheaper.

@NigelB. Source first never was valid, it was a myth gotten up by the Linn disciples in the 80s.

You recognized this yourself at Bristol a couple of years ago when you commented on how excellent the Uniti Nova/Kudos 505 performed.

Funnily enough I was reminiscing the night before last about a N London dealer in the 80s who used to demonstrate how a Michell Focus/Ittok/ATC09/Sugden Pre-Power/Spendors (can’t remember the model) outperformed by the country mile a Linn/LVX/K9/Rotel 820 and little Wharfedale speakers.

Synergy all the way through the chain!


Hi Nigel, I don’t know in your case how small small is :thinking:, but just a gentle pointer to the fact that 707s have somewhat more bottom end than say 606s.
As for what component matters most in the chain, I find it thought provoking, that Team MusicWorks recommend source-preamp-amp as plug in sequence in their marvellous G3 box. Makes logical sense of course, and what do several of us end up choosing: Amp- Pre- Analogue supply- Digital supply. Ie preamp before source.
Wonder if it would just make this mad hobby easier to just remember that no system is better than its weakest link, YEP and the game goes on :crazy_face: ATB Peter

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I went from 252/300 to 552/500 at the same time. But i did demo them at the time separately, then together. After the demo i was more minded to go with the 500 actually, it just brings a sense of unflappable ease as it brings the speakers under control. As posted recently the 300 is a great amp, but by comparison it sounds as if its trying too hard to please. The 500 just has that authority, clarity, dynamics and musicality.
Whilst dithering over should i buy the 500 or go source first with the 552. That bad boy Alastair at Signals came up with a trade in and ex demo deal, so i bought both😬


I think there is some tremendously good digital gear available for reasonable money. So while I think Source First has some unasailable logic that doesn’t neccesarily mean that that translates into budget apportionment.

I think the most awkward thing to get right is the speaker/room interface; but this is only truly worth solving if what lies behind the speakers is worth hearing!



Source first is still valid but digital sources are relatively affordable these days. I think it is better to spend money on high quality loudspeakers matched to the room size.

Some modern loudspeakers seem to be designed only to have a pleasing aesthetic but if sound quality is a priority, there is still many time proven models to choose from. For example, Spendor Classic 100s would sing either with a Nait2 or a Nac552/Nap 500 :upside_down_face:


I’m too much of a tightwad to pay for the music AND an interface! :wink:

Just close your eyes and do a life time subscription. You will never have to think about it again! :joy: