My confusion on streamer vs external dac with Laptop

Having a conversation with a friend and was asked how a naim streamer differs from having a high quality dac, that is roon certified, attached to a laptop. In my mind a streamer serves the dual purpose of streaming a music service (e.g., Qobuz) as well as a local library along with a dac.

In the end I think both approaches achieve the same result but I think it seems that the higher you go up the chain with a streamer you’re paying for a better dac and better implementation (such as the faraday cage in the ND555). However with an external dac and a laptop I imagine you can tweak things more… but it does potentially seem to be a cheaper way to go. Curious if this is a fair answer.

What has added to my confusion is an article in What HiFi where they mentioned testing the Chord Dave with their NDS and 555PS… it left me wondering that if the NDS was used as a “transport” only would it not be just as good to use an Nd5… or is there something else going on with a streamer that improves SQ?

A separate DAC and renderer (“transport”) gives you the freedom to change either - and as the DAC is, in my view, the more significant contributor to the sound quality that flexibility can be useful. Different renderers can differ in relation to, for example, jitter or RF noise, while the cable between can be a factor. One advantage of these components combined in a streamer is that the link between them can be minimum length and optimised, while the computer part (the renderer) of a purpose designed device may minimise jitter and noise, whether in the streamer or stand alone like Melco etc. One other option If you are streaming from your own store of music is to combine the renderer and music store in one box, as indeed is an optional way of using Melco or Innuos Zenith, connecting to DAC direct and avoiding streaming music over a network, with the additional variables that introduces. In all this Roon can be just library software, or can function as the rendering software.

Some people have found that Naim streamers have exemplary rendering stages, but maybe the DAC is not as good as alternatives, an example being using an NDX2 into a Chord Hugo or higher. That seems to be a significant redundancy of cost with the NDX’s DAC unused, but such it this hobby when people want the best sound.

Just to say…it seems very un-Naim-like to develop a component in which the music making is as a result ofwith respect to previous devices, both better and worse processes.

What hifi used Nds/555 ps as their main source. When they had the Chord Dave for test, they used the Nds as transport, because Chord Dave is only a Dac.
They could also compare the Nds Dac to the Dave.
So , in the review, they were testing Chord Dave, and they used their own equipment also, which was Nds at that time.
If Nd5 could have done the same as Nds , as transport? I don’t think so, because the Nds is much better isolated from noise, has a much better power supply, is mechanically decoupled…
Probably the quality of the dac is the most important, but the transport comes just after, IMHO.

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.