Streamer upgrade, does it really make a big difference?

I am curious to hear how others have experienced an upgrade of the network streamer component of their HiFi stack.

I have a reasonably advanced system, 500/552 DR, Super Lumina full loom, Chord Dave DAC and a pair of Sonus Faber Il Cremonese speakers, the streamer in my case can be fairly considered the weakest link if you measure this by $$$ cost. (I run a Sonore UltraRendu device to stream my FLAC and DSD content to the DAC via USB).

I am considering to move either to something like an Auralic Aries G2.1 network Streamer or a DCS Bridge, or the other extreme would be the ND555 which would also replace the Chord Dave…

I am very happy with my Chord Dave, the sound is really good, and wonder if others that might have moved from a simiar entry level streamer to a more established stremer have gained in terms of musicality, sound impact and experience.

Would something like the Auralic Aries G2.1 or DCS Network Bridge really offer that much of a jump in quality? I can’t demo either where I live so I am bound to upgrade based on gut feel and feedback I hear from others…

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I would be very wary of going to an ND555 from a Chord Dave without a demo if you’re very happy with the Dave. You may well love it but without a demo it would be a bit of a gamble.

I’ve had the Auralic G1 in the past and it is a lovely piece of kit… great streamer and there are a few around here with the G2.1 who may chip in. Can’t fault the build quality etc of G1 so I’d imagine the G2.1 will be even better.

Another option, given you have the ultraRendu now is the OpticalRendu. Pair that with a very good LPS and use one of their opticalModules to convert ethernet to optical. You’ll be familiar with the software and will probably already have a good quality USB to connect it to the Dave. I’m currently using the oR with an Uptone JS-2 and it is extremely good… better than the G1 I used to have.

One other really good option would be an NDX2 into the Chord Dave. This may seem overkill as you’ll not be using the internal DAC of the NDX2 but there are a few here who do exactly that and seem very pleased with the results. This would be a good option if you want a one box solution, no LPS, and want the Naim look.

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I would add the Innuos Zenith or Statement to the list.
DCS network bridge should be very good too, but no one here have it with Chord dacs. At least I don’t remember.

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Forgot all about the Innuos Zenith… it would be another great option.

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Never thought about the Innuos, will dig into that option for sure… I am running my UltraRendu with a good quality LPS2.1 and also using a pair of media converters (tp-link) to isolate the ethernet noise out of the system… Toyed around with the idea of going to the Optical Rendu route with the Optical Module, but was not sure that will be a solid enough bump in quality over the UltraRendu with the media converters I have today.

Unfortunately I haven’t tried the UltraRendu so can’t say but from what I’ve read there is a reasonable improvement as they completely reworked the internals, not just an Ultra with optical.

The OpticalRendu needs more power than the LPS-1.2 can provide unfortunately. However, the LPS-1.2 is a good power supply for the OpticalModule. I use an LPS-1.2 to power a StarTech FMC until new oM stock arrives I the UK. The JS-2 is superb with the oR.

I noticed an improvement going from TP-Link FMC to the StarTech one and the OpticalModule is supposed to be better again.

While I really like the oR, if you’re after a simpler solution, an NDX2 or Innuos Zenith would be very good.

I’m very interested in this thread. I’ve considered a DAVE for my NDX2. Currently have an NDX2 with 555PS DR and can’t get a straight answer if the 555PS DR is worth keeping if going to a DAVE.

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Surely anyone considering nd555 should be able to get a home dem from their dealer

This is something I have thought about as the Dave has a headphone amp within also.

A little while ago, I went through a series of auditions before finally switching from the CDS3 to a streaming system.

We ended up with a Chord DAVE + M Scaler, fed by an opticalRendu with Paul Hynes SR4T power supply.

Along the way, we auditioned ND555, MBS Discrete & Premier, DCS Bartok & Rossini and Moon 780D2 streamers, Auralic Aries G2 and DCS Network Bridge.

The DCS Network Bridge is superb and was consistently more musical with the Chord dac than the Aries G2. Not tried the Aries G2.1 though.

The obvious next step might be a Chord M Scaler, rather than swap out the ultraRendu.
If you want to swap out the ultraRendu, then the opticalRendu is a bit (but not earth shatteringly) better. The Paul Hynes SR4T or Sean Jacobs equivalent really do help too. There is always the Signature Rendu but I’ve not tried one of those.

Alternatively, just get a DCS Network Bridge. It’s tremendous. Or try a Naim NDX2 as a streamer to feed your DAVE, as others on this forum do with great success.

Hope this provides a few options to consider.

Best regards, BF

I would be very careful with Paul Hynes LPS at the moment. Before I bought the Uptone JS-2, I intended to buy one of his LPS’s but they were no longer trading at that time. If you google “Paul Hynes SR7 and SR4 Build Calendar” you’ll find a thread elsewhere discussing problems with the business. I won’t go into details here but beware handing over money at this point.

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I’ve recently added an Antipodes S40 replacing a Project Stream Ultra. It has made a significant difference although is still settling in. I’ve tried to think how to describe the change without resorting to the standard review cliches but it’s beyond me ( of course, they all apply though). The biggest difference though is how much more emotionally connected I am, analysing the sound soon turns into listening to music and forgetting that what I hear is just an illusion (not the song). A real exemplar of the source first principle…

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Good to know. Then there are the Sean Jacobs alternatives too.

Best regards, BF

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Good heads up……appears they have gone into liquidation and people are trying to get money back via their credit cards etc. What a shame.

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He’s started up a new website as well though… hence the warning. Anyway, back to the OP.

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I use a Raspberry pi4 as streamer, and couldn’t tell much difference between that and the Auralic Aries that I had before it.

Don’t think there is much difference in streamers regardless of price point. This view is not popular here on the Naim forum, but much more accepted on say the Roon and ASR forums.

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I love my Chord DAVE, and it works well for me with many digital transports using Toslink, SPDIF and usb audio. However giving it a quality transport like the NDX2 it jumps forward … the resultant audio sounds more natural, space around sounds, and has a more credible presence… in short the sound breaths better.
A poor transport can produce a slightly thick and lacking in life sound … most noticeable with natural or largely non processed masters … it’s hard to explain in words… you will just need to try for yourself like I did.

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That’s a good description of the effect a good streamer has…

As another NDX2/Dave user, my recommendation would be ND5XS2/Dave. Sounds pretty much the same to me.

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Lots of interesting views here, thank you… @Simon-in-Suffolk, the only reason I resisted the NDX2 or ND5XS2 routes was the fact that I have a lot of DSD128 and DSD256 albums and I believe with a single coax interface (that would be the only way to hook it up to Dave I guess) then I would lose some native DSD capabilities, no?