Streaming device upgrade

I am seeking advice on an upgrade to my current streaming solution, which is as follows:

Roon-optimized core kit on an Intel NUC > Allo DigiOne Signature > nDac > Musical Fidelity M5si integrated amp > B&W 804 speakers. I have Tidal Hi-fi that I play via Roon. I also have a Uniti Core going into the nDac.

I think the Core sounds great. In comparison, my impression of the audio streaming through DigiSig is that it is less responsive, sounds thinner and less immediate, more remote. I’d love to get it to the level of audio from the Core.

The DigiSig clean side is powered by an iFi power supply. I’ve ordered a Shanti power supply from Allo, but somehow I doubt that will close the gap with the Core.

I’d like to avoid spending thousands of dollars. Even the Naim ND5 XS 2 seems pricey to me, especially considering that I feel I’d be paying for another DAC when I already have a good one. Any thoughts welcome.

Thanks!

I thought the Core doesn’t support streaming services like Tidal and Qobuz. The OP also uses Roon so the Core isn’t a lot of use for that either.

To the OP, i’d agree that whilst the ND5XS2 would be ideal, you don’t need its DAC functionality and what you really need a Roon endpoint that can support a S/PDIF output. Have a look at the Aurlic Aries G1 as a lower cost option to the ND5XS2.

You say that Tidal streams via the NUC > DigiOne Signature chain are “less responsive, sounds thinner and less immediate, more remote” than replay from the Core.

But you cannot stream Tidal via the Core. Thus, you are comparing apples with oranges: the two chain use different protocols and one processes local data, the other internet streams.

Before you consider new hardware, you should compare Core and DigiOne Signature for streaming local data. For this, you do not need the NUC. Just copy a few tracks on the SD card of the DigiOne and replay them with MPD. This gives you a fair comparison between Core and DigiOne Signature.

If this test still shows you that the DigiOne is worse than the Core, you are back to your original question. Otherwise, you have to ask yourself how to improve the quality of the Tidal stream. Do you run BubbleUPnP Server to provide a proxy for Tidal and Qobuz streams. Have you compared Tidal with Qobuz?

Most importantly, if you consider upgrading the DigiOne Signature, the Core or both, do you plan to further use Roon?

Why? The OP seems to be looking for a Roon endpoint with SPDIF output. The most obvious choice for him is to use the DigiOne Signature that he already has and try to make it sound as it should. If this turns out not to be viable, he could perhaps try a Meridian 210 or for a higher budget, a dCS Network Bridge.

You’re right. I’m listening to the Core play my ripped (FLAC) CD’s.

Thanks nbpf. I wasn’t aware of the Meridian or the dCS. I’ll check them out.

Looks like a good option – thanks james.

I would go for 2 items: upgrade of the transport: sonore ultra rendu is acclaimed in a lot of forums. Roon, Qobuz, Tidal with it.
Or improve your Ndac with a second hand xps.

But the ultraRendu has no SPDIF outputs and thus a USB + SPDIF bridge would be needed to connect to the nDAC. The bridge would very much determine the quality of the SPDIF feed to the nDAC.

I have compared the Sonore ultraRendu (powered by UpTone Audio JS-2) + Mutec MC-3+ Smart Clock USB into nDAC to the Allo DigiOne Signature (powered by UpTone Audio JS-2 and LPS-1.2) straight into the nDAC: they sounded a bit different but I would not say that one was better than the other.

Thus, if the OP is not happy with the sound quality of the DigiOne Signature, he will perhaps not find the ultraRendu + MC-3+ Smart Clock USB to be a major improvement.

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Maybe. But it’s the same if we suggest DCS network bridge or Auralic.
I just read regularly other forums related to network and streaming, and find very often the Sonore products as the preferred transports in that price level.
These products can be tried and returned easily, so the OP can try.
I could have suggested the DCS network bridge, but it’s more expensive.

Sure the Rendus are very good products but they do not have SPDIF outputs.

The OP is looking for a Roon endpoint with SPDIF outputs to connect to his nDAC.

Adding a good USB to SPDIF bridge (and ancillary power supply) to a netweork player with USB outputs means another investment of around 1000$.

From this angle, the Meridian 210 would probably be, in the same price class as the ultraRendu, a better option: it has SPDIF outputs. Another option, also with SPDIF outputs, is the Primare NP5.

That said, I do not know whether these devices perform better or worse than the DigiOne Signature.

If you are willing to go for used equipment I think you should try out a Bryston BDP-1 or -2 transport.

The BDP-1 come up frequently on eBay and are under $1K USD. Its a digital transport with BNC output and a linear PSU built in. The latest firmware makes them a Roon Endpoint. Supposedly they sound excellent.

Other options would be the Moon Mind 2 and Bel Canto e.Stream. These can be had new at about $1500 USD.

I have been looking specifically at the Bryston to replace my really good front end of Sonore MicroRendu and Linear PSU.

Please let us know if the Shanti power supply improves the DIgiOne Signature in your setup.

A possible solution could be Primare NP5 Prisma. It’s a streaming bridge for 500€ which can work with any DAC or preamplifier/amplifier with a DAC. And can stream Tidal via the Prisma App.
I’m just having a home demo with SC15 Prisma but only testing Prisma streaming/playing features which are like in the NP5. Which should work fine with Naim without compromising the Naim sound.
Most probably I will order the NP5 Prisma.

You could also try the Stack Audio Link. Step up from the DigiOne and in my system combined with Quest DAC preferable to an ND5XS2. Cost around £725.

Nice bit of kit. Only USB out though.

Still waiting for the Shanti… will post results when I get it.

Finally got around to the test nbpf suggested. The DigiOne Signature is much closer to the Core than I remembered. I had first tested when both were new, about a year ago. Perhaps the DigiOne Signature benefits more from run-in(?). Or my ears are getting worse (too many years of New Order at 10). Also, my original test was using BubbleUPnP on a spare computer.

I listened to Christian Thielemann/Philharmonia Orchestra playing the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th and Miles Davis Quintet’s Eighty-one from ESP. The local source through the DigiOne was very close to the Core. My wife couldn’t tell the difference. We both noticed a slight downgrade when playing the Tidal versions (playing through Roon) of the same, but still pretty good. Looking forward to getting the Shanti – perhaps I’ll be done once that arrives.

I have subscribed to Roon and invested in my own Roon Core using a headless Intel NUC. I love the way Roon consolidates my library, Tidal, and my favorite radio stations.

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Interesting, thanks for the feedback! I would be interested in your comparison between the Core and the DigiOne Signature once the Shanti is in place.

As far as I know, every Naim server or streamer has SPDIF outputs but these are rarely compared to the SPDIF outputs of other transports.

As we know that the nDAC is sensitive to the quality of its SPDIF input, such comparisons are important for nDAC owners.

Hi Nbpf

I also tried Moode, seems easy to set up, and the SQ is different from Gentoo Player.

in terms of stability though, Moode seems very stable… and can handle me moving from spotify to airplay to UPNP very well, Gentoo seems less able to do this, not sure why?

Is there a reason you prefer Gentoo to Moode?

I noted that Moode has settings for airplay and spotify (restart MPD after these stop playing)