Understanding sources in a digital-only world

Dear friends.

I thought I’d open a new thread since the previous one on a similar topic got sort of derailed by off-topic conversations. Also, this represents a different (clearer) starting point for a conversation that I am sure many of you will be able to contribute.

In the early days of the CD, it was clear, the CD was a one box solution; as things evolved, this simple source was offered in discrete components; we could purchase a DAC in one box, an Upsampler in another box, only to also be able to also add a master clock and a of course, the transport (to spin the silver discs)

In the streaming age we have something similar, right? We have storage (whether it’s local such as a NAS or remote, such as TIDAL), but also the renderer/transport (the streamer?) and of course a DAC. (I am leaving a digital pre-amp section for now, even though it is now often bundled as part of a DAC and/or Streamer/DAC)

My question is; if the renderer/transport produces a BIT-Perfect signal (or whatever it’s called) how could that be improved? Why would a £500 bit-perfect transport be inferior to a £5000 bit perfect transport?

Please help me understand

In my view the critical component is the DAC.

The problem is that people only focus on what the device is supposed to do. 2 renderers that are bit perfect will provide identical intended information.
However, they will also generated unintended noise. How benign that noise is, and how capable the DAC is in not letting that noise affect its analogue output is the variable. Because of this its important to consider which renderer and DAC work well together rather than saying ‘that’s the best renderer’.
The other factor is the stability, quality, upgradability and usability of the software.

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