Where is the magic in a streamer


I’m new to high end audio and am piece by piece decoding what it all means and learning where the magic lies. Have recently learned the high importance of the source…

I am going to be predominantly a streamer of music and I am trying to work out the best way to form a high quality source. With a streaming DAC is the magic in the “retreival of the file” or the conversion from a digital signal to an analogue? Ie. would a streamer like a Bluesound connected via optical cable to a super high quality DAC produce a super high quality signal capable of doing a decent pair of separates justice?? Or is there also magic in the signal retreival…?


Perhaps you could begin with an idea of budget? Naim doesn’t do standalone dacs anymore. However you can find Ndac second hand easily. Still a very good Dac.
@HiFiman uses the Bluesound and could advise you.
Naim does streamers with integrated dacs, as nd5xs2, ndx2 . I would go more on that way.

In my experience the ‘magic’ is primarily down to the DAC, and the DAC you use can make a huge difference to the quality of the sound, and thus the enjoyability.

Other components of course may have an effect, but in my view not as great as the differences between DACS.

Budget is flexible. Just trying to work out where I do and dont need to spend money. Easiest thing is to just spend endless $$ doing this. Im intrigued as to whether a BS streamer into a super high qual DAC would be on-par with a high end integrated DAC/streamer…

Intuitively, as long as the file is retreived and stays in tact, the musicality and magic happens when its manipulated in the DAC…but happy to be educated as to why this is not true

Difficult to have definitive ideas on what is best. The Dac is considered as the most important part. But the transport, the server, the switch…are not secondary.
I will not connect a 10 k Dac into a bluesound personally, but other may have different points of views.

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A streamer is a DAC, which you stream music to via Ethernet cable or WIFI. So strictly speaking, you won’t connect to anything with an optical link (toslink), usb or spdif.

I suggest that you get the best one that you can afford.

I chose to go separate streamer and separate Dac. I think the quality of the files is important and so is the Dac, but Dac’s in general get outdated more quickly than Streamers. So I have an Auralic G1, and a Chord Quetest. Price for the pair is about $4500.

@anon42789223 A streamer is Not a DAC. A streamer may or may not have a Dac built in, but not necessarily. My Auralic Aries G1 does not have a built in Dac, and my Chord Dac doesn’t have a streamer in it.


Yes, you are right!
I own a Linn streamer, so it shapes my thinking, a Linn streams is a DAC with a socket for the Ethernet cable.

I use a bluesound to get access to tidal and if I want in the future other streaming options. This is connected to ndac with ps 555, and I see no problem in doing that. If I were in the market for a new streaming system and could wait I would wait and hope that we will se a 272 replacement or even better a 372 new streamer, or who knows a highend dac to replace the Ndac from Naim in 2020.

Hi, a streamer consists of two equally important parts for the ‘magic’ to appear at its best.
A) The transport. this is the component that converts and processes the different streaming sources and protocols into a precision clocked low noise data stream for a DAC as well as sometimes doing some processing of the data if required.
B) The DAC, this is the part that converts the precision data stream into a format suitable for analogue conversion, the conversion itself, and the creation and filtering of the resultant analogue signal.

Now Naim streamers can combine A) and B) together… or you can split say use a Naim transport and a non Naim DAC to suit preference.
What is certainly quite evident, for B) to sound its best it needs a good an A) as you can give it; unfortunately some do not realise or forget the importance of A), which I never quite understand, and under achieve what their system is capable of.


In hi-fi all the bits contribute. Always demo before you buy if you can, choosing a dealer who supports that snd has also done plenty of experimenting themselves so they can offer time (and grief)-saving guidance.

But of course the magic is in the music,

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Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Thank you for such a wonderfully simple explanation, makes a lot of sense.


It’s all important to varying degrees. Nothing is not important.

It’s a bit like asking which leg of a 3 legged stool you can do without.

Does the job, however…


One analogy I considered here was why do they make cars in different colours?
A very common thread on forums not just Naim or even Hi-Fi in particular is making something better or reaching a defined point of perfection, to hit the ceiling in attainment.
The challenge here is you only really know if a piece of equipment is right for you once you’ve at the very least tried it in your own environment as part of your own system.
A good dealer should be happy to not only give generalised advise (much as we all do for each other here) but to loan you products to allow you to evaluate them where they will live if you purchase them.
Products of the same type from different vendors can and do produce different results. I’ve got Chord portable DAC’s I like the sound of and others I’ve bought thinking they were amazing to later go back to them and question why I ended up with them, like an Arcam rDAC as an example.
I don’t think you’ll find a conclusive “X is best” answer here or any other digital, streaming, dac forum. Budget, listening environment, speakers, overall system dynamics all play a part here in what would be a good starting point and what could be done to refine that to a point of enjoyment vs spend/effort.
I drive a white car.


As Frenchrooster mentioned I use a Node 2i feeding my Naim 272 coax input this takes advantage of the DAC within the 272 as this is superior to in-built DAC of the Node 2i

The results are excellent and highly recommend for the first gen Naim streamers and as others have mentioned a Node 2i into the nDac would provide a low cost option.

Do you have a budget and own any existing gear

A streamer is a DAC? A streamer may or may not have a DAC. These are two distinct functionalities as I think you know…

Your set up sounds probably very good. I guess you had the Ndac/ 555dr before buying the Bluesound.
However, starting from level 0, for the price of an 555dr, I would more buy an Ndx2 instead, where the transport and Dac are on the same level.