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Best non-B&O Streamer for Beolabs

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MichaelFrilund
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MichaelFrilund posted on Fri, Oct 16 2020 1:13 AM

Hello everyone,

I am a new member, located in Finland. Not sure if this has been asked several times before, so please do not get upset with me.

What do you think about a streamer from another brand with Beolabs, especially Naim ND 555, PS Audio Direct Stream DAC, Hegel HD 30 and Primare Pre35 DAC? I do not want a Beovision in the room the Beolabs will be in.

Should be connected with a digital cable?

Thank you

Michael

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Millemissen
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MichaelFrilund:

There are many skilled people at B&O, someone should make a grand DAC with a streamer. Now their best solution is a black round thing with only optical and a few other things. I might be missing something.

Yes you might!

Watch out for my take on this - my post (once again) went into moderation ;-(

 

MM

There is a tv - and there is a BV.

MichaelFrilund
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I think I could spend hours at a dealer, but COVID-19 makes a trip a bit more serious as a ministry here is against travels unless it is work related. If I somehow can make it just that...

lawrencejmcook
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MichaelFrilund:

There are many skilled people at B&O, someone should make a grand DAC with a streamer. Now their best solution is a black round thing with only optical and a few other things. I might be missing something.

The skilled people at B&O have put what must be a decent DAC into each Beolab 50 / 90 speaker. If I were in your position, I would get a streamer that can feed a digital signal to the speakers and listen to them “natively” first, to see whether I needed to invest further in a DAC.
Curly
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Curly replied on Fri, Oct 16 2020 2:13 PM

If it were me (or should I say, when it comes my time to be in the same position you’re in), I would ask myself a few questions:

1. Do I care about particular formats? For example, MQA? If I care about full MQA decoding because I use TIDAL, then that limits your options, which honestly, makes this all easier.

2. I would probably want a streamer with no DAC so as to allow the BL50 or 90 to handle all the decoding and processing. 

3. I would ensure whatever streamer I purchase has digital outputs that pass 24/192, so as to maximize the speakers’ potential. The Node 2i, for instance, can only output 24/192 on its RCA outputs, not Toslink, which may conflict with (2) above, then, if you care. I would only care to use the digital outputs on the streamer.

4. If this is your only source to the BeoLabs, then consider if you find Bluetooth, Airplay or chromecast important features for occasional, casual use.

5. My own personal feeling is I wouldn’t buy a Naim Uniti Atom or anything else with an amplifier in it because it’s redundant with our active speakers. You’re probably paying for components you wouldn’t use that can at best, have a neutral effect on the signal and at worst, degrade it.


Unfortunately the Core only serves 24/96, so while integration is good but the software kind of stinks, it’s also limited on the resolution side for BL50 and 90.

My research points me, one day, towards an Auralic Aries and a Qobuz subscription. To each their own! Let us know what you choose!

Currently: BeoSound Core, BeoLab 17, BeoLab 18

Previously: BeoSound 1 non-GVA

MichaelFrilund
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Curly, thank you.

Curly
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Curly replied on Fri, Oct 16 2020 2:20 PM

Oh, and by the way, I’d ensure my streamer output 24/192 over USB or SPDIF and forget about Toslink because BL50 and 90 can only accept up to 24/96 on Toslink. For the full digital beans, you need USB or SPDIF, according to the technical sound guide.

Currently: BeoSound Core, BeoLab 17, BeoLab 18

Previously: BeoSound 1 non-GVA

Mr 10Percent
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I have quite a list of expensive boxes on the end of my BL90s

Auralic G2 stack (Aries streamer, Vega DAC and the Leo clock)

Melco N1 music server

Melco D1 ripper

you can argue merits of each and why all you want. I was drawn both the Aries and the Melco can drive DLNA across the house, with existing NL products, I wanted something that could be moved away from B&O if required and was not going to be subject to Firmware changes that could invalidate one product with another. 

Solid units and a fair amount of coin spent. I would have so much preferred B&O develop their own hi-fi/hi-res player comparable for the BL90 because the market is there (Naim, NAD, AURALiC, Aurender +++]. No doubt it would have saved me thousands if they could have been bothered 

Curly
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Curly replied on Fri, Oct 16 2020 3:10 PM

Sorry for the multiple posts. I can’t figure out how to edit previously submitted posts. Crying

I just wanted to share this article, which I found helpful in my research. The chart at the bottom is particularly useful.

https://www.themasterswitch.com/best-music-streamers

It really helped me see just how unusual B&O is in the audio world. It feels like the vast majority of folks are using passive speakers and are therefore concerned with amps, DACs, power conditioners, cables. In some ways, our lives are so much simpler! But I feel it also makes going outside the B&O ecosystem for gear a bit challenging at times.

Because the 50s and 90s have all the amps and DACs built-in, if you want the least redundancy and least amount of “external influence” on the sound, you’d buy a component WITHOUT an amp and DAC and just leave it to the BeoLabs to process everything, as they were designed.

Now, others have suggested correctly that adding these components back in can flavor the sound (perhaps subtly) to taste and if that’s preferable to you, go for it! Ultimately, there are few rights and wrongs—what determines success is whether your system sounds good to you.

In any case, my philosophy is that I wouldn’t want to duplicate components and potentially change the flavor of the sound Geoff and team designed into our speakers. I also prefer the simplest solutions possible, generally. So to me, this leads me to ask WHO MAKES A GOOD STREAMER WITHOUT AN AMP AND WITHOUT A DAC?

You are free to ask yourself an entirely different question, of course! And that being said, many of us wouldn’t have the ability to hear great differences in various setups anyway! So, to me, it’s like insurance—am I doing what I can to ensure the truest expression of the highest quality sound? With the understanding that I may not even be able to tell the difference between 24/96 and 24/192. But if you buy such expensive speakers, you may want to ensure you’re maximizing their potential.

Let us know what you choose!

Currently: BeoSound Core, BeoLab 17, BeoLab 18

Previously: BeoSound 1 non-GVA

Sandyb
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Sandyb replied on Fri, Oct 16 2020 3:29 PM

Very good point, and reflects my thinking.

While I have bought 50s, I can foresee a day when B&O speakers are all I own from them. 

In that regard I've gone for a Linn streamer / DAC - this takes care of my music (streaming, NAS music) and radio, and gives me Roon as a UI option. And yes, in a similar to yourself, this reduces my reliance on B&O for everything.  

And again to echo your point, my Linn streamer / DAC was not cheap, but it sounds excellent,  and if B&O made an audio source that fully matched the 50s (90s) capability, that would probably be similarly expensive.

Anyway, if the OP is not overly fussed by the subtleties of different musical presentations, then I'm not sure it makes sense spending many thousands on streamer and DACs.

 

Mr 10Percent:

I have quite a list of expensive boxes on the end of my BL90s

Auralic G2 stack (Aries streamer, Vega DAC and the Leo clock)

Melco N1 music server

Melco D1 ripper

you can argue merits of each and why all you want. I was drawn both the Aries and the Melco can drive DLNA across the house, with existing NL products, I wanted something that could be moved away from B&O if required and was not going to be subject to Firmware changes that could invalidate one product with another. 

Solid units and a fair amount of coin spent. I would have so much preferred B&O develop their own hi-fi/hi-res player comparable for the BL90 because the market is there (Naim, NAD, AURALiC, Aurender +++]. No doubt it would have saved me thousands if they could have been bothered 

 

MichaelFrilund
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So who makes such a streamer? Someone mentioned Chord in the UK once.

MichaelFrilund
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I can find PS Audio, Naim, Classé, Chord, Cambridge, Marantz, Yamaha and a few others over here.

Sandyb
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Sandyb replied on Fri, Oct 16 2020 4:07 PM

Presumably you also need to think about where you're music is coming from, and how you want to control it (i.e what UI)

Which streaming service do you use? And do you (also?) use locally stored music?

Again, if I was primarily a Deezer user and nothing else, I'd stick with a Core / BeoLab 50s / B&O app / Halo.

But in my case I am not, and want to use Roon to manage / play all my music, be that from  Tidal / Qobuz / DLNA local music.........of course the Roon route and its requirement for something running the Roon server, means its not for everyone. 

 

 

 

MichaelFrilund:

I can find PS Audio, Naim, Classé, Chord, Cambridge, Marantz, Yamaha and a few others over here.

 

MichaelFrilund
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Streaming... Deezer probably. Also getting an SACD, probably a Marantz SA10 connected with a SPDIF to the streamer.

Almost forgot! Someone recommended to have the streamer on full volume, let the amp or loudspeakers to adjust the volume I hear. Something about the quality being better on full volume. No joke, came from a serious brand but can't remember which one.

politician
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Given that the Lab 90s/50s have their own inbuilt DAC, I would opt for a streaming transport rather than a streamer with a DAC. Different streaming transports certainly do not sound the same, just as with CD transports (even different B&O models produce slightly different results), so you should audition a few options at home. I'm currently using an Auralic Aries Femto and I recently auditioned an Aries G2.1 and a dCS Network Bridge. The G2.1 had a much more dynamic and exciting presentation of the music, whilst the Network Bridge – although, I suspect, perhaps more accurate to the source material – had a leaner and less upfront style. In the end, I decided to wait until Auralic launches the G3 and upgrade then.

seethroughyou
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Innuos Zen mini. Great machine. It rips CDs as well. Has Roon inbuilt.

I agree. Go for a streamer only.
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