Digital convenience in one box. Is there a respectable "jack of all trades" for <$3k?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by aunitedlemon, Dec 3, 2022.

  1. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Pith, seeds, and nary a squeeze. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon
    I'm interested in upgrading my digital music experience but can't see a clear path towards it.
    I've got a killer vinyl rig but have a growing desire to get my digital listening dialed up. Presently I have a Raspberry Pi streamer and a Topping D50S DAC. I find the Volumio interface with the Pi streamer to be really clunky and/or slow and can't help but think the DAC could be a lot more satisfying. I want to be able to stream the several hundred albums I have ripped as FLAC files and have the option to connect via blue tooth (for simple cell phone and laptop connection), and am seeing myself subscribing to a streaming service (likely Qobuz) in the near future.
    My trouble is that I'd like to have a do-it-all solution that still delivers admirable results. My definition of "do-it-all" being a streamer and DAC that has the ability to either store or stream my files (which are currently on an external SSD) and can act as a blue tooth receiver (non critical convenience and all). Bonus points for a dedicated cd ripper or connectivity to my standalone drive, and balanced outputs.
    The top two contenders today are the Hifi Rose RS250 (no bluetooth receiver) and the Gold Note DS-10. I've researched and at least briefly considered the; Lumin D3, Bluesound Vault, Cocktail Audio X45, Cambridge CXN V2, Wiim Pro, Marantz misc., and many others.
    I understand that the all-in-one devices are full of compromises and that sonically I can do much better w/ a separate DAC and streamer but I don't want separates at this time. I'm looking for digital prowess and accessibility in as few connections as possible. This do-it-all device will be connected to my Yamaha A-S3200.
    Got any suggestions? Ditch the blue tooth want? Get over the clunkiness and use the Pi streamer w/ a nicer DAC? I'm open to all suggestions and appreciate your different perspectives.
     
    Toneh and enfield like this.
  2. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Seattle area
    Nothing will do absolutely everything you want. But one unit gets you pretty close, and it sounds terrific: The Marantz SACD 30n.

    It has a great DAC with multiple inputs. It has HEOS Streaming & multi-room capability, an integrated SACD player which you can both play CDs with and stream to other HEOS devices in your house if you like.
     
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  3. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Transient

    Location:
    new york city
    MIOM, fish and LeeS like this.
  4. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Pith, seeds, and nary a squeeze. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon
    That is an appealing option I've looked at more than once. Thanks! SACD and HEOS are lost on me for present usefulness which is why I keep looking elsewhere. I'm not sure I'd ever capitalize on those two key features.
    :shrug:
     
  5. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Seattle area
    A single HEOS unit by itself is just a streaming platform with a much friendlier interface than Volumio. If at some later point in time you want to connect-up another room, just acquire another HEOS enabled device, and then you can stream in multiple rooms.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2022
    aunitedlemon likes this.
  6. woodpigeon

    woodpigeon Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Zealand
    Whatever you choose, you’re going to need to use the app that comes with it. None of the ones I’ve owned or demo’ed have particularly outstanding UX, but Bluesound is better than most.

    If you’re streaming from Tidal or Spotify you can use their respective apps as a remote for your streamer, which is a nice workaround.
     
    Toneh, edwyun, aunitedlemon and 2 others like this.
  7. MGW

    MGW Less travelling, more listening

    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    MOON Simaudio 280D. Superb DAC, excellent streamer including the brilliant MOON MiND interface/app, the Bluetooth implementation is about as good as it gets. No CD ripping.
    Not entirely sure how the USB input works but I do know that an Apple or Windows PC or NAS can be input via this route.
     
  8. Gi54

    Gi54 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    I'd try out a few streamers (whether with DAC or without or even to upgrade DAC later) firstly for seeing if their OS is to your liking and also read up on quality of software support and updates, any glitchiness and the sync with your home wifi / ethernet.

    A great sounding piece of kit can soon become a nightmare if the user interface experience is a chore.

    I already had a DAC (original £3k but bought s/h for half that) that am still very happy with, so when the old laptop finally died was replaced by a Bluesound Node - primarily because of its OS and never to use the internal dac (not surprisingly it didn't come close and wasn't even better than a 12+ year old arcam dac r that's now retired), and that the new Node had usb implimented which was the best input for the DAC.

    I hardly spin a CD these days and Spotify and Qobuz provide excellent vfm and new musical journeys that I'd have never found via vinyl or CD.

    Look forward to reading how you get on, and good luck.
     
    aunitedlemon likes this.
  9. shug4476

    shug4476 Nullius In Verba

    Location:
    London
    For critical listening, I use a Mac with JRiver. The JRiver app on my phone allows me to control remotely what I listen to.
     
    reapers likes this.
  10. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    I first got a Denafrips Pontus DAC (which is a really nice sounding dac), then got a CD transport (Audiolab 6000cdt) and finally a used Bluesound Node. The DAC has balanced ins and outs.
    I loaded up all my vinyl sourced 24/88.2 files (CD rips too) onto a powered hard drive enclosure and plugged that into the Node via USB.
    The Node is about 6ft away from the stereo via an extra long RCA coax cable.
    It sounds pretty amazing for what it is and the Node control software is very good.
    The HD could also just be on the router or in the wifi loop somewhere but works great as is, the bonus is the connectivity to streaming services and internet radio.
    This whole setup can be done for well under 3k.
     
    aunitedlemon likes this.
  11. terzinator

    terzinator boots lost in transit

    You don't mention whether you use (or have tried) Roon as a streaming interface. (Integrates local files and streaming services and has what I think is a great (not clunky) user interface.

    Some of the gear that's been mentioned is Roon ready, which I'd definitely want in my feature set.

    Although, you'd need a separate piece of equipment (computer) to be the Roon Core, but it sounds like you have a computer for music (you mention your files are already on an SSD) so maybe that could be that.

    I don't have any experience with the Bluesound Vault 2i, but it might do just what you want.

    VAULT 2i - Bluesound
     
  12. PNeski@aol.com

    PNeski@aol.com Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Roon is an expensive route if you buy a nucleus, you still need a streamer /Dac or one of each, not to mention the lifetime subscription The only all in one device is super expensive (and an eye sore)
     
  13. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Pith, seeds, and nary a squeeze. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon
    I hadn't seen this option, thank you. I'm very intrigued.
     
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  14. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Pith, seeds, and nary a squeeze. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon
    I do not currently use Roon. My foray into streaming thus far has been primarily using the Volumio app to interface w/ my Pi streamer and allocated files on a SSD. I've taken a peek at Roon but haven't really dug into it since I'm also not using a streaming service yet. I haven't been interested in paying subscription fees to listen to music yet but as I stated earlier, I'm getting more interested in Qobuz.
     
  15. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Pith, seeds, and nary a squeeze. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon
    I've looked at the Vault multiple times as it does tick a lot of the boxes I'm trying to satisfy (cd ripper, bluetooth receiver, streamer). The thing that's holding me back is DAC quality (and rumors of poor tag editing options). I need to listen to it first before I can honestly comment but I've (perhaps wrongly) assumed it'll be on par w/ my Topping D50S and I'd like to experience something finer, sound quality wise. So get another DAC to use with it? $1,400 for a new Vault, ~$1,600 to spend on a nicer DAC, two boxes, but it may offer excellent convenience. Still considering it!
     
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  16. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    For that kind of coin I would buy a custom built modular fanless PC running SSD and use the software of your choice. No way in hell I'd buy a proprietary solution and get boxed into that, then have an expensive boat anchor in a few years.

    Also, re: HEOS, Denon sells a standalone HEOS box for $349. No experience, just sharing info.
     
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  17. terzinator

    terzinator boots lost in transit

    I run roon server on a 2012 mac mini, and I use it to integrate both local (ripped) files and Qobuz/Tidal. Main streamer is a Raspberry Pi into a DAC.

    I bought into Roon about 4 years ago and for me it's been the single-greatest music-gear upgrade I've made. Not for sound quality, but for music organization, discovery and playback.

    I love it.

    But yeah, not for everyone.
     
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  18. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    I mentioned that my Node is over 6' away from the dac/rig via a long coax digital cable, it turns out that a longer coax cable is actually supposed to be better than a short run for some reason.
    My setup is not a one box solution as you are seeking, but having a hq standalone dac in the rig is the only intrusion there, and if you rip a lot of CDs the DBPoweramp software is essential and rock steady at ripping and tagging, and all that is done via a laptop/desktop to HD.

    Vinyl rips on the other hand can be done several different ways, the way I do it is I have a Tascam DA3000 on the rack and it is looped in like a tape deck for recording. It's output is done via balanced connection to the dac when I want to listen to the results, this setup uses microSD cards and all recording is done at 24/88.2 and I can get over 200 albums per chip and keep them as backup after they have been transferred to a HD.
     
  19. PNeski@aol.com

    PNeski@aol.com Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    I agree, but not cheap ,even if you use a Nuc or Mac Mini ,you still need Streamer/Dac and expensive lifetime membership you could use the much cheaper Blusound player+ its app without room for a lot less,I need roon because I have
    a large collection which needed a lot of edited meta data, many get roon and then just stream from services
     
  20. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    4 years ago it was a pretty good deal for a lifetime subscription, I think it was like $500 back then and then went to $700 and now the price is increasing again.
    If you are fairly computer savvy it's a good way to go, it helps if you are into streaming via Qobuz, I don't do any streaming so the Bluesound works well for me.
     
  21. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Pith, seeds, and nary a squeeze. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon
    Agreed. DB Poweramp is excellent. That's what I use too. My streamlining desire is because of my current set of hoops- portable CD drive plugged into laptop for ripping, then transferred to portable SSD. All of which gets put away and dragged back out as needed.
    I too would likely be using a lengthy run of coax to link streamer to DAC if I go the route of separates, which seems to be the sensible use of funds for best sound quality.
     
    jonwoody and ubiknik like this.
  22. terzinator

    terzinator boots lost in transit

    Yah, i got in back at the $500 level, but still, $700 seems like a relatively small amount when we're looking at high-priced DACs and streamers (and cables and speakers and amps and whatnot). Especially if you feel it offers something special. Which I do. Others don't. It's all good.

    Some folks spend a small fortune on cable risers and isopods. This we know and lovingly embrace. :)

    I've bought lots of gear over the years that I've sold at a loss because it didn't suit my tastes. Part of the hobby, amiright?
     
  23. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    I would historically say that the Node2i is the one to beat, but there seems to be a lot of them dying over the past couple years - including mine. I’ve since moved on to have a Moon ACE and a 390 and I’ll take their MiND all day.
     
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  24. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario Canada
    The dac in the bluesound is quite good...having said that i have a topping D90se with my Node2i with truly excellent results.
     
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  25. Harris11235

    Harris11235 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Hey @aunitedlemon !

    It seems like the RS250 plus an external Bluetooth receiver like one of these would work for you. Those RS250s look amazing. I’d love to try one.
     
    Gary7704 and aunitedlemon like this.

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