Thursday, April 11, 2019

Which Streamer Is Right For Me?

Choosing an audiophile level music streamer can be confusing. Especially when adding the dimension of feature sets with sound quality. I do not intend for this to be an ultra-detailed breakdown of each brand of streamer Tweek Geek carries, but rather this is a preliminary guide to help one determine which features are important, and which brand offers those features for your needs. All of these products are fantastic and well reviewed. There are sonic differences, but the differences in features are wider and need much consideration when dropping a few grand. We are here to help in that case. If you want to discuss sonic differences, shoot us an email or give us a call. | 303-653-6341

All Streamers

All of the streamers mentioned below have the following features:
  • Roon Ready
  • Stream Tidal, Qobuz, and internet radio
  • DSD capable
Regarding MQA compatibility, all of the streamers will pass MQA, it's up to the DAC in most cases to unpack and play it as MQA. If one is intending to use Roon as the "remote control" software, Roon does have the ability to take the MQA file and convert it to PCM, or pass it through as MQA to the DAC. So technically all streamers can stream MQA for playback to any DAC.

Auralic Streamers 

AURALiC has split their line into two types of streaming products: The Aries G1 and G2 are dedicated streamers only, and the Vega G1 and G2 are primarily DACs, but have ethernet jacks built in so that they can be used as streamers as well. So why bother with the Aries streamers at all? I liken this to the question of separates vs. an integrated component. With the Aries you get a dedicated power supply and more circuitry devoted to the streamer. That and a few other features listed below distinguish the Aries from the Vega line of products.

Vega DACs
  • Built in DAC
  • No Storage
  • Ethernet only
  • Proprietary "Lightning" app can be used instead of Roon
The AURALiC Aries G2 Streamer

Aries Streamers
  • Wireless capable with no additional hardware
  • Airplay capable - great for streaming nearly anything from a browser window. SoundCloud, YouTube, tons of great content.
  • Large front panel display
  • Proprietary "Lightning" app can be used instead of Roon

Innuos Streamers

The unique ability for Innuos streamers to act as server (Roon core) and streamer (Roon endpoint) along with internal storage and a CD ripper make the Innuos products a self contained streaming solution. If it weren't for the wireless network connection needed to connect your remote control (Android or iOS phone/tablet) you could almost do without an internet connection entirely. Of course you may run in to issues when trying to retrieve metadata on CD's you are ripping, but for playback, you could disconnect from the internet entirely.

The Innuos ZENith Statement Streamer
  • Ethernet connection only
  • Run Roon Core AND Roon Endpoint
  • Internal Storage
  • Built-in CD Ripper
Innuos is the only brand Tweek Geek currently carries that does not have it's own controller app. You must use  a third party app like Roon to operate.

Lumin Streamers

Lumin has been in the streaming game longer than Innuos or Auralic. as a result, their product is probably the most mature. Their proprietary app is also very well thought out, and may preclude the need for purchasing Roon. Some units have outboard power supplies, and some have transformer coupled outputs. There are usually a number of digital inputs to choose from as well, so that older DACs, or DACs that have no (or lesser quality sounding) USB inputs.

The U1, and U1 mini are streamers only with no DAC. The D2, T2 and flagship X1 are their newest products.

  • Ethernet connection only
  • Model X1 has an outboard power supply
  • Models D2, T2, A1 & X1 all have built in DACs
    •  As a result, they can stream MQA
The Flaghsip Lumin X1

We hope you found this information helpful. Please visit the Tweek Geek web site, email or give us a call if you need more information on any of these amazing music streamers.