Curious to know your streaming and dac set up and the best recommended streamer under $15k

Curious to know your streaming and dac set up as well your best recommended streamer. I have recently upgraded my dac and have used 2 different set ups in an attempt to find the my best combination.  Former set up was Roon Nucleus+ connected to a Lumin T2. New set up is a new Nagra Tube Dac and a separate Power Supply and I had that directly connected to my Roon via Shunyata Sigma USB cable and using a Shunyata Ethernet connection to my network. Didn’t feel like that was my best possible sound so introduced the Lumin T2 back into the fold as my streamer and then connected the Nagra to the Lumin T2. This was a much improved sound. At this early testing point I’m curious to see if anyone uses and/or recommends a streamer that has significantly improved their sound under $15k. I would like to stay with the Roon platform. 

Current set up is Audio Research Ref160S amp, Audio Research Ref6SE pre-amp with Wilson Alexia speakers.  All cabling between these components is Transparent Reference. 

Unfortunately, I have not had time to photograph and upload my new Nagra dac. 

I really appreciate anyone who takes time to assist with some thoughtful ideas, experiences, or recommendations. 

128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xwoots

Sometimes the bottleneck is the file that is being streamed rather than the actual streamer. Sony uses tech that will remaster any content you stream to DSD and/or hirez PCM. I like it because it makes what I stream pretty much agnostic whether it is Spotify, Tidal, an MP3 rip, a FLAC file, etc., it all sounds fantastic. They have a streamer in the HAPZ1ES and their new Signature products have a docking station and can be used in your rig or on the go.

Innuos Statement, Simaudio 680D in one system

Innuos Zenith MK 3 just added Phoenix USB (demo got a great deal) and LessLoss Echo’s End DAC with LessLoss FireWire 640x love this setup more that the $25k setup up stairs.

You've probably already thought about it since you're familiar with the Lumin T2, but have you considered the Lumin X1? The physical design upgrades and the use of output transformers in the X1, compared to the T2, have a significant impact on the sound character if you're using the DAC and you may also hear improvements using the digital output connected to your Nagra DAC. The X1 also has a fiber network connection to further isolate it from other sources of noise.

Thanks so far everyone for your thinking.  Ironically, I had NOT thought of the X1 but what a terrific suggestion.  Demoed the Innuous MK 3 this past summer with an MSB Dac.  Was not overly impressed by the speed of the computer. Felt like it had slow processors.  I am intrigued by the Grimm and admittedly know very little about the definitely an opportunity for me to learn.

“I would like to stay with the Roon platform”
If you don’t wanna jump through hoops to tame the unruly beast a.k.a ROON, I suggest auditioning latest Innuos Statement Next Gen. You should also consider Taiko Extreme or Pink Faun Ultra 2.16 albeit at higher cost but they will be well worth it in your amazing system.

Alternatively, consider Aurender N20 as an alternative to ROON.

@woots :

Demoed the Innuous MK 3

Which Innuos MK3? There are several tiers, all have MK3 at the end. It’s the generation number. I.e. Third Generation

with an MSB Dac.

Which MSB DAC? There are several models, ranging widely in price








Don’t forget the Lumin U1 as opposed to the X1; Save money if you are using an external DAC.  

@thyname I demoed the MSB Reference with the Innuous for about 3 months while I was deciding which way to go. 

$15000. A used Aurender N30,or new N20.  Conductor isn’t Roon, but if you want an engaging end result, this will deliver.

demoed the MSB Reference with the Innuous for about 3 months while I was deciding which way to go.

Which Innuos MK3? There are several tiers, all have MK3 at the end. It’s the generation number. I.e. Third Generation

Aurender for sure. I have an Aurender W20SE -> Audio Research Reference CD9 DAC -> Audio Research Reference 6SE preamp —> Audio Research 160m mono blocks.


i can’t recommend this enough. Definitely N20 would be my choice if I did not have their flagship. The ARC DAC (go for the REF 9) is an unbelievable, detailed, musical and natural sounding. I had a $22K Berkeley Alpha Reference in my system for a couple weeks… I was prepared to cough up the extra $5K, but the ARC was ever so slightly more natural a musical. 

Anyway, my Aurender has basically the same sound as my great analog rig. Send me a PM if you want talk details. My systems are shown under my UserID.

You could try and find a used dcs bartok in the price range you reference and it would let you keep roon.. I had an Aurender a10 ...for me roon is a much better platform than the Aurender. software...


In reading this I’m still not sure of what you feel you’re missing but definitely let me know when you make your decision. I’m not big in the streaming thing- have been trying it more recently though with a new Lumin U2 in front of an Aqua La Scala Dac (I like the fact that I’m not spending money on another Dac implementation).
Still taking notes on how I feel about it- was considering picking up a LinQ this week but don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’m using similar ARC gear- GS150 with REF6 and Dynaudio Sapphire floor standers.

I am currently, experimenting with multiple permutations of streaming setup. I calculated that I now have 6 potential streaming paths with the gear I have (using ROON):

- 3 Sonore OpticalRendu’s with LPS

- Lumin X1 DAC/streamer

- Sonore UltraDigital

- Uptone EtherRegen (used as an FMC B > A)

- PeachTree GAN1 amp

Here is what I found.

1) The Benchmark DAC3B seems to sound the best on the SPDIF inputs

2) The Lumin X1 is an amazing sounding DAC. The streaming is a bit of a wild child in SPDIF and USB.

3) I compared streaming fibre into the X1 which then flowed out via SPDIF or USB streaming outputs vs the Sonore OpticalRendu streamer (which is fibre to USB). I found the X1 streaming to be louder and more in your face. A bit of a wild child compared to the more refined sounding Sonore OpticalRendu. Not sure what I will like long term. At the moment I prefer the Sonore OpticalRendu.

4) The SPDIF and i2s inputs of my Musetec 005 DAC were tested with the Sonore OpticalRendu connected to the Sonore UltraDigital. I compared this with another Sonore OpticalRendu connected to the USB input of the Musetec 005. Unfortunately, the OpticalRendu into USB was still the king, which was a shame because if I liked the UltraDigital more, I would has sold 2 of my OpticalRendu’s.

6) The best sound was using the EtherRegen as an FMC from my network switch. Ethernet from the switch to the eR and then fibre to my Lumin X1. This is using the fibre streaming of the X1 into the DAC of the X1. I never test the Ethernet streaming of the X1. Really not interested in that.

7) I also tested the Lumin X1 into my CODA #16 amp with the volume driven by the X1’s Leedh volume control. I used the external wireless Lumin volume control that is hooked up to the USB output of the X1. I compared this to the X1 connected to my Benchmark LA4 preamp.

The Leedh volume control is really good. However, at low volume it is not linear like the LA4. That is increasing the volume with the Leedh at low volume does not increase the volume at consistent steps. Not a big deal and I plan to use the X1 direct to amp with the CODA #16 in my Livingroom, but the X1 into the LA4 preamp is better. I am trying to reduce box count in the Livingroom so I will go X1 into amp,

8) The Musetec 005 DAC is a bit warmer sounding than the X1. I think both are fantastic. Though strangely on my RAAL VM-1a headphone amp, I prefer the Benchmark DA3B over the 005 and X1. I think the rougher DAC3B matches better with the 7 tubes on the VM-1a.

9) Another "DAC" I have and sent out for mods is the PeachTree GAN1 amp. I will use that with the SPDIF streaming of the X1. The GAN1 will be a headphone amp for my RAAL SR1a earphones. Before I sent the GAN1 for mods I thought it beat $30K of 2-channel gear (all sold, except Musetec 005 DAC) used as a headphone amp. This GAN1 amp has a lot of potential. That $30K of gear was KRELL Duo 175XD | CODA 07x preamp | Musetec 005 DAC | other cables.

The result of all of this is that I come to my final digital destination with my Office and Livingroom 2-channel systems and also my 2 RAAL headphone systems. I am keeping the Lumin X1 and Musetec 005 for 2-channel and the GAN1 and Benchmark DAC3B for my 2 RAAL phones.

I am selling my 2nd Musetec 005 and 1 Sonore OpticalRendu.

@designsfx I may not be missing anything and appreciate your point. Reason I ask the question is since I upgraded to the Nagra Dac and have experimented with different set ups the sound has really changed.  So, far running the Lumin T2 as the streamer into the Nagra sounds the best.  I wanted to see other ways people have set up their systems to see if I am missing something.  I originally had my Nagra dac plugged directly into the Roon but have since found that by reintroducing the T2 as a streamer in front of the dac my sound improved.  I'm looking to learn from someone like you what their experiences have been since I have only been in the streaming dac phase about 2 years.

Whomever suggested the analog "place" in Minnesota can go to the head of the class.....

I demoed the MSB Reference with the Innuous for about 3 months while I was deciding which way to go

So, let me get this straight, a DAC costing ~ $55,000 did not do it for you? Wow!

If you like LUMIN, but plan to use one as a streamer only (no DAC), then I believe the U1x is their top of the line:

@thyname it's not that the MSB didn't do it for me it sounds's just that the Nagra Tube Dac with the Power supply (similar price to MSB) sounded significantly better in my opinion and delivered a much better soundstage.  So it's not about a dac "not delivering".  Both MSB and Nagra are Dac's only and I was using Roon to serve as the streamer into the dac.  The ah ha moment was when I reintroduced the Lumin back into the system as a streamer only and it improved the sound.  It got me wondering what other people are doing for streamers and what their set ups were.  I love love love my dac!!  Prior to the dac I went from Roon into the T2 and I enjoyed that for a couple years until I recently upgraded the dac and started tinkering with my set up.  I understand your commentary, it's definitely not a dac issue.  It's being curious and open to learn from others successes and misses.  That's all.  I do appreciate you and your feedback.  I do like your suggestion as I did not think of going with a Lumin only streamer and your thoughts make great sense so thanks @thyname 

@woots : I appreciate you taking your time to explain your process. It all makes sense.

Here are my thoughts, with the assumption that your Nagra DAC is there to stay, and you keep Roon (I am a 5+ years lifetime Roon subscriber, so I understand). There are two ways to do this:

1) Keep your Nucleus as your remote Roon Server / Core. Get a standalone Roon Ready streamer (no DAC) to “feed” your DAC (I.e Streamer —> USB out —> DAC). Such as the LUMIN U1x. Plenty of good options on standalone Roon Ready streamers/ network transports, but since you like LUMIN sound signature, U1x


2) Get a very good Roon Core / streamer unit (ditch Nucleus), such as Innuos Statement or Zenith MK3 mentioned above. Run USB out from it to your DAC. Yes, Innuos has relatively low powered processor (on purpose, by design), but unless your are doing heavy DSP on Roon, or you have a huge library, it won’t be a problem. With Innuos, in addition to Roon, you can also use their own Sense streaming platform, and you can switch between Roon and Sense with a tap in your tablet or phone in no time

+1 @jimmy2615 the Lumin U1 is supposed to be an awesome unit if you have a DAC. It’s basically an S1 without a DAC. I’m wrestling with this decision right now. It’s is highly recommend by a friend of mine who who’d did some comparisons with others in the Lumin line including the X1. This is one serious streamer. My 2 cents. 

@designsfx I didn’t know a Lumin U2 has been released yet? Do you mean the U2 mini. Also a great unit. I’m currently in the process of deciding on the U2 mini or the U1 or wait until a U2 is released. Thanks. 

@woots  - If you haven't done so already, maybe circle over to WhatsBestForum ,it's quite possible that you may find some folks with either your model of Nagra DAC or one of their other models and who also stream.

I purchased a Baetis Revolution

And am quite happy with my digital front end now.

Customer service is outstanding

So in reading back through this I think @jerryg123 has hit the nail- ROON

I don’t understand the benefits of Roon as I haven’t used it. I use a Naim Uniti Core for ripping/storage because I prefer the sound of its playback through my Dac. Its library management/app is really good- the sound is great.

@dinov - Yes, my transport is a U2 Mini. I’m just now experimenting with streaming and wasn’t sure that making my first investment into a higher priced streamer would be wise in case I didn’t care for it. I also didn’t want my impressions to be muddied by the influence of a different Dac. The U2 was the better option for the test.
Honestly I’ve enjoyed it so far but when I A/B streaming 24/96 FLAC (Qobuz) against my digital files through the Naim the Naim wins every time. The Naim playback is not as “bright” as the Lumin yet still produces a fuller more detailed reproduction. 
@yyzsantabarbara  In reading your response it sounds like you may also prefer the Lumin in the capacity of a transport through a great Dac better than an all in one (unless I read that incorrectly). If true this further galvanizes my belief that separates are still the better option (for me) as opposed to an expensive one box solution.

@woots  Where is Roon falling into play here? When you tried the Innuos did ripping CD’s play into that? 

It sounds like the Roon interface might be the center to which all things orbit, but without the user experience I’m having trouble seeing it’s value as other products have great interfaces as well. Unless of course Roon offers something that enhances sound quality but that isn’t my understanding of its purpose.

@designsfx Thanks for your impressions. Im really leaning towards the mini for several reasons. First I am having a hard time justifying three times the price for the U1….including the salesman. Second, I hear the new processors are great. Third I am hearing great things about the sound and performance. I too am moving up from the line from a node that I have nursed and upgraded with the pd creative linear power supply , adding a fiber connection, and using a new NAS for a number of years. I’ve improved the sound 100% in my opinion but know that a step up to a Lumin will best that as well. With the way technology is now and all the years I had with the node I can get into a U2 mini and not get sick to my stomach by having to suck up such a huge $ loss if I want to upgrade again in several years. The U2 is a lot of money and it would take me many years to break even in my mind. That’s where I’m at. I wish you luck and wish I could see and hear your U2 mini and talk more about your experience. It’s a dicey decision!

Oh @designsfx, you said the U2 mini is not broken in yet, hear they take some play time, Lumins overall are rather warm sounding, just a thought. 

@designsfx My fav is the Lumin transport into the Lumin DAC. The Lumin gets a fibre stream from an FMC, in my case the EtherRegen (B > A).

Some people may prefer the Musetec 005 streamed with a Sonore OpticalRendu which also gets the stream via the fibre of the EtherRegen. This is just a tad warmer and smoother than the Lumin. I know a lot of people like that extra bit of warmth.

At the moment my fav streamer is the Sonore OpticalRendu over the Lumin X1. This is splitting hairs like the comparison with Lumin X1 vs the Mustete 005.


  • ROON is a great interface for music discovery.
  • You can run 2 types of DSP, the easy to setup DSP on the GUI or the very complicated Convolution Engine DSP. I paid $700 to a pro Engineer to setup Convolution filters for my small office when it had the large Theil CS3.7. I no longer have those speakers and no longer use the Convolution engine. However, when I needed it, it worked amazingly.
    • For my Livingroom I will be buying a KEF Blade 2 Meta. I have to keep the speaker about 1 foot from the front wall. Not ideal but those are the breaks. My safety net is that I can call the audio Engineer and he can remotely setup the Convolution filter for ROON. I doubt I will have to do this, but I know this will resolve any room issues I cannot solve myself.
  • I tested my DACs using the same duplicate steams to each DAC. I was able to either flip back and forth on my preamp or the source inputs of my DACs to compare. This is the multi-room GROUPED features.

There are more but I have to run.



@woots I have a very similar set up to you and have recently changed my DAC/streamer. I own the ARC Ref 160S amp, ARC Ref 6SE preamp and Roon Nucleus. Roon is my only source and I have now stopped using my CD player. I previously had those components hooked up to a Lumin T2 that I upgraded to a X1 a couple of years ago. The X1 was definitely an upgrade which included an outboard power supply. By recommendation, I added an Uptone EtherRegen but I honestly can’t tell if it made much of a difference. A few months ago I got an itch to explore a MSB DAC/Streamer. I found a dealer that offered me a demo of a MSB Discrete DAC/Streamer with 2 recommended power supplies.  I was able to A/B test the MSB with the Lumin X1 for a couple of weeks and found the MSB to be more analog sounding than the Lumin X1. Both are excellent DAC/Streamers and you can’t go wrong with either. I chose to buy the MSB and sold my Lumin X1 and am very content. For the time being…. Best wishes on your HiFi journey. 

And I am the guy who bought the X1 from @gelfdaddy, upgrading from a T2 with a SBooster power supply. My X1 is paired with an ARC Ref 6SE, and Pass XA60.8s. I connect my X1 via fiber. I too am very content. I have thought of trying an external DAC, using the Lumin as a streamer only. Still curious.

@ecpninja The Baetis line very interesting to me, they've gone in different direction using Windows platforms in their streamers. Can't get more versatile  streamer than Windows platform, with JCAT, Pink Faun boards, one can optimize for ALL the popular rendering schemes. Extremely high quality ethernet clocking and filter also available via  JCAT and Pink Faun boards. The problem is very difficult to implement Windows motherboards in high end streamers due to complex power supply needs. JCAT can cover you on this with Optimo S ATX, Farad SuperATX coming soon for another top notch ps from well regarded company. A number of different OS available for these servers as well, both Roon and a number of proprietary./independent  music player apps can be bundled with these OS.


What other streamers have you compared to the Baetis?

Have tried only 2 dedicated streamers prior to Baetis

They were the Stack Audio Link II

And Bryston BDA 3


With Baetis there is no comparison it is night and day.

It might be also that I am using the R2R TotalDac d1 core DAC from TotalDac.

I use Roon streaming Tidal.

I have heard issues concerning roon quality. Haven't tried anything other than Roon.


@ designsfx Roon has been my one constant.  I have a 16 TB Sinology DS918+ also attached to my network.  Currently I have about 50,000 tracks, mostly Hi Res that the Roon accesses.  What I love about the Roon software is that goes out and grabs the best resolution available of music tracks and plays it.  I also love how it has enabled me to discover new music based on music I like or am currently playing.  It has helped me discover new genres I have wouldn't have probably listened to on my own.  For example, I have discovered Jazz music from the 50's and 60's that I love.  Has introduced me to the trumpet and how much I love listening to great Jazz trumpet players.  Yes, I do subscribe to Qobuz and Tidal but it plays music based on music I like so I am constantly being introduced new music globally.  I have had many downfalls and issues with Roon but overall it has provided me many hours of music.  Hope that helps.


That sounds great! I was just wondering if the tracks you store on your drives were only from a disk collection, digital downloads or a combination of both.

I understand the attraction of the AI when it comes to the exposure to new music, it’s been an ongoing thing and has only gotten better. I also wasn’t sure if you were relying on digital signal processing (as yyzsantabarbara shared).

Still- with your Dac I would think that any streaming transport/endpoint would sound great in your system as you’ve alluded to when bringing the T2 back into the mix.
Have you tried the X1 with separate power supply? Another thought, the person that recommended the U2 Mini for me to test just purchased a Mytek Empire. He typically uses Audio Note gear but always had positive things to say about streaming through his Manhattan. I haven’t heard his impressions yet but as that is their new flagship I would imagine/hope it would improve upon the previous model.


You are kidding right? Under 15k? How about under $150? Maybe the Grace Digital Link if and when it goes on is typically $179 on Amazon....wait one minute! It is on sale! Now, for a limited time...$ is all you way does anyone have to spend near 15k for a streamer....hook up the Grace to a good dac like the Musical Fidelity v90 dac, $ happy. 😁


@designsfx i think I will look into Lumin options. Liked the suggestion of the U1x. Also, liked options shown on analog audio. They showed some items with great specs.  Most of music has been ripped or comes from Hi Res files. Tomorrow will have to be a day of digesting all but 1 good idea. 

was able to A/B test the MSB with the Lumin X1 for a couple of weeks and found the MSB to be more analog sounding than the Lumin X1.

This what I also posted about the X1 vs the Musetec 005. Though for my ears the X1 is slightly favored over the tiny bit warmer and smoother 005.


Here is another use for ROON if you are a headphone listener.

Store - Accurate Sound

Those Headphone FilterSets are Convolution filters that can be run on ROON. I used to use the RAAL SR1a Convolution filter with my Benchmark DAC3B and LA4 preamp. It was an awful combo without the filter. Strangely enough, I now use the DAC3B and fibre streaming, with my RAAL tube VM-1a headphone amp (no LA4 needed), without any convolution filters. This is the best sound I have in my house.



Hi. Source in my experience is everything. Meaning dedicated line, followed by my best cable from wall to a q base or conditioner or whatever you like. So I spent more on the devices from the ethernet port, to and SOTM switch powered by a great power supply then using a great cable to my streamer. Yes I bought an Atlantis Wadax demo streamer from a dealer and used it was 16.5k but man oh man you could put a decent DAC (i have tried super simple to very good) and it all sounds great. Just sayin, the source the source, don’t get cheap on that part. Just my 2 cents. Of course I just listened to my friends system with the Wadax reference streamer 60k and Wadax reference dac 180k and well yeah, that crap  was pure music. Nothing digital there. I think you could find an atlantis streamer used maybe, not a lot on the market, but Wadax is the crap.



I should add that switching from roon nucleus to the same dac I was using with the roon nucleus to the wadax atlantis streamer changed the whole sound completely. That is when I was hooked. Huge dynamic range difference, so much smoother in all the right ways. So much more natural. You have a great Dac now with the Nadra, get a top top streamer and u won’t believe the difference:)

@woots, first let me say that I’m extremely jealous of the difficulties that you find yourself having. The Nagra Tube DAC is a great piece of kit to build a system around. And I would assume that you actually want to hear how good it is without adding too much unnecessary noise in front of it. To that end I’d say keep it simple stupid(KISS) as you possibly can by not throwing a $15K streamer/server into your listening chain without first investigating easier and less expensive alternatives. 

 I use a Roon Nucleus with a 15-16v Sbooster LPS plugged into an AQ Niagara power conditioner, while using an Audiowise SRC.DX USB to BNC converter as my Roon endpoint, which is between my Nucleus and my Chord M Scaler. So I’m suggesting putting a better PSU on the Nucleus, and then plugging it right into your Nagra DAC and see what you think. As long as you’re just using the Nucleus as a means to pick your music or explore new stuff, without engaging any of the Roon software filters and DSP functions, then the Nucleus is just a pass through that will let you hear what your DAC can really do. Maybe try an Innous Phoenix USB between the Nucleus and your DAC using the Phoenix as your Roon endpoint. You’ve got lots of options. 


I have recently switched to an Innuos Pulse.  I do not need Roon or have ripped/stored files. Combined with the Sense2 app, a superb experience. I would ditch Roon, buy an Innuos Pulsar - reclocked USB into you DAC. Qobuz and native Radio Paradise Lossless = Nirvana.