Why are so many people spending so much money to build “perfect” streaming system?

I don’t understand why so many people are spending so much money building the ultimate streaming system? I guess I am just out of touch… Would love to hear some reasons streaming is so dominant today.


where the new music is, unlimited access.

where the new music is, unlimited access.

where the new music is, unlimited access.

streaming can be high resolution.

streaming can be high resolution.

streaming can be high resolution.

Are you asking about the high costs for many streamers or why people like streaming? 

I get the exposure to discover new bands. I just think it is so complicated and overpriced to need all that new equipment. I would love to set up an aurender n 20 through a denafrips ladder dac and add digital to digital converter! Would prob cost near $8000. I am too old for getting into streaming now. And too poor…The sound quality of streamers depends on so many things. It gives me a headache. Fun to dream. Happy listening- Rocco

Right now I'm in a state of audio bliss...listening to an Idagio stream of Mozart's opera "Abduction from the Seraglio." Three dimensional soundstage. Clean & undistorted. Lovely tone. For an eminently fair monthly fee. And yeah, it ain't even Hi-Def.

I really know the hi res ability is there, but I really have not met anyone streaming 24/192 flac or any dsd. Well, if dsd had any relevant releases… Now MQA turned out to be a big fake. I also wonder if I would want all that content in one place. I haven’t even mentioned the subscriptions add up. Aurender iPad app-$20 Tidal-30 Quobuz $20? Not to mention roon. I am just a simple guy. Curious though. Is it that easy to operate and enjoy mostly good SQ?

There is little reason to spend up for streaming. There is no answer for the posted question  Get real.

An ifi Zen or Node (new or used) can sound amazing and open a huge catalog of music.  There are also some great DACs that don't cost a fortune.   It does not need to be expensive.  

Because at long last digital, and in particular streaming can equal the very best sound quality available, which for decades has been vinyl. It can be done across the different quality levels of high fidelity. As an added bonus music is essentially free ($14 / month) for access to millions of albums.


I am retire and am ecstatic. I don’t have to constantly get up and can do research in my audio chair and just line up what to play next. I listen to music about three hours a day now.


There is nothing difficult about it, unless you want to make it difficult. If you already have a DAC… most contemporary CD players let you use them as a DAC. You buy a high quality streamer. You can plug it into a cheap wall wart wifi repeater so not to worry about running a cable. That is it. Download the app to your iPad or phone and go. Lots of folks here like to buy inexpensive streamers and play with their network to get better sound. But if you get a high quality streamer you don’t need to play with your network. I have a cheap Netgear router and my streamer sound as good as my high end vinyl setup.

For me to start a vinyl collection at 50 is out of the question. So streaming it is. I have a Node 2i into a Denafrips Ares II and those two combined sound very impressive in my opinion. Enjoy the music!

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@walkenfan2013 it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are plenty of one box solutions out there that sound excellent. For a price of one CD per month you have enormous library of music at your fingertips.
Spend few hundred bucks and try a bluesound node streaming Qobuz

Get a bluesound node. Easy to set up and use, good sound, and not at all expensive. Once you actually start to stream, you’ll get why all the fuss. From there you can decide if you want to spend big bucks to upgrade. And if not for some reason, you can sell it and make back most of your money. 
An analogy - taking up golf or tennis, you buy in cheap, go to a public course,  if you like it playing, you upgrade, if not, no big loss.

I'm out of touch as well...

I have 95% of the physical media (LP's CD's) in hand that I wish to listen to.

If I find something that I like (but do not own) I simply purchase it on CD/LP.

I've experienced a multitude a "digital/computer" disasters since I first started using them in the 1980's - not so with my physical media.

As far as improving streaming goes (in my situation) I take 25 mg of Zinc daily and it seems to help.

This said, I do not care for most/all of the "new" music I sample from (basically) Youtube - so this does factor in on my take.



Another point, are you still listening to 78 records or have you upgraded to 33 1/3? Also, there’s these new things called CD’s that I hear sound better then records. You do have to buy new equipment. Streaming is just a new way to listen and the cost can be very a reasonable few hundred dollars. Or you can spend $10K on up, it’s really up to you. 

+1, @deadhead1000 on Bluesound Node recommendation, a de-facto standard for many physical media hard core aficionados. 

“Why are so many people spending so much money to build “perfect” streaming system?”


Are they? Or is that the pitch? 

To have access to a million vinyl collection without having actually having millions of vinyl. That smooth analog sound in streaming is difficult to achieve without dropping jewels.

Who cares about "perfect" when "good enough" is availble for around $600 with the new Bluesound Node (like others have mentioned) with the improved DAC. Then sign up for Qobuz. That’s literally enough. Easy peasy.

If you wanna add an outboard DAC, there are plenty of options. My favorite at around the $1000 price level is the Gustard X-26 Pro. It’s dual mono and sounds great for a delta sigma DAC.(Haven’t heard the


You can pick one up almost new or lightly used for $1150 or less. The options are endless.

I have 3 different streamers (NAD M50.2, Bluesound Node w/ Teddy Pardo LPS and an Audiolab 6000N) for 3 different rooms. Honestly, I find them all enjoyable...enough that I have not tried comparing them sound wise because I’m happy with each in the system they’re in.


What do you listen to now; vinyl, CDs?

If you don't have a DAC, the aforementioned Bluesound Node gets you streaming at an affordable price. Hook up the one component and you've got a streamer and a DAC.


I have read comments from listeners who stream via Wi-Fi and are as pleased as you appear to be. Conversely there are those who believe that Wi-Fi is inherently inferior to hard wired Ethernet cable. Have you used both or has it been Wi-Fi exclusively from the beginning of your audio streaming?

Curious about your experiences. I heard from a wireless Wi-Fi streamer user this past weekend who said he has done both and could hear no improvement with the Ethernet wired. I know there are obvious variables involved that inevitably influence the outcome. Some folks are adamant that Ethernet hard wired is unquestionably better. 

I appreciate a person’s genuine experiences but I don’t like dogma. Do you have a LAN cable connection between your Aurender server and Wi-Fi extender or is it completely wireless?


Someone starting from scratch can build a HiFi system optimized for streaming for no more (and probably less) than the cost of system optimized for vinyl.  Less than $2K or so probably can get you a decent set of used bookshelf speakers, an integrated amp, a Bluesound Node, cables, router/switch, and a media service subscription.  At that point you can access pretty much all the world's music. Searching for whatever you like is a breeze (usually). There's no messing around with dusty/warped/scratched records, worn needles, or stretched turntable belts. Setting up a streaming service isn't much more complicated than setting up a cable TV service.

On the other hand, if you're at that point with a record-player system, and truly just starting out, your biggest problem is that you have no music to play.  Building an LP collection could take you years of searching . Your library will ALWAYS be far more limited than what you could get immediately for about $20/month (about the price of 1 or 2 new vinyl albums per month, average eBay prices).  Unless, that is, you buy a receiver (integrated amp with radio tuner) and do all your listening to FM or satellite radio. That could be a pretty good way to go if you don't obsess about sound quality, you don't need to own what you play, and you are content with letting someone else choose the playlist.

Once they have such a starter system, whatever kind it is, why do some people obsess about better and better SQ?  You could ask the same question about all kinds of things. Food, clothes, etc.  



I started streaming with a Bluesound Vault 2i.  That machine literally changed my life...    Worth every penny.    Buy a Node if you don't need to rip CDs.  

I paired it with a DAC and three DACs later I pulled the trigger on an Aurender N200

Again,  worth the money as I stream 80% of the time now.    I think anyone would be hard pressed to tell where the files are coming from listening to my system.  

Rotel just released a streaming integrated amp, it looks pretty nice.  I think that is the direction amps and receivers are headed.  

@mikelavigne . Do you like classical music? How many recordings of Wagner’s Ring Cycle do you have? I have 5. Can you get 5 different recordings on ANY streaming platform?

I call bullshit on that - see my comment above.

@walkenfan2013  It can be inexpensive and simple, and open up a huge range of music. For me it is complementary to LPs - streaming is the most amazing resource for discovering new music

Use Roon off an old MacBook. MacBook connects to your existing DAC. If you need a DAC, try an iFi Zen for low-cost start up. Roon is easy to use.

(Or, even simpler, just buy a BlueSound node and connect to your system)

Either way, you should be up  and running in about 15 minutes and for a few hundred dollars - no more. Start there and see where your ears lead you over time

Don’t overthink it!  You could be up and running this afternoon!

All these solutions can be controlled using an iPhone or iPad, from wherever you sit when you listen

The only regret is to have waited to long to do something that was so enjoyable and transformational in my exploration of music (I now use Roon / MacBook / Benchmark DAC, which I love)

I save my LP budget for the music that is the most special to me

Let us know what you decide, and enjoy!


PS - the above not in contradiction to those who deeply enjoy vinyl (as I do) or have complex streaming solutions - I am simply offering an inexpensive and convenient path for an entry into streaming that, for me, was simple and totally enjoyable. You can follow your ears from there.  I’ve wound up with two parallel paths in my system - Vinyl or streaming -> pre -> tube amp for vinyl or SS amp for streaming -> speakers.  I just like that setup, others will have different tastes

The simplest and least expensive streaming setup I can think of is using a WiiM mini streamer (about $70-$80) and connect to your DAC (which you probably already have).   Use the WiiM app for exploring streaming such as Amazon Music. 


When I search for "Wagner Ring Cycle" in Roon, I count 29 album hits from the Qobuz service alone. On Qobuz, represented conductors include Daniel Barenboim (Bayreuth 1991), Karl Bohm (1967), Herbert von Karajan, George Solti (Nov 2014 performance on,Decca) Joseph Keilberth (July 1953 performance, 2021 HD mastering), Lorin Mazel, Wilhelm Furtwangler (1953 performance on Warner Classics), George Szell, James Levine (August 1994 on DG), and Zubin Mehta.

Certainly, not all classical music (or individual artists) will get equal coverage on all streaming services. Qobuz seems to be one of the most comprehensive for classical in general (dunno about Wagner in particular). And on Roon, I've seen recurring complaints about how well the search engine works (or does not work)  for finding, displaying, and organizing classical music.  The tech is still evolving, it seems.


To address your basic question of why people are spending so much money to achieve "perfect" streaming, my experience is that they don't need to.

I stream through an Asus gaming laptop hooked up to my PS Audio DAC with USB. I have ripped my CD collection to uncompressed FLAC (over 4000 discs) and I subscribe to Qobuz. I still have all my CDs. I have compared the same title/version of several CDs in my collection with the corresponding title on Qobuz through the same DAC (using a PSA transport). I would defy anyone to tell the difference between the two in a blind test. As far as I can tell, I have already reached "Perfection." I wouldn't expect the Qobuz version to sound better than the same version of a CD played through the same DAC. So far no one has explained to me why a digital WAV file would sound better after being converted to compressed FLAC, put on a server, transmitted over the internet through thousands of miles of wires and thousands of switches to a streamer, and then fed to the DAC. Where in this chain would you expect the digital information to improve compared to spinning a disc on a high quality transport and transmitting the WAV signal to the DAC through a short cable?

I've also compared my ripped FLACs to the corresponding CD (again through the same DAC) and found that the FLAC versions sound identical to the CD.

I am seriously skeptical that spending $8K on a dedicated audio streamer will make Qobuz sound better than the same CD played through my system. If someone has truly compared the two sources and found that the streamed version sounds better than the CD (through the same DAC) I would like to hear from them. I would be particularly interested in results from a blind test that confirmed that an expensive dedicated streamer sounds different than a garden variety PC. I'm thrilled that my humble PC/streamer setup can equal the SQ of playing the actual CD. I consider that a technical miracle.

One more thing. I normally stream the highest resolution version available on Qobuz so I stream a fair amount of 24/192 and 24/96. I consider this another reason to pay the subscription to Qobuz - I have the opportunity to hear upgraded/remastered versions of many of my favorite CDs. As often as not, the remastered version sounds worse than the original CD.

op you can get state of the art streamingfor 7200in an easy to use streaming dac 


the avik s180 sounds like an analog system 

best sounding  dacstreamer under 10k 

and we have sold most of the Best brands


Dav and Troy

Audio intellect  nj

Aavik dealers

@mikelavigne  first post says it all.


And one can make setup simple or complex, spend a lot or not so much. You can get damn nice sound quality with lower expenditures, spending more gives marginal increases, and then one may get past this certain plateau of marginal increases to where sound quality goes into revelatory territory.


I have well over 3.5k physical cd media, around 3.5k vinyl and even with this relatively large collection streaming has so far much more to offer, I've found SO MUCH new wonderful music! I'd have to spend multiples of $10k on physical media to match whats in my streaming libraries. And I can play all this music in stream of consciousness mode, I love all genres of music and playing a particular track may bring to mind another completely unrelated track in totally different genre, its like my own personal radio station attuned directly to my mood, and this with SQ that competes with the best of best vinyl setups I've heard in over thirty years involvement with high end audio.


IME, there is no longer any reason to even start a physical media collection, just go straight to streaming, don't divide your expenditures over various sources, you'll get to great destination sooner than later with this focus.


Do you like classical music? How many recordings of Wagner’s Ring Cycle do you have? I have 5. Can you get 5 different recordings on ANY streaming platform?


i listen to 70% classical. there are dozens of recordings of most any classical composition. unlimited access to classical.

Tidal is very good for classical. Quboz is the best for classical since it has higher resolution files, whereas Tidal uses MQA. personally i prefer the naked higher rez. but 16/44 streaming files can sound fantastic. either one can take you a long way with classical.

i own 12,000 Lps, of which 5000 are classical. 3500 CD’s, one third classical. but most of my classical listening is streaming.

i have a few ’Ring’ recording on Lp. i’m not home right now, so off the top of my head i can’t recall which they are. i enjoy Opera but really don’t know it.

@walkenfan2013 -- just to add one comment -- are you unaware of the amount of money that can be spent on turntables and phono preamps for LP playback? You can easily exceed $100K for a turntable if you wish. Same thing for CD players -- you can spend tens of thousands, and that's without going to a separate DAC.

With audio, as with almost any hobby, you can get as carried away as your urges and budget permit. But you can put together an eminently enjoyable streaming system for no more than you'd spend on an equivalent level vinyl or CD setup.

I got out of work early....   listened to a crappy car stereo all day.    First thing I did was fire up my system to decompress a little.   I'm listening to a Playlist that my Aurender compiled of tracks I chose on Qobuz,  Tidal, and some tracks on its internal SSD.   It plays them all from different sources seamlessly.  

Its an amazing machine ,  it takes the "computer" out of computer audio

Album Art,  Track names , and transport keys on the front panel are a huge plus 

I love this thing ......   if there was ever a purchase that I almost didn't make , that turned out to be one of the best ever, this is it


I agree with many contributors here. The point is not about how much money is spent, or can be spent, but how little that can be spent and how that will open up a world that is so enjoyable. 

Until around 4 years ago, I avoided streaming in my system. Then I bought a new system and chose streaming as my only listening avenue (I still have an Oppo 105; it rarely gets used, but when it does, it is for watching movies). I find no need to play CDs or other physical media as the sound quality from streaming is so good; it becomes addictive and I've made small sound-quality leaps a long the way with my streaming system and am contemplating going all in because I want to get to what I feel my endgame can be. The pleasure that it brings is a blessing. Please don't wait or wonder, just give it a try. For the cost a CD a month, you'll have access to most of the music in the world. No, the music services may not have everything by every conductor or all of an artists work, but with the sheer amount of music available, you'll be able to explore at will. Good luck in your journey.

Streaming can be inexpensive and uncomplicated.  Plug a pair of headphones into your phone and chose the streaming service which best fits your needs. (they all have free trials) Simple right?  Purchase a headphone to RCA Y cable and hook it up to your stereo.  Not really that more complicated.  

The reason people spend so much on their streaming system is because everything matters.  Honestly your phone to your stereo sounds pretty good but if you don't want to  deal with the long cable strung across your room you'll need a device that you can control with your phone and so it begins.  What makes it seem complicated is there are so many inexpensive options.  Getting rid of the cable can be done for under $100 but while sounding good you won't be able to compete with audiophile components, if that's important to you.

Other users here have streaming setups that compete with expensive analog components.  The draw of access to almost any recording ever produced as a high quality source actually makes their streaming system very inexpensive compared to the cost of the hard media they would have to own, store, maintain and catalog so they could find it.

I really wish there was a perfect streaming system but everything has some sort of compromise.  I believe that streaming is worth the investment of not only dollars but the time and research required to determine what matters to me. I have a lot more time invested than dollars and drawers full of equipment I learned from to get me to my current imperfect system.




Complicated and expensive

Really, compared to LP playback? That involves cartridge, arm, table, pre-preamp, preamp, and so on? Alignment, leveling, VTA adjustment, un-warping, record cleaning, stabilizing, avoidance of feedback from mechanical vibration, and $6000 if you want to rid the system of wow due to eccentricity.

But people love it, and that’s great . . . all part of the audio world.

By comparison, streaming is cheap and easy. And as others have said, it opens to you a vast library of music you might not hear any other way.

Ditto the cost shouldn't be a factor in getting into the streaming game. 

When I told my son it was going to cost about $1300 to repair my Acurus ACD11 CD player, he asked why I wanted to listen to CD's. So my question was what was he listening to. His answer was "I'm streaming". He was using Tidal and a Node. So I stopped the Acurus repair, bought a Node 2i for about $400 and plugged it it straight into my McCormack DNA 0.5 power amp, bypassing my preamp because it to needed to be repaired, more $$. And with the Tidal family subscription I immediately was getting great sounds. By digitizing all my CD's and storing them on my NAS, my entire local library was even more accessible. And the Node gave me remote volume control which I didn't have with my preamp.

Gradually one can slowly upgrade. First, eventually, I moved to an external DAC, an inexpensive SMSL SU-9, about $500 and worth it.Then a year later I switched the Node over to a Linear Power Supply, added an audio network switch and better quality DC and Ethernet cabling. Over time this doesn't add huge amounts of money and gets quality that could cost much more. And, lastly, Roon and an Intel NUC Core is an incredible addition. I can access everything Tidal had as well as ll my digitized CD's on my NAS. (And all this is available anywhere, like my car, with the Roon Arc iPhone app). Can't tell you all the new music I've discovered; it's an incredible doorway to things you'd never discover otherwise. So over the last 3 years I've spent less than $2K and with the Node alone less than $500. The best moves I've made to my Sound system and dramatically increased my listening time and pleasure!! Start slowly, as much as the budget will allow and see for yourself. If it's not for you, you won't have invested much.

About a half hour ago I felt the urge to hear Beethoven's Second Symphony.  True, I have a handful of performances on my LP and CD shelves, but I decided to try a performance I've never heard before.  I went to Idagio and impulsively cued up a performance by the .Staatskapelle Dresden conducted Herbert Blomstedt.  Not quite as fine a string tone as I have on a couple of my performances on vinyl, but an enjoyable, well-played, emotionally committed reading. I'm a happy guy.


Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey from conventional playback to streaming. Anything is possible when you keep an open mind! 


You are not too old. Streaming is incredibly convenient and a way to easily discover new music

You do not have to spend $8000 to get a decent set up. I would heartily  recommend a one box solution that has a dac and streamer in it like a LUMIN

I would not consider buying anything that is not a Roon endpoint. You can get a dedicated Roon server from small green computer for under $1000. And I would not suggest any of this if the sound quality wasn’t just terrific. Try setting up an analog front end for under $8000 and that would be challenging

Happy new year

I started with Bluesound and as I could hear improvements, I just kept upgrading. I eventually stumbled across a Brinkmann Nyquist and the rest is history.

Yes, as you increase your budget, the higher the resolution you will be able to hear. Just like turntables and cartridges.

Do you have to spend $8k? No, you can spend under $1K and have a pretty good set up-But, just pretty good.😉


Bluesound Node 130 $500, Supra Excalibur USB cable $140,, and Denafrips Pontus II DAC $1,800......$2,440 total for a great streaming setup with a top notch versatile DAC

Take it to the next level by adding a Denafrips Iris DDC $550, and Supra 8K HDMI/I2S $80......$3,070. Amazing sound



  I don't think it's too costly at less than a cd a month.   If you are lucky  Tidal offers veterans a 6 dollar per month rate for a world of music!   Assuming you already have an amplifier and speakers,  a node and a few dollars a month will have you setup quickly and fit resonant cash. Then enjoy! 


When I search for "Wagner Ring Cycle" in Roon, I count 29 album hits from the Qobuz service alone
Yes, and that is the problem. You do get exerpts and maybe one full Ring, but not 5 or more full Ring versions with different soloists, conductors etc.



On Qobuz, among the 29 available Ring recordings I cited above, some are indeed excerpts (~3 hrs or less).  Others appear to be full Ring versions (or presumably as "full" as the original physical medium offered), including:

James Levine, 1994 on DG, 14 ":discs", 15 hrs 20 mins.

Clemens Krauss,  Bayreuth 1953, 13 "discs", 14 hrs 12 mins

Hans Knappertsbusch,  Bayreuth 1956, 13 "discs", 14 hrs 34 mins

Wilhelm Furtwangler, 1953 Rome, 13 "discs", 15 hrs 2 mins

George Solti, 2014 Decca recording (MQA), 4 "discs", 14 hrs 36 mins

Herbert von Karajan, 1998 DG, 14 "discs", 14 hrs 57 mins

Karl Bohm,  1973 Decca, 14 "Discs", 13 hrs 38 mins

I suspect this is more Ring than you're likely to find on CDs at your local Best Buy. Now, you could get a vinyl box set on Amazon (Furtwangler 1950, 11 records) for $98.99.  Many streaming service subscribers do also own CD players or turntables.  Some of them may use streaming primarily for "discovery".  


@laoman First World Problems.  

Merry Christmas. 

Yes, and that is the problem. You do get exerpts and maybe one full Ring, but not 5 or more full Ring versions with different soloists, conductors etc.

For me this one is easy- I have been into hifi and music since the 1970's. between LPs, which I never gave up on, CD and cassettes, I have thousands of titles on hand. I started to table in streaming a little over a year ago and took the full plunge in early 2022, with the purchase of a very good dedicated streamer. I have been able to explore new to me music as never before.  For the true music enthusiast who is always interested in learned of and about new music, it is amazing. millions of titles at my fingertip, at a cost of under $11/month (yearly Qobuz subscription). Roon isn't a factor as I am more than pleased with the app my streamer works with. I'm approaching 500 new titles just this year alone. 

On the other hand, if you are a person that listens to a handful of albums and is not interested in exploring new to you music, it's unnecessary. But for the music lover who is looking to expand what they listen to, it is the ultimate (almost) FM. [free music]