why expensive streamers

@soix and others

I am unclear about the effect on sound of streamers (prior to getting to the dac). Audio (even hi-res) has so little information content relative to the mega and giga bit communication and processing speeds (bandwidth, BW) and cheap buffering supported by modern electronics that it seems that any relatively cheap piece of electronics would never lose an audio bit. 

Here is why. Because of the huge amount of BW relative to the BW needs of audio, you can send the same audio chunk 100 times and use a bit checking algorithm (they call this "check sum") to make sure just one of these sets is correct. With this approach you would be assured that the correct bits would be transfered. This high accuracy rate would mean perfect audio bit transfer. 

What am I missing? Why are people spending 1000's on streamers?



128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xdelmatae

I seriously doubt that the difference in streamers has anything to do with data integrity. I would expect that every streamer can deliver the digital information to the DAC without introducing any data errors. 

But DACs are very sensitive to analog noise and timing errors on the digital data signal. Higher-end DACs put a lot of effort into minimizing these effects by using digital isolators, reclocking, PLLs, etc. but these DACs also tend to be more resolving allowing differences in streamers to be more obvious. 

High-end streamers go to great pains to minimize noise and clock errors by utilizing complex data isolation and FIFO reclockers, extremely high-accuracy clocks with low jitter and phase noise, ultra-quiet power supplies (even battery or ultra-capacitor powered), high-bandwidth digital line drivers, etc. to deliver the cleanest possible signal to the DAC. This does not come cheap. 

How much this affects sound quality will, of course, depend on the DAC being used, how noisy the signal to the streamer is, the cables and connection type being used, and the resolving power of the overall system. 

But if I was spending $20K on a DAC, I certainly wouldn't expect to get the best out of it with a $500 streamer. 

@jaytor thx for giving potential technical reasons for selecting one streamer over another, but I believe there is an easy solution for the issues you describe.WIth your assumption that streamers can get bits correctly to the DAC, all the DAC designer would need to do is put a simple memory between the input bits from the streamer and the rest of the DAC. This memory can be designed so each side has its own power supply and clocks. My understanding is that DAC analog noise and timing errors occur in the digital processing and conversion to analog circuitry. The memory would assure that the analog noise and timing errors from the server would not affect this DAC circuitry.