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Streamers vs "Macs and Dacs"

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In my opinion I do exhaustive and comprehensive research before making a decision. I call it being thorough, but the Delicious Dane (SWMBO) calls it procrastination. Whatever, so it takes me a while to get off the fence; no Housemartins quips please, even though I wrote the book they read....

My most recent piece of intensive research is a tough one to find my way out of. I have two "core" music listening locations. One, the main house, where I have a MacMini (SSD, music on second HDD, lots of memory etc etc) and a sh1t DAC and the other location (Americans, think West Virginia, we call it Suffolk) where I do most of my "proper" listening with an AppleTV/XBMC setup via an a/v receiver. My vague priority is to upgrade the West Virginia location now that I have my own music room.

So far so lo-fi and most of the cognoscenti are now saying "who is this guy?"

My most recent change catalyst happened during a visit to my local, very non Suffolk, very hi-fi, dealer to get my Sondek cartridge changed. In the main area, as is customary, music was playing. I paid it little notice but after a while I realised that what I was listening to (electronica, very much not usually my bag) sounded freaking excellent. I took a look at the kit it was playing though and noticed it was a Linn Klimax DS playing though a preamp I didn't recognise and a couple of Classé power amps into B&W Nautilus speakers. I am very sure the setup costed well north of £100k, but the sound was truly the most wonderful I have ever heard from a music system.

I have read a bit of "streamers vs Macs and Dacs" commentary both on here (Eloise on the Akurate DSM review) and elsewhere and the fact that it seems to be a transatlantic "thing" (ie Euros do streamers and Americans do Macs and Dacs). It seems by accident, in my lo-fi way, I have both, if you can call an AppleTV/XBMC a "streamer".

Is there a "better" way? Is the American way a better way and should I get another MacMini and a really nice DAC (my attention keeps coming back to the T+A ...) or support British industry and get a nice Linn/Naim streamer? Is there a half way house (Bryston?).

I will continue to write (I am assuming to myself...) as my thoughts coalesce. It's a kind of therapy.


  1. mbovaird's Avatar
    Any update on this? Did you go with Linn?
  2. nieldm's Avatar
    Someone read what I wrote??? Wow...that makes me happy!

    No substantive update yet, am in full on procrastination mode. My excuse being it is taking longer than expected to get the new house, and this music room, together and it only really makes sense to progress when I have my "proper" amps and speakers in the that room.

    My heart is in the streamer camp, but that is an emotional decision (I just like Linn and Naim kit...) and I would like to wait to do some proper research. I also need to know how much better the Klimax (which is what I heard) sounds than the Akurate....although for the sharp end of £10k more it would have to sound a h3ll of a lot better to tempt me.

    I have to say though, some of the offers on Lejonklou look very appetising........
  3. mbovaird's Avatar
    I sure did! I'm going to try out the Lumin streamer.
  4. nieldm's Avatar
    Hmm, it's right there in the Akurate DS price bracket. Let me know either here or via PM what you think of it?
  5. Jsmith's Avatar
    I (an American) had a Naim streamer for some time. I absolutely loved it. I switched to it from a Mac / DAC combo. The number one reason I liked it so much was ease of use. I had it control my Naim amp, so from the App I could surf all my music, create playlists, and control the volume. If I were to do it again, I may go so far as an all-in-one the Uniti. The simplicity in my mind enhances the music listening.
  6. nieldm's Avatar
    It seems that all my research/procrastination, without any particular reason to do so, is focused on streamers and the Linn models in particular. I am going for a blind listening session of both the Akurate and Klimax DS models later this week and am hoping upon hope that I can't hear any difference!

    Being both a procrastinator and a tight wad doesn't make for speedy progress on this front, however!
  7. Jsmith's Avatar
    If you have a chance to throw Naim in there, I would. My dealer sold both Linn and Naim and I could auction side-by-side. Both have streamers and various price ranges, so may provide you with more options.