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Confused with streamers - upgrade?


Hartcity
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Hi, got a lot of good advice on this forum a few months ago when looking to buy a system. Have the Nad D 3020 mk11 amp, Yamaha WXAD-10 Network Music Streamer as my source, along with Q Acoustics 20i speakers. While I am happy with what I have for music in the background, I do think it lacks...something. A bit depth, a bit bass, a bit presence I think. Thing is, I'm not really sure I have the connection with the source and amp as the optimum, basically is the WXD 'just ' a bluetooth speaker - would going wifi be better? Can I do that with the Yamaha or is it now I need to look at the more expensive dedicated streamers ie Audiolab, Cambridge etc? Thought of just getting a sub but to be honest I think I would like to maximise source quality before looking at speakers. I think, I'm just a bit confused on what I have bought - should BT be good enough, is wifi 'that'; much better? Is there an alternative? Would dropping £450 on a dedicated streamer (is the WXD not that?) give me what I am looking for?

Should say, for clarity, have no interest in multiroom, got the system in my (large) bedroom but have no interest listening to it elsewhere - money not too much of a problem (relatively) if there are any upgrade  issues need addressing - basically just want a good system that can work with spotify have no cd or vinyl !

Hope this makes sense !

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The most recommended I have seen of late is the Bluesound streamer.  Like most digital products there are a plethora available and as I buy the music I like I am not overly bothered about pulling the Nth degree out of a streamer.  What I do not know (and have not seen many threads on it) is - does a cheap streamer through a great DAC give you what you want soundwise.   After all there are those in here spending thousands on a DAC before ever we think about streaming and they may be the ones to give some great advice here - do you go for an expensive streamer - or a more budget one with digital out and resolve using a great DAC.

Buggered if I know but I thought my little rambling in here may provoke the experts in this field to come up with some advice.

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Cheers Uzzy, thanks for the reply - hard to know what to say, my system is ...ok...but I think it could be better, possibly just by the connection - the Yamaha does airplay but how do I know if its going through airplay or BT? Would the difference be noticeable? There seems a massive jump between the wxd at £150 then the next nearest equivalent at £450, then the next £750 (Cambridge) feel like I am missing some understanding here?

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Turn off the BT on your source and then you will know that it’s definitely airplay. Unless you have a limitless budget, you are never going to maximise your source quality, there has to be a reason why you went for the Yamaha in the first place. Don’t be fooled into thinking that more money will always be better, trust me it won’t. You’ve already identified where you feel your system is lacking to your ears so that’s a great start, looking for better but not being able to define what that is will always be a lottery.

If you’re lacking bass, presence and depth, then absolutely you want a sub. I think you will be amazed at what it will do, if you can find a Ruark Vita 50 it will take care of all your needs, hi level connector so you can take the feed from the speakers, infinitely adjustable phase between 0 and 180 so you can put it wherever you want, adjustable volume and cross over, cheap as chips. You can’t go wrong really, I speak from experience as I have one here which you are welcome to try, I’m not using it anymore as my main speakers now deliver in that department.

If you really want to see what a better source sounds like, why not get a CA 851N on a home dem off Richer Sounds? It punches way above its’ weight and is very well regarded. I suspect it’s over budget but I also suspect it won’t give you what you’re looking for, it will however let you see that for yourself. Your amp is superb if it’s anything like the 3021 I own, I think your speakers are the limiting factor in delivering that full sound that you’re looking for.

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Please remember this is just my opinion and I am just like you a single individual using his ears with his system and music. I think the way to go is cheap streamer with digital out and the DAC that best suits you . In my view the DAC has more influence on the final sound than the streamer which in almost all cases send a perfect digital copy out to the DAC. Different power supplies can improve things but these are icing on the cake and can be added anytime later when you have more funds available . Something like the streamer on sale in the Classifieds would work well or an old Squeezebox Touch . With regards to connection I find all of the Bluetooth connections I have heard (not that many) have been very compromised and I could not live with them . Wireless provided there is a good strong signal is good and there are no obvious sound compromises , wired is the best not for sound quality but stability . The sound between Wireless / Wired is for me at least just the same i could not reliably tell one from the other. However Wireless is subject in my network to some occasional drop outs which are often annoying . So for me cheap streamer with digital out and a decent (not always expensive) DAC that you like.

As has been noted above this may well not give you extra Bass and depth you are looking for as this may well be the fact you are using small but very good speakers . It will however give you a real idea of what your source can achieve when set up as well as it can be . If this does not improve things then a Sub or new speakers may well be the route to go .

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11 hours ago, Hartcity said:

Have the Nad D 3020 mk11 amp, Yamaha WXAD-10 Network Music Streamer as my source, along with Q Acoustics 20i speakers. While I am happy with what I have for music in the background, I do think it lacks...something. A bit depth, a bit bass, a bit presence I think.

(...)

Would dropping £450 on a dedicated streamer (is the WXD not that?) give me what I am looking for?

Since you've mentioned bedroom, perhaps speaker and listener position is also playing a part here so I'd start by experimenting with that.

Wi-fi definitely better.

.

The streamer is the only piece of equipment that won't address your complaints (does your system sound somewhat like a pocket transistor radio?).

A good DAC might give you a bit more of what you are looking for but if you have the room for them then I'd look at replacing the speakers for larger one which will go deeper (and/or perhaps try adding a subwoofer).

.

I've just had a look at the Yamaha WXAD-10. :doh:

It doesn't seem to have a digital output and I wouldn't expect much sound quality from its analogue stage.

.

Maybe @Hartcity does really need a new streamer after all. See @uzzy's recommendation above.

Edited by tuga
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The Yamaha WXAD-10 is a streamer (with built in DAC) in its own right, if you have configured it correctly with Musiccast then it connects to your router via wi-fi. It outputs analogue signal to your amp via rca cables.

Spotify will play on your WDAX-10, your phone or pad is only the remote control. So Spotify on your phone/pad is not transmitting over Bluetooth.

In my experience the WDAX-10 is not base light.

I suspect speakers.

Gary

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I've just had a look at the Yamaha WXAD-10. :doh:

It doesn't seem to have a digital output and I wouldn't expect much sound quality from its analogue stage.

.

Maybe @Hartcity does really need a new streamer after all. See @uzzy's recommendation above.

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28 minutes ago, tuga said:

I've just had a look at the Yamaha WXAD-10. :doh:

It doesn't seem to have a digital output and I wouldn't expect much sound quality from its analogue stage.

.

Maybe @Hartcity does really need a new streamer after all. See @uzzy's recommendation above.

Then you would be wrong, in my experience the WXAD-10 analogue output is at least equal to the rest of the system outlined.

Gary

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I tried a NAD digital amp in my set up a few years ago and found the following:

"If I have a criticism, its that the sound is slightly light & thin. I'm comparing it to my existing Rega Brio-R. The heart-warming lower mids and bass notes that the Rega does so well are replaced by clinical accuracy, no doubt a factor of such a low distortion digital amplifier."  (See Review).

Perhaps try a different amp?  The Rega Brio sounds like it would suit you.   Or you could look for an integrated with built in streaming, like the Quad Vena II Play.

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Your Yamaha source is a budget item and quite a poor one, imo&e

Your amp is a very decent budget amp; leave it in your system for the time being.

If you've git the funds buy a Node 2i. You could then try its analogue outputs vs a direct digital connection to your amp. You'll then have a much better source, a far superior operating experience and a source that can stay with you for a long time.

Also, try different speaker placement and toe-in. Free and often very effective.

Edited by simon g
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My initial reaction was to suggest a Node 2i as others have but a £450 streamer does seem rather overkill in the context of your system, particularly with Spotify being the primary source.

I'm not sure what sort of budget you have in mind but spending say £250 on a BK Gemini subwoofer would I suspect be more likely to give a worthwhile improvement going by your first post. Your main speakers are the 3020i model, right?

If you did want to upgrade your streamer then a Raspberry Pi based solution would offer a middle ground in budget terms between what you have and a Node 2i. Other options would be a Teufel Streamer (or a cheaper option of a Teufel Connector if you could find one second hand). There is also a thread around somewhere about a different bluetooth connected streamer that others seem to rate.

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