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To Jeff Fritz,

I have been following your hi-fi journey and reviews for some time now and you consistently have utilized a MacBook Air laptop, together with Roon, as your front-end streaming playback system. Do you believe that a specialist streamer solution, i.e., Aurender, Lumin, etc., does not provide you with the necessary upgrade to the sound performance required to warrant the cost of implementing such a system?

I would be interested in reading your thoughts on high-end streamers vs. MacBook Air front-end playback options, as the cost of these streaming solutions can be quite prohibitive. Maybe spending the money on a better DAC would be more effective?

Kind regards,
Bill
Killybegs, Donegal
Ireland

This is a great question, and one I have been asked before. I have also pondered that question many times. On occasion I have had some very well-regarded streamers in my system, and each time, I’ve come away thinking, “Well, that sounds really good.” Then I go back to my MacBook Air and think to myself, “Well, that sounds really good, too!” Based on these experiences, I always conclude that the perceived improvement is not enough to move me to make a purchase and ditch the MacBook Air.

I’m sure this could be system dependent, and, I’d have to think, specifically related to the DAC. Having a really good DAC could obviate the need for a dedicated streamer depending on how that DAC handles the incoming data stream. Could it be that I would appreciate a dedicated streamer more if I had a different DAC? That’s certainly possible, and maybe I’ll discover the answer to that question down the line.

I’m open to hear more streamers, but until I hear something in my system that is demonstrably and repeatedly better than my Apple MacBook Air, I have no plans to change course. A better DAC, better speakers, a better amp . . . personally, I would prioritize all of these over the purchase of a dedicated music streamer. . . . Jeff Fritz