tokenbrit wrote: ↑2021-04-29 22:06
Personally, I find Spotify-HAKAI to be remarkably musical with a good amount of material, but there are some tracks that just fall flat. I don't know if that's remasters; original recordings, or what causes the inconsistency, but the good is more than good enough that the majority of my listening is streaming - that doesn't mean I wouldn't have liked Källa to support NAS, but I'm interested in anything that improves streaming specifically whether that be via HAKAI now, or to a Källa in future.
When you say "streaming", do you specifically mean Spotify? It seems to me that many Flat-Earthers/Source-Firsters/Tune-Demmers are afraid or embarrassed to admit they spend a lot of money on their hi-fi to play Spotify.
You are right about sound quality differences; but is it any different than comparing vinyl albums (or CDs)? Do you remember being in the listening room with me when a member of this Forum was comparing various pressings of the same LP and the differences were quite large? I have found recently that some movies I watch for free on Apple TV look and sound better than a Blu-ray I paid $25 for through my Oppo player. I have found the reverse as well; a "standard" DVD on my Oppo deck looks and sounds better than the "HiDef" version online. The bottom line is source-first works every time it's tried; meaning what's the least ruined version.
With all that in mind, I've been looking at getting an AE, but the single Ethernet [LAN] port, and 3.5mm headphone jack, have me wondering how best to connect it:
I have tried various Ethernet connections and the least intuitive sounds the best. I was in the electrical manufacturing business for many years and brought home dozens of modems, routers, switches, and combo units. Many were "professional" models designed for placement in an electrical panel. Most were consumer models. I often found the cheap models with the worst specifications and reviews sounded the best.
I also once believed adding an Ethernet switch, router, and extra CAT cables inline with the digital stream could only worsen the music. Injecting noise from two SMPSs into my AC power strip couldn't be good either. I likened it to adding a graphic equalizer to my pre-amp in the tape loop with the EQ sliders all set to zero. Since buying a GS108 and listening, I have yet to find an instance it didn't improve my digital playback musically.
My hi-fi Ethernet goes: Modem→AE→GS108→Mac mini. I have tried Modem→Mac mini direct (with everything else unplugged) and it sounds worse. I have tried Modem→GS108→Mac mini (with the AE on a GS108 port) and that sounded worse. I can't explain it and it seems counter-intuitive. All devices in my network communicate better this way as well. I wish I knew now with many devices I've tried as they may be different permutations that work and sound better.
How do you connect your AE to your main hi-fi: headphone to RCA adapter with Linn interconnects, or headphone to RCA cable?
Neither. I have a Naim pre-amp and use 3.5mm→5-pin DIN. I have purchased various Naim recommended cables over the years and the one that sounds the best is one I made up with the cheapest components. The cable itself is a simple two conductor with shield. This connection path ensures I have no ground loops as well.
Is the AE your router or an access point, accessing the Internet via another router? If it's an access point, does the AE connect to the main router via Wi-Fi or Ethernet (via GS108?)?
Now I think I'm more confused than you!
The AirPort Express I've been using since 2013, running 24/7/365 (flawlessly), is my router mentioned and connected as above in this post. It is located in my main hi-fi room on the second floor, which includes Naim amps and Linn Isobariks, and is central to my house.
In our 11'X15' kitchen, we had a single SONOS PLAY:3. My wife bought it and it sounded good. We really like the SONOS app and music; especially their Blues Channel. It just didn't fill the room. I recently came across a pair of Kans, a cheap power-amp, and another
AirPort Express. In the kitchen, we also have an old Apple TV and flat-screen on the wall. This second
AE (which has no wired Ethernet connection) does two things; it streams the sound from the Apple TV and our iPhones over the Kitchen Kans and acts as a Wi-Fi extender for the network to our backyard as it is sited on the back wall of our house.
Lastly, have you tried Spotify (app) on iPhone or iPad in comparison to the mini?
Two years ago I would have told you the iPhone performed the worst in all cases. Now, I'm not so sure. I have recently tried several combinations which included a separate DAC fed via USB, HDMI, and Toslink. The only item I wouldn't recommend for a Spotify source is Apple TV 4K fed HDMI into a DAC.
There are four major differences since my first comparison. AirPlay 2 sounds better than the original AirPlay. Spotify sounds better. Spotify now has "Spotify Connect" (which sounds better). IOS sounds better.
I don't have any Apple hardware made in the past year but with what I own, strictly using Spotify, the Mac mini app still sounds best. However, to quote a hi-fi friend of mine the other day; "Your kitchen system sounds better than my main hi-fi.".
Ron The Mon