I wonder if the Audirvana running on the iFi Zen Stream can soft decode the MQA from Tidal ?
As far as I understood, ZEN Stream is only a streamer, no DAC included! So you need an additional DAC!
For Auralic / Lumin / Esoteric / Aurender are producing streamer without dac that could do the first unfold of MQA, first unfold of MQA doesn’t need a dac, only the software
Does anyone else use Ifi zen stream with Audirvana as DLNA? The reason I am asking is because I am not hearing much improvement using the new ifi zen stream with DLNA connected to Denafrips Pontus II dac vs my macbook with Audirvana connected to the Pontus II dac? Maybe it’s just me and my rusty old ears I am not sure?
I don’t think you should expect to hear a difference, if you can avoid using DLNA and directly connect your MacBook to your DAC through USB, there’s absolutely no benefit in using DLNA, so you don’t need iFi Zen Stream. You would want this product if you can’t physically connect your computer to your DAC, and if your DAC isn’t a network player. The best you can get from Audirvana is to run it on a computer which is plugged directly to the DAC using USB, that’s where you get maximum compatibility, control and stability.
I’m using DLNA because my computer is on the other side of my speakers, otherwise I’d use USB, it’d be much better.
What I understand is that iFi Zen Stream adds DLNA capability to a DAC, and its quality relies on how this function is added without having any negative impact on the sound. But it’s still an extra node in your system, and connecting a computer (unless it has bad quality design which makes its USB outputs noisy) directly to the DAC is the best quality you can get. Best of the best is a computer dedicated to this task to ensure no perturbation, but it might not be necessary.
It is supposed to sound better with the streamer, since it connects to the DAC with an audiophile grade USB port instead of the general purpose USB port of his Mac.
If @Boniccie does not hear a difference, the improvement that he gets is not audible.
The DACs with decent USB implementation are less susceptible to USB related issues. With such DACs you use the USB bridges for convenience, less for sound quality improvement.