View Full Version : USB vs SB streaming, or similar streaming, to DAC

29-01-2009, 23:31
Hi Guys

I'm new to AoS.

There are obvious cost differences and practical/convenience differences, but are there any significant audio sonic benefits of one over the other?

Forgive my ignorance, as this subject has probably been thrashed out before here or elsewhere. I would appreciate your views or leads to related forum links. Thanks.

29-01-2009, 23:35
what's SB streaming?

29-01-2009, 23:45
SB streaming: Squeezbox (or similar) sending/streaming Wi-Fi media across your home network from computer/HD to your music equipment.

Ali Tait
30-01-2009, 09:36
Don't have one myself,but many have commented that hard-wire sounds better than wireless.

Tony Moore
30-01-2009, 10:47
I would think that perhaps your question has been asked before but of course technology changes rapidly and what might be the "perceived wisdom" a few months ago could well have been superseded by more recent products and software.

I can only relate what I've found with my limited experience. I use SqueezeBox (SB3 & SBR/Duet) streamed from a Suse 11 Linux AMD box. I've taken liberties with the SBR and installed it into my custom DAC. (The larger box in the photo above)

As far as the pros and cons I would say:

SB/Music Server route:


- Can service multiple SB3/SBR/Transporter/SoftSqueeze units
- Does not require a dedicated "personal" PC, just a lightweight server or some sort. No need for keyboard/mouse/monitor, etc.
- The playback device is a purpose built and low power/low interference unit.
- The Duet controller is very nice!
- Can control (ie quickly mute) the music from controller or any PC on the network.


- you need to set up and maintain a server
- you need to rip music first and rescan before you are able to listen.
- Software can be a little intimidating for people used to say WinAmp.
- Network must be good, issue with Wifi tend to show up in strange ways and annoy people. (I only used wired for the SB3 connections)

The PC/USB route:


- Can use many different players and music software.
- Simpler solution than SB/Streaming. Less setup
- Can play music that is streamed off other sites while surfing. (ie MySpace, etc)


- A lot of interference is generated inside a PC. It's not designed with audio as the highest consideration. (generally, there are exceptions!)

- I've heard that USB(1.1,2) was not designed to transfer audio data and has some inherent limitations that _could_ perhaps mean that it won't deliver as high integrity signal to the DAC as say a purpose built streaming device. (ie SB) I read something on this a while ago but I don't have the link to hand. A search on USB and Isochronous might reveal something) This issue may well have been addressed by now, I'm talking a couple of years ago at least that I read about this.

So that's my simple take on things. For me, the convenience of the SB/Streaming is the key. Plus the fact that it is possible to use the SB as an I2S transport and thus cut out the s/pdif interface altogether.

ps. I also use a Beresford DAC attached to one of my SB3s as my 2nd system. Very nice sounding it is too!

30-01-2009, 18:48
Hard wired every time. Far less prone to potential interference.

31-01-2009, 01:57
Thanks for all your views and in particular to Tony for such a detailed appraisal. I'm sure that anyone who has used the SB3 or SB Duet would be reluctant to be without the convenience provided. That Duet handset controller looks a treat.

Tony Moore
31-01-2009, 15:08
You're welcome!

There's a lot more I could say about the SB/Duet that would probably make me seem rather biased towards it but I was attempting to be objective! :)

A lot of the convenience is common to both PC/Mac based USB solutions and the SB. Such things as LastFM scrobbling, LastFM personalised radio station are a BIG plus and it's all integrated into the SqueezeCenter so it makes it very easy to use, once set up. AND I can scrobble to different LastFM accounts from different players which is also very useful.

For me, it was the mix of being able to have all the convenience together with the DIY possibilities of attempting to extract the highest performance from this relatively cheap unit. It works for me but everyone has their own particular requirements.


31-01-2009, 22:08
I use a Squeezebox Classic and a Beresford DAC. I would not use the SB without the Beresford or another external DAC, but it depends on the quality for your HiFi. The SB will better an average CD player.

I notice no difference in quality or reliability between wired and wireless working - the bits get through just the same.

The SB does keep a potentially noisy PC away from the listening room, and does get a reliable bit perfect stream to your DAC.

Questions about SB are best asked here


Look here


Best prices seem to be here at the moment