Thank you NickZ. I really appreciate the expertise on this forum.
I have a Matrix Audio Element X DAC/Streamer/Headphone amp. I was successful in getting it to stream Tidal from my standard ISP router/wifi. I pay for 480 Mbps internet and get over 250 consistently in my office. I use the MA (Matrix Audio) App on an iPad to control Tidal and the device settings. However, the stream is often interrupted by glitches, pops, and other disturbances that ruin it. It is strange because it happens on some tracks and not others, even when the same bit rate etc. It has nothing to do with being warm or how long it has been on.
I also have a standard USB input coming from my MacMini which I can play Tidal through, and for better results, Tidal through Audirvana. This sounds incredible to me and I could very likely just stop there and be forever happy. Except that I paid for an expensive streamer, not just a DAC. My goal was to ditch USB.
My next troubleshooting step will be to run an Ethernet cable from my router to hear what that sounds like and if it eliminates the disturbances the WiFi network is theoretically creating.
I do not have a source that uses optical output but I have read that optical can in some circumstances sound the best and I started this post to see if anyone had such experience and knew of a way to convert from Ethernet to Optical so I could test the theory.
I am searching for the absolute cleanest digital source because I often listen with sensitive IEMs and I am hyper sensitive to noise floor, ground loops, glare etc. So far the Element X has absolutely zero issues with noise or distortion, although I eventually had to run it on its own AC outlet separate from the MacMini because of an extremely faint 120hz hum and I cannot put it anywhere near an LCD monitor because it produces a fast (also faint) clicking noise the closer it gets to the monitor. Mind you, these issues are only audible with no music playing and heard against a pitch black background. I had hoped to use it as an all in one desktop system, but cannot put it on my desktop!
It sounds absolutely brilliant though. I am just (as many here are) trying to get to the end game and be finished with the search. I hope.
For reference, here is what the manufacturer wrote, very quick response BTW:
" The situation you encountered is a typical phenomenon caused by the instability of MQA data flow caused by poor network speed.
This does not refer to your home Internet access speed, but refers to the connection between your Internet service provider and Tidal or Qobuz servers.
Our engineers have some suggestions here:
Try to restart router and restart Element, to restart Element must unplug the power cord.
If you currently use 2.4G band, please switch to 5G band; if you currently use 5G band, please switch to use 2.4G band WIFI to try.
Please check whether there is a setting to limit the network speed in the router.
Please try to use other wireless routers(maybe a higer level), to see whether there is any improvement.
Please connect through LAN cable to have a try, don’t remember to switch WiFi to LAN in setting menu."
Thank you again for a willingness to read all this.