If you can't level match you're not getting a true comparison. If you have a SPL meter listen to them both at the same dB in your listening position. I imagine the only reason the Node sounds better is it's louder. My guess is it's louder simply because of the software differences.
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I have a Vault 2i... it sounds great via coax to my DAC.... Sometimes I will mirror my PC to my TV and run Qobuz on the computer . I honestly can't tell the difference as it sounds great via the Vault or USB from the PC. The coax is a decent quality cable , the USB cable is generic.... both sound awesome .
I’m wondering the exact same thing!
I store about 4TB on external drive which I play through iTunes on Airplay. I have an extra airport that is connected to my DAC via an Audioquest Forest mini Toslink to Toslink cable.
I read the things like Spotify Connect stream higher bitrate, so that (along with the other services) would be my reason for trying the Bluenote. But, does anyone know if SQ is really any better for the hi-res files I play through iTunes?
It depends mostly on the DAC and its implementation. I'm not familiar with your Lyngdorf, but at its price point, I would expect it to have a pretty decent DAC. I'd be surprised if the Node 2i sounded better.
Streaming from my computer to my MHDT Labs Orchid sounds much better than streaming to my BlueSound Node 2, I can tell you that.
i read through quite a few posts and they are all over the place. Certainly no overwhelming majority in one camp or the other. In my case it is a higher end PC ((not that this matters). Really hard to discern a real difference in sound quality especially given the difference in volume. Some people reference noise, power switching etc produced by the PC to say streamer is better. I could understand that explanation if I was trying to take analog out of the PC but it’s digital data and in my case it doesn’t appear to be affected. And many audiophiles are using PCs as their source which I don’t think would be the case if streamers were that much better an option. I was actually predisposed to hearing an improvement In SQ. Maybe my ear Is not well developed. I will try to see if I can run it through my headphone dac/amp versus PC to see if I can get a matching sound level for comparison.
if you can't hear it then it is of no significance, end of the day it is your system, your ears, your pleasure - i think too often we listen to stuff and are loathe to admit we just cannot hear a difference... for me this is true of various digital cables from my streamer to dac... i cannot hear a difference
that being said, there is much info about the fact that it is just bits hardly means the transmission of those bits don't affect SQ... jitter and other forms of digital noise is significant - there is a whole mini industry of raspberry pi players that are made to reduce digital noise and improve sq - similar for many usb cleaners from audioquest, w4s, numerous others... they sell enough of these it can't all be BS, leaving aside the technical/scientific aspect of it
it is true that different dacs have input tech that manages jitter very differently, so that might explain why sometimes the sq delta is stark, other times, not there at all
just gotta try it all out if we care enough have the energy and willingness
good luck, have fun
You can download a sound pressure meter app to a phone or tablet to level match. As others have said, absent level matching your comparison is not apples to apples. I found USB to be “noisier” than using Ethernet or coaxial. I noticed an immediate improvement in clarity when I introduced a higher quality LUMIN U1 mini streamer between my MacMini and DAC. Can’t say if the Node 2i will buy you any improvement. But If you can’t hear a difference after level matching you have your answer. Computers have varying levels of noise depending on their USB implementation, whether they are running on AC or battery, whether music files are on external or internal drives, hard disks or SSDs. I am speaking about electrical noise generated by these non audio grade products. The DACs also vary in how they handle the digital data stream. Better DACs reclock the data, have isolation built into their power circuitry, etc. Lots of variables. Let your ears decide.
MacBook Pro to Yggdrasil
wav 16/48, and Spotify
Regarding USB - I’ve heard many of times that the Belkin USB cable for around $12 tops has received great ratings. A step up. Audio quest Black Carbon USB.
Further step up. TWL USB.
I have the audio quest black carbon. Great for the price, though the sound seems a bit congested in comparison to the TWL. Bass is tighter on the Black Carbon. TWL performs much better overall. Bass is not as tight though the music is more “open”. Not as grey.
I haven’t delved into streamers. My MacBook Pro is chugging along well. Your mileage may vary.
I’d try some recommendations of various USB. Obtain a decent dB reader. Experiment with various USB’s and perhaps crutchfield or music direct has a longer trial period. I’d return the streamer if you’re on the fence. You can always purchase again with more research and different gear to determine what works best for you and your system. Deadlines regarding returns and hard earned money do not equate. If you’re questioning. Well there’s your answer.
When going digital imo. Keep it as simple as possible. Those firmware updates can be a real pain in the neck
One thing that no one has mentioned is the issue regarding MQA music files. Tidal has many MQA titles and the DAC in the Node 2i, in addition to being a very good DAC will also decode MQA files. Unless your outboard DAC can Decode MQA, you are limiting yourself with respect to getting the most out of those titles.
I found the DAC in the Node2i was easily equal in quality to the outboard DAC I had before that was almost 3 times the price of the Node 2i, even on high res files on my network, so I sold it and never looked back.
I’m wondering why you would choose a Blusound Node 2i when you already have a capable DAC? In the Node you are paying for a streamer and a DAC but then you are only using the streamer. I’m assuming you have a price point you are comfortable with (~$500?). I am guessing that for that cost you could find a dedicated streamer w/o DAC that would out perform both your PC and the Node. I wish I could recommend specific units but I don’t personally have any experience with such units. Maybe others could provide suggestions.
I have two Nodes one is a version 2 and the other is a 2i. I have them connected them via coaxial to Denafrips Ares II and a Schiit Yggdrasil. In both these setups I had previously used a pc USB to stream music through Qobuz or Amazon HD and I cannot tell you that there was any noticeable improvement in sound quality maybe slightly better sound with the Ares II because the power isn’t isolated in the USB connection. The main reason I switched to using the Nodes is the ease of operation via the app. It’s so much easier and faster to play music using the app, plus I can set up multi room playback effortlessly . The app is not perfect but it is extremely fast and easy I listen to way more music now that I have the Nodes.
Thanks everyone for all the good input. Tonight I discovered Tidal desktop app has a feature called Exclusive mode. It says “with exclusive mode Tidal has exclusive use of the audio device.” “This setting only has effect on Master and Hi-Fi mode”. Toggle this on and the volume goes up substantially to the level coming out of the Bluesound streamer and seems like quality improves too. All this time I never knew about this setting. I haven’t tried finding an SPL but with the sound Now audibly close between the two devices I’ve been doing some A/B. Very close between the two devices but I will do some more listening even though I will likely return the Bluesound for now. Upgraded USB Cable coming tomorrow. Thank you Amazon Prime. I also discovered the Bluesound has a very good headphone amp which adequately drives my Sennheiser 660s which are difficult to drive. This is a very good device which I would definitely recommend but seems it’s duplicative for me.
maybe I've missed it but do you need a streamer? According to the spec on your amp it has a "media player" which sounds like a built in streamer.
At any rate there isn't going to be any significant sonic difference between a Bluesound Node and the bog standard PC . The Node is a computer peripheral masquerading as an Audio component. Part of it's budget went for a DAC which you will not be using. I have used a PC (MacAir) running Audirvana Plus at the same time as I had a Node in the same system and did many comparisons. They sound a little different, but my preference would vary by the track. Your dealer obviously has an agenda--to make a profit from selling the node.
In theory the Node ought to sound better than a PC, since it is optimized for music playback, and PCs are not, though a Program such as Audirvana Plus shuts down the other stuff on the PC and tries to optimize it for music playback. I understand why the Node should sound a tad better, but it simply did not in my experience.
With the Node one doesn't get dropouts as each new email arrives, and the BlueOS works pretty well to control things from a tablet, and there are other reasons to invest in it, not the least IMO that I don't like having an actual computer in my Audio System. If you spend much higher on a streamer, it will sound better than the PC.
If you don't hear a difference then keep using the pc. I would not expect the Node to be better but it could be compared to some computers. Then there are a few purpose-built computers that is said to sound really, really great. Most streamers/servers are computers that are changed a bit to sound better.
Here are some more tips about building a pc server yourself with some comments about parts that affect the audio quality.
You can also buy software to optimize your pc for music playing. It might be unable to do other things after, if that is a concern.
I have also struggled with the same issues with my Audio mirror troubadour llse...but I went with Bluesound Node 2i with direct connect via ethernet to my router so that I could easily access to streaming services wirelessly..so much easier and sound quality connected to DAC is excellent with instantaneous access to music library...was this the right idea or did I just dump $500 on Bluesound Node 2i for nothing?
I don't think you dumped $500 for nothing. The Node is easier to use than PC, and most streamers give a more satisfactory experience than using just a PC. Many people feel this way, thus the market for streamers, otherwise everyone would be using a PC.
I think that people have been confining themselves the thread to the question of the sonics of a PC vs Node. In that respect I prefer the Node but it is easy to approach the same level with a PC and a software program that optimizes for playback
node 2i is an excellent unit - does a lot for the modest cost, does it quite well
- terrific user interface (yes roon is better but you pay yet more $ on top of streaming service cost... how much do you value metadata and integration of stored music vs streamed??)
- roon and mqa capable
- very capable pretty jitter free, nice sounding bitstream to feed outboard dacs
- nice form factor, well built
- can be one box streamer and dac for those not too picky on analog out sound quality
- can do multipoint/multiroom with ease within its well designed ecosystem
that being said, know the limitations:
- onboard dac is obvious weak point - smoothed over, lazy sound, tuned to be innocuous, sacrifices overall clarity transient response PRAT
- no usb digital output to drive some DACs which perform best using usb input
- gives a false sense of mqa SQ due to poor onboard dac - much better used for first unfold, let you outboard dac (or roon) do the rest
i have tested the node 2i bitstream SQ against more expensive streamers from innuos, brooklyn, lumin - sq depends greatly on receiving DAC... deltas are modest/marginal at best, and other streamers have their issues with convenience, sq, and user interface as well
node 2i is an excellent unit - does a lot for the money, does it well
- terrific user interface (yes roon is better but you are extorted for more $ on top of a streaming service... how much do you value metadata and integration of stored music vs streamed??)
- roon and mqa capable
- very capable bitstream to feed outboard dacs
- nice form factor well built
- can be one box streamer and dac for those not too picky on sound quality
- can do multipoint/multiroom with ease
that being said, know the limitations:
- onboard dac is obvious weak point - smoothed over, lazy sound, tuned to be innocuous, sacrifices clarity transient response PRAT
- no usb digital output to drive some DACs who perform best using usb in
- gives a false sense of mqa sq due to poor onboard dac - much better used for first unfold, let you outboard dac (or roon) do the rest
jss49: no usb digital output to drive some DACs which perform best using usb input? I think better sound quality from BlueSound Node 2i to DAC should go through the Coax port IMO, not USB - more bandwidth. But question of onboard DAC streaming to something like Audio Mirror DAC, does the 2i DAC chip supercede the Audio Mirror DAC?
to answer you, no it would not
the node 2i digital output stream would be received by your audio mirror dac, which then converts the bits and filters to reassemble the analog signal
the second order issue is the FREQUENCY of the bitstream sent by the node -- it can vary from cd quality 44.1 khz, all the way up to super high bitrates like 386khz in most extreme ’hi-res’ digital... but my understanding (i am sure others will correct me if i am wrong), that for instance, in the case of MQA, the first ’unfold’ occurs to a 96 khz bitrate, which, then, if transmitted to an mqa-able dac, would then be further converted and filtered to final MQA resolution and SQ by said DAC
My Lyngdorf amp has built in streamer but does not handle Tidal or any streaming service with MQA quality. The amp is listed as “Roon ready” and Roon shows up as one of the inputs. If I had Roon does this mean I can stream directly to the amp without going through my PC as I’m doing now? If so what are the advantages? I’m not terribly concerned about managing an off line library though I have some cd quality music I’ve purchased over the years. I mainly listen to Tidal. Can anyone explain how this works or provide any tips? I hope this question is not too elementary for this forum.
Lyngdorf is listed as a Roon partner. The streamer should be able to be a Roon core and bypass the PC. I don’t know enough about Roon to know if bypassing the PC is good or bad, perhaps you can experiment yourself. If you DAC doesn’t do MQA then I think you only partially get the “benefits” there. You would need the Node2 DAC, which I am guessing will otherwise be inferior to the DAC in the Lyngdorf
The Lyngdorf would be a Roon endpoint not the core. The core software has to run on a computer or ideally a dedicated computer like the Roon Nuclues or others that serve sole purpose of running the Roon software. Personally I think Roon is essential and I would skip on all other upgrades until getting setup and settled with Roon but that is a whole other discussion. I have 2 node 2is and they work great and also serve the purpose of being a Roon endpoint in a couple systems where I don't have a DAC that is a Roon endpoint. I also like that they have a volume control right on them so you can just walk up to it and raise or lower the volume as well as skip or rewind a track.
With Roon and my Roon ready amp with built in Streamer and playing Tidal How do the audio files get to the amp. If I’m still passing the audio files through the PC via USB what’s the advantage of “Roon ready” amp and Roon itself? I don’t really need library management. The DAC is within the amp. The goal with considering Roon would be to stop passing the music files through the PC. Maybe I’m missing something.
The main draw with Roon is the awesome user interface as well as the sound quality is better than say iTunes. You would have to run the roon core software on a computer then from there you can send to your DAC as a RAAT (Roon Advanced Audio Transport) which is the highest quality way to stream from Roon. I hear it as far superior to airplay or spotify connect or Tidal even in my system. Roon is a joy to use and explore your music far better than Tidal and it integrates Tidal so think of it as a way better Tidal user experience as well as better sound. You can use your phone as a remote control to run roon or an iPad or a desktop app as well. It's a little confusing to make sense of how it works. I was terribly confused when I first looked into it but I can tell you it's one thing I would never want to be without. A roon lifetime membership is about the same price as a new node 2i
I assume you have the TDAI 1120? Its all setup to receive roon RAAT via wifi so basically you could run the roon software on your windows machine and then send the signal over your network. You don't need the node 2i it's just redundant if your amp is a roon endpoint. It will do all that you want to do and you have the added benefit of getting into the world of Roon.
Roon’s website says that a core can be a Roon Nucleus or a personal computer, but then goes on to add that it could be a “server from one of our hardware partners”. They list Lyngdorf as a hardware partner, and most servers really are Linux Computers masquerading as audio components, so I would check with both Roon and Lyngdorf. You won’t get the full MQA experience even with Roon doing its unfold bit, with the Lyngdorf.
I curious about Roon and thinking about giving it a try. They say computer should have solid state drive and mine has spinning disk. However if the computer is on 24/7 does it matter if it has a spinning drive? Also I'm using the computer to access entertainment from Amazon Prime, YouTube websites, etc. Does it matter if the computer is not entirely dedicated to Roon? I don't use if for any actual computing but it does Microsoft Office suite, Itunes etc?
What do you mean Lyngdorf won't provide full experience. Master tracks playing through Tidal show up as 24/96. Assume I would get at least equal quality using Lyngdorf as Roon endpoint?
I've been down this road with Roon. You can do everything absolutely perfectly, the way Roon says you should, or you can just use what you have and if you think something is missing, make a change later. Try Roon and see how you like it before investing in all of the things they say you need. You can quickly drive yourself nuts by trying all of the requirements Roon has.
I use Roon once in a while because I like the information it provides. But for music listening, I prefer Audirvana or Tidal. I'm one of the few who doesn't like the sound of Roon (blasphemy!).
Roon is a deep dive if you take it. I was frustrated at first with it but am so glad I stuck it out. I can't imagine life without it. It's the most important piece in my system. Seems like many are confused by how it works. Roon is the software (the core) that runs and controls all the files like your own local hard drive files or those through Tidal or Quobuz. You need a computer and ideally a dedicated computer to run it. Then the streamers are the end points. They don't run the software they just are access points to be able to play to from the main (core) computer either wirelessly or wired depending on the unit. I have many endpoints that also have access to Spotify connect so sometimes I use that in in that case Roon is not at all used. It's nice for a streamer to have Spotify connect, Roon, airplay and bluetooth. You are pretty much covered for anything if it has all four of those. You can add Roon remote to any iOS or android (I think ) or desktop computer to be able to remotely control the core software.
Lyngdorf doesn’t support MQA. It doesn’t do the “unfold” or whatever the term is. What you are referring to is bit rate. Read up on MQA so that you understand you need both a streamer and a DAC need to support it.
I tried Roon with a MacAir vintage 2010. It worked for a day but when I turned it on the next day the Computer froze and seriously overheated. My one day trial didn’t tantalize me enough to want to retry. I would run it on a dedicated PC, or else buy one of Roons own machines.
I have a BS player module internal to my NAD M12 preamp/dac. I have had both versions. Could not tell the difference between the 2i and the older version. I also play the same apps, Tidal and Deezer via their apps from my pc that is also connected via a hdmi cable to my system. I can go back and forth between the two, as well as the same cd, and only occasionally tell the difference on well engineered recordings. That said, having multiple BS nodesaround the house is worth the affordable price.
I really like my Vault 2i, love it in fact but I really like being able to use my PC to play Qobuz. I mirror the PC to my TV and I use a Rii brand Air Mouse / Keyboard to control the PC from my chair... its awesome plus I can browse Audiogon or do anything else on the PC and see it on the TV while I listen...
Why would you use cheap CAT cable and USB cable in the first place? Junk in equals junk out. It is like buying a BMW and buying low octane rather than the higher octane fuel suggested by the manufacturer.
The reason why I purchased a BlueSound Node 2i was to experience MQA. I sense a difference in clarity and sound state when listening to MQA music regardless what this group feels. I added a DAC and was told by the dealer how much better it sounded. Then I got it home and felt the bass sounded thinner. I did like the highs, but felt I was missing out on the MQA experience.
Regarding SSD disks almost all people who has tried with music streaming says that it is better. That probably holds even if you have the computer on all the time.
The only thing I can think of that would be better than SSD is buying a LOT of memory and using a part of it as a RAM-drive but that requires some technical skills. Memory is somewhere around 1000x faster than an SSD which is in turn 4x - 10x as fast as normal hard-drive (HDD).
back to basics. I'm not sure how you have this connected, but if you are connecting both to your "amp" then the interface must be ANALOG and there is a whole world of difference way too complex for this post. If, on the other hand you are connecting to a DAC in the (integrated?) amp, it is quasi-digital (either USB or S/PDIF) in which the amplitude is digital (encoding ~ 16 bits) and the time domain (x-axis) is analog. Yes, with USB that analog is re-created in the DAC, which ought to be better. It gets messy.
So first make sure what you are doing. Then consider the possible differences. With a "digital" signal, as noted its half analog and ha;lf digital, and even ignoring that, there is ground/electrical noise being transmitted (lots by most PCs).
Now, if you are asking about bluesound vs PC as a streamer, i would side with a Mac running itunes and bitperfect as superior - similarly if you use Auirvahna (SP, dont care) or my choice, Roon.
Bluesound is still very much a compromise - better than Sonos, but inferior to almost anything serious -- including (substantially) the $99 Schiit DAC driven by an old Macbook pro.
I tried Roon with a MacAir vintage 2010. It worked for a day but when I turned it on the next day the Computer froze and seriously overheated. My one day trial didn’t tantalize me enough to want to retry. I would run it on a dedicated PC, or else buy one of Roons own machines.You had a different problem. When i trialed Roon, i tried it on a 2009 Macbook pro - this is like 4 generations of chips old - and it worked great. Now, when i went "all-in" on Roon i built a ROCK with a 4-core NUC, but honestly the sound quality difference is zero.
if oyu run lots of room correcting DSP YMMV, but i don't. I keep things bitperfect aside from upsampling integer multiples.