Not uncommon to spend much more on a separate DAC to run with a Node 2. Knowing your budget will probably help but I’d probably say stay under $1500 on a DAC with a Node 2 as at that point might want to step up to another streamer. I’m running a RME ADI 2fs DAC with Teddy Pardo power supply and very happy with that combination with my Vault 2, but that being said I’m toying with the idea of a dedicated streamer only. Before the RME I was using the DAC in my Cambridge 851C and it was much better than the DAC in the Bluesound so if you want to experiment I’d say find a used Cambridge DacMagic as that will be a nice upgrade for not much money. If you have a CDP does it have coax digital in as that might be an option too.
I have used Node products for a few years. I started with a Node N100. I used the internal DAC. This worked good for my needs and my budget. I moved up to the Node 2. Again,I used the internal DAC for a couple years before dipping my toes in the separate DAC world. There is definitely an improvement in moving to a decent external DAC. However depending upon your needs and budget,the internal DAC in the Node products is not horrible. YMMV.
Geez, the guy doesn't even have it yet and you're all telling him to go out and buy power cords, magic cables and expensive DACs before he's even heard it! Do we have any idea what the rest of his system is? Is it good enough to resolve all the magic stuff he needs to add to it? It's fun to spend other people's money.
To the OP, listen to it for a while and make sure that the streaming experience is for you. If you enjoy the Node 2 and find that sonically it's not as good as the rest of your components, don't waste your money trying to polish a turd. Not that it's a turd, it's not, but it's only capable of so much.
Get something better. For what you'd spend getting an external DAC and fancy magic cables that may or may not make any difference in your system, you can get a much better streamer / DAC. There are streamers from Lumin, TEAC, and others that will outperform the Node 2 + a DAC.
I know because I've been down both paths. Adding a better DAC can improve the sound quality, but it will only take it so far. I noticed zero difference using more expensive power cords and interconnects.
Buying a better streamer / DAC (in my case the TEAC NT-505) took things to a much higher level than any add-ons I tried with the Node 2, which include using an Auralic VEGA as the DAC (originally a $3500 DAC), and the DAC in my Sony TA-ZH1ES headphone amp which is also very good.
I'm not sure why people seem to think that the streamer itself doesn't matter in terms of sound quality. Why not just get a Roku or use your smart TV to stream into a $2000 DAC?
I do agree that if you can, hard wire it. I also agree that MQA is a bit hyped and prefer Qobuz' hi-res files over MQA.
Big Greg, Ur killin me, i laughed for awhile at your post :0) I got it wired LAN. Zero’d out tone controls, she’s glowing blue and my Eero router says its connected! Im streaming LedZepplin Presence MQA and my first impression is a much quieter noise floor, it just seems quieter and the music “fuller” My system is a Denon x4300 receiver as a prepro. My amps are (7) Outlaw mono m200’s. My mains are a DIY design clone AerialAcoustic CC3 from HT guide, dual 8” woofs, 6”mid 1”dome, all DaytonAudio, XO are poly caps aircore inductors and one iron core on the 8’s. For all aluminum drivers they are really sweet, i XO to quad 15” AdireTumults sealed, actually the whole system is sealed.
It’s primarily its a 7.1.4 HT rig, with decay times in the bass area of under 20-25ms. First reflection points are 4” OC 703 panels. All other parallel walls have wood diffusers i think 2D also DIY
Since im using analog connection to my Denon which is the way I usually check sampling rates ect. Can i check output using the Node’s app ?? Just to be sure im choosing the right MQA. As of now its Tidal, i may do a free trial on Qobuz
What made a big difference on my Node 2i was the purchase of a 2 meter Supra CAT 8+ ethernet cable from eBay seller zendada. Total cost including shipping only $59. If you go this route only buy from him, as the only other seller when I purchased mine was in England and shipping would have been about $20 extra and three weeks.
Also, zendada is taking a bit of advertising license calling it 8+, as it is really a CAT 8 cable. As mentioned, this made a big difference for the better in my system. Give it a day to break in as for the first few hours it was very dry sounding then opened up nicely.
I am using a modded Museatex DAC designed by Meitner with my 2i. But for my type of listening, which rather than intense short sessions is all day long as background music, the internal DAC was not unpleasant. I do like the 2i fantastic operating app, customer service and world of music it opens up..
If you use the RCA outs to your Denon, you're getting the full MQA unfold. The Bluesound app will show the MQA icon next to the track. If you're listening to Qobuz Hi-Res tracks there will be an icon that says "HR". I don't think it will show you the sampling rates.
I prefer Qobuz because as long as your DAC supports the sampling rates, there's no proprietary encoding. I'd prefer not to have my bits and bytes folded and unfolded. It's also cheaper and better suited to my listening tastes (mostly rock and jazz). Tidal does have a larger selection, but there's not much you can't find on Qobuz.
Pretty sure the OP asked for suggestions to get the most out of their Node 2. Don’t feel anyone here isn’t offering what was not asked.
+1 on the Supra Cat 8
I use a Supra Cat 8 and although it’s the only ethernet cable I have tried besides the stock cable it is better to my ears and it’s affordable. Felt the stock Cat 5 cable was a little closed in, flatter stage and thinner compared to the Supra; it’s not a night and day difference but it is there. The Supra is more open and when comparing it to the stock it gets out of the way better.
In my system and my ears changing the power cable did make a difference which is plugged into a PS Audio P5 so maybe that helped. Just like the ethernet cable it’s not a night and day difference but every little bit helps. Biggest improvement is going to be a DAC but agree to enjoy it first because if you haven’t streamed yet you are in for a treat.
As far as streaming services go I started with Spotify Premium because I subscribed years before getting a streamer for home and the family package is a good deal. Next went to Tidal HiFi and agree it’s better than Spotify and they have a military discount for an individual subscription. Currently I have added Qobuz and I agree with others it sounds the best of the three.
It just seems quieter than my ShieldTV with Tidal..... i can’t quite put my finger on it, but i like what i hear so far :0) Y’all got me thinkin about Qobuz though. It took me awhile to get use to paid services, but my days of archiving are over, except for some vinyl recently (no TT yet)
The Ayre CODEX Dac is a excellent choice in conjunction with the Node2. You can pick one up used around $800-$1000. Not bad, considering it sells new for around $2000. Codex also has balanced outs to your amp. If your amp has balanced inputs, try this configuration. It improved SQ in my opinion. The Node 2's internal dac has very respectable sound.
I have Tidal and just started a trial subscription to Qobuz. They are pretty comparable through my Blusound Node. I’m not sure why everyone wants to push a separate DAC. It sound good stock in my opinion. Somebody mentioned hooking it to a CD player for its Dac. I have an Oppo 105. Who thinks that Dac would be an improvement?
Im diggin this piece, the app actually controls the unit, it doesnt cast to it, no need for a tv to be on, and to boot i get my favorite sliding volume! My denon app has a sliding volume, its more of an attenuator on the node though, i set my volume at -20db MV and the app does the rest.
A $200 Topping will outperform the internal. If I was you I'd enjoy the stock and save up for the RME ADI. The one thing the BluSound has is plenty of radio stations. Almost as many as Orange Squeeze on a Magna Mano. Crummier art and metadata however. Welcome to the stream. I'm Qobuz also. MQA is not for me.
I’m using a Node2i with a ARC Dac7...no complaints and no desire to spend $1500+ on a noticeably better streamer. I also took the advice from those who claimed that upgrading the power cord on the Node was a must do. And FWIW, I A/B’d MQA straight from the Node vs my DAC which doesn’t decode MQA and In my opinion the Dac7 is absolutely superior.
I have an Oppo 205 so can’t say for certain the DAC in your 105 will sound better than the Node but I bet it will be noticeably better. To do it right you need a digital coax cable so not any rca cable and I’d say avoid Toslink as well. If you don’t have a digital coax then pick up a Canare to experiment with as it’s very affordable and very good. Need a min. of a 3ft cable... I suggest a 4ft cable. Once you hear your Oppo as the DAC I bet you’ll understand why many use the Node/Vaults as streamers only.
I've used a Node2 for 3 years along with Tidal, no DAC, hard wired WiFi. I stream to 2 systems, first +200k, second 100k. I use Roon via a Surface laptop, or an iPad. I see no reason to change the Node2 or add a DAC at this time. I do have an Oppo205 but only use it’s DAC for cable TV out via the main system. My advice is to understand the BluOS app and also the TIDAL app. Check Roon out also if you are storing music on a NAS or PC. Enjoy 🇦🇺
IMO the Node 2(i) is one of the best-bang-for-buck HiFi products around. I agree with those who suggest just using it for a while before investing in fancy cords or cables. I do prefer it wired (ethernet) to WiFi, but especially if you have fairly fast internet service, WiFi might work fine for you.
I also agree that instead of buying a stand-alone DAC to use with the Node 2, you might want to wait until you are ready to upgrade the whole shebang. Any of several integrated DAC/streamer/preamp products at around $3K would offer a nice one-shot upgrade. The Matrix Element X, iFi Pro iDSD, or a used Auralic Vega G1 would deliver USB and balanced outputs along with any improvements to the DAC.
Kgveteran, you may want to try this tweek in Tidal for serious listening sessions. There is a feature labeled “Loudness Normalization “. The purpose of said feature is to maintain the same volume output from the different recordings on a Playlist. So, if you’re listening as background music or don’t want to adjust volume from song to song it is a convenience feature. IME, the sound quality is improved with the Loudness Normalization feature disabled.
To accomplish this: Enter your Tidal app. Click “my collection “ in the lower right corner. Next up, click the gear wheel icon in the upper right corner. This will open the page where you will see the Loudness Normalization button. Turn it off and see if it makes any difference to you.
It is easy to revert at any time for the convenience listening.
I have the Node2 and I'm using it with a Denafrips Ares II external DAC (connected via Coaxial), and I think it sounds very good. The Ares II doesn't allow for MQA but I've heard mixed reviews on whether or not MQA makes any noticeable difference.
My question is Qobuz vs Tidal. Why do some folks say Qobuz is better when using an external DAC??
I am also happy with my Node 2i, which I use with a Denafrips Ares II DAC. I have both Tidal and Qobuz. I rarely use Tidal, which depends on special hardware for MQA. Qobuz has high resolution recordings not requiring a super duper "unwrapping". Qobuz also allows easy purchase and downloading of music files compatable with the USB input on the Node 2i.
I originally had the Node 2i. Liked it so much I switched out to the PowerNode 2i to improve space restrictions and SAF. All I have are ELAC Debut 6.2 speakers (waiting on Zu DWs). Nice compact system for limited space. Having great experiences with Qobuz. I am listening to more, and more varied, music now than I did with LPs.
Hi, I have four Node2i. In all cases I use external DACs and upgraded power cords. In addition one unit (to date) has been modified with a PCB DC power interface and a linear external low noise PSU. All these are a step up in SQ over SOTS. I use the digital coaxial output where I can then RCA (L/R) - depending on the DAC (my early R2R DACs are RCA only).
My set up is Node2i and, yes, a power lead upgrade which I’m pretty sure made a difference (but I hate to admit it); and a Khadas tone board as a DAC. When I switch the Node out for a Raspberry Pi plus a Allo One HAT, the Roon experience is the same and my ears don’t hear a difference - but my wallet says “you could have saved £250”.
I VERY reluctantly tread into digital waters with the Node2--and much to my surprise was delighted by the "comparable to CD sound" I was getting as a suscriber to Qobuz (I tried Tidal but there was no question in my mind that Qobuz sounded much closer to analog than MQA on the same releases). I followed everyone's advice to get a separate DAC--in my case a Chord Qutest. And after weeks of comparative testing, discovered absolutely no difference from the Node's own internal DAC. Returned the Qutest--and have been a satisfied streaming listener ever since. I would recommend using an Ethernet cable rather than WiFi--noticeable difference in sound quality. Good luck and happy listening.
I’ve not listened to a Chord Qutest but it gets rave reviews. I have a Vault 2 and and in my system it’s night and day difference between the onboard DAC or using the DAC in either my Cambridge 851C or RME. I agree the audible difference between Qobuz and Tidal is there but to my ears the difference between DACs is more substantial.
Hi, Sorry if this has been mentioned but having lived with a Node2 now for 5 years here's my biggest advice- Ethernet cable!!! The wifi is unstable, unreliable and often frustrating. With ethernet I've had virtually no problems, great streaming and a very good experience. Good luck and enjoy.
+1 for anyone advocating ethernet over wifi. It's not unlike what I imagine a new DAC would do. Of course, it's all dependent upon you, your gear, etc., but do not ignore this very audible improvement. I'm quite satisfied with the analogue output from my Node 2i after upgrading a couple of cables and one of them ethernet.
I'm currently using the Bluesound Node 2i with NAD M51 DAC. I'm thinking about upgrading either the power cord, or upgrading the whole power supply to linear (Teddy Pardo and Fidelity Audio in UK offer LPS upgrades). Any thoughts on these options?