Any “value” competitor streamers vs Bluesound Node 2i?


I’m looking to upgrade from the Apple TV.   I am looking to run into a Benchmark 2 HGC.  Is the Node 2i the only game in town for under $500- 1k?  Open to used. 
-Thanks
puffbojie
If you want to get berried, Volumio
Bluesound interface is second to Roon, it's really really good.  Shunyata makes an upgraded power cord for the bluesound that's affordable.  Yeah sadly you have to go $1500+ for the next level
Has the $1500 to $2000 class of streamers from (say 5 years ago) fallen behind  less expensive streamers of today with regards to advancements  & improvements in technology and sound quality? Or has it been a relatively stable environment? 
Darko has a youtube review comparing bluesound, Auralic Aeries, Innous and bunch others.  He updates this list  https://darko.audio/the-darko-dac-index/
I went to the same route you are going. I am using the Allo Digione Signature with Volumio with very good results.
Darko also reviewed and compared both.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJIj0Acq99o

Ok so if you don’t want to program and use a noisy little mini computer ( like a raspberry pi ) -based thingamajig, here are some options to consider:

1.Sonos

https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/port.html?gclsrc=aw.ds&&utm_campaign=GGL_US_EN_SONOS_B_PORT...

Sonos speakers and dacs are absolute crap but I’ve heard their streamer with your exact dac and it sounded really good. So, good software and digital out if you’re not too embarrassed to have a Sonos app on your phone and their gizmo in your house ...


2. Volumio:

https://volumio.org/product/volumio-primo/
Software is questionable. Playback NOT lossless. But you may not care. Good if you want to network or attach a hard drive for indexation.
3. Primare:
This isn’t out quite yet (it’s overdue) but looks promising. Gapless. Hook up a hard drive. Haven’t ever used their really complicated software but reviewers say it’s good.
https://www.primare.net/products/np5-prisma/


4. Other. Used auralic(won’t work amazonmusicHD if you care), Amazon Echo Link (cheap but sq is said by reviewers to be lacking), Arcam (discontinued). There are others.
In addition to wifi circuit quality, software is key: I do not agree that BlueOS is acceptable. I think it’s crap, like their cheap BlueSound hardware, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Moreover, it won’t index a hard drive. Talk about engineering to a price - There are any number of sub $100 or even sub-$50 more reliable wireless gizmos out there with better dacs in them than the node 2i.

Hard drive connectivity and indexing may or not be important to you. Ethernet connectivity may or may not be either. But you might bear these things in mind.

You may be able to find a Bryston BDP-2 for around $1K used. This is definitely a step up from the Node 2i if you are feeding an external DAC and are running Roon. I've got a BDP-2, as well as several Node 2is which I use for different zones around the house.

I don't think the Bryston software is as good as BlueOS if you are relying on this to control your music, but the Roon support works great. The BDP-2 also has AES/EBU which works better than SPDIF and USB for many DACs (don't know about the benchmark). 
NAD 658. $1,500 new. Landmark product. 
@ cytocycle I have to disagree. I think BluOS is superior to Roon unless using a NAS.  

If not using a NAS, I cannot see much reason to NOT use BluOS. 
spirit of radio,

You wrote, “I do not agree that BlueOS is acceptable. I think it’s crap, like their cheap BlueSound hardware, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Moreover, it won’t index a hard drive. Talk about engineering to a price - There are any number of sub $100 or even sub-$50 more reliable wireless gizmos out there with better dacs in them than the node 2i.”

I’m interested to hear why you feel this way? I don’t want to presume, but your strong opinions would imply that you have some expertise in this area. I do not question that. Just want you to explain a bit more?
Scott_w wrote, “NAD 658. $1,500 new. Landmark product.”

This as well as the M10 seem very intriguing. 
Another option in your budget is Pro-Ject Stream Box S2 Ultra, $850.  Very good reviews from HB and Darko.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CX-pZRhbtI 

https://darko.audio/2019/03/have-your-pi-eat-it-pro-jects-stream-box-s2-ultra/
Guess I will throw the best ( IMHO) sub $100 option out into the room. Although a friend said prices have risen of late on eBay but still....

Google Chromecast Audio.

Sadly discontinued but no idea why.
Hockey puck size but streams up to 24/96 very reliably.
I have two of them.
Google Home makes setup a breeze.
Control with bubbleupnp.

Sound really really good to my ears.
+1 uberwaltz--the chromecast, which you used to be able to pick up for $25, had to the greatest-ever value in audio. i've a/b'd it with a ($500) bluesound node using the same dac and system and the differences were very small.
You guys also need to factor in the app and interface.
plus, BS has a DAC built in. Nothing comes close in its price performance considering it has:

1. Bluetooth
2. airplay
3. BluOS interface
4. Decent DAC
5. multiple outputs 
6. attractive form factor
7. integrated tidal and Qobuz 
7. Radio paradise 


If you can find a used Aries Mini, fairly hard to do, grab it unless you care about Amazon which I don't. Also used 1st gen Aries are now around $7-800 used I really like their LDS control app as well.
I've been looking at upgrading myself but after continually checking out some of these new streamers I always come back to the Auralic Aries LE I have been using for the past 5 or so years.