+1 for Kclone advice.
Lots of choices in DAC’s for that money.
I love my Bluesound node2 beats using a computer for ease of use and its app, tough not perfect woks very well.
Up against my Bifrost multibit the Bluesound holds its own fairly well. If you don’t hear them side by side it would be hard to fault the Bluesound.
Do you have a DAC now? if so which one?
What is the rest of your system?
I own the Bluesound Node (1), and output to my Schiit Gungnir or Ayre Codex.
I am essentially using the Bluesound for its' wireless connectivity and I have to say it works like a charm.
The Node 2 is a better unit-DACwise.
I would recommend you try the Bluesound. You can find them on Ebay pretty cheap if you can wait. And, like I mentioned, you can buy a really good DAC and get unimpeachable sound as well as great wireless connectivity.
I have moved to digital streaming almost completely. It is unbelievable to have an almost unlimited library of music at high quality for a $10-20 per month. Though many love Tidal, I think the Spotify premium subscription is good enough.
Have you thought of one of the micro computers with a digital out and a good DAC. most can be set up to display on a tablet or phone or you could output the video to a small tv or monitor(touch screen is ultimate). I use an Asus Vivo mini pc it outputs optical as well as USB and HDMI. I run the Tidal ap and display it on my TV that is in the same room but I have tried it with a tablet and it works great. I output the digital to my MSB DAC to great effect. This also gives me the flexibility to use any other streaming service that's available on the internet also YouTube etc. Not to mention all the benefits of a small form computer. I payed around $300 for the Vivo and it also had 500gb hard drive built in and can also run a NAS so lots of options. I run mine wirelessly but you can hard wire it to the internet as well.
I use one like this one
I use a device that's comparable to the Bluesound Node, an Auralic Aries Mini and like it very much paired with an AN Dac. Someone strongly recommended Lumin to me and I was intrigued by the Lumin D1 myself. However it was a non-starter for me when researching that it's not totally wireless. The Bluesound Node and Auralic products all are but the Lumin requires a hardwired ethernet connection to your modem. Not sure if that makes a difference to you or not, also whatever you end up doing I highly recommend getting a good outboard Dac.
If you plan on having access to your own digital database of music you should know that the Bluesound Node 2 has it’s own tagging system for playback and album art. For instance, I own a Bluesound Node 2 and I wanted to be able to play a very large collection (around 14K) of songs that were ripped from CDs and bought from Itunes. This was a library created by Itunes. Although the Bluesound Node two found the music, I had to redo many, many folders and tags for the BluOS (software) to find and play those files.
On the positive side, the customer support I had received from Bluesound was awesome. They helped me with the folders and retagging. You can see more details here http://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/bluesound-node-2-and-great-customer-service
Overall, I am very pleased with the Node 2, it is an outstanding product that is very flexible.
I have the bluesound node 2 and the vault 2. I compared the bluesound using its own dac and compared wit my musical fidelity tri-vista 21 tube dac upgraded for another $1000 by sonic frontiers and also used the DAC of my audio aero sacd prestige and the DAC of my AMR CD 77 and the bluesound nose dac holds its own well. Very slight difference. I love the blue sound app and tidal and MQA good enough sound I have the Geshman Black Swan, Harbeth SLH 5 plus, Spendor BC1, Focus 888 and Quad 63 monitors and for preamp CJ ACT 2.2 and Amps VTL 450 monoblocks, and CJ 350 SS So a pretty good system and the BLUE NODE holds its own comparing with my audio aero prestige sacd, AMR cd 77 and clear- Audio solution turntable with koetsu Black and EAR 834 phono-preamp. You will love the blue sound. I thought I was going to not like it . Try it from diff sites that have 60 day trial then try an outboard dac JBCrespomn
I have had a Node 2 for a while and regret purchasing it. Because I bought it from a dealer who had a few demo items he had discounted and I could have got the Bluesound Vault for a great price as well.
That being said, I love my Node2 but wish I threw in the extra for the Vault. The quality of the streaming (I use an updated Bidat dac) is on par with my cd through my ead transport. I hardly listen to CD’s anymore
The sound quality through the Node2 analog outputs was very close to the sq from the stream through the Bidat. If I knew this thing was as good as it is, I would have had no hesitation going for the Vault.
Assc gear: Classe CP700, Pass X150, Dynaudio Confidence C2. Streaming with Tidal.
I have the Bluesound Node 2 as well. I’ll try to give quick bullet conclusions.
Finally, please note that I’m a vinyl lover and I have far more money invested in vinyl playback than digital (about a 3:1 ratio--vinyl : digital. And, I love my Bluesound Node 2.
These devices are not all the same. I’ve had many: Dell netbook, Apple airport, sotm tx-USBexp with its own psu and others. You should have heard how bad the Dell netbook sounded. It’s garbage in, garbage out. I say, start with clean bits. I now have a Micro Rendu and have an Aries Mini on the way. It really amounts to the vendors USB/Motherboard implementation. These things pick up EMI/RFI and need good jitter performance or you will play the add on game.
My guess is that a Lumen/Aurender/MR/SOtM sMS-200 will beat a Aries Mini or a Blue Sound because of their motherboard/USB implementation. It’s also system dependent and what you might be hearing is colorization.
Streamers do have a very noticible impact on sound quality. Upgrading from the old Pioneer N-30 streamer to Aries Mini with SBooster power supply did make a big difference. Since I can pinpoint instruments much better.
I’ve upgraded again to Sonore microRendu. With iFi powersupply it matches the Aries in SQ. With LPS-1 power supply the microRendu is again a big upgrade in sound quality. (Tested the PSU upgrade by using 6x1,5V rechargeble batteries before making the jump to LPS-1).
With all three of the streamers I’ve used the same dac (not the inbuild dac).
Well, I received my Bluesound Node 2 yesterday. Listening to it now. I am very pleased with it. Listening to MQA and regular digital files. Can't say that I can tell a difference though I haven't done an AB comparison of the same song in both formats. In any case, the sound quality is great. I am sure there are refinements that come with more expensive players but I cannot imagine a better bang for your buck addition to my system than the Bluesound Node 2.
I use Tidal Hi-FI out through my Dell Studio 1747 Laptop (Windows 7) USB 2.0 using the provided download from my Marantz SA8005 (64 Bit) USB Audio Driver (3.26MB). Next I connect using a USB "B" cable directly to the Marantz’s SA8005 internal D/A or DAC. From there I go out via RCA/Phono Cables to a McIntosh MX-110 AUX input out to McIntosh MC225 and onward to speakers/sub . Once I did that I went to the "settings" tab on the Tidal page, located the "Streaming" tab, and clicked the 3 tabs 1-Use Exclusive Mode, 2-Force Volume, and 3-Passthrough MQA. Voila.... MQA on a budget. It is my understanding we only get MQA through the "Tidal Masters" ONLY!? MQA added significantly to the tightness of the lows and more precise imaging of the instruments. I "think" MQA sounds better but as an audio nut I was able to access it for the full use of Tidal MQA streaming and wait out the next development in hardware to upgrade the DAC I am currently using in my Marantz SA8005. Any further thoughts? Thanks Guys.
I have not compared my Node 2 to any other digital player, but I can tell you that CD transfers and especially hi res FLAC downloads from hdtracks.com are excellent. My hi res purchases are so good that I have had to beef up my vinyl play pack system to stay competitive. I think you need a very expensive setup in comparison in order to beat the Node 2. For instance, I have the FLAC download of the legendary Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra, and I have the reissue on LP. Now that I have a truly excellent LP playback setup - VPI Classic 4, SME 312s, Benz Ruby 3, Hagerman Trumpet, Stevens and Billington TX 103 step up, Walker motor controller, yes its beats the Node 2, but not by much! Realism, dynamics, soundstage depth are a bit better, transparency a little better, but the Node 2 is also quite satisfying if ultimately losing to my analog chain. I'm telling you for $500 and hi res downloads, you are doing very well.
Yes, I'm thinking of something like the highly rated Bryston BDA-3 which sells for about $3500, which would be the absolute most I would want to spend, but I've seen demo units on sale for under $3000. I'm almost afraid to hear it, but PROBABLY my analog rig would edge it out. I've also been thinking of a cartridge upgrade, which who knows may become more necessary if I do the digital upgrade. I should also mention that I'm powering my digital and analog front ends with a PS audio P-5, which I believe improves the sound even more. One review I read claims it's especially beneficial for digital.
Earthtones- Hey just enjoy the Node 2 as it sounds now. Most analog fans would be astounding if digital sounded as good as their higher priced turntable, cartridge and tonearm. Like you said, for $500 (I have the Node 2 as well) and high quality hirez downloads ...this is just great musical experiences to be enjoyed today.
The node 2 is one product that proves hifi does not have inflict financial pain to achieve a very good result. I use the digital output into my Mcintosh C50 processor and am beyond pleased. Reliable, convenient as all heck for streaming Tidal and cheap. What more could you ask?They have really updated the app and it is much more usable. It would be interesting to hear a comparison between it and a much more expensive piece. Has anyone done this?
@randyhat - I also have the Node 2 and I have "treated" it to some excellent Power and Interconnect cables - for that I have been rewarded with some stellar improvements in fidelity.
I have found over the years that using excellent power cables with components like the Node 2 pays dividends.
e.g. My Bifrost DAC and Dacmagic both got the same treatment and also upped their game significantly.
In my case, I have spent more on cables than the component itself, but components such as these are actually excellent performers, it's just that they are are designed to a price point - which generally means the power supply is not as good as it should be for the internal circuitry.
Attaching a good power cables allows the internal circuits to perform to the best of their ability, which elevates the performance level, so attaching a good IC allows that performance to be transferred to the amp.
I am simply stating what I have observed with the components identified, so perhaps fellow members, we could refrain from turning this thread into a debate on the effectiveness (or not) of cables - please.
You actually make a good point. Many of these "price point" products are great performers. The cables included are cheapos, however, audiophiles will probably bring their own anyway. For general listeners who are not audiophiles who are hooking the Node to their A/V receiver and listening thru construction grade ceiling speakers, the supplied cables are fine.
Good cables (and good cables do not have to be super pricey) are like giving your car higher octane gas. 87 octane will be sufficient for most people, 93, however, will help optimize the performance that is already built in to the car.
@aberyclark - agreed !
If you are not attaching the Node 2 to a system with great speakers & speaker cables - then attaching a great power cord is not going to make a huge difference
My Powernode 2 in my AV system is hooked up to some pretty decent tower speakers - so it made a significant improvement adding great power and speaker cables
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours to audition the Bluesound Node 2 and the Lumin D1 (as well as the Lumin M1 integrated amp/streamer). Both are really outstanding products. For sheer sound quality, the Lumin D1 was definitely a step above the Node 2. It offered more detail and air and all of the things that you expect for roughly four times the price of the Node 2. I also really liked the upsampling capability that improved (to my ears) the sound on files streaming at 16/44.1. The interface on their app using an iPad was a pleasure but note that their app is only available for Apple - no Android. There are all sorts of very flexible and easy upsampling features. The Lumin D1 really sings on MQA files. The quality was about as good as I have ever heard for electronically reproduced sound. (BTW, this was a surprise as before listening to the Lumin D1, I would not have counted myself as a fan of upsampling.) If what you want is the best quality streaming and a great interface, the Lumin D1 merits a listen. And the new D2 promises to be even better. It is a compact and attractive unit, as well.
Now for the Node 2. Functioning as a streamer on non-MQA files, it was very solid, if not outstanding. To my ears, it was very close to the quality of the built-in DAC on my Hegel H80. Where it really was outstanding was on those MQA files where it delivered much of the improvement that I could hear on the Lumin D1. If you are a Tidal subscriber and not yet ready to invest in a Lumin streamer, the Node 2 will very likely represent an upgrade on your present DAC for MQA files and, at the price, it seems very hard to go wrong.
The Node 2 offers somewhat more flexibility than the Lumin does. It has optical and USB inputs and offers wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Lumin D1 offers none of these. Bluesound also offers an Android app, in addition to Apple.
I don't have much to say about the Lumin M1 except that I liked it less (as an amplifier) than the Hegel H80 and that its built-in streamer did not offer all of the features (e.g. upsampling) of the D1.
If possible you may want to consider the Bluesound big boy, the Vault 2.
One good reason stands out compared to the node2 and its internet connection.
The vault 2 is hard wired only and you will get better signal with practicality zero chance of dropouts.
I use this and steam tidal out to my Hegel h300 and the sq is beyond Redbook CD.
You easily control the vault or node direct from phone or tablet, apps for Android and Apple are very well supported and constantly updated. Indeed the vault is also updated on a regular basis, another advantage of permanent hard wired Ethernet.
Lots of other services supported too like Amazon prime, Quboz etc. Also the internet radio stations are very good too.
Another advantage on the vault is that IF you decide to rip your CD collection, well you already have the means.
Outputs on the Vault are coax and toslink digital and single ended RCA analog.
Just a thought, you can pick them up for about $1000 online
I think you are correct, hard wired will produce the best results. The Vault 2 is great, since it can rip your CDs but the Node 2 CAN be hardwired just like the Vault for half the price.
I have heard great things about the Lumin. But again, as in all things we buy, the more money can buy a better product. I consider Bluesound.... affordable hi-fi!
The budget equipment of today with the advances in technology and manufacturing wipes the floor with budget equipment of old.
Obviously the more you spend the better sq you can get but it seems the low end starting point keeps raising the bar significantly each year.
My second system cost under $1k and tbh when I listen I sometimes wonder why I have 40x that amount in my main rig!
But that is why this is a hobby....lol