Bluesound Node 2021 DAC - I sold my Denafrips Ares II

I assembled my system last summer, after 20 odd years in the hifi wilderness. I’ve never been a vinyl guy, so wanted all the convenience of streaming, plus a CDP for my old collection.

I went for the latest iteration of the Bluesound Node - N130, a Naim Nait 5si and a pair of Quad S2 speakers, and Audiolab 6000CDT.

From reading various forums, watching YT videos, you know the script; I convinced my self that I needed an external DAC, as the majority view seemed to be that the BS Node DAC wasn’t very good. As I hadn’t owned hifi since the late 90s (Naim Olive) bi-amped system and Audo Alchemy DDE, I had no reference for how DACs sounded these days.

Anyway, in my new found conviction that I must purchase an ext. DAC, I purchased a Denafrips Ares II. Got it, plugged it in, and didn’t look back. I was content, it sounded good.

Then, about 2 months ago, I was fiddling around inside the Bluos app, with the subwoofer crossover, with a mind to buying a sub to supplement the LFs on my little Quads, and I had the belated brainwave to a/b the Node DAC and the Denafrips. I whipped out some spare ICs and off I went.

OK, I felt like such a fool, really stupid - I a/b’d for literally hours, trying to convince myself that the Ares II was night and day difference - it must be right? The Node DAC is sub-par, not good enough, mediocre, if things I read were correct.

But, in my system, to my ears, this wasn’t the case; I had difficulty discerning any significant improvements, certainly not £800 (£600 pre-owned) worth of difference.

I’m not knocking the Ares II, but in my system, the cost and the difference it made - and the difference between it and the much maligned Node DAC could not be justified sitting in my system at that cost.

Feeling like a complete tool, for rushing headlong in to the DAC game, I re-sold the Denafrips, bought a REL T5x and here I am.

I’m not going to look a further fool and say the Node DAC is the best, but i feel it is criticised unduly, at least the newest version at any rate.

Thanks for reading, I’m not sure this is a cautionary tale, but I just thought the experience worth sharing




@rhljazz ​​​​​​

Hand on heart, I can honestly say I never even considered the point you've just made; it makes total sense. I should have thought of it. But hey, no going back now.

In hindsight, I probably should have bought the sub way back, rather than looking at external DACs.

I guess as the cliche says "every day's a school day", especially with this crazy hobby 😊

The combination of the Node version ___ and a Denafrips DAC

is problematic. Alvin [Denafrips] has stated the Aries II and the Node

didn’t play well together, he later broadened the list to include their

DAC’c and the Node. So a different brand DAC may sound better, or a different brand streamer

with a Denafrips may improve on your original conclusions.

My initial email w/Alvin was on the Aries II subsequent Emails to others

included other models.



Thanks for this thread I'm just about to take the plunge into the digital world totally clueless (grew up w/45's, LP's & 8 tracks) and have really would like to have a 1 box solution, preferably wireless wifi connected.  We just got AT&T fiber cable which is a huge improvement over our previous Cox cable and half the price.  Is the current Bluesound Node going work wireless & to be on par w/my current Cary 303/300 cd player which I run direct into my Music Reference tube amp? 


  There is no need to defend what you have experienced.  It’s not like you never tried something,but chimed in with an”opinion”. Like happens so often with cables,or contact enhancers,or….. you get the point. This or any hobby, is about a little self indulgence.  Everyone is after something different.  Congratulations on narrowing your chase down.