Bluesound Node 2i & Ayre Codex - How would this work?
I just picked up an Ayre Codex and I’m looking for a streamer - basically there are 3 options, a Sonore product like the micro/ultraRendu, a Bluesound Node 2i, or a Innuos Zen Mini.
I am leaning toward the BSN2i in terms of flexibility and ease of use, and the cost is a big plus vs the other options. However the BSN2i only has coax or optical out, and the Codex only has USB or optical in.
So basically this is only going to work via toslink, which I believe would have some limitations. For one, are there limitations on the sampling and bit rate that can be transferred via optical? Is the Codex a good enough DAC that it can mitigate jitter from the BSN2i optical out?
Would a Sonore product be better (though pricier)? I also really like the Zen Mini option but I think it’s really overkill. I know it is an amazing streamer because I already own a Zen MKIII hooked up to my main system. But that also makes all the other functions of the Mini redundant (no need for a HD, CD ripper, etc). Plus with the LPS option on the Mini, I could literally buy 4 Bluesounds or 2 ultraRendus.
I should add that the main purpose of the Codex and streamer will be to go into my Quad PA-One headphone amp.
I have heard the Node2 analog output compared with the Codex as an outboard DAC in the same system and the improvement was definitely noticeable. Not a full MQA DAC as far as I remember but still sounded better playing back MQA content.
My biggest question about the Node2 into the Codex is that since the only way to connect the 2 is via toslink, and Ayre says the preferred input is USB (only way to get DSD), is that there may be a compromise in sound quality by using the optical input of the Ayre.
I realize I won't get DSD or MQA into the Codex via optical in, but the Node2 should still stream hi res via toslink.
I've just read that optical connections were probably the worst in terms of sound quality due to jitter and bandwidth limitations, and I don't want to compromise the sound quality of the Codex if that's the case.
I am using a Node2 with Ayre CODEX with Wireworld Super Nova 7 optical interconnect, and the sound is glorious! I'm not a huge supporter of balanced outputs, but in the case of the Codex, it took the SQ to another level. Excellent pairing, IMO.
Thanks, I will give it a shot. I just bought the Codex off AG so it hasn't arrived yet but I need to order the BDN2i.
@audiotroy I do have a Zen Mk III already hooked up to my Luxman DA-06. So while a Zen Mini would be a great idea, as I think the Innuos products are amazing products, it would be paying for a lot of redundant stuff I already have and don't need (CD ripper, storage, Roon Core, etc). I just need a streamer.
The other option is to run BSN2i via coax into my Luxman DAC for my main system (L-509X), using my Zen's ethernet streamer out, and using the Zen's USB out directly into the Codex to feed the Quad rig.
It does sound like the BDN2i may be the best option under $800.
You don't need a Blue Sound Node at all unless you want to add in the additional streaming soruces that the Node offers.
Your setup would be Innuous Zenith usb output into the Luxman D06 Dac coax digital output from the Luxman Dac into the Codex and then from the Codex analog output into the Quad Headphone amplifiers analog inputs and you are done
@audiotroy thanks, that is something I considered, BUT the problem I'm trying to solve is having a headphone system separate from my main system. My kids play Fortnight all day long and my TV, etc is running into the Luxman DAC via optical. So I really need a separate standalone system for music so I can listen to my headphones while my kids have taken over my system.
I own the bluesound vault 2 and borrowed Zen Mini. the Zen mini was definitely way more musical. Total lack of digital hash it's amazing and I will upgrade to one of the larger Zenith later this year. Spend the money it's totally worth it. The bluesound doesn't sound awful but the Innous is really refined.
@audiotroy thanks, I do want to give the Codex a shot, as I have heard good things about the brand and I also like the small footprint in case I want to just throw it in my bag and bring it to work & use as a HA/DAC from my laptop. I guess at this point it's between the Sonore and Bluesound... I didn't really set out to spend $5K on a headphone rig but alas here I am... I own the Klipsch HP-3s and I love them, especially with the tube Quad amp. I can't wait to throw some different tubes in there.
@cytocycle what DAC and output did you use for the BSN2i and Zen comparison? It does not surprise me that the Zen sounds much better, but I'm curious if you were using the BS internal DAC or what external DAC you were using.
The internal Bluesound dac doesn’t like complex things when I ran it direct into my tube amp. I was using a theta gen viii rev3 dac preamp $13.5k. It’s really excellent and has a jitter jail in it to clean up the Bluesound coax output.
I have a BSN2i picked up new 6 months ago. Love it. I use both optical and RCA. The optical is an Audioquest Vodka and the RCA a Nordost Silver Shadow. I cannot tell the difference sonically. Moreover, I can pass 192/24 AIFF through the optical. I don't think the issue is optical per se but the implementation. The BSN2i is a wonderful unit and it goes into my Bryston BDA 1 with excellent results. I haven't tried the other units but I do use Roon through my system and it has never been better.
Thanks guys, I actually did just pick up one of the Aries streamers listed here on AG. Worried that I would get frustrated with lack of DSD on the BSN2i down the road (I currently upsample everything to DSD in Roon).