Do I need a new DAC/streamer. Considering?


Okay okay Okay
I have a awesome sounding system that I enjoy.
Mcintosh C53
Mcintosh  601’s
M/L speakers. 15A’s
Tributaries cable

Yes, my c53 has the new DAC module

This discussion is about streamers only

My current DAC is a Bluesound (which I bypass the DAC in the node and use the DAC in the C53. And use the Node as a Streamer only)

But can’t help but wonder what if I exchanged out my DAC to an Lumin or Aurelic (spelling).......

opinions please. Worth it?
preslisa64
The DAC in the C53 is pretty good.  You will probably need to spend quite a bit to outperform it.  
The Bluesound Node is a decent entry level streamer but is not in the same league as your other gear.  You would benefit from adding good server and renderer.  Either separate or combined.  
Lots of options.  Auralic and Lumin are good choices.  So is just using a Roon Nucleus or an Antipodes S40.  This avoids DAC redundancy but does require...Roon in the case of the Nucleus or some 3rd party software for Antipode.
Thanks, are you suggesting I just purchase a Lumin or Auralic with streaming capabilities only. Do you think that I would make  a difference. I thought it always had to be a combo streamers/DAC
I would rather not duplicate DAC’s. The DAC in the C53 is upgradable when necessary is the reason why I bought it. 

i know the Node is not in the same league as the rest of my equipment. Even though it’s pretty good  

Again, it’s hard, for some reason, for me to think that Just a streamer, without the DAC,  can make a significant difference in sound.   As you are aware, I have a few dollars tied up in my system.
 However, the diminishing return theory plays a part in my decision
Look for a used MHDT DAC, may take awhile but damn they sound musical.
AtlantisIstanbulStockholmOrchard
You could absolutely add just a server/renderer. I was shocked when I added a Nucleus+ to mine. Made more of a difference than moving from a Marantz Reference DAC to PS Audio DSD.  Server is way more important than you would think.  

When I added it, I was running a PS Audio BHK Pre, PS Audio DSD and VTL MB 185s....not a small investment either.
I have since done a lot of investigating and the weak link in the chain is the Server. Antipodes explains this pretty well. The internet is volatile and needs something powerful and stable as data comes in. The renderer actually requires less power.
This has a huge impact on sound quality. I was very confused when I added my server and it improved sound noticeably.
The best possible solution it to separate the sever, renderer/player and DAC. This is more because the server is better if it doesn’t have to deal with the secondary load of renderer as well.
Given the rest of your equipment, I would definitely entertain a Lumin X-1.  I have had the D-2, A-1, U-1 mini and the X-1.  you can sell off the your other digital equipment and just use the X-1.  I just sold my X-1 because I wanted a Tube DAC to go along with the rest of my tube amps.  I bought the Lampi Pacific at three times the cost.  I will say the X-1 is a very close second.  

I had a separate DAC, Music Server and Transporter.  I was able to sell them all and just go with the Lumin  X-1.  The sound is really really good.  The App is so easy to use and you don't need Roon.  I did have a 4tb Synology NAS where all of my music is filed.  I think the Lumin X-1 is the best DAC / Streamer under $19k.  They show up on the used market occasionally.  
I recommend Aurender N100C, that would pair well with your C53’s internal DAC. Aurender’s Conductor app is also excellent. It would be a worthy upgrade over Node 2i. 
I only stream music. I don’t play disc or records 
I bought a Lumin T2 a couple of weeks ago and use its DAC as opposed to the Mac C2600. In your case, the C53 supposedly has a much better DAC and upgradable in the future, so I would recommend to just get the Lumin U1 Mini streamer which will be a step up from the BS. The Lumin app is decent but I prefer to use  Roon. I do not have any experience with Aurender. It was not in consideration because I needed MQA decoding. 
Do you like the Node2i? The user interface and the connections suit your needs? If so just keep using it, if you have an itch to try something else the Lumin U1 mini or Bel Canto estream are choices you could return if they aren't to your liking. I've tried about 8 streamers as far as sound quality there isn't a dimes worth of difference using them connected to the same DAC. I ended up with the Lumin U1 mini not because it sounds any better but I like the user interface and it had the AES3 connection I needed. 
While I cannot explain why djones51 has not experienced favorable results, many of us have.  The streamer is likely as important and impactful as the DAC - a result supported by direct experience.  I can imagine that some systems will see less benefit, but in my own system - the differences in upgrading over the Node 2 (going into an outboard DAC) were clear and favorable.  So, the only way for the OP to know - is to try one in their own system.

The reason is blind listening. You'll be surprised how alike streamers not using internal dacs sound or if you understood digital transfer you really wouldn't be surprised at all. 
There is definitely no need for a DAC in the streaming device and the only question is whether you want a server between your streaming service and your player or you want to go straight to the player.  Streamers bypass the server and you are simply directing Tidal or Qobuz to your player.  This exposes your player to the volatility of the internet. 

If you have a server in place between player and streaming source (Tidal Qobuz) you get a more stable signal as the server brings in the track and then delivers it to the player. 

If you run Tidal or Qobuz through Roon, it undeniably sounds different than if you send it straight to your device.  I have recently tested this with Tidal through Roon to my 2Go/Hugo 2 vs sending the signal straight to the 2Go through Tidal.  I have a Roon Nucleus+ on my network.  The sound is a bit thinner in the midrange and airier in the treble when you go straight to the 2Go.  Far from ideal.  I found it quite different and found the 2Go was inferior when dealing with Tidal directly vs the Roon Nucleus+ handling it first.  I have no DSPs running in Roon.    


My wife, who doesn’t care a lick at all about the gear I’m running and rarely offers a comment, even when asked, said without a prompt “that sounds better”.  Indeed, I spent a lot more upgrading my DAC than my streamer yet I got more sonic improvement from the streamer.  
  
I understand that you likely have more knowledge than I about such things - and I respect that.  I also understand the there should not be differences from data loss or from timing errors with a DAC that rejects jitter well.   I don’t think those are the culprit - and, from what I gather, neither does anybody else.

What i don’t understand is why you proselytize so regularly on an audiophile forum (where we’re all ostensibly looking for better sound) that because you did not enjoy an improvement in your system, it’s not possible anybody else did either.  

Perhaps your digital network is vastly superior to mine such that your noise floor is well below my own, negating any difference.  I can accept that.  Perhaps your DAC is vastly better than mine over SPDIF (Node only outputs TOSLINK and SPDIF).  I can accept that, too.   And, it may well be placebo effect causing some of us to experience an improvement.  But, there are also reasonable explanations as to why many of us experience an improvement that are other than placebo.  

You might notice that I generally suggest to forum participants that they try in their system as I don’t know whether or not they’ll enjoy a benefit. Very, very few things are black and white and I wouldn’t want somebody who enjoys this hobby to be misled by my experience. Or, yours. 
+100 djones.

I have recently tried 4 different streamers with an external DAC and they all sounded the same to me. I picked the Node 2i because it was the cheapest and sounded great. Good luck..
Mgrif104

Not sure were your going with your comments  but let me take a stab at what your comments represents.  Correct me if I’m wrong

The reason why I “proselytize” so much is because I’m not the expert. If I was an expert, I would not need to post here. From all my experience in everything, including stereo equipment, what I have found to be true is that there is always, always someone that can improve your  knowledge or thought process on any given subject. If I paid $250 or $50,000 on a system I always look for improvement. Therefore, consulting the”real” experts on this forum, Gives me a different outlook, if any in the subject. If if wasn’t for guys like me and others,  there would not be a forumDon’t  you agree that this is what this forum is for?
My apologies - my comments were directed to djones51 - not at you, the OP.  Sorry for the confusion.

Best,
Mgrif104 

Hey, I probably read it wrong. “ more sonic improvements from your streamer”. I know we’re all busy, but Would love to here more about that if possible. 
I recently went down this same road, thinking the Node 2 was the weak link holding my system back. I went to my local dealer and a/b’d both units connected to chord Dave and gryphon int. What I heard was a VERY minor improvement in the U1.
I bought the U1 mini and SBooster mod at the same time. I had it 48 hours before doing any critical comparisons having both setup to a Schiit Gungnir MB. The Node via digital coax (bnc) and U1 via USB (old printer cable I had lying around). I level matched and then did some a/b comparisons for a few tracks and there was literally no difference. However, I have kept the mini as many say it needs 100 hours to break in and I have a better usb cable on the way to hopefully help bring out the best in it. I do feel like it has gotten better over the past week but I have not tested against the node again since the last time. I will likely have some time this weekend and will do some more testing but if I were to do it again I would have saved the money and traded my 507uxII in for a 509x. I think that would have been a more worthwhile improvement. The node is heavily underrated for what it does. 
I gotta say the best improvement I had in my digital source was from adding the EtherRegen. Many say it’s snake oil but it was a clear upgrade in my system.

I also just received the Denafrips Pontus II and will be testing that against the GungnirMB to see if there are any improvements there.