Moving up from a Node 2i

I want to keep it between 1K and 1500.00, closer to a grand if at all possible. I don't care about onboard DACs, since I have a keen liking for mine. What is out there for a streamer, new or used, that will sound better than the Node when outputting to an external DAC? I like the functionality of the Node, don't want something with a sketchy user interface. But honestly, I think my old Allo Digione (Raspberry Pi) might have sounded a little more organic and fleshed out than the Node.

What say ye, Audiogon?


I ended up buying a Bluesound Node 2i and the dealer talked me into buying a ProJect S2 DAC and connecting it with an Audioquest Carbon coax cable.  In doing so you lose 9/10 of the MQA unfold.  So I unhooked the DAC and played MQA recordings by streaming TIDAL and I liked the sound of the Bluesound played by itself.  For some reason, I heard a difference playing MQA recordings.  However, most in this group do not believe in MQA.  However, I still thought MQA had a larger size sound stage.  When I hooked up the ProJect DAC the bass sounded thinner even though I have a pair REL S2 SHO subwoofers which I play at 40%.  I wonder if the more expensive DAC's make a difference.  However, if you add a DAC I lose MQA complete unfold.  I wonder why most in the group dislike MQA.  I wonder if they resent the guy who invented a proprietary technology to unfold the data.  I must be crazy because I really feel MQA sounds better.
@b_limo The 2i has 3 advantages over the older 2, and they are minimal.

1. The 2i supports Apple Airplay.

2. The 2i built-in DAC sounds better than the 2. This only matters if you’re using the built-in DAC.

3. The 2i wifi supports 802.11ac. 802.11ac has greater throughput capabilities than the 802.11b/g/n supported by the node 2, but this doesn’t matter if your wifi signal strength is strong or you use the wired ethernet connection.

If you don’t use Apple Airplay, the built-in DAC, and don’t have issues with wifi signal strength from your wireless router there’s no benefit to purchasing the 2i over the 2.
@larry5729 Sounds as though you simply prefer the sound of the built-in node 2i DAC. Looking at the price of the Project S2 DAC I wouldn't suspect it's a very impressive bit of kit. Step up to something like the NAD M51 DAC I use for digital to analog conversion and you will definitely hear a significant difference in sound quality. If I were you I'd return the S2 and get a refund. Simple as that.
I think CA just added Roon support to the CNX V2 , $1,100.   I just fired up a trial of Roon and now I to am a believer. Found my Bryston pi lick split. And wow what a slick interface. Currently running the core on my Mac mini. Next upgrade is to get a core appliance.
In doing so you lose 9/10 of the MQA unfold.

Actually you lose 2/3rds.  A full MQA decode unfolds (3) times.  The Node2 does the first unfold via it's digital outputs.

I have been told that the first unfold is the most critical, however I haven't been able to verify it.

In my setup, the Node2 out to my DAC, (via coax) doing the first unfold, (on MQA material) sounds better than the full MQA decode via the Node2's internal DAC.  My standalone DAC is not an MQA DAC.