New to streaming, looking for a budget streamer


I live in the country and up till a couple day ago my internet service was not suitable for hi-rez streaming, I use spotify to stream for new music, not for serious listening.

We now have a Frontier9472 Network modum/router installed. It affords WiFI and has 4 ethernet and 1 USB output. I am looking for a streamer that can receive signal via any of these outputs and serve Qobuz. The Bluesound Node 2i seems a likely candidate as I will use streaming for music exploration and background listening. I will play the Node into my Audio Mirror DAC. 

I have 2 questions)

1) are there other streamers available that would serve my purposes that are around the Node price point? 
2)  Would a ethernet or USB connect best the Wifi for SQ?  I know there are other threads on this, some quite lengthy describing ways to improve over ethernet. I just want to use either WiFI or a cable.

As I explore the merits of streaming I will likely upgrade my approach. 
mesch
Bluesound Node is the best bang for the money. The newest model has the 5ghz wireless availability.
At the Node price point there isn't anything close, though you could build a Raspberry Pi unit-there are lots of forums on that.
Direct wired connection would be my choice for best sound quality, though I have used wireless without issue and have found little to complain about.
Bob
BluSound is the ONLY way to start.
You can get better SQ for less $$ but it will take you weeks to set it up.
WiFi was horrible for my BluSound @ 44 Mbps.
If you want WiFi get a $30 device built for it.
 

Thanks Bob and Fuzz. Yes, I was thinking a cable connection would be best.  I could easily set my router close to my DAC such that I would not need more than a 10' cable. I believe the Node will take either ethernet or USB. Any recommendations for either cable. 

I am wanting to keep this simple. 
Well, just got simpler, the USB input is for a stick only. Leaves ethernet.
Stick or any hard drive. It will power a 2T SSD no prob.
Hi @mesch .
Bluesound Node2i is a great starting point. I used 5gHz WIFI with zero problems. For better SQ I upgraded to ethernet CAT6, then CAT8. The cable connects the router directly into the Node2i and then there are no worries about dropouts from Wifi.

Connect to your Dac via SPDIF coax or TOSLINK. I use the BluOs app through my Android.

The Project Stream Box S2 Ultra is also worth your consideration. SQ is quite good and could be better than that of the Node from comparisons I have read.

These were several reasonably priced upgrades that I have found to result in noticeable sonic improvement.

1. Turn off Wi-Fi & HDMI connections and use an Ethernet connection set up with a Wi-Fi extender acting as an Ethernet access port - This was the most significant improvement that I heard. My notes of the improvements were:
  • More presence to instruments and voices
  • Sound was clearer and more transparent like a veil has been lifted off of the music.
  • Better pace than when streaming via WiFi.
2. Switched from an AmazonBasics Cat 6 Ethernet cable to a Supra Cat 8 Ethernet cable
3. Currently using a Phasure Lush USB cable
4. Added a Audioquest Jitterbug noise filter to the USB output.
Thanks Guys! I will look into the ProJect Stream Box however believe I will go with the Node. Use the APT on my phone or get a iPAD.  I have may AIFF file on HD which I can use via the USB and will look into a CAT8 cable for connection. Believe the SQ via my Audio Mirror DAC will serve me well. 
If you are open to used a Auralic Aries mini with out board power supply should surpass a Node for less money.  Or a Auralic Aries with femto clock for a little more than Node, maybe $600 used. You have a nice dac, I think your dac deserves a better streamer than a Node.
I am getting an AudioMirror Tubadour III SE DAC today (finally) and it will be hooked up to a Sonore OpticalRendu via Fibre Optical cable from a Ubiquity Networks switch ($200) and direct to the OpticalRendu, then USB to the AMT3SE.

https://www.ui.com/unifi-switching/unifi-switch-8-150w/

https://www.sonore.us/opticalRendu.html

The above 2 are so good that I have 2 OpticalRendu’s now for my Benchmark DAC3B and the AMT3SE. My opinion on this is that Fibre is the best that one can get for streaming (at any price).

A cheaper solution would be to use a microRendu with a LPS power supply. I have an old mircroRendu and I am waiting to compare that with a new integrated amp I am getting that has built-in Ethernet streaming.
I love tmy P-J S Ultra but it is no where near the price point and slightly more difficult with fewer options and crappier art than BluSound.
Don’t even try SGC fendi unless you are paying for Roon. Even those idiots could not get it to work for me.
If you are looking at Aurallic, iOS control app only. But I guess you are OK there.
For the P-J S Ultra use the BubbleUPnP app for betters o/l sorting and art on Volumio.
@mesch For your stated purpose, i.e. background listening, Node 2i with direct ethernet is your best bet. I use it with my AMT3 (non-SE) DAC, and it works very well. I love the radio function (Radio Paradise) that comes with the Node.

BTW, at one point you were looking to purchase a Raven Audio Blackhawk. Did you end up getting it? Just curious.
On one system I use a simple Raspberry Pi. If you go with a zero it can be really cheap. Not sure how budget you want to go but I drive this with Volumio and am extremely pleased with this feeding either a dac hat or my stand alone. Again, this is bargain basement $ with pretty solid performance. 
 I have decided I will go with the Bluesound Node 2i and use a quality ethernet cable from the router. based on what I have gathered from this forum it is relatively user friendly, quality at a budget, simple installation, and will serve my current objectives. Should I find that streaming replaces my current listening mode (CDs) I will likely upgrade and use the Node in a secondary system. 
I thank all for the guidance. 

@arafiq Yes I have been playing around with the idea of going back to a integrated amplifier. The Blackhawk was (remains) one of interest. Not sure what I am going to do at this point. I did purchase a Line Magnetic 211ia which I am playing around with. Just missed a opportunity to purchase a Sugen A21 SS integrated I wanted to try out. If one buys right one can explore aspects of audio in one's own room/system and resale for little loss. Some risk involved however I feel it a small price for the education. It is a hobby after all. 
I use the Allo USBridge to great success. It’s an Ethernet-to-USB Bridge, works as a Roon endpoint. Pretty simple and affordable.
As an update, I intend to order the node2i. Would have been ordered by now however had an accident and am in the hospital. Expect a full recovery. Probably will order via Audio Advisor. Have ethernet cable and optical cable. Will get a C7 power cable. Thanks to everyone for the guidance. I will keep in touch.  
@mesch 
Sorry to hear this. I hope you recover soon.

Well, I am back at home after a two week vacation in the hospital. Expecting a full recovery after a fall leading to a subarrachroid hemorrhage brain injury. Will order the Node2i on Monday. Hope for a easy learning curve with use of the apt on my iphone.

Thanks again everyone for the help on this decision.