Only $800 to work with streamer/power for 3rd system


I am looking for a preferably one-box or potentially two-box solution that will provide the best sound quality to stream Tidal (ethernet or wireless can work) including MQA and power my existing passive speakers (plus powered sub).  This will be for my office system at work, where I have a solo office in a large building full of other tenants.  So no loud playing most of the time but want good quality, per limited budget.

Speakers will be NHT C1 bookshelf pair with Sunfire SDS8 mini sub.  These are already in house.  Hope to keep the streamer/power solution to $800 total, given the modest speakers.

Other considerations:  Really want 32-bit DAC and MQA capability.  Don't need much power.  Don't need storage or ability to control storage - just Tidal streaming, but want Tidal support natively built-in.  Don't want to use my phone or computer because already using them at work - want the streamer/power solution to handle.  On second thought I guess control app from phone is okay, just don't want to be bluetooth streaming from phone or computer.  Would prefer new, not used, but factory refurbished is okay with warranty.  Won't use other sources, just Tidal.  Don't want multi-channel AVR, only need stereo.

The two options I'm most focused on are Bluesound Powernode 2 or 2i, and the Integra DTM-7 stereo receiver, each of which are single-box solutions.  Other options could be PS Audio Sprout 100 integrated for $600 (or NAD, Marantz, other integrated similar cost?) with a separate streamer, but I'm not aware of a separate streamer for $200 that has a 32-bit DAC and handles MQA.  Yamaha WXAD-10 seemed close but best I can tell (not real clear) I think it has 24 bit DAC and anyway it'd push total closer to $1000 with Sprout.

I am familiar with the Integra DTM-7, as I have the DTM-7 as the HT hub of my current bedroom system, and with its HDMI/Dolby Vision/HDR support it is killer in that role for $650 for a 2-ch setup.  But for Tidal music the sound through the NHT C1's was a little bright and after couple hours slightly fatiguing for me, although doable if that's what I go with for 3rd system (I'd get another DTM-7 for office if that is way I go).  I've since upgraded my 2nd system speakers to Spendor SA1 and they sound great powered by the Integra in system 2, better combination - no more brightness/fatigue.

But now with the NHT C1 speakers freed up for system 3, I'm wondering if I can do better than the Integra for a music-only application for my office.  Has anyone compared sound quality of Bluesound Powernode 2 (or 2i) with the Integra?  Does Bluesound have a warmer sound?  FWIW I know the Integra is class A/B, and I think Bluesound is class D.  Oddly, I think Powernode 2 and 2i share same amplifier and DAC (but 2i includes some new features that I probably wouldn't use - Airplay, etc.), yet What Hifi review claims sound much improved with 2i.  Powersound 2 is $600 now, while 2i is $800.

Or am I overlooking a better solution?  Thank you
kren0006
Edit:  Within 2 years I could possibly see myself moving up the speaker food chain to Kef LS50 from the NHT C1, still using the little Sunfire sub.
bad news: nothing meets those requirements at the moment
good news: i expect by this time next year SMSL and Topping will both have ESS and AKM chips in a box that does MQA and has wireless streaming capability for around $800. 
Streaming can always be added economically now with various doodad boxes. MQA is the tough part because you need at least an XMOS XU216 receiver chip to implement native MQA.
canibefrank,

Integra DTM-7 has AKM4438 32-bit DAC and decodes MQA, 100Wx2 (8 ohm) for $650 (and DTM-6 for less).  https://www.audioxpress.com/news/mqa-announces-integra-as-new-hardware-partner-while-onkyo-and-pioneer-further-expand-mqa-choices-for-custom-install-sector

But the Integra isn't ideal to my ears with my NHT speakers.

Also, Bluesound claims to support MQA 
https://support1.bluesound.com/hc/en-us/articles/219124068-Does-Bluesound-Support-MQA
but I don't know which DAC they use, although it is 32 bit. 

So at least those are two solutions that I'm aware of for what I was considering, was wondering if anyone knew of others and whether Powernode 2 or 2i might be a better match to my NHT C1's.

Thanks,
+1 Bluesound Powernode 2i
DAC is one Burr Brown PCM5122 per channel
Biggest question is why do you need 32bit support, is there any true 32bit software out there yet? I'm betting the highest you'll find is 24bit with any regularity and even that stuff most likely isn't true 24bit. Think up-sampling. 

I'm not trying to start a war here but its something to really think about when you look at the higher bit depth or lack of them to really justify needing a 32bit DAC. 
Prpixel, thanks. 

glennewdick, I guess because I will probably keep the setup for 10 yrs or so. Same reason I wouldn’t buy a 1080p tv today even though 4K content is sparse. Good question though, maybe I could reevaluate that aspect but just seems like all new products going 32??  Thanks,
Reading more about Ps Audio Sprout 100, it seems that the onboard dac doesn’t support mqa. 
For context, I stream Tidal via a Teac NT-505 and can definitely hear the mqa difference vs regular flac tidal thru my Spendor D7’s in my main system. 

Maybe expecting too too much to be able to notice the quality difference when talking about NHT C1’s and an $800 streamer/amp combo though???  Dunno ...


you gots a NT-505? tell us about it ¡!¡!
buy another one
It’s really nice. Im not good at describing sound qualities but the spacing of instruments seems better (more separation) if that makes sense compared to my Integra dtm7. To be honest I can’t hear mqa sound difference with the Integra even with the SA1’s, let alone the NHT’s. 

I havent played with the Teac filters yet so can’t speak to them. The Teac interface program not great but LUMIN program not bad. 

I run it in xlr balanced to Audio Research DSI200 to D7. 
Other than the color of the screen the Teac and Lumin apps are identical and both are written by Lumin.  They both work fine as does the NT-505.
Only negative thing I’ve noticed with nt-505 is maybe once every 5-7 hrs of playtime it will just exit (stop playing) for unknown reason. Sometimes it kicks back in, sometimes need power cycle.  Better since fw update but still happens every now and then
So back to original questions:

Does anything beat Bluesound Powernode 2i for $800 or less?

Powernode 2i at $800 better than Integra DTM-7 at $650?
I found the following review comparing the Onkyo to the Bluesound Node 2i.

I've been looking around for the last few months for a new streamer myself.  at the $800 price point, with your wish list, it's really hard to beat the Powernode 2i.  I only have two problems with it: support by email only and I wish it had some type of room correction.

I really like the NAD M10 streamer, but at $2500, it's more than three times the price of the PowerNode 2i. 

Full disclosure, I've never heard the Onkyo unit.

------------------------

The Onkyo TX-8250 is a basic, straightforward music streamer at an affordable price. No more, no less. It gives you all the features you'd expect, the ability to control them, and then gets out of the way. The lack of digital album art, Roon capability, and the like are reflected in the price. For the most part, the TX-8250 was just designed to get the job done.

The problem is, while it is a very solid streamer in its own right, and certainly a viable option, it pales in comparison to the excellent (and less expensive) Bluesound Node 2i. We struggle to imagine getting the basic Onkyo, with its average sound and dated design, over the exciting, dynamic Bluesound. We don't mean to shortchange Onkyo – their streamer does have features that the Bluesound doesn't, like a digital display, and there are some solid options for the price. But it's never going to be anything other than a reputable alternative to the more interesting models on this list.




Thanks, prpixel.  Yeah agree on NAD M10.  Wish it was $1500ish instead of $2500.  I wouldn't be looking at it for this budget system I'm currently working on but it would be perfect for my BR.

Yeah that Onkyo TX-8250 looks kinda similar to the Pioneer SX-S30.  Lower cost, lower spec 2 ch receiver that'll stream most stuff.  I don't want to go that low on this application.

Onkyo is a sister company to Integra, and between them I think they have 4 two-ch receiver/streamer models.  Onkyo 8250 looks like the budget model.  Then around $450-550 the Onkyo 8270 and Integra DTM-6, and finally Onkyo DTM-7 at $650, which I own.

I suspect the four models sound similar, although many dealers say Integra is the premium brand of the two, and uses higher-quality parts in some cases.

In any event, I was hoping to improve upon the sound quality of the DTM-7, so nothing that I listed directly above in this post likely to do that.

Room correction - yeah, that's a tough one to find at these prices.  Marantz has in in some of their sub-$1000 receivers but they don't have 2-channel offerings like Integra as far as I know, otherwise I'd be very interested in Marantz.
It's odd that the review would compare the Onkyo 8250 (streamer and amp) with the Bluesound Node 2i (streamer only), as opposed to the Powernode (streamer and amp, which would seem like a better apples-to-apples), but clearly the review contends Bluesound streamer beats Onkyo.  Nevertheless, useful info -
Edit:  I incorrectly said Onkyo DTM-7 two posts up but meant Integra DTM-7.
Marantz has the PM6006 integrated amp for $700 but it doesn’t include a streamer built-in.

It’s too bad because Marantz does include nice streamers in their AV receivers (e.g., the 5012, now discontinued, was a 7.2 ch amp available on closeout for $600 for a time, and it had a really nice streamer with AKM4438 32-bit DAC, 115dB S/N - which are better stats than the Powernode PCM 5122 DAC (112dB S/N).

I suspect if that streamer was included on Marantz PM6006 it would best Powernode 2i in sound quality (purely speculation though). But it’d probably cost $1000 instead of $800 ???

And that 5012 had Audyssey room correction too!
To correct something I stated above where I speculated that Yamaha WXAD-10 might have a 24 bit DAC, it is indeed 32-bit, using Burr Brown PCM5121 DAC according to this review
https://www.techradar.com/reviews/yamaha-wxad-10-musiccast-add

Doesn't do DSD and nothing about MQA mentioned but still seems pretty good for $350, streamer only.
The integra DTM-7 doesn't list MQA as a supported format.  Also, DSD is only supported over HDMI.  As far as streaming goes, it uses Chromecast and Play-fi.  While Play-Fi will unfold MQA, it down samples it to 16/44, or 24/192 if you have the dedicated single device hi-res option selected.  

That blurb about the Onkyo came from an article titled "The 20 best streamers of 2019"

I found more units that meets your criteria: Cary Audio AiOS $2999.00 and Cocktail audio x14 ($900) and X35 ($2000).  Not sure about the DAC in the X14.


See this article re Integra
https://www.stereonet.co.uk/news/integra-the-latest-to-join-mqa-masters-race

I believe MQA support was following a firmware upgrade.  Anyway, I see the MQA icon on my TV screen when I stream Tidal MQA selections via the DTM-7 and I can search out Master's folders, etc., thru the built-in app, so it supposedly works.  I just can't hear the sonic difference on that system.

Cool, will check out the Cocktail, price in ballpark
But I see what you mean, prpixel.  I don't see anything about MQA on current Integra DTM-7 company web page, weird.
And this MQA page lists Onkyo as a partner but not Integra.
https://www.mqa.co.uk/customer/our-partners

Hmm, now I'm confused ...
That would explain why I couldn't hear difference!!! LOL.  But the damn icon appears on my screen when I stream with DTM-7 - I'm stumped.  And I swear the Integra web site used to tout MQA, unless I'm going batty.  Maybe Integra withdrew?
The 12/18/2018 firmware update added MQA playback:

The 12/18/2018 update will address the following and includes previous updates: 1. Adds support for TIDAL Masters. • To listen to TIDAL Masters, you need to upgrade to a TIDAL HiFi Member. 2. Minor bug fixes and improvements stability. 3. Adds support for MQA file playback.
---------------
From the manual:

To play MQA files on this unit, you can either connect the USB storage device or HDD (*1) containing the MQA files to the USB port of this unit or use the "Music Server" functionality of this unit to play MQA files stored on an NAS or PC. Note that the "Music Server" feature does not support playback of WAV format MQA files. It can play FLAC format MQA files that are provided by music distribution services. Refer to this unit’s instruction manual for playback operations. • To playback MQA-CD, download the MQA-CD music files and use the MQA Tag Renaming Application to manage files*. This application can examine files ripped from CD, determine whether they are MQA and build a subfolder containing correctly formed MQA files. Files that are not MQA remain unchanged. * The link to MQA Tag Renaming Application:

--------------------------------
Remember, MQA is a wrapper for compressing WAV/FLAC files down to use less bandwidth.  So, supposedly no difference between original file and MQA sound quality.  Only difference is smaller file size.  I don't own any MQA files, so can't comment on sound differences.  With cheap storage these days, and 1TB internet caps, I don't worry about file sizes.  
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The Cocktail X14 only has a small amp in it.  Said the guy currently listening to a WADIA 25WPC amp.
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My phone has a 32bit DAC in it.  Also, 1TB memory card with 3000 FLAC encoded Albums.  It's really great to be able to take your entire collection on vacation or to the Dentist!

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I'm soooooooooo close to pulling the trigger on the M10.  Trying to justify the purchase.
Ah, I guess I really mean MQA plus Tidal Masters higher res stuff better than the 16 bit / 44 kHz since that’s how Tidal rolls and all I use. 

What are your your other contenders in $2.5k range?  Off top of head could do the Cambridge Audio streamer and a 1.5-1.7k integrated like Rega Elex or a Musical Fidelity or ...  if u are open to two components 


Interesting: just today Denon announced a $500 2 Ch receiver with hi res straming and 4k video support. Looks very similar to the Integra, but cheaper.  Denon DRA-800h

Wonder if sister company MarantZ will follow???
If I had to choose between Denon and Integra, I'd choose Denon.  Tidal Masters are up to 24/192, but no way to tell which sample rates/bit depths until you play a track.  

Not sure about Cambridge and MQA/Tidal.  I think the Niam Uniti at $3300 does. 

I'm looking for something small and one box solution.  I currently have my "rig" on a shelf under my desk.  Space is tight so no full size units or receivers for me. 
Bluesound Power Node is exactly the product I thought of first.  I use a Vault in my system and love it! 
Thx, hifihandymsn. Good to know. 

Ya, Bluesound is the name I keep coming back to at this budget and the front runner, although I may wait a month or so to see if marantz follows Denon (sister companies) announcement today and puts out a 2ch streamer/pwr product similar but hopefully bit of step up from product Denon announced today.

I’m a big marantz fan and like both the quality of their current HT receiver amplification and HEOS streamer. 
Updating a previous comment re TEAC NT-505, I seem to have (fingers crossed) fixed the drop problem by swapping out a 10 ft cat6 Ethernet cable for a 3ft cat7 Ethernet cable ( Amazonbasics, $6). Let’s hope so !

To earlier comment of “buy another one,” I wish!!  Still peeking head out of doghouse from recent purchases haha. 

Back to point of this thread, I’m starting to let mind wander about raising budget to $1200ish which opens more possibilities. Stop it, stick to your guns - but to be thorough you gotta also consider the step up right??  Ahhh, choices ....
Have about 30 hrs and counting without a drop on nt505 ...  really nice sounding unit but I don’t have much of reference point to compare to of similar quality but very happy with it
If I drop the MQA requirement - and from what I can tell so far, 99% of Tidal is non-MQA - I could do a two-box solution for $50 or $150 less than the Powernode 2i. 

Integrated Amp: marantz pm5005: all analog integrated 40 wpc, class AB, $500 new or $400 refurbished. 

Streamer: Yamaha WXAD-10, uses same dac series as Powernode 2i (TI PCM5121 (vs 5122)), analog only outs. Hard to find in US but eBay from UK for $250 gotta see if works in USA without adapter. 

Will be impossible to to compare them head2head though I imagine...
If you're dropping MQA, then Paradigm PW AMP, with room correction,  on sale for $225.00 through Paradigm.  Doesn't have 32 bit.  Have you taken a look at 32bit files sizes? a 6 minute song of 32/384 is 1TB!

If you want a little more power, SVS Soundbase for $500.

It's an office system, so I would think small size would be preferable.  Remember KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Ordering something on Ebay from UK, that can't be return, is a big gamble.

Ultimately, it's your decision.  Buy something that your comfortable with.
Thanks for those. 

I figured out Yamaha WXAD-10 is a European product, but the Yamaha streamer plus amp WXA-50 for $500 or WXC-50 streamer/preamp for $350 are available in US. 

After reading lots lots of reviews, many with experience relate that the BlueOS operating system is really well above anything else at the price level. I think I definitely need to factor that, and for that reason Powenode 2i probably still leading contender for now ...
Well I'm still sitting on my hands waiting and haven't pulled trigger yet.

Really trying to stay low budget here with this rig and getting tempted by the Yamaha WXA-50 streamer/amp for $500 new or $400 refurb.  Significantly cheaper than Powernode 2i and I know we're only talking hundreds of dollars here but still.  Yamaha has a 24-bit ESS Sabre 9006A dac and won't do MQA (but does have Tidal built in), but the s/n stats on the dac chip are really good (120 dB; -102 dB) for this cost tier (better than specs in dac chip in Powernode 2i, for example (112 dB), and yes I know that is just one factor of many affecting sound quality).

As to Musicast interface v Bluesound, I know it'll be worse but from what I can tell from reviews it isn't that bad.

Thinking possibly a Node/Brio 2-box combo for my 2nd system soon to relegate the Integra to HT-only, where the Node/Brio could eventually migrate to my 3rd system and then I'd kick the Yamaha to wife's listening area that she doesn't yet know she needs (mostly to get her to stop asking me to play her songs on main rig at home, haha).

Long term planning, right???  Haha


As I wrestle with this choice I keep finding other lower-cost potential options that if I go with might free up some capital to upgrade system 2 sooner.

So now in addition to Powernode 2i, Yamaha WXA-50, I'm also considering the $200ish Paradigm PW Amp (mentioned by prpixel above) and the Klipsch Powergate.  (each of these last three blowing my original 32 bit and MQA requirements out of the water, but as others have commented maybe I don't really need those features today with state of content).

Although for the life of me from reading the description of the Klipsch Powergate I cannot tell if it has a streamer built in, or not.  The literature talks of streaming music via Play Fi to wireless speakers from the Powergate, but it is less than clear (to me anyway) regarding wither the Powergate itself has a streamer built in or whether I'd need to feed it streamed Tidal from another device.
Looked hard at very inexpensive Paradigm PW Amp and Klipsch PowerGate, both 24 bit class D streamer amps for about $200. Was more interested in the Klipsch and almost pulled trigger on it, but now I’ve eliminated each of them. 

Ive sort of swung up and down the rollercoaster between “this is sooo inexpensive (thereby freeing funds for 2nd system upgrades or upgraded 3rd Sys speakers) and it’ll sound good enough,” and “just spend more now and get something you can keep longer term.”

i went the latter route route in past year completely overhauling my main rig (and am thrilled with result), but ironically that also pushing me toward the former due to shortage of current funds. 

But on end, I decided after reading tons of reviews and user comments (audition not an option) that the Klipsch and Paradigm probably would leave me wanting. I’ve also eliminated the Integra DTM7 because I already have that unit as HT hub of Sys 2 and don’t love it with the NHT C1’s. 

So I am down to Yamaha WXA-50 ($500) and R-N803 ($750), and Bluesound Powernode 2 ($600) or 2i ($800). 

Leaning for now toward R-N803. Don’t need the small form factor of the others, like the beefed up power supply and analog output stage, like 2 sets of speaker outs cause I’m sure I’ll want 2 sets hooked up for a/b compares while I should be working, and musiccast now much better and more stable and natively supports tidal. Also has ess9006 which is pretty solid dac chip better I think than that in powernode. But Yamaha only 24 bit and doesn’t do mqa, those are the downsides.  

Whatever i I end up with, I’m pretty excited about a $1000 system I’ll have put together.   
This quest has been interesting. Unlike my main rig overhaul effort, where I (no kidding) probably spent close to 50 hrs auditioning in person at least 15-20 speaker sets and amps before settling on D7’s (that were auditioned 3-4 times kept coming back over that period), this time has been all virtual (stakes not nearly as high, though still has been dozens of hours reading and contrasting). 

Will be a good test to see if I can get satisfactory results here as I did there