I recently heard an Exposure amp and it's definitely underrated in my view. In regards to MQA, quoting...Public Enemy - Don’t believe the hype! I’ve heard several MQA tracks and honestly, I don’t understand all the fuss. Tidal’s lossless FLAC streaming sounds great to me....and unless it’s high rez, I can’t tell the difference. In my opinion, the quality of the DAC makes a bigger difference in the SQ than the MQA format. I would go with the refurbished Benchmack DAC1. Also, at your price range, I would also look DACs made by TEAC or Schitt.
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As important as tidal is for streaming, i use it almost all the time now and forget about bothering with buying cd's.
My search of a full MQA capable streamer and dac has lead me to conclude that the sonics of the dac is way more conclusive in SQ.
Do not get me wrong, i enjoy MQA half unfolded at 48/96K and the best option is to stay with my streamer capable of software unfolding.
There is just too wide a difference between sonics and presentation of different dacs.
FWIW, i find MQA exceeds tidal hi-fi stream.
@justubes2 , I agree with you on the most part. I'm still not completely sold on MQA :). Btw, the Bluesound components are pretty good streamers that support MQA. If you output the Bluesound to a decent DAC, you'll be good to go. If Aurender adds Tidal MQA support to my N100H, I'll give MQA another listen, for now I'm fine listening to Tidal without MQA.
I hesitated and the Exposure DAC was already sold.
I decided to go with a REGA DAC-R. New units from Music Direct sell for $1,195. I bought a factory refurbished unit from an authorized dealer in Canada. It came with full 3-year REGA warranty. (I might have to return it to the dealer in Canada for warranty service -- no big deal). Cost $649 Canadian... worked out to $575 US with shipping.
The REGA seems very well built. There is a noticeable (but not huge) improvement in the depth of the sound stage and tonality compared to the internal DACs in the Bluesound Node 2 DAC and my c. 2004 Exposure CD player.
@jcwct - I would upgrade the power cable on the Node 2 and add a pair of KLE Innovations gZero3/6 interconnects to connect it to the amp
Both of these changes made a huge difference to the sound quality of my Node 2
Alternately - if you are into DIY take a look at these
They now reside in my system and are excellent perofrmers
Regards - Steve