This is good Schiit...

Hang on... this is a long one...

So I had never tried anything from Schiit Audio before in my nearly 30 years messing around in mid-fi gear.  I have owned many, many amps, preamps, integrated amps, CD players, DACs, etc.  Most individual units were ranged between $500 to maybe $6,000 (retail), but the majority were purchased used.

So I was messing around on YouTube one day and saw some videos on the Schiit Freya+ tube preamp.  I have always been a fan of a tube preamp + big SS amplifier.... just always preferred this setup generally.  So after seeing what these were selling for used (and the fact that I much preferred the black finish - harder to find), I decided to just order a new one from Schiit and give it a try.  Even if it suck or was Schiity, I could sell it for a decent price and only lose maybe $200 or so.  At the same time, I ordered a couple matched quads of old NOS RCA & Sylvania tubes.

Having owned much more expensive SS & tube preamps in the past, I was fairly surprised with the sound straight out of the box.  As a few music sessions went by over the next month or so, it got better and better sounding.  I was using a Parasound A23+ amp with it at the time and a Bluesound Node 2i for a streamer/DAC up front. 

Then seeing several other videos on YouTube about the Schiit Aegir amplifiers... I decided to buy a pair of those and give them a try.  I was also shocked at what they sounded like, especially at that asking price... HUGE bank for the buck in my opinion. 

Then, after watching more videos on YouTube about the new Tyr mono blocks, I bought a pair of those to try.  I have been going back-n-forth between these amps on/off for the last few weeks - still trying to decide which ones I prefer... they both sound fantastic and are a ridiculous value I feel.

So this brings me to my question (finally, I know)... since I seem to have a serious fondness so far for this Schiit and I am only running a Bluesound Node 2i for both streamer & DAC duty... maybe I give one of their DACs a try also???  Would it make a significant difference???

My experiences with DACs (and I have tried many) left me satisfied with the sound from the BS Node 2i alone.  When trying different DACs in the past, with decent cables, etc., the sonic differences were very minor to my ears. 

One specific comparison was when I had the BS Node 2i hooked up with both a pair of Clear Day silver RCA cables out and a nice Furutech digital cable out.  I sent the digital stream into an MHDT Orchid tube DAC w/ the highly recommend NOS Western Electric tube, then the same Clear Day RCA cables continued onto the integrated amplifier (Plinius 8100).  The other Clear Day silver RCA went directly from the BS Node 2i into the integrated amplifier.  The power cord on the BS Node 2i was a Nordost Purple Flare and the power cords on the MHDT DAC and the Plinius integrated were both LessLoss DFPC Signature (so I am not hooking all this up with basic/cheap cables at all).  All of this was plugged into a BPT line conditioner.

So cue up some music stream from Tidal and go back-n-forth on the two different inputs on-the-fly....differences?  Yes, but not that much...  not NEARLY enough to justify the additional costs of the DAC, tube & cables I felt.

So does anyone have actual experience with using a Bluesound Node 2i alone and then upgrading to a better external DAC and just using the BS Node 2i for streaming duty?  I understand that there are many out there that downplay the BS Node capabilities as a DAC, but let's not make a comparison to a streamer/DAC that cost $8,000... let's really compare apples to apples.

I do not have a huge issue with buying Schiit's best DAC, but I feel like it would take that unit to have me hearing a worthwhile difference.

Thanks for your attention and any/all advice is much appreciated.


If you get stuck, the other budget power supply is a Meanwell gsm40b05-p1j . About $25, widely available.
English installation instructions are Here.

Did EXACTLY what you are asking.  Started with a Node directly to an amp.  Then added a Freya.  Then added a Gumby.  Each addition was a significant upgrade in SQ including upgrading the cables.


There are three black B-stock Yggdrasils for sale on the Schiit web site.  Save $100 or so. 

I too and a frugal mid-fi person.  Had a Modi 3/Vali 2 stack for Senn HD650.  I wanted to like it but I did not.  Despite that experience I am still interested in the better Schiit DACs. 

I was using a Bluesound Node 2i for my main system.  Good streamer for the money, but I much prefer the DAC in my Cambridge CXA-81.  I look forward to further upgrading the DAC.

Best of luck.

I personally wouldn't bother trying a bunch of different DACs to improve the Bluesound.  I've owned both the Bluesound Node 2i and the current model.  It's excellent for it's price and punches way above it's price, but it's still not perfect.  

The internal DAC is decent, but not great.  Excellent for the price, but any stand alone DAC does do it better.  With that in mind, I normally use mine as transports and feed it into an external DAC via coax.  The only cable IMO that mattered much was the power cable.  Replace it with a high end power cable and it does improve the quality.  I use Chinese power cables from Amazon, if you know what to look for you can find some really good cables for ~40.  Any decently shielded RCA cable works for your coax.  

As for using external DACs, I've had varying results.  The DACs in my Rotel preamps were not much better then the internal one.  I could hardly tell a difference between them or the internal one on the Bluesound.  I had a standalone Emotiva XDA2 which really opened up the sound stage of the Bluesound.  I also ran it through the DAC in my McIntosh C47, and yes it dramatically improved the SQ.  Likewise the DAC in my Michi X3 gives a more open and dynamic sound (currently using the node as a transport for my Michi) but no different from the C47.  Additionally, I have a Simaudio Moon 280d DAC that I've ran it through and likewise it didn't sound any better then the Michi or McIntosh DACs.  

Now, the interesting thing is, those 3 higher end DACs all sound drastically different.  I've also owned a Cambridge Audio CXN and the Moon has a built in streamer, now when I use either streamer through all 3 days I get vary different results.  Going from the node ($550), to the CXN ($1200), and the Moon ($3400) you can easily tell their weaknesses on high resolving DACs.  On lower end gear, it's not apparent but the node is very compressed sounding and that's quite evident when you start using high end DACs.  A good $200-500 DAC can increase the performance of the node, but the CXN stand alone does sound a lot better.  I would consider getting a CXN any day over a node + DAC, because the SQ is that much better (but I didn't just because the CXN doesn't support native roon).  

TL;DR the node is great at it's price.  Adding in a DAC will increase it's SQ but a higher end streamer will give you better SQ for the same price. 

My experience was a little different than above.  First, I did get a significant improvement when upgrading the coax cable.  You don't need to go  crazy  but will have to spend a few hundred bucks.  Secondly, I prefered the inboard Bluesound DAC to the inboard Cambridge DAC.  I have recently inserted a Denafripts Ares into the mix and like it much better than either Bluesound or Cambridge inboard DACs. The Ares is also a few hundred bucks cheaper than the Gumby.  Bottom line between cables and DAC you'll have to spend $1k to $2k above the cost of a Node but in my system they were very worthwhile upgrades.  YMMV.