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auralic aries mini vs bluesound node 2 vs laptop jriver

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I have a node 2 on loan from a local audio shop. Last night my wife and I did a test. Node 2 vs cd vs laptop with an Intona. All we're going to the same dac to make it more fair. Laptop and node stream wirelessly from my nas


The rest of the system is Joule Lap 150 preamp, McIntosh mc402 amp, PSB imagine T, Wireworld eclipse IC's, acoustic zen double barrel speaker cables, w4s dac2,cayin scd 50T.


We used a mix of uncompressed wav and flac. The cd going to the dac was champ. More open sound, more air on top, wider soundstage, bass was a bit tighter, 2nd up the laptop running jriver and 3rd place was the node 2. The node did a great job at this price point but the soundstage was more narrowed and the mid and top was a hair harsher.


Im not knocking the node. It is quite good at this price and I did try the built in dac. It did great but my w4s was better.. granted it cost a lot more so it should be better lol. The setup of the node was easy and fast. I had music going within minutes and tidal runs flawlessly. My wife and I both said if we couldn't do a side by side vs the rest, this unit would have been a easy choice. For 500$ I think for what it does and built in dac it's quite good but not better then my laptop / Intona combo.


Question, I want my digital to sound as good as the cd. The laptop is close but we still hear a difference. Has anyone done a direct comparison against the Aries mini vs the node 2? Am I expecting too much out of a 5-600$ streamer to sound like my CD player using the same dac? Or am I going to need to pony up pre cash for something like a audiorender 100H?



My my local dealer unfortunately does not have the Aries or Audiorender only sonos and bluenode.

Den: Kef LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Lumin D1, Cayin SCD50T, Jolida D9, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Wireworld Eclipse Silver 7 IC

Livingroom: T+A PA1530 r Integrated Amplifier, Innous Zen MKIII, L.K.S audio MH Da004, Tyler Acoustics Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal IC, Wireworld Eclipse Silver 8 Speaker cable. 

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