Jump to content

Streaming TIDAL through stereo recommendations


Recommended Posts

I was considering getting a Bluesound Node 2i.  But after reading up a bit.  It seems to be not all it's cracked up to be and quite possibly disappointing.  So, since I don't live near any stores to go and demo any other options - I'm hoping to get some feedback / recommendations for something that would be a step up from Bluesound Node 2i for streaming TIDAL through my vintage Denon amp. that won't lose any audio quality over wifi or bluetooth and have a good user interface that works well - as opposed to the problematic BlueOS.  Hoping to stay around the same price point of the Node 2i or like a said, "a step up" from Bluesound.  Also, hoping to buy from a vendor that has financing options.

 

Thanks - 

 

 

 

 

Pure Music 3.0.6 > Apple Music 1.0.1.37 / TIDAL desktop app > iMac (21.5", Late 2013) 3.1 GHz Intel Quad Core i7 - 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 > macOS Catalina 10.15.1 > 250 Apple Flash Storage / SSD > AQ Dragon Tail 2.0 > AQ Jitterbug > Dragonfly Black 1.07 > Klipsch 2.1 Pro Media

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Bluesound, etc is just the network streamer - but you also need to install player software on your Mac for best sound.

 

The problem is your Mac is a bit fussy about playing various resolutions - higher than 16/44.1. Which is one of the pluses of using Tidal and Qobuz streaming services they offer files in CD quality and HIGHER.

 

See, if your Mac's Sound settings are 16/44.1 then that is what you'll always get out of your Mac. So, if you play a file from Tidal that's 24/96 it will be downsampled to 16/44.1 unless you go into settings and manually change your Sound settings. And conversely if you change your Mac's Sound settings to 24/96 that too is what you'll always get as everything is upsampled by the Mac.

What's wrong with that you say? The resultant down and or up sampling is done very poorly and does not sound good.

But if you run a program like Roon or Audirvana on your Mac then the software will take care of this automatically and dynamically. Changing your Mac's Sound setting for every file you play on the fly. So Song A at 16/44.1 and then followed by Song B at 24/96 and that's followed by song C at 16/48 would all automatically set your Mac at the correct Sound settings on the fly. You do nothing.

This is super important for the best sound quality. Yes, it requires that you purchase some software, but you'll find either of these two programs are super helpful in dozens of ways and integrate perfectly with your music library and the complete music available on Tidal and or Qobuz.

 

I'd recommend making this change first. Playing your music from your Mac directly into your DAC via USB from Roon or Audirvana. THEN in the future look into network streaming to improve your sound even further.

 

PS. I have both Roon and Audirvana. I prefer Roon but it's pretty costly. Audirvana is quite good and much cheaper to get into. Both probably have free demo's available. Tidal HiRes costs $19.95 a month, while Qobuz just announced Studio for $14.95 a month. I'm greedy, I have both and like both of them a lot.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the feedback.  I appreciate it.  But, you didn't mention anything about what would be a step up from Bluesound Node 2i for streaming TIDAL through my living room vintage Denon stereo.  Btw, I'm content with my Mac set-up (Dragonfly Black through Klipsch at my desk in my bedroom).  I'm wanting to stream through my living room stereo. 

Pure Music 3.0.6 > Apple Music 1.0.1.37 / TIDAL desktop app > iMac (21.5", Late 2013) 3.1 GHz Intel Quad Core i7 - 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 > macOS Catalina 10.15.1 > 250 Apple Flash Storage / SSD > AQ Dragon Tail 2.0 > AQ Jitterbug > Dragonfly Black 1.07 > Klipsch 2.1 Pro Media

Link to post
Share on other sites

The audio software I mentioned is what plays your Tidal subscription - and it does so via your Mac and Dragonfly.

 

Network streamers like the Bluesound are trying to be one device to do it all. It's a network device, music player and Dac. It's a small computer. But the reality is it doesn't do all of that job really well. It's mostly just convenient.

 

But at this point. You have a good computer, and an acceptable dac. You just need the software to access Tidal and all of your local music files. It doesn't take an all in one device like the Bluenote to make that happen. There are other such devices, that cost many times what the Bluenote costs, that can do all of that better. But right now you can do better with what you have already.

 

Actually, you don't need to buy anything. Tidal has a desktop app that will give you access to everything they have right on your existing Mac. It's not a great option, and it can't set your Mac's Sound settings on the fly. But it will play Tidal through your Mac > USB > Dragonfly into your Denon Stereo. All you need is a Tidal subscription, a USB cable and a RCA cable.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As long as you use the Tidal desktop player with audio output of the Dragonfly connected to your Klipsch you should be able to use this guide to get MQA playback and automatic sample rate changing. Buy a more expensive DAC if you aren't happy with the Dragonfly. Even if it is not MQA certified the Tidal desktop player can do the first unfold to 24/96. You don't need Roon or Audirvana unless you want one of them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again for the feedback.  But again, don’t want to run a cable from my bedroom to my living room or move my computer.  I want to stream TIDAL through my living room stereo.  

Pure Music 3.0.6 > Apple Music 1.0.1.37 / TIDAL desktop app > iMac (21.5", Late 2013) 3.1 GHz Intel Quad Core i7 - 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 > macOS Catalina 10.15.1 > 250 Apple Flash Storage / SSD > AQ Dragon Tail 2.0 > AQ Jitterbug > Dragonfly Black 1.07 > Klipsch 2.1 Pro Media

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, exdmd said:

...and automatic sample rate changing.

I knew about those settings, but didn't realize they could automatically change the sample rate depending on the file being played back on a Mac.

 

I think perhaps the OP thought he had to have a Network Streamer device to play Tidal. Hopefully, now he realizes this isn't the case.

 

I love using Tidal and Qobuz to introduce me to new music. It's great having all of this music, available in CD quality and better, indexed for you. Like going to a record store and being able to "test" listen to everything in the store instantly.

 

It's true you don't need Roon or Audirvana to stream - but the programs do provide better sound quality and terrific flexibility in both organizing your music (local or streamed) and helping introducing you to all sorts of great music you'd not find otherwise.

 

If you want to improve your sound further, do as @exdmd mentions and think about a new USB Dac. Though the Dragonfly Black isn't terrible.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, btlancaster24 said:

Thanks again for the feedback.  But again, don’t want to run a cable from my bedroom to my living room or move my computer.  I want to stream TIDAL through my living room stereo.  

Ah... that's the thing then, isn't it? I didn't realize that you were talking about multi-room. That changes things.

 

For the $500 that a Bluesound Node2i costs - I'm not sure what would be available. Most of the devices that can do better than the Bluesound cost more. For example you could get a Pro-Ject Stream Box S2 and a Pro-ject PreBox S2 Digital Dac and stream into your living room stereo. But you're talking about $1,200 for both devices.

 

There are Allo RasberryPi based devices but they are pretty DIY kinds of solutions.

 

I don't know of anything other than Sonos and that's certainly not better than Bluesound.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, all for your feedback.  It's much appreciated.  

Pure Music 3.0.6 > Apple Music 1.0.1.37 / TIDAL desktop app > iMac (21.5", Late 2013) 3.1 GHz Intel Quad Core i7 - 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 > macOS Catalina 10.15.1 > 250 Apple Flash Storage / SSD > AQ Dragon Tail 2.0 > AQ Jitterbug > Dragonfly Black 1.07 > Klipsch 2.1 Pro Media

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are devices on Amazon that might do what you want...such as: https://www.amazon.com/NEXUM-TuneBox2-Hi-Fi-Music-Receiver/dp/B07536BTRX/ref=sr_1_10?keywords=wifi+streamer+for+stereo&qid=1573560309&sr=8-10

 

A quick look found several similar.  Whether these are better than BlueSound device is a guess but at 1/10 of the cost might be worth a try.

 

Otherwise RPi, an old laptop, or a SFF PC refurb from Newegg will be the least expensive.  To get to dedicated streamers...I think an old Squeezebox Touch will be the least.  New devices will cost quite a bit more.

QNAP TS453Pro w/QLMS->Netgear Switch->Netgear R7800 Router->Ethernet (50 ft)->Netgear switch->SBT->iFi xDSD->Linn Majik-IL (preamp)->Linn 2250->Linn Keilidh; Control Points: Squeeze Commander (DroidX) & iPeng (iPad Air); Also: Rega P3-24 w/ DV 10x5; OPPO 103; PC Playback: Foobar2000 & JRiver; Portable: Sony NWZ_ZX1 & ZX2 w/ PHA-3; SMSL IQ, Fiio Q5, iFi Nano iDSD BL; Garage: Edifier S1000DB Active Speakers  Wish List: New DAC,  SBT replacement; Dream system: Linn EXACT or ATC Active or Big Tubes (KR or Nagra or Shindo or ...)

 

My goal is to use appliances and take home PC out of the chain...

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you don't mind spending $ on a streamer the Cambridge CXN V2 is highly rated. If you want a powered streamer the NAD M10 might be worth looking at as well. I recently bought a Peachtree Deco Sky 125 and I'm really happy with it. It doesn't have an OS per se for streaming like the M10 which uses Blue OS but relies on 3rd party phone app to control and works quite well. Also the PT doesn't have ethernet just wifi. The M10 does have an ethernet port. If you want full sized equipment both Marantz and Denon have Heos integrated amps.

Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, btlancaster24 said:

Thanks, all for your feedback.  It's much appreciated.  

 

I think you really need to look at the Bluesound Node 2i.  The Bluesound software can be run from any device and provides access to a wide range of applications.  You may prefer other UIs, but the UI is pretty straightforward.

 

While it is true that the analog outputs are not the best, I don't think you'll notice much given that you're using a vintage Denon receiver.  If you decide you've outgrown the analog outputs, you can use the digital outputs by adding an external DAC.

 

I think the Node is a great choice if you want a complete, hassle free, out of the box solution.

sources:  intel nuc8i5 (roon rock) | intel nuc7i5 (ws2019, ao, roon bridge) (main) | intel nuc6i5 (win10, ao, roon bridge) (headphone)
headphone rig:  schiit yggdrasil (a2, unison) > bryston bha-1 > senn hd600
main rig:  chord dave > parasound jc2bp > parasound jc5 > kef reference 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again, everyone.  I'll consider those suggestions.  One thing I want to mention (and I don't know if it matters) is that I don't listen to classical or jazz.  My music preference is mainly rock or pop genre.   

Pure Music 3.0.6 > Apple Music 1.0.1.37 / TIDAL desktop app > iMac (21.5", Late 2013) 3.1 GHz Intel Quad Core i7 - 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 > macOS Catalina 10.15.1 > 250 Apple Flash Storage / SSD > AQ Dragon Tail 2.0 > AQ Jitterbug > Dragonfly Black 1.07 > Klipsch 2.1 Pro Media

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know much about Bluesound, but did run into this review today in WhatHiFi

 

Their conclusion was:

 

Quote

As far as sub-£500 wireless streamers go – whether incorporated into a Bluesound multi-room system or not – you almost certainly won’t achieve sound quality superior to that of the Node 2i.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Rexp said:

The Node analog out sucks, didn't bother trying the digital out. 

Wow, maybe I'm better off considering a different amp or some other option.

Pure Music 3.0.6 > Apple Music 1.0.1.37 / TIDAL desktop app > iMac (21.5", Late 2013) 3.1 GHz Intel Quad Core i7 - 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 > macOS Catalina 10.15.1 > 250 Apple Flash Storage / SSD > AQ Dragon Tail 2.0 > AQ Jitterbug > Dragonfly Black 1.07 > Klipsch 2.1 Pro Media

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, btlancaster24 said:

Wow, maybe I'm better off considering a different amp or some other option.

 

i'm sure that is his opinion, but remember that it is just one opinion.  the node 2i is a very respected device for what it is -- a $500 device (that offers a turnkey solution).

 

how about getting a schiit modi multibit dac ($249) and just connecting your laptop to it?  the modi multibit has a huge fan club.

sources:  intel nuc8i5 (roon rock) | intel nuc7i5 (ws2019, ao, roon bridge) (main) | intel nuc6i5 (win10, ao, roon bridge) (headphone)
headphone rig:  schiit yggdrasil (a2, unison) > bryston bha-1 > senn hd600
main rig:  chord dave > parasound jc2bp > parasound jc5 > kef reference 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I would encourage OP to get a single box solution.  I went with a separate DAC initially and bought a Modi 3, bought some cables, and eventually got tired of the laptop tethered to the DAC config.  Could have saved a $150 if I just went to my final solution from the beginning but live and learn.  You just have to determine what your budget is and find what fits within your budget and make the best choice for you.  It could be a separate DAC, or the Node 2i, or a new streaming amp.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, HC515 said:

I would encourage OP to get a single box solution.  I went with a separate DAC initially and bought a Modi 3, bought some cables, and eventually got tired of the laptop tethered to the DAC config.  Could have saved a $150 if I just went to my final solution from the beginning but live and learn.  You just have to determine what your budget is and find what fits within your budget and make the best choice for you.  It could be a separate DAC, or the Node 2i, or a new streaming amp.

What was you’re final solution?

Pure Music 3.0.6 > Apple Music 1.0.1.37 / TIDAL desktop app > iMac (21.5", Late 2013) 3.1 GHz Intel Quad Core i7 - 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 > macOS Catalina 10.15.1 > 250 Apple Flash Storage / SSD > AQ Dragon Tail 2.0 > AQ Jitterbug > Dragonfly Black 1.07 > Klipsch 2.1 Pro Media

Link to post
Share on other sites

I ended up buying a Peachtree Deco Sky 125  it fits what I was looking for and allowed me to cut the chords and get enough power to run just about any speaker I want in the future. Node 2i has a better OS but a tradeoff I was willing to accept. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again everyone for your feedback.  It's much appreciated.  

Pure Music 3.0.6 > Apple Music 1.0.1.37 / TIDAL desktop app > iMac (21.5", Late 2013) 3.1 GHz Intel Quad Core i7 - 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 > macOS Catalina 10.15.1 > 250 Apple Flash Storage / SSD > AQ Dragon Tail 2.0 > AQ Jitterbug > Dragonfly Black 1.07 > Klipsch 2.1 Pro Media

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...