Advice needed on sound improvements

JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
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Hi lovely people. I’m a newbie here and I need some advices on my current set up.

I have a Cyrus One amp paired with Dynaudio Excite X18 speakers and am streaming my music from Tidal through Google audio chromecast.

From my understanding, streaming wirelessly may not result in the same from using phono or CD player.

Hence I’m contemplating between if I shd purchase a DAC or Streamer? Would any of these helps to enhance the current set up capability?

If yes, what kind of DAC or steamer shd I get? I have a Budget of £100 - £800 considering my current set up.
 

sonic1

Well-known member
Dec 27, 2019
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70
A dedicated streamer would be a better option than the Chromecast, to get the most out of it hard wiring from the device to your router is paramount.

The Bluesound Node 2i would fit your budget and spend the rest of getting the cabling sorted.

Don't be put off by adding some cat6 cable around your house, it is very easy.
 
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Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
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A dedicated streamer would be a better option than the Chromecast, to get the most out of it hard wiring from the device to your router is paramount.

The Bluesound Node 2i would fit your budget and spend the rest of getting the cabling sorted.

Don't be put off by adding some cat6 cable around your house, it is very easy.
I use a raspberry Pi as a radio streamer, connected to my ( very average) router by wi-fi.
I've had total consistency, with not one dropout.
Maybe I've been lucky, but I can confidently say that a wired connection would give me no benefit over wireless. (I'd happily run a cable otherwise).
 
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sonic1

Well-known member
Dec 27, 2019
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I use a raspberry Pi as a radio streamer, connected to my ( very average) router by wi-fi.
I've had total consistency, with not one dropout.
Maybe I've been lucky, but I can confidently say that a wired connection would give me no benefit over wireless. (I'd happily run a cable otherwise).
If it works and you are happy then leave it alone but unless you are using wireless 6 then your data transfer speeds are lower to start with, the better quality the stream the better the connection needs to be.
You will find very few business that would utilise a wireless environment and there is a reason for it.
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
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If it works and you are happy then leave it alone but unless you are using wireless 6 then your data transfer speeds are lower to start with, the better quality the stream the better the connection needs to be.
You will find very few business that would utilise a wireless environment and there is a reason for it.
Yes, I always thought it would be cable rather than wireless for me, for reliable performance. But the Pi gets 16/44.1 FLAC radio and gives hi-res files from local HDD wirelessly out to PC, so my point really is, how much better does the connection need to be (for use with audio streams)?
As such I would say to perhaps try wi-fi first.
 
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JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
13
11
25
A dedicated streamer would be a better option than the Chromecast, to get the most out of it hard wiring from the device to your router is paramount.

The Bluesound Node 2i would fit your budget and spend the rest of getting the cabling sorted.

Don't be put off by adding some cat6 cable around your house, it is very easy.
Wow thank you so much on your advice. Good news is the phone port on the wall behind the set up was converted to Rj45 ethernet port. I can easily run the cat6 cable and plug directly into a new dedicated streamer.

Meanwhile I’ll check out on the Bluesound Node 2i.

On a side note, I feel there is much more I can get out from my pair of Dynaudio Excite x18 as i believe it has the ability to produce more refine mid and clarity.
 
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JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
13
11
25
A dedicated streamer would be a better option than the Chromecast, to get the most out of it hard wiring from the device to your router is paramount.

The Bluesound Node 2i would fit your budget and spend the rest of getting the cabling sorted.

Don't be put off by adding some cat6 cable around your house, it is very easy.
I have decided to go for the Bluesound Node 2i after a day of researching. While surfing, Cambridge Audio CXN kept popping out of everywhere and it seems to have better DAC in-built. Afterall I was drawn to BlueSound Node 2i mainly:

1. The ability to cast MQA
2. Better User Interface
3. Get things done at a lower price tag
4. 32bit / 192kHz
5. An output which enable link to a standalone DAC should it be necessary for the future

Thank you once again, your recommendation has been spot on!
 
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jonathanRD

Well-known member
Jan 27, 2011
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I have decided to go for the Bluesound Node 2i after a day of researching. While surfing, Cambridge Audio CXN kept popping out of everywhere and it seems to have better DAC in-built. Afterall I was drawn to BlueSound Node 2i mainly:

1. The ability to cast MQA
2. Better User Interface
3. Get things done at a lower price tag
4. 32bit / 192kHz
5. An output which enable link to a standalone DAC should it be necessary for the future

Thank you once again, your recommendation has been spot on!
Over on the Wam hifi forum, there has been endless threads on streamers and DACs. The Bluesound Node 2i is almost universally recommended as the leading option at your budget. Lots of threads too following posters experimenting with more expensive streamers/DAC's with many sticking with the Bluesound. It's a very good choice, and you would probably need to improve the rest of your equipment to hear any significant improvements from a more expensive streamer/DAC combination.
 
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JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
13
11
25
Over on the Wam hifi forum, there has been endless threads on streamers and DACs. The Bluesound Node 2i is almost universally recommended as the leading option at your budget. Lots of threads too following posters experimenting with more expensive streamers/DAC's with many sticking with the Bluesound. It's a very good choice, and you would probably need to improve the rest of your equipment to hear any significant improvements from a more expensive streamer/DAC combination.
Thank you so much, Jonathan, your message couldn't be more reassuring. Whilst it is subjective to say dumping more money doesn't necessarily result in better sound. I am excitedly building up a system that I can enjoy and around the price range of the amp that one way or another wouldn't be lopsided. It takes a racer to drive an F1 car after all.

I am now creeping over the windows eagerly while waiting for the delivery man ;)
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
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70
I am enjoying the Node 2i with Tidal and Amazon HD. The internal DAC is actually rather good. If you get it, make sure you use services like Tidal or Amazon via the dedicated BluOS app and do not use the separate Tidal or Amazon apps as you will then be limited due to airplay or bluetooth limitations. Stick with the BluOS app and everything will work as intended.
 
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JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
13
11
25
I am enjoying the Node 2i with Tidal and Amazon HD. The internal DAC is actually rather good. If you get it, make sure you use services like Tidal or Amazon via the dedicated BluOS app and do not use the separate Tidal or Amazon apps as you will then be limited due to airplay or bluetooth limitations. Stick with the BluOS app and everything will work as intended.
Thank you so much on these pointers. I shall follow exactly. I’ll be receiving the Node 2i tomorrow!! Can’t wait to test it out. Btw, will I be fine for using the RCA cable that comes with it ?
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
68
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70
Thank you so much on these pointers. I shall follow exactly. I’ll be receiving the Node 2i tomorrow!! Can’t wait to test it out. Btw, will I be fine for using the RCA cable that comes with it ?
Cables divide opinions but I’m using an Audioquest Big Sur with mine and it really made a difference to my ears from the included ones (£68 ). Ultimately up to you.
 
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JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
13
11
25
Cables divide opinions but I’m using an Audioquest Big Sur with mine and it really made a difference to my ears from the included ones (£68 ). Ultimately up to you.
Thank you! I’m quite certain good cables do makes a difference even though I have not experience any before.

A friend who Sold me the speakers, bundle it with chord company cables. Didn’t know there were good cables until I chance upon their product online.

I Guess it doesn’t hurt my wallet too much to get a good RCA. Will do that in the future! As for now I’ll gain some experience with what they provide since it doesn’t hurt the system in a destructive way.

what you’ve shared certainly provides more insight and enthusiasm in me towards the audiophile world :)
 

JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
13
11
25
Wow that would be a bonus. I’ve been paying premium subscription for the past 9 months. A year ago when I purchase the Cyrus One, it comes with 3 months free Tidal.

yes I notice the MQA in Tidal, Chromecast currently doesn’t support that format via RCA. Am not sure if it works via Toslink, but that would bypass the DAC in chrome.
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
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70
If you use the RCA out on the Node and its internal DAC you will get full MQA decoding. Can’t comment on chromecast as don’t have one
 
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Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
679
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I’m quite certain good cables do makes a difference even though I have not experience any before.
Look at what you've actually said there Jamie.
It tells me that you will 'hear' a benefit.......whether or not there is one.
It's a phenomenon known as expectation bias - and you wouldn't be the first to experience it!
Hawkmoon is right that cables divide opinion.
All I will say is be very careful before parting with good money. There's no end of hype and plausible sounding science which can sound very convincing.
If you can try before you buy, get someone to swap your freebie RCA cable with the wonder stuff, without you knowing which is which.
If you can consistently tell when the better one is connected........I wouldn't bet any money on being able to if I were you though.
PS I actually own a £78, 0.5 metre RCA interconnect. Does it sound better? No.
I won it as a prize. If I'd have paid £78, I would have expected it to sound excellent.
See my point?
 
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JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
13
11
25
Look at what you've actually said there Jamie.
It tells me that you will 'hear' a benefit.......whether or not there is one.
It's a phenomenon known as expectation bias - and you wouldn't be the first to experience it!
Hawkmoon is right that cables divide opinion.
All I will say is be very careful before parting with good money. There's no end of hype and plausible sounding science which can sound very convincing.
If you can try before you buy, get someone to swap your freebie RCA cable with the wonder stuff, without you knowing which is which.
If you can consistently tell when the better one is connected........I wouldn't bet any money on being able to if I were you though.
PS I actually own a £78, 0.5 metre RCA interconnect. Does it sound better? No.
I won it as a prize. If I'd have paid £78, I would have expected it to sound excellent.
See my point?
Thank you very much Gray, your advice is indeed very valuable especially for a beginner like me. An excellent point there, I should explore trial options before I part my money on any upgrade. As of now I have not yet experience the Node 2i as it hasn’t been deliver to me yet, more so with a good RCA cable.

I am planning to be content with what I have at the moment and explore the positioning of my speakers and gaining more knowledge from the expert here.

Also thank you for pointing out my thoughts which brings to my awareness now. The paramount intention of that reply to Hawkmood at that juncture serves as a polite gesture. Wasn’t aware it speak volumes. Do forgive me if that reflects the ignorant side of a noob like me. I’ll certainly learn and improve :)
 
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JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
13
11
25
If you use the RCA out on the Node and its internal DAC you will get full MQA decoding. Can’t comment on chromecast as don’t have one
Thank you :) I’ll follow exactly. Can’t wait for the node to arrive! I’ll update you again on the result !!!
 
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Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
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Only other things to note: don't activate tone controls within the BluOS app as that will degrade sound quality. Also, consider using fixed volume level in app and fixed level RCA outputs on back of Node and then control volume from your amp - all for best S.Q. Also, when you first start it up it will likely download firmware and then reboot - give it time to do that and don't get impatient as interfering with that process can brick the unit. Any Qs let me know (although I don't use it to stream from a NAS so can't help you there, but have been using it with Tidal, Spotify and Amazon HD very happily).
 
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Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
679
356
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I am planning to be content with what I have at the moment and explore the positioning of my speakers
That proves you're not ignorant Jamie!
Being content is what it's all about. Quite a few of us have never mastered contentment!
And experimenting with speaker positioning will have a greater effect on your sound than any cable differences.
You've got some nice stuff (my Cyrus amp is 18 years old, hope yours lasts at least as long).
Enjoy your Node when it comes, maybe come back and tell us what you think of it.......because we all learn from each other.
 
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JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
13
11
25
Only other things to note: don't activate tone controls within the BluOS app as that will degrade sound quality. Also, consider using fixed volume level in app and fixed level RCA outputs on back of Node and then control volume from your amp - all for best S.Q. Also, when you first start it up it will likely download firmware and then reboot - give it time to do that and don't get impatient as interfering with that process can brick the unit. Any Qs let me know (although I don't use it to stream from a NAS so can't help you there, but have been using it with Tidal, Spotify and Amazon HD very happily).
These pointers were absolute gem. Imagine if I toggle the sound control wrongly and god knows how long I will take to realise the technicality of what you mentioned, it would likely result in a less favorable experience. I’m grateful and appreciative towards your passion in ensuring others gaining the best out of their equipment. You are pure class!!

ps I’m still tracking the delivery :( due to the lock down in my country, delivery services has been delayed by 1-3 days. Am hopeful to receive it tmr! Hahaha
 

JamieG

Active member
May 14, 2020
13
11
25
That proves you're not ignorant Jamie!
Being content is what it's all about. Quite a few of us have never mastered contentment!
And experimenting with speaker positioning will have a greater effect on your sound than any cable differences.
You've got some nice stuff (my Cyrus amp is 18 years old, hope yours lasts at least as long).
Enjoy your Node when it comes, maybe come back and tell us what you think of it.......because we all learn from each other.
Thanks for your kind words Gray, 18 years to own something is a darn long time. I remember vividly 14-15 years ago, when I first started work. I signed a 2 years contract with a local internet service in order to receive a free 30g iPod. In no way I will ever afford that back then. I told my colleague the iPod is the best thing ever happened in my life. It accompany me on my tedious journey of waking up at 5.30am to catch the first train which takes 1.5hrs to reach my destination.

Up till now, a part of my favourite songs only available in Spotify which is lossy. I make it a priority to enjoy all my music regardless if it’s lossy or losseless and try to make them all sound nice from what I have.
 
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rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
226
79
18,870
Look at what you've actually said there Jamie.
It tells me that you will 'hear' a benefit.......whether or not there is one.
It's a phenomenon known as expectation bias - and you wouldn't be the first to experience it!
Hawkmoon is right that cables divide opinion.
All I will say is be very careful before parting with good money. There's no end of hype and plausible sounding science which can sound very convincing.
If you can try before you buy, get someone to swap your freebie RCA cable with the wonder stuff, without you knowing which is which.
If you can consistently tell when the better one is connected........I wouldn't bet any money on being able to if I were you though.
PS I actually own a £78, 0.5 metre RCA interconnect. Does it sound better? No.
I won it as a prize. If I'd have paid £78, I would have expected it to sound excellent.
See my point?
When I had a Node 2i on home demo, I tried it with the supplied cable, and it didn't sound great in my system. On my tt front end, I run a pair of Analysis Plus interconnects (from my Schiit Mani to the 172xs). So after initial disappointment, I swapped the cables and they actually made it worse. Then, I remembered I still had my old Atlas Element Integra lying around in a drawer (they're in the same ballpark as the Analysis Plus, price-wise), and when I swapped those in, everything changed for the better - quite noticeable, actually. This was apparent on both my Naim system and the Cyrus One HD I also had on home dem. My point is not that more expensive equals better (as proven wrong by the first cable swap), but that there are indeed differences. Expectation bias can work the other way as well - if you don't believe that interconnects can sound different, then you might not discern the differences. Doesn't really matter in the end, though, if one just lets their ears decide - if you don't notice the differences, all the cheaper.
 

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