DAC + Bluetooth - Separates (eg Topping E30 & Zen Blue) or Single unit (eg Bluesound Node) ?

Nichop

Active Member
Hi, I'm after some advice please. Have a new 'den' in our garden into which I've added a projector setup and for sound, an old Denon amp and Dali Zensor Pico speakers, both of which I expect I will upgrade shortly. Meantime though I need to connect our XBox via optical to get sound and also a Bluetooth receiver. I could go for a cheap £30 DAC but general prefer to get something decent that will satisfy for longer. With this in mind I've been looking for a good single unit that is both a good DAC and Bluetooth receiver, ideally supporting APTx HD. I've come down to either separate units in the form of the Topping E30 and ifi Zen Blue, or I splash out quite a bit more money and get something like the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic 200M or Bluesound Node. In regard to the last of these, I use Tidal quite a bit so would make use of the streaming capabilities of the Node but this isn't a real need - I could just as easily stream to my phone and then on via bluetooth.

Any recommendations of other devices that I may have missed? Is it worth shelling out the extra for the Node ?

thanks

Nick
 

nomorelandings

Active Member
Hi,
I have no experience of the others that you mention, but as a do-it-all stand alone the Node is excellent, imho. The HDMI works as advertised and the streaming & DACs punch well above the price point. I have not tried Tidal, but Qobuz hi res and Amazon hd sound very good. I mainly listen to Radio Paradise MQA streams which are truly excellent to my ears which bodes well for tidal MQA. I don’t use roon, AirPlay or Bluetooth. However, I would suggest that the SQ of tidal MQA will easily beat Bluetooth from a phone. The app is excellent
 

Nichop

Active Member
Hi,
I have no experience of the others that you mention, but as a do-it-all stand alone the Node is excellent, imho. The HDMI works as advertised and the streaming & DACs punch well above the price point. I have not tried Tidal, but Qobuz hi res and Amazon hd sound very good. I mainly listen to Radio Paradise MQA streams which are truly excellent to my ears which bodes well for tidal MQA. I don’t use roon, AirPlay or Bluetooth. However, I would suggest that the SQ of tidal MQA will easily beat Bluetooth from a phone. The app is excellent
I was about to hit 'buy' on the Node and then read that with the optical in there is quite a bit of latency which if true, is a deal breaker for gaming on the xbox. I've also found this SMSL SU9 which seems to get strong reviews and does DAC and Bluetooth well (SU-9).
 

mseve1

Active Member
I was about to hit 'buy' on the Node and then read that with the optical in there is quite a bit of latency which if true, is a deal breaker for gaming on the xbox.
Yes, unfortunately Bluesound products have an inbuilt 50ms delay on their digital inputs which make them totally unsuited for use with your XBOX. A stand-alone DAC such as the SMSL you mention shouldn't have any such latency issues.
 

karlsushi

Active Member
To widen your DAC options, I have found a simple Bluetooth receiver to have no negative impact on sound quality as long it has a digital output and you use that into your DAC (i.e. ensuring that the better DAC still does the all important conversion rather than the cheaper one in the receiver).

Something like this should see you right, then you can focus on a decent DAC and don't need to worry if it has bluetooth or not:


This type of receiver uses an spdif output though, so you wouldn't be able to connect it at the same time as the games console unless the DAC had two optical inputs.

Just a thought on a different route.
 

Yorkshire AV

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hi!

The iFi ZEN Stream, iFi ZEN DAC v2 and iFi ZEN Blue make a great stack (we have one in our showroom, connected also to a ZEN CAN headphone amp).

However - you're getting into Bluesound Node territory with the above [in terms of cost].
The latest (Gen3) node has a much improved DAC, HDMI eARC support as well as one of the most stable apps* in the streaming world for bringing your many streaming services together.

It does have a poor algorithm for spelling issues when searching for tracks/artists (only an issue when one has a glass of red in the hand!) which is where TIDAL Connect then comes into play.

There are some other solutions out there too: the Pro-Ject Audio Stream Box S2 is a great little unit (Airplay, TIDAL (non MQA), Spotify, TuneIn etc) and is one of the cheapest out there.

*in my opinion
 

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