Stereo room streaming options: streamer+DAC+amp or all-in-one with $1300 budget

ahender

Member
I've tried to do my homework but still not sure what the best options are. I'm setting up a 11x16' stereo room in my office. I would like MQA compatibility, mainly for Radio Paradise if I do use BlueOS. The Bluesound website says the Node supports MQA but I do not see a USB out. Isn't USB required for the MQA chain? What would be the recommendation for the below two options (or other options)?

(1) Bluesound Powernode

(2) Bluesound Node + Topping E50 + Topping PA5 (the PA5 is a new 2-channel amp)

#2 would be $250-$300 more expensive. Would there be a noticeable improvement in sound for #2 compared to the Powernode?

All my streaming will be with an iPhone or iPad. With the BluOS app, I assume the Apple device will act as a remote and not be casting. Is this correct?

Are there better overall streaming options under $1300? Not interested in DIY options.

Speakers are Ascend 2-EX. I have an Oppo DV-980H player I will use for CDs. Music volume will be moderate.

Thank you.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I don’t believe there are any major sound difference between the Bluesound streamers vs Topping.

No, MQA doesn’t require usb out.

You don’t mention what amplifier you are using now. If not the Powernode 2i or the new version is great choice,

But there are other ways to go.

One get the Yamaha WXD-10. It is very cheap. Around 100 euro. Then get the Marantz, Yamaha, Rega, Denon etc.

You can control everything by using the iPhone, depending on which streamer you get.

The Yamaha don’t have any digital inputs. So you can’t use an external DAC. No MQA support either.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
The Yamaha streamer might be difficult to find new, because of the troubling times we live in.

Still there shouldn’t be any problems finding it used.
 

ahender

Member
I don’t believe there are any major sound difference between the Bluesound streamers vs Topping.

No, MQA doesn’t require usb out.

You don’t mention what amplifier you are using now. If not the Powernode 2i or the new version is great choice,

But there are other ways to go.

One get the Yamaha WXD-10. It is very cheap. Around 100 euro. Then get the Marantz, Yamaha, Rega, Denon etc.

You can control everything by using the iPhone, depending on which streamer you get.

The Yamaha don’t have any digital inputs. So you can’t use an external DAC. No MQA support either.
Thank you. This is a new setup so I have no amp. I have only speakers and a CD player.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Then the Powernode with both streaming/amplifier should work perfectly. Or get the Node streamer only, then buy an external Amplifier

I must say I like this approach better then combined streaming/amplifier. If something goes wrong with the it, then you can have serious issues. Let’s say the software don’t work.

Still Bluesound is very stable. I have the Node2i streamer. Some small software at times, but it is very stable.

So I guess the Powernode is the same.
 

rc789

Active Member
Yamaha doesn’t do gapless playback and that is annoying unless you don’t care about that. If you’re not sure as never experienced it before it probably will be annoying…
 

mseve1

Active Member
The Node has a very respectable internal DAC so I wouldn't advise getting the rather unnecessary Topping E50 given your $1300 budget. The PA5 amplifier gets excellent reviews but is very limited in terms of facilities so do compare it with other amps within your price range. Whether you go for option 1 or 2 really depends on personal preference - the Powernode is a neat and compact solution but the Node + amp would give potentially better sound quality and more flexibility for a similar cost.
As an alternative to the Powernode you could also consider the functionally similar NAD C700 which also provides physical controls and a useful display which gives better usability.
 

ahender

Member
Thanks for all the comments. The Topping PA5 amp is intriguing but it‘s only input connection is TRS. Looks like a separate converter would be needed to connect to the Node2i. Have not found one. Any thoughts on an external amp <$500? Most are out of stock. I’ll check out the NAD. A little more than i want to spend.
 
Last edited:

rc789

Active Member

ahender

Member
Decided on Amazon Firestick 4K, Monoprice Blackbird HDMI converter, Schiit Modius dac, and Topping PA5 amp. Altogether less than $650. Full 24/192 streaming.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Decided on Amazon Firestick 4K, Monoprice Blackbird HDMI converter, Schiit Modius dac, and Topping PA5 amp. Altogether less than $650. Full 24/192 streaming.
Nice. Then you’re all set. How’s the sound?
 

ahender

Member
The Firestick is controlled by the included remote. The converter splits the HDMI signal from the Firestick to HDMI and optical. HDMI will go to a TV to be used as a monitor or for watching. The optical goes to the Modius DAC.
 

rc789

Active Member
Is that chromecast then? You’ve now got an amp and a DAC that you can change at some point in the future. Alternatively you can add to that setup and take out the fire stick for a more dedicated streaming device. Bluetooth tend to be the worst way. In my short experience it’s worth trying a few as all the ones I’ve had sound different but at different price points. It’s not always reflective of price but if you’ve paid a lot more for a DAC or amp and it’s not as good as a cheaper one then the more expensive one probably isn’t very good. There are some like that out there but it also depends on speakers and synergy.
 

AgentOrange76

Active Member
The Firestick is controlled by the included remote. The converter splits the HDMI signal from the Firestick to HDMI and optical. HDMI will go to a TV to be used as a monitor or for watching. The optical goes to the Modius DAC.
Ah yes, thought you had found another way. I dont have/want a tv where the Hifi is so cant use this method. Im currently stuck with a hardwired phone into the DAC
 

ahender

Member
Ah yes, thought you had found another way. I dont have/want a tv where the Hifi is so cant use this method. Im currently stuck with a hardwired phone into the DAC
There are firestick iOS apps but i do not know anything about them. This may be a non monitor solution.
 

ahender

Member
Is that chromecast then? You’ve now got an amp and a DAC that you can change at some point in the future. Alternatively you can add to that setup and take out the fire stick for a more dedicated streaming device. Bluetooth tend to be the worst way. In my short experience it’s worth trying a few as all the ones I’ve had sound different but at different price points. It’s not always reflective of price but if you’ve paid a lot more for a DAC or amp and it’s not as good as a cheaper one then the more expensive one probably isn’t very good. There are some like that out there but it also depends on speakers and synergy.
It’s not Chromecast.
 

rc789

Active Member
How do you use it then?
 

Cebolla

Member
Is that chromecast then?

FYI, Amazon have for their own reasons restricted Chromecast to Amazon Music's lowest quality lossy streams (which Amazon markets as 'SD'), so not even the lossless CD-res ('HD' in Amazon speak), never mind hi-res ('Ultra HD'). See:
Amazon.co.uk: Amazon Music HD FAQs: Digital Music

Which Android devices support Amazon Music HD?​

Most Android devices running Android Lollipop, released in 2014, or later support HD/Ultra HD playback. However, Android devices vary widely in quality and purpose, so we advise checking manufacturer specifications for HD/Ultra HD support.

At this time Amazon Music HD is not supported on Chromecast.
 

Cebolla

Member
The Firestick is controlled by the included remote. The converter splits the HDMI signal from the Firestick to HDMI and optical. HDMI will go to a TV to be used as a monitor or for watching. The optical goes to the Modius DAC.
The relevant posts on this thread might be worth a read as it looks the Amazon Music app caps the Firestick 4k to below its 24bit/192kHz max audio resolution, depending on what you plug it in to (plus, it appears the Firestick 4k doesn't support gapless playback - if that is important to you):
 

ahender

Member
Thanks for your feedback. I am also following posts regarding this setup on another forum from users with the Firestick 4K. One person was getting 24/192 until a firmware update reduced it. I have asked about gapless play. If there are issues, I’ll look at other options like Roku, and the Cube.
 

ahender

Member
After driving myself crazy on what to get, decided to order a refurb Marantz PM7000N. Considered the Node plus amp, the equipment in my original post, and decided to just keep it simple. Lots of good feedback on the Marantz. Hoping it has the AKM dac. Will not know until i receive it. Thanks to all for your feedback.
 

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