Streaming Setup Advice - Replacing a Chromecast Audio and Rotels Amp internal DAC with a Bluesound Node ?

vitalion

Active Member
Hey all,

I am slowly moving into a more smart home setup and the next thing on my list due for an upgrade is the streamer. I am currently using a Chromecast Audio (nice little cheap device that does the job for the last 4 years or so) which is connected via optical cable to a Rotel RA-12 Integrated Amp paired with a set of B&W floor standing speakers. Based on the specs of the Rotel, the RA-12 has a Wolfson premium 24-bit/192kHz Digital to Analog Converter, which is the one i use with the Chromecast. I dont have an external DAC.

Since my wife and I, we are on apples eco system we are using Apple Homekit which does not play well with Chromecast. Based on that, I am looking for a streamer that is fully compatible with Apples smart home platform (Homekit compatibility, Airplay 2 for multiroom playback with home pods, automations from homekit etc). Currently, I am using Apple Homekit, iOS shortcuts and Home Assistant on a Pi4 to do some automations and “smart home stuff” due to the limitations that i have with Chromecast but is not always an easy work around especially with the recent update of the iOS.

Taking into account some research that i did online a very good option are the products from Bluesound. The Node product line ticks all the boxes.

I am planning to use the Node for Spotify streaming (hopefyllly Hi-Fi version soon), Online radio and some Hi-Ress listening from my library (FLACs etc). The goal is to connect the RCA out of the Node to the AUX in of the Rotel and let the Node do the DAC work.

Now I am on the boat of which of the two models to choose.

  • First of all, am I gonna see any sound improvement from replacing my current streaming setup (mainly bypassing the internal DAC of the Rotel by taking advantage of the DAC that come with the Node)
  • Secondly, Is it worth it to pull the trigger and get the 2021 model, Node N130? The Node 2i is aprox. 400eur and Node N130 aprox. 540eur. There is a difference of 140euros.

Thank you. Feel free to share any experience with this products.

Regards
 

Nico72

Active Member
If you are not planning to use the DAC in the Rotel, then the Yamaha WXAD 10 will do the job for 1/3 of the price, and it has airplay for your Apple devices.
 

vitalion

Active Member
If you are not planning to use the DAC in the Rotel, then the Yamaha WXAD 10 will do the job for 1/3 of the price, and it has airplay for your Apple devices.
thanks,

Unfortunately does not support Airplay 2 so it cannot be integrated with the Homekit app. Apart from that it looks like a nice device.
 

mseve1

Active Member
  • First of all, am I gonna see any sound improvement from replacing my current streaming setup (mainly bypassing the internal DAC of the Rotel by taking advantage of the DAC that come with the Node)
  • Secondly, Is it worth it to pull the trigger and get the 2021 model, Node N130? The Node 2i is aprox. 400eur and Node N130 aprox. 540eur. There is a difference of 140euros.

In answer to your first point you should experience a slight improvement in sound quality in going from CCA to Node but the biggest improvement would be in ease of use, additional services and gapless playback.

Currently its difficult to say whether the Node 130 is a better buy than the outgoing 2i. The former is reported to have a subtle improvement in sound quality over the latter as well as some useful additions in terms of functionality but suffers from a handful of minor firmware bugs which have yet to be rectified. Assuming that these bugs are fixed within the next few months I would say that the Node 130 is worth the additional cost over the 2i.
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
In answer to your first point you should experience a slight improvement in sound quality in going from CCA to Node but the biggest improvement would be in ease of use, additional services and gapless playback.

Currently its difficult to say whether the Node 130 is a better buy than the outgoing 2i. The former is reported to have a subtle improvement in sound quality over the latter as well as some useful additions in terms of functionality but suffers from a handful of minor firmware bugs which have yet to be rectified. Assuming that these bugs are fixed within the next few months I would say that the Node 130 is worth the additional cost over the 2i.

Surely that sounds quality all depends on the DAC in the Rotel vs the Bluesound, as the CCA was only used to transport the sound. It could potentially make it worse?
 

mseve1

Active Member
Surely that sounds quality all depends on the DAC in the Rotel vs the Bluesound, as the CCA was only used to transport the sound. It could potentially make it worse?
Potentially yes, depending on your preference of the sound signature of the two DACs but I would be very surprised if the line output of the Node didn't sound much better than your existing set up.
 

Nico72

Active Member
I would be very surprised if the line output of the Node didn't sound much better than your existing set up.
There is nothing wrong with either the CCA as a casting device, or the RA-12 as a DAC. Have you listened to both solutions in a direct comparison to substantiate your statement?
 

vitalion

Active Member
One of the main reasons that drives me to this upgrade is the functionality and integration of this device, the Node, with apples eco system (homekit, siri, homepods etc.)

So far I am satisfied with the sound quality of the RA-12 to be honest but there is always much room for improvement.
 

mseve1

Active Member
There is nothing wrong with either the CCA as a casting device, or the RA-12 as a DAC. Have you listened to both solutions in a direct comparison to substantiate your statement?

Note that I said :-

"I would be very surprised if the line output of the Node didn't sound much better than your existing set up

Only the OP can confirm whether this speculation stands up in the context his own system/environment but, personally, I much prefer the Node 2i DAC to the onboard DACs of several amplifiers I have listened to in the sub £1k range.
 

Tonycv51

Active Member
If the primary driver is airplay multiroom isn't apple tv 3rd gen airplay 2 compliant? If so just replace chromecast with it via optical. If primary driver is to treat yourself to a super DAC then is the other kit up to the standard of the Node DAC so will you notice the difference?
 

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