best SQ improvement DAC under $1000 to pair with Bluesound Node 2i

I found myself streaming more often than analog. Although, I will listen to vinyl occasionally, Streaming has great benefits. I have a Node 2i for 6 months now. Want to improve SQ as closest to analog as possible. Unfortunately, my budget tops at $1000. I would like to ask audiophiles who have the Node 2i which DAC  has given you the best improvement over the Node 2i. 


At a friend’s recommendation I got a Schiit Gungnir Multi bit and it is a very nice sounding DAC. Clear but musical.  I felt it was an improvement over a RME dac I had before that.

My goal for adding an external DAC  is  open soundstage, better melodical definition and clearer instrumentation separation. Not necessarily clinical but more toward tube sound.

I paired my Node2i with a Border Patrol DAC (tube rectified) and it has delivered exactly what you described above.  Musical, great soundstaging and separation, easy to listen to. Base price is $1,075, so a slight reach over budget.

I’ve been more than satisfied, bordering on thrilled. 

I’d recommend the Musician Pegasus R2R DAC.  It’s $1099 but worth the stretch if you can.  Here’s a review in case it helps...