Digital front end upgrade options

Hey everyone,

want to get some opinions and advice as to what may be the best upgrade path for my system.

my digital front end is currently lacking quite a bit. It’s my primary playback out of pure convenience. I currently stream tidal and qobuz through a MacBook Pro into a dragonfly cobalt. I would like to invest into a dedicated streamer. I have been looking at two units that are in different leagues. The first option would be the bluesound node 2i (more budget option) and the second would be a lumin u2 mini. So with that being said if I went with the cheaper option of the bluesound node 2i would I see any real sonic improvements over my current setup? Or would I be better suited to just pony up for the more expensive lumin u2 mini? And if I went with the u2 mini would the sonic improvements be significant over my dragonfly cobalt? I would like to think either option would be a significant upgrade but unfortunately I don’t have the option to test gear to find out for myself. Hoping to get a little insight here. Thank you all!



Not sure what you’re ultimately working up to but please keep in mind that the Node 2i has a built in dac and the U2 Mini is a transport (no dac). So considering these two devices alone the purchase of the Lumin would likely leave you shopping for an additional dac (you didn’t mention anything about the other components in your system).

As for the U2 Mini- I purchased one a year ago and have not had any complaints. I stream Qobuz and Spotify and while I still prefer ripped CD’s from my Naim source the Mini definitely outperforms my MacBook Pro.

Mr. .45 ACP….Lumin U1 Mini is a pure streamer. You would need a DAC and going from U1 Mini into your AQ cobalt would be a potential waste of resources.
If you like a one box solution, some of the options include, Lumin D2, HiFi Rose, Ever Solo (see Steve Huff’s review on YouTube), iFi Neo and your aforementioned cheaper option of Bluesound Node among others.
Alternative would be to get a decent DAC, i.e a Chord Qutest and continue using your your macbook but the mac isn’t that good as a streamer. If you’re looking for convenience and don’t want to spend a lot, the Bluesound Node is your ticket


Oh ,my mistake I guess I meant to say the lumin D2. I would definitely prefer a one box solution. As for the bluesound node 2i I know I would be paying for the convenience aspect of things, but going from my current set up to a bluesound node would that be all I was paying for? Or should I expect a sonic improvement as well? If I was looking convenience as well as a sonic performance gain should I just spend the extra cash and look at getting the lumin d2?

thank you for the feedback


The Link is a model I recently discovered through being demo'd it in use, as part of a system I had heard for the first time.

The DAC in the link was also used in comparisons with another DAC during the above demo' period.

This is the first SS DAC I have encountered that I would happily own and feel very confident in the choice made.

I also believe it is a multi-function device, so can be exploited for the further usage options that are offered.

At the price in the Link, I do not know any SS DAC that will surpass it.

I would even suggest 2-3 Times the price seen in the link, is where monies will need to be parted with, if the perception is to be discovered something better is being used.

Why the Node 2i and not the current (2021) version of the Node (N130), or the tenth anniversary Node X with an improved DAC and headphone amp? If you have a deal on a NOS Node to try out or to use just as a streamer, go for it. However, I’d be a little leery of buying a used Node. (I have several and I like them a lot, but they are built to a price point and have, I suspect, a limited life like many of today’s lower priced electronics).





If you are looking for a significant upgrade in sound quality, I think you might be underwhelmed with the Node. I have one I use as an emergency spare, it is okay and the user interface is great, but I would put it in the mid-fi category. 

Node will likely be a noticeable improvement over your current setup but the Lumin D2 would be a big step up 

I would use a node as a streamer only.  The interface is stable and easy to use with Qobuz.  I got a used on for not much money and it works great.  I would then buy an separate DAC.  

The Node is serviceable, but not very engaging. 

I had a different experience. I found my Node to be very very engaging. I got a better streamer via a friend who built a nice Roon server and I use that now, but the Node was quite wonderful, especially since I sent the digital out to a good separate DAC.

If I had not upgraded from the Node, I'm not sure I would have thought about it very much.

@12many +1

I have the node 2i and have no problem with the streamer but also feel it is best to use a separate DAC.


I don’t have the option to test gear to find out for myself. Hoping to get a little insight here.

You lack the most important tool when building a system.  Living in a local without dealers, or in a country where returns are not allowed makes things tough.  

Innuos has a HD with Roon end point ,

budget for dac ?  A decent Ethernet hub  the SW8;is very good for under $600

i out a synergistic purple fuse  for sure helps ,and a decent aftermarket power cord.

There is a power supply upgrade available for the node that helps improve the performance. I have one in my second system and I’m quite pleased with it. I can’t say how it compares to the Lumin but for the price it’s pretty amazing.

James 1911,

I would not buy a Node 2i, it is several years old technology. If you are considering Bluesound (the interface is amazingly easy to use), look for the Node 130 at $599 (3rd gen) or the Node X at $799 (4th gen). You can improve the Node 130 with a linear power supply (LHY LPS kit $279), and it is a very good combo.

I have no experience with the Lumin, but will certainly be looking at their options when I upgrade my streaming setup. I do have a friend who is testing an Eversolo DMP-A6 which is getting good reviews, and a great price at $899

Agreed on the above, Node 130 with better power supply and external DAC is a major improvement. That said, Lumin was a major step up as it should be for the price delta.

I use a Node for streaming into a great DAC as I thought the Node DAC didn't sound very good at all. My DAC for that is a Schiit Bifrost 2/64 (upgraded).

Go with Lumin and you will never look back.  I started with the D2 then upgraded to the T2.  Very happy with both purchases.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.



  you will definitely note an improvement with either streamer that you are considering, primarily because the DAC in either will be a huge upgrade.  So you could just buy a DAC and keep using the computer as a source.  I think that you may be happiest with a dedicated streamer-DAC combination, as ease of use seems to be important, but if you like using the computer from a purely sonic perspective the biggest need that you have is for a decent DAC


I bought an open box Node N130 and over time I upgraded the power supply and the DAC. I’m still very happy with the sound.

All the best.

I would take the big step up.  I always felt if you take the smaller step up, you will second-guess yourself at some point and then take another step up.

@christianb5s4 christianb5s4

Agreed on the above, Node 130 with better power supply and external DAC is a major improvement. That said, Lumin was a major step up as it should be for the price delta.

I'm curious if you compared just the streamer in the Node (to an external DAC, and with the better power) supply to the Lumin. I have a Node with an external LPS and I'm sending it to an external DAC.

If you have compared, what qualities, specifically, make the Lumin better? Any thoughts?

I specifically went from the Node 130 with PD Creative PSU into a Denafrips terminator plus to a Lumin U1 with X1 PSU same DAC.


Everything was better to my ears from bass, Soundstage, separation, mids, noise floor, etc. As it should be for 10x the price.