Please be gentle with me! 🙏

I am a vinyl diehard and know very little of the streaming world.

My son has just bought his 1st amp and speakers a Leak 230 integrated and some JBL 4312G speakers and is currently streaming his music using an Android phone via the USB C on his phone into the USB B input on the amp, using the built in DAC on the amp. So the question is would something like a Bluesound Node N130 as a straight streamer be an audible improvement to his phone?


Yes.  It’ll sound better both as a streamer and as a DAC so he’ll get improvements on both counts.  He should also be using a quality streaming service like Qobuz or Tidal.  

Yes. It also sets him up into the contemporary world of streaming. Qobuz is the best sounding service with the most high resolution recordings.

In addition this could be the example you need to start mapping out your future audio. While investment must be at least equal into the streaming world (streamer + DAC) to equal the sound quality of vinyl (tt + phonostage). You are freed from severe constraints of vinyl: a tiny library of disks, surface noise, and getting up all the time. It is good to get into this world as soon as possible. Looking back on the fifty years I spent listening to the same few disks (4,000) seems quaint in retrospect.

So I will disagree here.  It depends.  The DAC in the Node may or may not be better than the DAC included in the amp.  And the phone may or may not be better as a digital transport into the DAC.  I was using an LG phone in exactly the same way your son is.  I replaced it with a Node because I didn’t want my phone tethered to my system.  There was no obvious sonic improvement 

Oops.  I misread and thought he was using the DAC in the phone.  Not sure if DAC in the Node would be an improvement or not.  My bad.

What works for me....Fiio M11 DAP, line out Y cable into back of Bel Canto AMP, wired to speakers.....sounds perfect. More details here...

....recently acquired a very nice condition used Bel Canto 300 i class D for the recently added ML Ethos. Have tried and compared 3 three chains...
1. Sony STR da5700ES Pre / Amp only as before...
2. Sony Pre into Bel Canto AMP (Theater Bypass)...
3. Bel Canto Pre / Amp on it;s own.

Not knowing anything different...1 was very enjoyable.

2 improved the top and mids....much cleaner / clearer, better soundstage, depth, lower mids into bass more "fuzzy / whooly" by comparison to 1.

3 initially sounded very bright on top....fatiguing...almost unlistenable on some tracks.

Left Bel Canto on with CD repeat for 100+ hours...

3 now is far better up and down the frequency range including the bass with bass cabinets set at "0". Rocket 33 speaker cables gave a nice boost to mids and tampered down the top just enough.

All the Bluesound Node N130 is a streamer only and he is using the DAC in the Leak, so it's a case of is his phone as good a streamer as say a Bluesound Node N130?

Your son is probably bypassing the internal DAC in the Bluesound , but perhaps not and he may be using the DAC in the Bluesound.  We know for sure he isn’t using the phone DAC, right?

  As to whether the Bluesound is a better digital transport than the phone, see my earlier answer.  The phone may actually be a good transport.  It depends.  Can’t make the answer more basic than that.

  Now, if you upgrade from the Node into better streamers, I am going to feel fairly certain that the phone will come in second place.  The Bluesound is an entry level product, and a well built phone might match it as a transport, but I haven’t seen a phone that will compete with a higher level streamer than the Node

You have flexibility to try either of the dacs. And you can add an external dac down the road. 

Couple things to toy with:

The LEAK has a ES9038Q2M DAC chip and from the reviews they payed close attention to the implementation. I would bet they they are upsampling the source stream. What is his service? Looks like the LEAK also has blue tooth support. Have him switch over to that and compare SQ. Theoretically that should be a step down. But if he can’t discern the blue tooth he may not be able notice the uptick with the  Node either. If he does not have a HiRez service such as Qobuz give that a trial and see if you get a benefit. This all to get a baseline if the system can resolve minor adjustments and its free.

Sounds better and frees up the phone for all other tasks.

The phone becomes a full function remote instead of a crappy source. Even mp3s (which is the best that most phones can play) sound better on a (dedicated) music device.

Streaming ain’t real streaming until you use a streamer. Before that it’s just a wired in computer. Keep it away.

It should sound better yes a streamer streams a phone does a thousand other things that all create digital noise.

He can try a Wiim Pro Plus streamer and DAC for $200 or upgrade a bit and try an Eversolo DMP-A6 streamer and DAC. 

Yes definitely, the N130 is what I started with. It will stream just about everything and the app is pretty good too.  Whenever he upgrades his equipment, he can upgrade his streamer as well. 

Oh and after more than two years, I’m still happily using it.

All the best.

I also have been using my Bluesound for a few years. 
I run it through my Accuphase E-4000. 
I do not have the DAC in the 4000

I might buy one but not sure if it will be that big of an upgrade. 

BTW Keep playing your vinyl it’s ok to get up every 25 minutes or so. 

The Bluesound Node is a great product for the money. Probably for many all they need even running the internal DAC. Doesn’t take much to find a better DAC later and just use the Node for streaming only. If you never compare another DAC to the DAC in the Node you’ll be happy as it does nothing bad or wrong but has its limitations. 

@alan60  depending on your son’s age and/or technical inclinations, many folks use a DIY dedicated device starting with a single board computer (similar or same as those in all off-the-shelf $treamers). There are free operating systems for such a project available online. The reason I bring this up is it’s a great way to kickstart a youngster into a learning x DIY aspect of stereo hobby as opposed to just introducing a new purchase habit, device-wise. 

If he’s too young or the household prefers ready-made, obviously this suggestion can be disregarded 😉

  Lots a accolades for the BS unit.  But I agree with @mahler123 the improvement potential is a crapshoot.

Demo an Auralic Vega 2.2 DAC/streamer…don’t buy it but at least get a reference point.

To answer your question, I feel going with something like a Bluesound Node N130 would offer better sound quality.  On the other hand, if he is Satisfied with his equipment situation and sound coming out of the speakers, I say all is good. Cross that SQ bridge when he gets to it.  It's his money and development into as my girlfriend calls me, "Stereo Lunatic".


Nobody knows what a streamer is or what it can do or can’t  do. What’s the difference between a server and a streamer? Isn’t a streamer a computer running some OS? Or do you call a computer running an OS a server? 

Can a streamer read ripped songs off a local disk? If so, that’s not a streamer is it?

Can a server running Roon access Qobuz/Tidal? Isn’t that a streamers function. If you are going to talk digital get your story straight. Or do what Aurender is starting to do to muck up the waters, they are now calling their boxes streaming server which is basically a computer running an OS, running some software, that can both read local music files and access Qobuz or tidal. Big deal, I’ve been doing this for over a dozen years, it’s nothing new.

I believe the bluesound will be an improvement. I started out with a bluesound node And I think it is an excellent product for the money. decent, sound quality, very reliable and easy to use. The app is simple and user-friendly. 
Good choice for your situation

Actually the Eversolo A6 master series would be a  even better update for around $1200

Thanks for all your input.

Bit of an update, one of the reasons my son bought the Leak 230 was because of its flexibility, he also has a Naim Nait 2 which I bought for him years ago, so in a moment of wisdom as it turns out he decided to try the Naim instead of the Leak.

Low and behold his words to me were, whilst the Leak is better in terms of the hifi nicety's it wasn't as musical or enjoyable to listen to as the Naim, so the Leak is being returned and he has just won an eBay auction for a Bluesound Node N130 with upgraded power supply.

I doubt it.

I don’t know what type of dac i I ordered the blue node and found that it only streamed music that was in my library on my Android using Amazon unlimited music which sounds great and as good as anything else.. (yes I’ve tried others). I found that if I wanted to listen to a song that wasn’t in my library, the Blue Node wouldn’t play it until I saved the song to my library. I am using an older Denon 4308 which has a powerful amplifier section to a pair of Kef R11s. I then hooked up my Fiio K5 pro which is a great headphone amplifier (around $200 and looks like it uses the same DAC as your leak) using k5s pre outs to the Denon, yes I am using a USB from my phone to the Fiio but I felt the Fiio sounded better then the BN. The sound stage was wide deep and layered, and instruments separated. I can tell you I’m not looking for anything better



so does the Naim have a DAC?  If not then he should definitely do Bluesound and not mess with his phone as a DAC.  

   Now, purely as a transport, the phone might still be equal to the Bluesound, but it probably won't be, and it is a moot point now as he has purchased the Bluesound

Post removed 

Bluesound Node 130 with an upgraded LPS is a very good entry level streamer, has a great OS and is very flexible. IMO it will definitely be an upgrade over streaming with a phone......suggest he sign up for Qobuz.

The DAC is the question mark, the one in the Node 130 is certainly better than the ones in the Node 2 and 2i. I started with the internal DAC in the Node 130 for a few months, but now run it with a Denafrips Iris DDC and Denafrips Pontus II DAC. I'd suggest he take the money he saved on the Leak purchase, and buy a Pontus II DAC (which performs WAY above it's price point).....used $1,300 and brand new at Vinshine Audio for $1,800. Read any of the thousands of positive reviews on the Pontus II

I think he will see a significant improvement using the N130 over his phone.  I  think adding a quality dac into the chain will yield even better quality. I'm using a Bluesound Node,  using the digital coax into a PS Audio Directstream DAC.  The  Bluesound has been moded with a TeddyPardo LPS, which made a huge improvement.  Why the Bluesound instead of a more expensive streamer? The OS! I listen to Amazon Music Premium and Idagio.  I  have yet to find any of the higher end streamers that support both of these streaming services.  Innuos says they are working on it,  but don’t yet support it. The other thing that could improve the sound quality significantly is to connect the Bluesound with a quality LAN cable,  and put a filter, like an English Electric EE1,  just before the streamer. 

I have two systems. One has varied front end source options. Vinyl, Cd, streaming,

music storage. I have a Bryston (BDP3) music player with a one TB  storage installed into a Bryston DAC. I can stream music (I have a few services but use mostly Tidal) or I can source a library of downloaded hi rez music residing in the player’s internal SSD storage.

I also have a system comprised of a Naim Unity Atom which is streaming only. A model of simplicity! The Naim has excellent streaming capabilities plus a very good 45w class A/B amplifier, a very good DAC, and drives Amphion One speakers via Kimber 8tc wire.

With Roon I can access the library of downloaded music via an iPad which I use as a controller for the Naim.

I have endless options and have come to prefer streaming which is the most flexible and convenient and best, in terms of sound quality, source.

Streaming requires good wi-fi or optimally, wifi delivered to a player/dac via a CAT wire directly in.

As others have mentioned, Bluesound makes a good product for one to dip their toe in to streaming. I too had started with a BT transceiver and using my phone or iPad as my source but I quickly learned that was a far from optimal solution.

So I got a BS Node2 and started learning. My first lesson was hard wiring from my wifi/Mesh node and making sure the node was far enough away from my rig to not be impacted by the wifi's RF. Then I stepped up to an external DAC, bypassing the internal DAC of the Node2. Eventually I also upgraded the power supply of the Node2, there are several products out there, as my final incremental change.

I've been very happy from the start with the Bluesound product and the beauty is that it can be improved with incremental, and affordable, changes. Someday I might make the leap to a better streamer as there are many out there, but for now this setup suffices.

Happy listening! 

If you want to learn more about the unit and its capabilities and specs, go to Crutchfields website and do a search.  The product is no longer available but all the specs are there.  There's a good video that does a good job explaining its capabilities.

Some good older used DAC around on usaudiomart and tmr for little  < $400 for a next phase.

Wadia 121,Benchmark Dac1,TEAC 501, Moon D-DAC


while your strategy yields sonic improvements, a very modest (in terms of cost) DAC upgrade would yield “significant” sonic uptick. There are many choices.

We look at your entire audio chain and the DAC seems to be the weak link.

FYI- in the last ~10yrs+ digital audio has made significant sonic improvements especially in DACs

@alan60 All I will say now is thank god your son is into audio! We need more young people, assuming your son is young of course.

@alan60 All I will say now is thank god your son is into audio! We need more young people, assuming your son is young of course.

Synonnymous?: "Thank god your son has developed an addiction at an early age"

Hard to say.

A lot will depend on the sound quality of the amp and speakers.  


I have a Bluesound 2I streamer. I love the way it sounds and ease of operation. This is considering you run it through a decent DAC. I ran the optical out to the optical input of a Shiit Byfrost DAC. I like this DAC and it has a nice low end and over all smoothness you will not hear if you don't use a separate DAC. The functionality of Bluesound it tough to beat in its price range.