Streamer/DAC combinations

Looking for opinions on Streamer/DAC combinations.  I am currently using a Node as my streamer and DAC.  Considering upgrading.  The options seem to be endless, so thought I'd solicit some of your opinions.  My node is currently running through a McIntosh C42 Preamp into a McIntosh MC352 Power amp.  Using Klipsh Forte IV's.  The node sounds good, but I think I may be leaving something on the table in SQ.  Not wanting to break the bank so to speak.  Maybe spend in the $2-3K area for budget.  Opinions???


Another option might be to trick out the node with a linear power supply and add a fiber connection (ie transmitter and receiver) right before the ethernet connection to the node. All of this may cost around $250 so it’s a cheap upgrade.

@davegolf2424 You are getting some great advice.  I’ve had quite a few DAC’s and Streamers in my system.  A DAC will have more of an impact on the sound than a streamer.  If you have the opportunity to try different DAC’s, find the DAC you prefer before you change, upgrade your streamer.  There are a lot of great options, especially used in your price range.  There are R2R, FPAG, more traditional DAC’s that will all have different sound signatures.  If you love a DAC being fed by your node as a streamer and you upgrade your streamer it will only enhance what you love about the DAC’s sound.  Transversely, if you upgrade a streamer but you aren’t in love with your current DAC, it’s unlikely the streamer will cause you to fall in love with the DAC.  Synergy is also key between a DAC and streamer, once you have a DAC you love, you want to chose a streamer that maximizes your DAC’s performance.  If you have a balanced DAC that sounds best with AES, you want a streamer that maximizes / prioritizes that output.  Or i2s or USB might be how your DAC will perform at its best, you want a streamer that has these outputs but also paid specific attention in design / implementation on those outputs.

Think about the Streamer / DAC relationship similar to AMP / Speakers.  If you love the sound signature of speakers, when you pair them with the right amp, find that synergy that creates magic, the right AMP amplifiers what you like about the Speakers.  If you aren’t in love with the speakers, unless you have a really big mismatch on the amplification swapping out the Amp isn’t going to take speakers you aren’t a fan of the sound signature on and make you fall in love with them. 

Good Luck,  

I have the Pontus 2 12th with the Iris DDC and it raised the sou d quality significantly. Still use the Lumin U1 mini and connect it to the Iris with a Nordost purple USB connector, which allows for the I2S input into the Pontus. Each addition made the SQ improve incrementally. The Iris was the most significant sound improvement.   Good luck.

Definitely,, upgrade the DAC!! Then,  mod the Node with a LPS ( I used a TeddyPardo,  but there are other brands out there too. ) I'm using a Node 2i,  feeding a PS Audio Directstream DAC Mk1.  I  have a great soundstage,  both wide and deep. Great imaging.  The lps made a significant difference.  The internal dac in the Node is just not the quality you need for your system; it was built to a price point!

You didn't state your budget,  but right now TMR is selling factory inspected PS Audio Directstream DAC Mk1 for $1799, which is a smoking deal!! These are units that people have traded in for the new Mk2 unit.  The Mk1 was $6000 when new,  and the Mk2 is $8000.

Another vote for adding the Teddy Pardo LPS to the node. Well worth the small cost.