Streaming Curious

I'm a vinyl listener that plays an occasional CD.  Im interested in trying out a streaming service and wonder if the Bluesound Node would be a good testing vehicle for me.  My main objective will be to see if the modern interface is really compelling, but SQ will obviously influence my decision.  I have an Air Tight ATM-300 amp and DeVore O/96 speakers, so I'm concerned it might not show off digital very well...?



I can hear John Cleese saying “And now for something completely different”…

@fburkeen you won’t likely get digital streams to sound just like your vinyl because many (most?) of those files will be drawn from different origins and, in many cases, not even the same master. Add to that the colorations inherent for older vinyl masters and it can become an either-or scenario. FWIW I think all the albums I heard as original production master reels (1960s-1980s) played on original Stüder production decks probably sounded better than any vinyl OR digital setup could muster 😉


The likeliest way to get sound indistinguishable from your turntable is to digitize your vinyl and play it from file storage. Streamed files can sound different from many/most (all?) of your albums because those tracks are different in specs from the “same” tracks on your albums, at least marginally and perhaps dramatically. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is a factor not best adjusted by one streamer model over another because streamer functions simply are not demonstrated to address such variables.


The suggestion by @ellajeanelle seems to me most inline with your present interest: use a computer you already have and are familiar with to trial multiple software and multiple streaming platforms instead of marrying yourself to one particular inexpensive (or expensive) software-x-hardware option. Multiple streaming platforms probably use many of the same (newer digital) source files, but since most do not state which pressing/master they’re serving you, confirming perceived differences can be a challenge.


What I’m getting at: if you compare several (vinyl) pressings over several decades of, say, a BB King album, you will hear surprisingly different versions. Some of his earliest pressings were on Crown IIRC; very polarized feelings about the QC of that label alone, never mind other labels some represses may be on. Whether or not some of those represses were done fully analogue or digitally would probably influence how you perceive the overall sound, too. And that’s all variation before even considering a fully digitized stream of said album.


You might get more info by trialing different software and services on (general purpose computer) gear you already own, instead of trialing one (software / OS) approach on gear you’d have to buy. If you buy a streamer now, you’re not trialing streaming as much as you’re trialing whether you like one given streamer model x and associated UI in your system.

The Bluesound Node is a good choice of streamer. It is easy to set up and use and has a good app, almost as good as SONOS. It has a decent DAC, but you might want to use a separate DAC and use one of the digital outputs from the Node to a separate DAC. It has a remote and a headphone jack and control LEDs for necessary feedback for setup and updates, although no display. It also has inputs so it can function as a sort of preamp (Peachtree uses it as such for one of its GaN amplifiers). If you are looking for a good DAC to mate with it, the Denefrips Ares 12th or Enyo are good choices or one of the newer S.M.S.L. DACs are good options. (Knowing you are coming from the AirTight-Devore tube and high sensitivity speaker part of the hobby, I can still recommend it.)

I'd like to renew the discussion a bit and focus more on where I'd want to look to get similar SQ to my vinyl setup.

For analog sound, I agree you're going to have to spend more and look a little farther afield. Adding this component makes it no longer an effort to dip your toe in the water to see if you enjoy the streaming experience, and now an effort to replicate the sound characteristics you like given a digital source.

You will need to look at combining a streamer with an analog-sounding DAC (e.g. my Neko Audio D100), or a streamer + DAC that provides that sound character (e.g. the Lumin X1) or that can simulate that sound (e.g. Weiss Roon-Ready DACs with vinyl DSP).

I bought a NIB Bluesound Vault 2i for $700.

It sounds amazing streaming most any service.

The real beauty is that I can store my CD’s on its internal drive as FLAC files or a combination of several other formats.


MSRP of $1399 won’t break the bank. 

Definitely a separate DAC. For about $1,000 a Denafrips Ares 12th, but really would recommend moving up one notch to the Denafrips Pontus II 12th. It punches WAY above it's weight, and for about $1,800 is good enough for a later upgrade to your streamer. I have had one for over 2 years, and adore it. Being an R2R ladder DAC, it is more laid back  and not in your face.....more analog sounding, warm, inviting, vocals fleshed out, really involving.

I also added a Denafrips Iris DDC for about $500, and run I2S to the Pontus II....and that really upped the ante.....several here have done the same.