Upgrade from BluNode 2i with a new DAC or Integrated Streamer DAC?

I have owned the Blue Node 2i for a few years.  I would like to upgrade for ~ $1000 - $2000.  Would you recommend something like the NAD C 658 or a similar priced used piece or just spend the money on a better DAC and stick with the Blue Node as the streamer?  Likewise for the money used vs new.  I have a vintage system with Magnapan 3.1s which are powered by Emotiva XPA Gen 3s and Mark Levinson 26 preamp.  Had to replace the Mark Levinson dual Monos amp a few years ago and refurbished the Maggies.  I’m confused by the jitter issues of connecting two devices which would be either coax or Toslink as a potential negative to just putting the money into the DAC.


Get a new DAC and use the coax out, not Toslink.  Later you can either add an upgraded linear power supply to the Node or get a better streamer for a nice performance improvement.

Thanks.  Your reply seems practical , useful and seems consistent with some other chains with the price limits I have set.  Many of the chains when getting lengthy seem to digress into confusing arrays of nuances as the $$$$ for components goes up.  Given I have 77 year old ears I'm not sure how much more upgrading I will be able to appreciate but I am finding listening fatigue with the Blue Node 2i compared to my vinyl listening.  My old Mark Levinson 26 has it's own seperate power supply.  I understand why that makes a big difference with a pre-amp.  I'm not clear how that would improve either streamers or DACs.  Perhaps it is relative such that the potential for a negative impact of fluctuations from the wall are greater for a pre-amp that the other components.  Would a pre-amp be more sensitive than a DAC and a DAC more sensitive the a streamer?  I ask this noting that some better quality streamer/DAC/pre-amp units like high quality pre-amps include or offer a linear power supply while I don't see the linear power supply being pushed with mid-(under $10K) DACs and mid-priced streamers.  I'm just thinking down the line that a $300 - $500 linear power supply might make the budget, especially if I could conveniently trial it.  If so would you put the LPS into the streamer or the DAC?

Thanks again.

I’m your age and did what you’re thinking about a few years ago. I also sold my vinyl system and now stream exclusively. First, don’t doubt your hearing ability unless your Dr. has told you otherwise. While I know I don’t hear as well as I did when I was younger, I have also found that learning what to listen for has enhanced my listening experience considerably. For your budget, step one as pointed out already will probably be upgrading the DAC and then if budget allows also upgrading the power supply for your Node. Next for me was another DAC upgrade. At that point, I think you’ll find a very nice improvement over what you hear now and for many will be all they need. Whether you go further as I have and many here have will require a much more significant investment. I think a better DAC will also cure much of the listening fatigue you currently experience.

At your price point I’d recommend looking at the Denafrips Pontus II DAC as it will greatly reduce your listening fatigue and provide significant performance benefits across the board. Also, it’s been well documented that adding a LPS to a Node also provides a very worthwhile performance boost so I’d definitely put that on the list for down the road. Last, adding a DDC (like the Denafrips Iris) before the Pontus to take advantage of its i2S input will get you another significant performance boost if you feel like going that far, but at least the option is there. Hope this helps, and best of luck.

More good suggestions from siox.  Coincidently my 2nd DAC was the Pontus II after the Ares II.  I also upgraded the power supply on my Node with a LPS.  Going that route or something similar will be a huge improvement over what you currently are using for streaming. 




Fatigue can come from both streamer and DAC. Your hearing can’t be too bad or you would not be experiencing fatigue. At your investment level there is much to be gained from improvements in both streamer and DAC. 

Upgrades will improve all aspects of sound, so while your hearing may be rolled off at the top there is the rest of the audio spectrum that you can hear. 

Any opinion on the Matrix Audio X Sabre PRO?  How would might it compare to the Denefrips Pontus II.

Even if you have some inevitable hearing impairment at age 77 you still will appreciate upgrades in both streamer and DAC.  

Any opinion on the Matrix Audio X Sabre PRO?  How would might it compare to the Denefrips Pontus II.

These aren’t the specific models you’re asking about, but if you skip to the Comparisons section I think you’ll get a useful glimpse into the differences in house sound between the two.


Sois:  Thanks for that article.  The head to head was helpful.  Ahh, the subtleties of taste highlight how even the engineering of electronics at some point is an art.  The rate of development in that art is more than a bit mind boggling.  While I keep waiting for what’s next, I keep eyeing both the limitations of my bank account as well as the clock on what’s left of my own listening experience which is pushing me to decide.  

From my watching of the Denafrips DAC world, the Venus doesn't pop up on the used market very often and the used prices reflect that.  The Ares and Pontus show up more often with the Pontus II models (and even some of the 12th) beginning to come down in used prices. 

Used fer sure.  A used Pontus with a used Iris DDC would still be in your price range and be pretty killer and is a combo that some even prefer to the Venus.  That’s what I’d do.

Thanks all.  Went for the Pontus II 12th new after all.  The used Matrix Audio X Sabre PRO I was looking at had been through two owners making me wonder if it was somehow less satisfying.  Some other genrally favorable reviews implied that a bit as well.  My Maggies have always highlighted the detail at the expense of dynamics to a degree so I am hoping this will bring out the strength in detail of the old maggies.  No opportunity here to audition in home with my own system.  Also newer technical advancements seem to still be coming along at a brisk pace.  Warranties and a reputable dealership seemed worth the couple of hundred $$ saved going to ebay.  Decent quality shielded power cord, balanced XLRs and and digital RCA connector exhausted the budget for now.  Maybe the Iris or something to clean up power from the wall later.  I am anxious to hear how this one piece changes things.  I really appreciate the input.  Give me some time to break in the DAC and I'll post again in month.