It is quite common to use an external DAC instead of the one already built into the high-res music streamer such as the Bluesound Node 2i. There are plenty of reasons to do so and the improvement in sound quality you get is the most encouraging. Everyone has their own preference in sound quality, you might want to take some time to note down what are the sonic traits which you don’t like about the Bluesound Node 2i.
You should also jot down the improvements you like to hear and need from an external DAC. It could be higher resolution support and/or wider soundstage projection etc. There are times it could be the other parts of your sound system that require an upgrade. For instance, your speakers may be the ones causing the less than stellar sound quality but if Bluesound Node 2i is the latest addition to your sound system then most likely the music streamer would be the culprit.
Before we start listing out the best DACs to partner up with the Bluesound Node 2i, let us learn more about the sonic characteristics of this award-winning high-resolution music streamer.
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Sonic Characteristics of Bluesound Node 2i
We may have mentioned having a wider soundstage as an improvement when looking for an external DAC to match with the Bluesound Node 2i, but this music streamer certainly doesn’t need it. The Bluesound Node 2i is more than capable of projecting a spacious and airy soundstage with ample space between individual musicians. This is coupled with amazing stereo imaging and separation which complements the wide soundstage of the Node 2i really well. Giving us a precise and focused musical performance.
The music presentation is rich with details as it is been delivered onto the open soundstage, showing off the warm midrange reproductions. The low-ends have just the right weight and can pack a good punch. Bluesound Node 2i has a sense of enthusiasm but is not up to the level of other award-winning HiFi devices. It is also not as calm as others which may not be ideal for listeners who prefer a relaxing music listening experience. The Node 2i is still considered a lively music streamer and doesn’t sound dull throughout the playthroughs.
Subtle nuances are clearly produced too and it is impressive for a music streamer of this price point. It doesn’t sound cold and the Bluesound Node 2i brings out the musicality of our favorite tunes. The music handling is good and it could handle most music genres without sounding muddled or in disarray. The Bluesound Node 2i is accurate but doesn’t really deliver a completely faithful music presentation as it adds a bit of its own sound signature. This is also part of its charm though.
We will be listing out some of the best external DACs that you can choose to pick up and match with your Bluesound Node 2i. Do take a look at them below.
Best External DACs for Bluesound Node 2i
The Topping D50s is a solid external DAC choice for Bluesound Node 2i. Firstly, the D50s support a higher resolution of 32-bit/768kHz. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0 LDAC transmission. These two features are considerable upgrades over the Node 2i music streamer. More importantly, is the level of insights and transparency that the Topping D50s has. It is able to unveil a massive amount of music details and deliver them with clarity, partly thanks to its polished and quiet background.
The Gieseler Kompakt might not look much but it is actually one of the very best DACs on the market. This is a high-end DAC made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship such as the custom Japanese-made solid aluminum case. The Gieseler Kompakt is a top choice for audiophiles who want high sound quality and is certainly a worthy match with your Bluesound Node 2i. The price point of the Kompakt DAC is on the high side and is not suitable for listeners who have a tight budget.
If you prefer a portable DAC which is easy to carry around then the Chord Mojo will be an exceptional choice for you. Like the Bluesound Node 2i, the Chord Mojo also possesses award-winning sonic performance but is capable of producing slightly more subtle music details and has wider dynamics. The enthusiasm of the Chord Mojo DAC brings out the energy and impact of the music. This is ideal for listeners who want a livelier music performance of their favorite tunes with compromising accuracy.
MHDT Labs Pagoda DAC is another solid performer to take over the D/A converter role and will be an excellent partner for the Bluesound Node 2i music streamer. The MHDT Labs Pagoda DAC is tonally richer and has lively highs that don’t sound cringe but instead gave us a more detailed and precise musical instrument decay. The wider dynamics of the Pagoda D/A converter are also a level up over the Bluesound Node 2i. It looks premium and well-built, the aesthetics alone already makes the MHDT Labs Pagoda look really impressive.
This is for listeners who want slightly faster pacing and more insights. The Rega DAC-R is an ideal choice to go for as it could deliver a more exciting music presentation where you will keep tapping your toes or simply start dancing. The Rega DAC-R is a confident and rhythmic performer, it will be a terrific DAC replacement. It is definitely more energetic than the Bluesound Node 2i music streamer and more capable of giving us impactful crescendos. Rega DAC-R unveils plenty of music details to boot.
If you are a headphone enthusiast, the Chord Hugo 2 will be one of the best external DACs to go for and to replace your Bluesound Node 2i as the D/A converter. It also comes with a built-in headphone amplifier. The multi-award-winning transportable DAC will reveal the tiniest of music details. Feed it with a high-resolution source and the Chord Hugo 2 will produce everything. What makes it even more impressive is that the Chord Hugo 2 doesn’t sound clinical at all, instead it is incredibly entertaining to listen to.
The Bluesound Node 2i may have its own built-in DAC but using external DAC devices would improve the sound quality and provide you with a better music listening experience. It does add up the overall cost of your sound system setup and so you might want to work out a budget that you are comfortable with. Do remember to audition the listed DACs first before making the purchase as you will need to find out if you like what you hear. Do take some time to read up about the Bluesound Powernode 2i on our website.