Best Dac for Bluesound Node under 1k that will make a difference

Was thinking Schiit Bitfrost, any better than that under 1k that will make an improvement on the Node.

In my humble opinion, the Denafrips Ares II by a long shot. I started with that DAC but moved up to the bigger PONTUS II, but the Ares is fantastic

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Thanks, how is the usb input on that?

I am running a NUC into my DAC now. Works the same on the Ares (via USB)

Easy. The SMSL D-6s. It’s only $199, and it’s the best sounding DAC I’ve heard to date under $1.7k. I know that sounds difficult to believe, but I’m confident that you won’t be disappointed as long as the features meet your needs.

DAC technology changes fast, and the D-6s is one of the latest offerings from SMSL, a company known to aggressively crank out new DACs.

So this would be better than the Node dac?, the price worries me

Why if I might ask?

Usually you get what u pay for

The main function of a DAC is not a topic anymore. It has reached it’s sonic limits a long time ago. With SINAD’s over 120dB you can get a DAC under 200$ that probably outperforms every DAC ever made in sonic performance. You pay for features and shiny weighted boxes. “Audiophools” are so strong in their beliefs, that they don’t acknowledge science. I’m 44 years of age and I believe, that I have a more than average trained hearing (I have a degree in soundengeering and has worked with music production, mastering and mixing when I was younger.). As of now my upper freq range I can hear consistently is around 13K Hz. Please look at all the audiophile “experts” average age. They are properly closer to 70 than 40. At that age their hearing is most probably very poor at its best (compared to the sonic spectrum we can hear as humans in our prime). Their wallets on the other hand is not :slight_smile: For most people it would be very hard to admit, that the new 30lbs box that cost more than a good car, has a worse performance than what you can get for 200$.

I would argue that no one can hear any difference in a controlled AXB test. But hey, it’s your money :slight_smile:

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Ok, sound aside, what about build quality for 199? I would think that there would have to be some corners cut to sell at that price. And the unit may not last very long at all. Do I want to pay 199 every year to replace it or just buy something upfront that costs a little more that has a better build quality? I lean towards the second option. Sound aside
But, sound not aside, I have some doubts that it will sound better than the Node dac, which is my goal

Of course. Aftersales support, build quality, features and maybe longevity. But what should go wrong? A DAC just converts a signal from digital to analog. It’s not exactly black magic or voodoo.

If you know anyone that has an “expensive” DAC, or maybe could loan a DAC from your local dealer, then try to see if there’s any audible difference. You could go RCA out of your Node into your amp, and digital out of the Node into the DAC and into your amp (I asume you can use both outputs simultaneously). It should be easy to volume match and switch quickly. I’d bet you can’t hear any difference at all. The hifi blackhole is very deep, and when you first start to think “what if…” then you either have to prepare yourself for an everlasting endless pit to showel your money into or show some discipline and rationale and settle with “this is good enough for me”.

I’d get this DAC if I had your needs (and I doubt that you really have an audible “problem” in your setup).

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I did see this review. But like you said, probably won’t hear a difference anyway from the Node dac.
Still thinking. And yes I do already have a dac in a second system that I can experiment with

Try that first. It’s also a lot cheaper to settle with what you already got :slight_smile:
My guesstimation would be, that <95% of audiophiles would get way way more audible improvements spending 2K worth of acoustic treatment than 2K on a DAC.

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Not in the audio world. You get what you pay for up to some point, and then you get into audiophile products where you get worse performance for 10x more money…

In this case though, Node is a full-blown streamer, SMSL is just a DAC.

With that, Node’s DAC is not technically very good, and SMSL is, but it would be quite difficult to really tell them apart. There are DACs that sound “different” (usually, very expensive, too) but that’s the vendor going for some special house sound; they are not actually accurate.DACs designed to be accurate have sounded very similar for decades now (bleatings from audiophile reviewers who would not hear anything above 10KHz notwithstanding).

As @TSX mentions, doing room treatment (and also digital room correction) would bring far more improvement in sound quality than replacing a DAC.

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