Building my first hi-fi setup looking for advice

A Node 2 and the Onkyo A-9010 amplifier ticks all boxes and still well under a 1.000 euros

That looks like a very interesting combination. I am on the fence between the Powernode 2 and a Node 2 + amplifier. The Vault 2 looks awesome and I’d dive right to it if it could be used as the Roon core, but it looks like that is not possible.

Indeed, Bluesound has no devices that can serve as a roon core

BTW is that a Yes painting on you wall?

Yes it is! It’s a poster signed by Mr. Steve Howe, Alan White, Billy Sherwood, Geoff Downes and Davison on their Fragile & Drama tour.

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I think I’m gonna go with the Bluesound Powernode 2! They give a 30-day testing period so I’ll test it directly at home. Thanks for all the advice and I’ll let you know how it goes!

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The Bluesound Powernode. 2 has Toslink optical in. So if your TV can output that you “should” be able to get sound from the TV to the stereo. You may have to play with tV settings so it only puts out stereo and not some sort of Dolby encoding.

You can’t ask for a better situation than testing at home.

I used to have a NAD D 7050 (when it first came out some years ago now), with similar tech to the Powernode 2 (Blusound and NAD are sister companies).

The NAD packed a punch, despite it’s low power rating (NAD are famous for that).

The Powernode 2 packs even more power and features. Looking forward to your impressions!

I think you’ll really like it :slight_smile:

Mmmm, my TV has an optical output… I used to connect it through optical to a soundbar. @Bob_Fairbairn1, Do you think the Toslink may have compatibility issues? The TV is at least 6 years old.

I will tweak around with the TV adjustments, though I am not too concerned about that. The goal is to have sound quality when I play music and I’ll be happy improving the TV sound by getting it to the speakers. I don’t think I’ll spend too much time optimizing the TV side.

Your comments make me very optimistic @dabassgoesboomboom! I am going to wait a little bit to order because I’m going to be travelling to Dallas for a week and I don’t want to lose one week of the 30-days period time. Although hopefully I will be very satisfied and don’t have to resort to a return! So excited!

No problem!

The Node 2 option (and using it’s DAC, i.e. analogue outputs) opens up a long list of possible integrated amps.

Since the Node 2 would be both the Roon Ready networked endpoint and the DAC (and have the same optical input for your TV), your integrated amp would just have to be a ‘typical’ one, with no digital inputs required, hence almost unlimited options.

Then you would have a ‘2 box solution’.

That can be another option if the all-in-one Powernode 2 doesn’t impress, for whatever reason.

One example of a combination I’ve actually heard before (although not with Roon):

A Node 2 + Marantz PM6006 integrated amp

This Marantz even has a built in DAC, with optical inputs and a digital coax input. So you could use a digital coax cable from your Node 2 to the Marantz, or use the Node 2’s DAC. Options are nice.

I believe altogether that combination is 1100 euros total but you could probably get it for 1000 euros from the one shop, with some haggling :slight_smile:

If you went with the Allo DigiOne streamer I recommended earlier, you would just feed the Marantz a digital signal (via digital coax cable) and that would come under 800 euros total !

I really do not know. If you go with the power node you can test with an in-expensive optical cable. Bluesound ships the adapter in the box.

Thank you for the Marantz recommendations @dabassgoesboomboom. On a quick look, I see I could get the Marantz for 569€, which would make a total of 1.118€ with the Bluesound Node 2. A little above my budget, but I will research that Marantz and I could make the effort if I’m convinced.

I would love to hear opinions from all of you on whether to get this in two pieces (i.e. Node 2 + Marantz or some other amp) vs getting a one-box solution (i.e. Powernode 2), especially with views of slowly improving my hifi system over the years.

Hi, If you want to stay under €1000 but still have great stuff and the convinience that you dont get when streaming from you laptop i would suggest to complement your speakers with:

  1. Bluesound node (new is around €550).
  2. A used Linn LK140 power amp. You should be able to find a good one for around €400.

Thats realy all you need. The bluesound has an excellent dac built in. The Linn amp is absolutely excellent for the money and the build quality is super. This will be a great setup for a long time and in my opinion the best value for money. I have it myself in my kitchen and its musical and fun.

May I suggest a Rega Brio-R (second hand), a wonderful little amp with oomph and musicality that belies its stature. I prefer to keep my components separate as opposed to built in DACs and the like so you can upgrade smaller components bit by bit as you fall deeper into your hi-fi addiction :wink:

  • Rega Brio-R (eBay - seen them go for 350 euros on auction) [https://www.whathifi.com/rega/brio-r/review]
  • Pro-Ject PreBox S2 DAC (new 350 euros)
  • Allo USBridge (new - 155 euros)
  • NUC5i5 (ebay, with SSD and RAM - got mine for £200)

For about 1100 euros and you get your core running away from your MacBook. Full MQA through Roon to PreBox (with Tidal), or reliable DSD128 upsampling with the NUC5i5.

Either way, also great suggestions above and you have a healthy budget for a great system. Good luck!

I would work backward. The Dali speakers have a good reputation and will probably stay in your system for a long time. I would also look for a good power amp. If you are brave, audition the Lab Gruppen E series pro audio amps. These are high quality class D amplifiers used in audio installations. We have one coming for lobby sound at church. The cost is modest but they have top marks for neutral voicing. I don’t know that they will image with the best but they are durable, long lived and should sound good.

Everything from there forward will be changing with time. I’m on my 3rd set of source components and second preamp, a Parasound P5 with built in DAC. The P5 drives a GAS Ampzilla and Dhalquist DQ-10s. These last 2 are 40 years old and still going strong (I got lucky to buy 2 classic components).

I recommend Parasound amplifiers and preamps. These are perhaps the best value out there. John Curl does the critical parts of the audio design with the in-house engineers doing the control circuitry and digital bits using the best stuff out there. Only the high end presumes have a built in DAC but the P5 DAC is available as a separate for $500 US or so. Cambridge Audio and OPPO Digital are good alternatives. I also have a Cambridge DACmagic in a second system.

All 3 companies use the same model of designing in the US or UK and manufacturing in Taiwan. Taiwan manages to put together an audio component, enclosure, power supply, and all for less than the parts cost in the US. Supply chain magic happens over there. Search YouTube on John Curl talk to learn more. Parasound founder and John talk about the industry and Parasound philosophy.

There are a few issues for consideration:

For different components:

  1. If you indend to evolve and change gear, different pieces of gear will allow you to change the weakest link step by step.
  2. In the (unlikely) case something breaks down, you only need to replace the broken component (usually cheaper than the complete one-box solution)
  3. In case of (2), it’s also easy to lend a component from a friend or dealer while the other is under repair.

For one-box solution:
Aesthetics. Forget all the techno talk and acronyms, the only thing that counts is WAF, which stands for Wife Acceptance Factor. In many (am I allowed to say most?) cases a partner does not like too much stuff in the living room. They then urge or demand a system with a small or no footprint. This is not a bad thing, nowadays many good solutions exist, unlike 2-3 decades ago, but it costs a bit.

In ALL cases, if you already know you want to evolve further, considering buying second hand is a serious option.
(As already suggested before, I endorse that)
When you buy at a dealership, they also have some warrenty and service in case things go wrong, so you have limited risk.
And you don’t write off too much.

(FYI: my first set (1982) and first serious set (1987), both with a multitude of your budget, I bought new.
Now I only consider buying second hand.)

Sorry to put a link to a retailer, but here is an article about building a stereo system. I actually think it is reasonable way to explain it. https://www.planetofsoundonline.com/pages/how-to-build-a-good-system

You have started with a good set of speakers. Great start.

Next find a good amplifier. I have had simple amps with external DAC’s, others with internal DAC’s. All sounded pretty good. External DAC’s are easier to upgrade! NAD and Yamaha make nice neutral sounding amplifiers. Marantz also has some nice simple integrated amps. Lots of choices both new and used.

Next sources: for a Roon setup, the RaspPi/DigiOne solutions are really good and really simple.

Most importantly, enjoy it and the music!

I’ve had great fun putting together my 3 Raspberry Pi streamers (one with Hi Fi Berry, one with Hi Fi Berry Digi and one with IQ Audio hats) but realize it isn’t for everyone. The suggested NAD looks like a good working out of the box option. With Blue Tooth capability you probably wouldn’t need Air Play, unless you’re doing something besides listen to music with it. Unless you’re into good old fashioned over the air radio, probably an integrated amp rather than a receiver is the way to go. You should probably check your speaker’s efficiency, usually specified as dB at one meter per watt, against the amp’s power output but unless you have a huge room and/or are into ear splitting levels a mismatch in that area is rare these days.

Bottom line is I too recommend the NAD even though I’ve neither seen nor heard it. You can probably take it back if it too doesn’t work out.

Hello guys,

I am sorry that I disappeared from my own thread for almost a week! It’s been a crazy week at work. But I have had time now to read all your answers carefully.

I must admit that I am a little overwhelmed, which is a good thing: when I first posted a was immensely overwhelmed! I am very grateful to all of you for that.

I am still seriously considering the Bluesound Powernode 2, but the option of moving my core to a NUC still sounds tempting. @Anthony_Bristol suggests a very interesting setup: one that is fairly complex to me, but one I can wrap my head around.

That being said, my Roon trial period is almost over and, since it may take a while for me to figure things out, I am going to cancel my subscription before I get billed. Once I have some equipment, I’ll come back. My original plan was to test other options like Audirvana, but I’m so in love with Roon that I’ll probably skip that and purchase the Roon annual membership.

Thank you for your amazing advice and see you soon!

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