How to improve sound on Node 2i system

I had the sad occasion to finally hook up a CD player to my system, which heretofore has played only streamed music. I use Tidal, through a Node 2i, to a Cambridge CXA60 receiver, to Ohm Walsh 3X0 speakers. I thought it sounded OK, but I didn’t realize how lacking it was until I plugged in a Marantz CD-48 player, using RCA cables. That really brought a lot of sound out of those old speakers! I was thinking an external DAC for the Node might help, and I’ve read a bunch of posts that basically say “meh” to that, but some people do like the Chord Qutest. That’s out of my price range even used, but a Chord Mojo is affordable. It’s for headphones, but could I run it through this system and get any improvement? What about a reasonably priced Topping 90 or 70 or something? thanks.

The 2i’s digital output is more than decent SQ wise, have you tried the amplifier’s digital input (the coaxial one)?

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It didn’t make a difference. Maybe the CD player is especially good? I really only want the streamer to be as good as the CD player. Is that just unrealistic due to the quality of streamed content?

The Marantz CD player is decent but not spectacular. I assume you are streaming at least 16/44 Redbook CD quality?

I was never impressed personally with Bluesound sound quality and tbh I found a $50 Google Chromecast puck bettered my old Vault2i quite handily.

But many say the opposite?

Maybe it’s just the synergy between your equipment is just not happening, might have been my problem too.

With the price of a Topping D50S being about $250 it might be worth trying it, especially from Amazon where you can easily return if not satisfied.

It depends on too many variables to get a straight enough answer. I have a Node in my system (the last version) which plays through the same DAC one of my cd-players uses too and in 90% cases I like the sound from the disc better that its counterpart stream.

You can improve sound by improving the 2i. Junk the power supply, add an external LPSU. Look at spending the same again on the upgrades. Add an external DAC known for its excellent S/PDIF performance. And you will be getting there. The problem will be you lose full MQA if that matters. And you will be spending loads to get there effectively cancelling the reasons most opt for the 2i, it’s affordability. For me I’d move away from it. NAD make some nice gear that keeps you in the BluOS universe if that matters.

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