Node 2 vs direct USB

Since my original post, I’ve installed (rather than a MicroRendu) a Bluesound Node 2i. It now is exposed as a Roon-ready endpoint on my network (connected for playback via coax to my Peachtree Nova 150.)

When comparing a good recording (Sgt. Pepper’s MQA) between the Node 2i coax output and the Mac Mini USB output, then to my ears, I’d say the Mac Mini USB playback (with direct connection to Core) sounds a bit better. Slightly better soundstage and bass definition. The difference is analogous, I suppose, to a slightly sharper focus in some areas of a photograph. It’s not as immediately obvious as eliminating redeye or applying a strong warming/cooling filter.
And I’m not absolutely certain there isn’t some apples-to-oranges difference in the two configurations that is confounding my comparision.

In comparing the Node 2i playback through Coax and other Node outputs I’ve tried (A-B testing), I’m not sure I could detect any difference at all. Maybe I’m missing some differences that another listener might notice.

The Node 2i, by the way, is a very slick little device. (Details? Subject for a different thread, maybe.)

I should add that I’m noticing at least one functional difference (apart from SQ) in direct-to-Core playback vs. endpoint playback. Besides the Node 2i, I have one other Bluesound device, a Pulse Flex. When I “group” the Node 2i with the Pulse, sometimes the playback drifts out of sync. For example, if I use the physical control buttons to pause playback on the Flex, then hit “play” on top of the Node 2i, then playback is out-of-sync.

I have never noticed any sync issues at all when grouping direct-to-Core playback with the Flex endpoint playback. Of course, in the latter scenario, there is no second physical device with its own play/pause button.

I believe there is a bluesound grouping problem.