MQA - USB only?
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dermott

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Recently acquired a Bluesound Node 2i and wanted to take full advantage of MQA files from Tidal. I have an older DAC (Yulong DA8, first generation) so looking at maybe something updated. It seems like the newer DACs that offer MQA decoding only do so if being feed via USB input. The Node 2i does not have USB output, so am I out of luck?

Also, am I really missing that much with the Yulong DA8? I see all the talk about R2R, Ladder, Mutlibit DACs that don’t deal with MQA anyways that might be a good option if I am looking for simply better sound on all music, not just MQA. My chain now is Tidal, ripped CDs and some Spotify streamed through the Bluesound Node 2i > Yulong DA8 > THX AAA 789 > Audeze LCD-2 (pre-Fazor)
 
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XeNoNF50

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Only way you are going to get full MQA with that equipment is going bluesound node 2i RCA straight to thx aaa 789.

I have bluesound node 2i and I've forgone full MQA to use coax out to smsl m200 > smsl sp200 > focal stellia which obviously won't do full MQA and it sounds better even on MQA files than going straight from node 2i to sp200.
 
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dermott

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Only way you are going to get full MQA with that equipment is going bluesound node 2i RCA straight to thx aaa 789.

I have bluesound node 2i and I've forgone full MQA to use coax out to smsl m200 > smsl sp200 > focal stellia which obviously won't do full MQA and it sounds better even on MQA files than going straight from node 2i to sp200.
Just like you, I found that the sound coming from my DAC was better than the internal DAC of the Node 2i and opted for the coax output. The DA8 is an older implementation of ESS Sabre 9018 that I think still sounds pretty good. Even though this was said to be a warmer/smoother implementation of a Sabre DAC for its time, I was just wondering how more modern DACs would compare. I'm looking for a relaxed sound, and just want to know what I can do to get there. Looking at where you put your money, I can tell where you think where you get your best mileage, but I like the sound of my old LCD-2s. At the end of the day, maybe fully decoded/unfolded MQA is not all that important when it comes to ultimate enjoyment(?)
 
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gimmeheadroom

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Recently acquired a Bluesound Node 2i and wanted to take full advantage of MQA files from Tidal. I have an older DAC (Yulong DA8, first generation) so looking at maybe something updated. It seems like the newer DACs that offer MQA decoding only do so if being feed via USB input. The Node 2i does not have USB output, so am I out of luck?

Also, am I really missing that much with the Yulong DA8? I see all the talk about R2R, Ladder, Mutlibit DACs that don’t deal with MQA anyways that might be a good option if I am looking for simply better sound on all music, not just MQA. My chain now is Tidal, ripped CDs and some Spotify streamed through the Bluesound Node 2i > Yulong DA8 > THX AAA 789 > Audeze LCD-2 (pre-Fazor)
What's the point of using the DA8 instead of the DAC in the node 2i? I see several guys talking about this but to me it makes no sense. I use the node 2i analog out to an integrated amp. You can do the same with your headamp.

In general, the less crap in the signal chain the better off you are.
 
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dermott

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What's the point of using the DA8 instead of the DAC in the node 2i?
Because, to me it sounds better. I have tried the analog out but it lacked the clarity and dynamics I get through my DAC. Is it a level matching thing? Maybe, but to me it just sounds better.
In general, the less crap in the signal chain the better off you are.
Intellectually, I get that the more you add to the chain, the better chance you have of adding something that may degrade the sound. However, I just want to trust my ears, and to me it sounds better with the external DAC in the chain. This is why I am wonding if a different DAC could make it even better. Ideally, it would also include MQA, but I am starting to see the limitations there.
 
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gimmeheadroom

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Because, to me it sounds better. I have tried the analog out but it lacked the clarity and dynamics I get through my DAC. Is it a level matching thing? Maybe, but to me it just sounds better.

Intellectually, I get that the more you add to the chain, the better chance you have of adding something that may degrade the sound. However, I just want to trust my ears, and to me it sounds better with the external DAC in the chain. This is why I am wonding if a different DAC could make it even better. Ideally, it would also include MQA, but I am starting to see the limitations there.
If you set the node 2i to line out (non adjustable volume) then that's the best quality you will get from analog out. There should not be an audible difference between DACs.

One of the reasons I bought the node 2i was because of MQA support. It turns out I really like the UI and I think the software is done very well. If I wasn't happy with the sound quality I'd get another streamer. I can't see giving up MQA and using a secondary DAC.
 
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XeNoNF50

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If you set the node 2i to line out (non adjustable volume) then that's the best quality you will get from analog out. There should not be an audible difference between DACs.

One of the reasons I bought the node 2i was because of MQA support. It turns out I really like the UI and I think the software is done very well. If I wasn't happy with the sound quality I'd get another streamer. I can't see giving up MQA and using a secondary DAC.
So tried Node 2i RCA out to SP200 and coax out to M200 DAC with XLR out to SP200. There's a switch on the amp going RCA input to XLR input so could instantly A/B test sound by flicking the switch. It 'felt' like the sound through the DAC was the ever so slight bit more dynamic but in all honesty there was no real tangible audible/sonic difference. You are right there is probably no point in adding a DAC while using the Node 2i.
 
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dermott

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If you set the node 2i to line out (non adjustable volume) then that's the best quality you will get from analog out. There should not be an audible difference between DACs.
I had some time this weekend to play around a bit and took my external DAC out of the equation. Made sure my settings were as you suggested here just running analog straight to my THX AAA 789. Then I went through and listened to regular and MQA versions of the same songs from Tidal. I have to say, the differences between some of the redbook vs MQA is not that earth shattering to my ears. The MQA versions usually have a more natural/relaxed sound to them, but I was expecting more. I still can remember hearing the SACD of Billy Joel The Stranger for the first time and my mind was blown. Nothing I have heard in 24/192, MQA, whatever has come close since. Just for fun, I swapped out the 789 for my Schiit Jotumheim, and found that right mow I am digging the way that amp sounds over the 789! I have been listening to the 789 for about 6 months but of late I have grown fatigued by it. At first I appreciated the clarity of it, but lately I am finding find the sound anxious. Switching back to the Jotunheim was much more relaxed and to my current liking. The sound was not as detailed and had a flatter soundstage, but deeper (or maybe less in my head/claustrophobic). I then put my DAC back into the mix and some (but not all) of the detail came back that I was hearing with the 789. If there is really no difference to be heard between 2 DACs, why are there so many to choose from? Is anyone who thinks they can hear a difference from one DAC to the next suffering from placebo effect?
 
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gimmeheadroom

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There are probably subtle differences between DACs but the analog section has more influence. It is not just the DAC but the power supply and everything all the way to the final analog output. At the higher price ranges you're paying for build quality, features, support, and other stuff including buying a name brand. There is also the synergy between the power amp and speakers or headphones. It's hard to isolate the DAC to compare directly between one and the other.
 
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