I’m now drawing up a shortlist of options to update my UnitiQute 2 digital source in the New Year. One option is the Bluesound Node N130, mainly due to the reputation of the OS. I have searched the forum, but wondered about a couple of specific points I couldn’t find reference to…
Local streaming. Having some 1500 ripped (with dbPoweramp) CDs and high res files stored on my Mac mini, I’m just curious how effective the Bluesound “Network Share” approach is to reading stored FLAC files? Specifically when compared to the Naim App reading UPnP (which I find to be very fast, all album art present etc). Any issues with the Bluesound App - missing files, dropouts, absent album art etc?
DAC. It seems the Node’s internal DAC is the weak point and wondered just how good it can sound when used as a transport with a decent off board DAC - especially when compared to the latest Naim streamers (specifically an NDX2 that’s within my budget)?
Bluesound App vs Naim App - usability and responsiveness?
I know a dealer comparison is the best bet, but, I don’t have a local dealer who has all the items on dem, and more than likely I’ll be looking at ex-dem / used.
So first off, I though I’d call out to all experienced Bluesound Node users who’ve used one alongside a Naim streamer. Also, other streamer candidates worth considering? I just don’t want the faff of a Raspberry Pi, so that’s out!
Once again: the Node as a digital streaming option only is not worth the money, except when you value the BluOS above its sound quality shortcomings.
Two problems with the node:
its internal power supply is relatively noisy and it bleeds a lot of that (electrical) noise to its digital out.
the clock cristal used is even for this price class underperforming. With a SPDIF connection (which you use for a Naim streamer), the clock of the DAC in the Naim locks on to the clock of the streamer, the Node in this case, and then suddenly the quality of the clock crystal becomes the weakest link. A very audible weakest link. Same is true for the WiiM Pro.
I second the Primare NP5 Prisma. It is a good streamer, in the same price class. The Cambridge MXN10 is digital out cleaner than the BlueSound Node, so that’s another price class appropriate alternative.
Both MXN10 and Primare NP5 can be upgraded with a better power supply, which in both cases elevates the performance level.
The Primare is a better quality streamer than the MXN10, but its weakest link is the Prisma app. Primare has still not rolled out the Tidal and Qobuz integration in the Prisma app and it starts to become embarrassing.
It works alternatively with Roon, Audirvana or the JPlay app.
The new Cambridge app is functionally good and streamlined.
@Neilb1906 Yes, I’ve used the search forum (first paragraph), but unless I missed something when skim reading the posts I looked through, couldn’t find reference to BSN’s Network Share, which is my main concern as opposed the Node’s features list.
@Sinewave & @jmtennapel Very interesting and helpful, was not aware of the Primare, so will take a look in more detail, but if the App is compromised, then that is half the user experience in my opinion, so it could be a non starter, but I’ll have a look online.
I think the NDX2 is looking the obvious and likeliest candidate, although I’m not against a first gen NDX either, as I see the streamer as a convenient CD player in some ways. Even a 272 & NAP could be a alternative as well.
Yes, correct, should have made that clearer. The UnitiQute will be removed from the current set up and used in a new system located in the kitchen & dining room, possibly with a NAP100 as well, and speakers to be decided, prob my mothballed Monitor Audio R252s initially.
The new streamer will be used with my Nait2, or even something else, such as a Supernait2 for better synergy - and a remote control!
The app isn’t compromised. The comment regarding Tidal and Qobuz integration is not really a problem, as Tidal and Qobuz can be streamed using Chromecast. I stream to NP5/ndac using Qobuz app/Chromecast, it sounds very good.
Plus, as you’re steaming from a local library, none of this is relevant.
As well as local streaming, I’ll also be streaming from one of the big providers too, but undecided as to which - I’ll do the trials and see which one I prefer, but I would guess Apple Music is going to be up there as I use a Mac, iPads and iPhone.
Why would you want that? Besides Airplay, there is no support for Apple Music on streamers, except when you buy one that runs a modified Android platform on which you can install the Apple Music app. FiiO and Eversolo create those streamers.
If you want hassle free streaming, either choose Qobuz or Tidal and simply not diverge from that.
(ps: you know your UniQute 2 support Tidal, right? )
I was using a Node as my first foray into streaming with a 500 system. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised. It responded well to each and every upgrade I made, Ndac then EE8, then Ethernet cables and finally a 555DR power supply on the Ndac. I use a Core for my stored CD collection and the Node could access these easily. Only trouble is the art work. The Node can’t see the art work on the Core and it stores them all in one folders in the BluOS app, so it’s a bit of a scroll when you want something. If I used the SPDIF connection I could see the artwork using the Naim app.
Other than that I thought it was a great little device for the money.
Hi @YetiZone there have been many topics on this recently, several of which I happened to contribute to with @ratrat and even one I started myself
So there are a thousand options unlocked when you search for “innous zen” and/or “budget streamer” and/or “mac mini” and catch up on about six long recent threads.
My take away: With the Nait2, and a large collection of ripped CDs, the Innous Zen Mini (plus PSU) would replace the whole shebang of streamer, dac, ripper, internal storage of the Mac Mini in the same shoebox form factor as the Nait2.
Just no reliable Apple Airplay interface and no Spotify Direct with the Innous. You could add a NAD CS1 connect box (sounds nice actually) into the Innous’ dac just for that.
There are simply so many possibilities, also Cyrus has a new line of shoebox streamers.
If you just want a wonderful streamer with the Nait2 consider a pre-loved ND5 XS2 at 1/3 off list price for a clean solution. Use some mass storage device to hold your ripped CDs. As per advice of @ChrisSU in another thread, when in the Naim app “ignore the USB input icon and look in the Server input under Local Music where you will find the same music files with the option to browse metadata and see artwork.”
Note that it is only with the XS3 that I needed more than what a bare ND5 XS2 brings. So I’m now adding a Naim nDAC with DC1 cable (have the first, still waiting for the latter) by forum advice. Don’t get me wrong it’s a lovely machine on its own, especially when you hear the alternatives at that price point. It’s just that I’m generally more happy with a source-first system.
Finally for your third (?) system idea, don’t forget the DAC-V1 it is enormous fun! Since you like the Nait2 you’ll like that one as well. It will make the Unitiqute2 quite redundant though, you could again get something like the NAD (for the Spotify/Apple) or a Cambridge MXN10, or yes a NODE even, for less than what the UQ will sell for. Out into indeed a NAP100 or active speakers.
Alternatively, just get a pre-loved Uniti Atom, different sound than the UQ but all-in-one and up-to-date, and now easy to find used.
More fun projects to keep your mind of the coming major construction work in your house
I’d never even considered a dedicated server as I have such a faithful workhorse with my Mac mini, Asset UPnP and the Naim UQ2 that I thought it would mirroring what I already have, but just in a different form? I’ll certainly be researching that option tomorrow so I’m more informed as to the benefits, as it’s something I know nothing about.
Rather frazzled now, so with the aid of caffeine in the morning I’ll dive deeper down the rabbit hole
Like you, I found the Node to be a good streamer. The included DAC is not state of the art, but not far behind the DACs in the Atom and other Naim devices – quite useable in other words – and easy to replace. I also found that the Node does not play nice with the Core. Much of the artwork does not appear in the BlueOS app for the Node, and a few files are inexplicably missing entirely. I think this is mostly down to how the Core stores files in the two folders it uses. Workarounds appear to be, moving all the rips into the downloads folder, but that is lots of work. The other workaround is to connect the Core to the DAC using a coax cable. I tend to prefer the Naim app more than the BlueOS app.
Just keep things balanced. I’ve seen people have setups here that make no sense at all and that thrown away a lot of money without getting close to realising the capabilities of the components they bought.
OK, I’ve done my homework and read through the super thread started by @ratrat , so a huge thanks for sharing that experience, especially going though the process of setting up and all of the comparisons, ranging from the Zen in different systems, DAC use, and cable choices. Incredibly informative!
So in a nutshell, an Innuos Zen Mini3 could potentially replace my Mac mini, UPnP Asset streaming software and the external CD ripper I currently use. This set up is the heart of my CD library and works pretty efficiently.
Mac server advantages…
Autonomy over my CD rips and metadata editing with dbPoweramp.
Autonomy over the choice and ability to edit album art (important) in Photoshop.
The Mac also performs other duties as well as being a dedicated server.
Time Machine back ups.
Mac server disadvantages …
The computer is a high noise environment for reading music files, so potentially degrading the signal.
Asset - Music replay dependent on the availability and update of the UPnP software - no Asset UPnP, no music database. Asset is fiddly to configure in terms of the browse tree - I’m still not a hundred percent happy with it. The icons were crudely designed so I redid them from scratch (I really shouldn’t have to).
It’s a faff keeping track of music folders, rips and album artwork.
I do need a new Mac, (New Year) and would have to spec a large-ish HD for music file storage (I prefer internal storage to a NAS).
Questions (excuse their naivety, this is all new!) …
Podcasts: What would be the best way to listen to podcasts with the Innuos? I listen to a lot of podcasts on my UQ2 using the Apple Podcasts App, sent to the UQ2 via Bluetooth. Sound quality is not a priority, but I still want this facility, either via Airplay (CD quality?), or lossy BT. This is a deal breaker.
What has been done internally to make the Zen quieter than the Mac mini in terms RFI noise?
How would a Naim streamer fit in with a Zen compared to using the Mac as server?
Would the Zen be just mirroring what I already have in some ways?