Digital source upgrade needed?

I will be honest. I thought that my system was fairly well balanced, and then you post an innocent reply to a thread and the upgrade bug finds its way in.
I am using the Bluesound Node 2 as a streamer into a Chord Qutest and then 282/250.2/twin HiCap and Dynaudio S40s.
After being warned that the front end was light (which I interpreted as ‘weak’) then what next? I am not in a position to throw big money at it. Could I make significant gains at modest expense?

What’s weak about the front end - the Qutest is a nice bit of kit and certainly not outclassed by the rest of the kit.

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I think that sounds like a well balanced system…and would be hard to improve on…on a budget

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I would imagine that it is the Bluesound Node 2 that is probably under the spotlight. There is a lot of discussion about clock stability and jitter aberrations with streamers. The Node 2 is relatively inexpensive and from the NAD group of companies. Although I am happy with it, I have limited experience with other sources and so I am at risk of living in blissful ignorance! That is why I value the advice of people who have done more experimenting and are able to bring their experience to bear.

I’ve built my system on a source first basis, so running a NDX2 and XPS DR into a SN2. Your a step up with the separate amps, so I think that is where “our man” is coming from and improving the source, you will get much more from the amps. But it’s your system and budget, not anyone else’s.

Your Bluesound Node 2 is excellent especially when you use it with a Qutest. Who told you it wasn’t? I would happily feed Chord Blu2 DAVE from a Bluesound Node 2.

If you want to improve things then Hugo M Scaler before your Qutest will do it, but it ain’t cheap. I doubt you’ll improve your system without spending a fair bit, and what you have is really good in my opinion and nicely balanced.


Ah, this is my doing. For the avoidance of doubt I did not suggest that anything was no good, merely that the front end seemed a bit light. I meant that in terms of cost: a £1,700 front end with a £11,000 amplifier. It just seems unbalanced to me. The Node and the Qutest may be the best things since sliced bread (I have heard neither) but if they are that good I wonder why anyone in their right mind would drop the cash on an NDX2, XPS DR or PS555 DR, which in the Naim catalogue are the components appropriate to the 282/250.


It may of course be down to the presentation that people like, while advances on the digital side of things can mean that price is less of a guide to capability than might otherwise be expected. And then there is the law of diminishing returns…


I am not going to blame HH for anything. Your point is well made. In my defence, I am a purveyor of second hand Naim kit and have reached the 282/250.2 after several trade ins etc. I have never been that conscious of the original value. In my system, I have paid similar amounts for the upgrade to the new components and the second user items. However, when considering original prices, the amplifier is the pick of the bunch!

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So hugo 1 is fine for a 552 but qutest not good for a 282:)

How about a nice dcs bartok?

Your system does not seem unbalanced to me and I do not think that you could make significant gains at modest expense.

But, if you have some time, you could always try! You could easily replace your Node 2 + Qutest with one or another of the suggested upgrades for a test, make up your mind and … report your findings!

I can actually think of many reasons why people do invest in NDX2, XPS DR or PS555 DR to front-end their 282/250 systems! Apart from the fact that the NDX2 is probably a very good source for a 282/250 system, the possibility of making thorough comparisons are often very limited, both for customers and for dealers. Also, I think that we sometimes tend to apply the “source first” principle a bit too simplistically and that, when it comes to streamers and DACs, price is not always a reliable indicator for signal quality. That said, I never tried either the Node, the Qutest or the NDX2 and it is well possible that, as you suspect, the front end of the OP is a bit light. But it does not need to, in my view.

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