Bluesound Node 2i with external DAC query

Am looking into setup to play Tidal MQA and see how it play.

If I have a Bluesound Node 2i and will like to use an external MQA DAC like Dac Magic 200M. I should connect Node 2i Coax Digital Out to the DAC’s coax in, I will then obtain fl MQA unfold, correct?


I don’t believe MQA decode will work via non auSB connected or LAN connected DAC or streamers. Roon/tidal might decode to the Bluesound but after that I think you might need a way to have the BS recognize if the dac is MQA capable and that requires USB at least I think.

Yes, it looks like as most MQA DAC I check do not specifically said they could render MQA on coax in.

Looks like only the Gustard X16 indicates it could. Cant find whether CA DacMagic 200 can.

I have a Bluesound Node. There are 3 ways to process MQA with a Bluesound Node

(1) Use the internal Cirrus Logic DAC and analog out. Node will perform the both MQA unfolds internally and decode MQA content up to 24/192
(2) Use a non-MQA DAC connected to Node’s Coax out. Node will do the first MQA unfold and output up to 24/96 to the DAC. The 2nd MQA unfold is not done.
(3) Use a MQA DAC connected to Node’s Coax out. If you have the option “MQA External DAC” set to “Yes” in the Node configuration, it will pass the unprocessed MQA stream from source (eg Tidal) to the external DAC to perform both MQA unfolds to get up to 24/192

Bluesound MQA

Personally, I find the Node’s Cirrus Logic DAC sweet and mellow and that is my preference. I have connected a ESS-based DAC to the Node and it is too clinical in comparison. An AKM-based DAC I connected was more mellow than the ESS-based, but in the end I am very happy with the internal DAC.

As far as I am concerned, the 2nd MQA unfold makes zero difference compared to the DAC signature, so unless you really want to see the MQA light come on a DAC, just get the best sounding DAC to you regardless of whether it decodes MQA.

The best sound I have gotten is Audivarna on a Mac decoding MQA and driving a DAC via USB

Thanks for the clear info. I have a better understanding now.

Just updating that I finally got the Node 2i, now connecting to the Denon 8500 via Optical and Analogue RCA.

Not really satisfy. Today, have the opportunity to have it connected to a loaned unit of Yamaha S1200 and Legacy Audio PowerBloc and, at least to me, sound better.

Also, testing out Roon and certainly loved the interface. Sound wise, guess MQA works mostly for me but there are tracks that I prefer non MQA version. LOL

With node 2i, is tidal app being used to playback mqa or BluOS app?

Both can be used.

Tidal via Tidal Connect.

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When you said not satisfying are you comparing Node 2i to the Denon 8500 HEOS playing Tidal?

If you have some downloaded FLAC files that you have either ripped from CD or converted to 24/96 using the Bluesound utility from higher formats like DSD, you can put them on a USB Stick and play them directly on the Bluesound. You should be able to put the USB stick into the 8500 and A/B between the two DACs

If you are after the ultimate sound quality, do a trial of Audirvana. Audirvana should be able to play Tidal MQA to your Denon 8500 if you configure the latter as a upnp server. I find the sound quality of Audirvana the sweetest of the lot even though both Roon and it are supposed to be “bit perfect”. Unless you are looking for the multi room features of Roon, Audirvana is much cheaper. Unfortunately, while the Bluesound can be a Roon endpoint, it doesn’t do upnp

It doesn’t do upnp? How abt DLNA? Sorry all these noob q. Thanks

As far as I know Bluesound can only be an endpoint for Roon. Can’t send music to it directly in any other way although as wcseow says Tidal connect does work. Bluesound can access a DLNA server to play music though through its app.

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  1. Yes, am comparing the Node 2i to Denon HEOS. Source is from a USB SSD drive connected to Denon and Node 2i. Music files is ripped from CD but not upsample. FLAC 44.1K. Using Foopower to rip.

  2. Yesterday, we also connected the 8500 pre-out to S1200 and PowerBloc and play the Node 2i through the Denon. Music files play are all through Tidal /Roon. To me, I prefer the Denon to be bypass. Not sure why there is a difference. Nothing scientific, just my ears LOL.

  3. That being side, it is a preference of one connection over the other and not implying Denon connection sounds bad. We are doing the different scenerios purely from the standpoint of whether to go separates for stereo totally or via Denon AVR. At the end of day, decided to try with the Yamaha and see how since I remember liking Yamaha AVR sound way way back

Audirvana, I believe, needs Windows/MacOs, both I wanted to avoid. I am PC/Mac less. Looking at Roon probably both to the interface, multi end point and also it can run ROCK on Intel NUC.

I think at the end of day, for dedicated listening, I will still go with CD player. For casual, then will go with Tidal or FLAC files. To me, so far, Is till very much the CD route. LOL

Yes, one nice thing about Denon is the ability to connected audiophile quality amp to preouts, possibly to drive a dedicated music speaker.

I do agree that Roon ROCK + NUC would be excellent solution, but if you want completely fuss free, then Roon Nucleus would be really completely maintenance free. Not affordable for me.

Roon is definitely the better solution overall, but in terms of pure sound quality, many people on the Internet find Audirvana better for pure audio quality. There is a free one month trial so if you think CD is worth the trouble over digital, then quality is what you are after, then might want to try Audirvana. Agree don’t use Windows for a music server. I find Audirvana on a Mac very fuss free after setup. Mac is hidden away and completely controlled by Audirvana remote control on iPhone much like Roon setup.

Ya, Nucleus is too ex, especially one can get it much cheaper with a NUC and 3rd party fanless chassis . But too much work for me, LOL…will probably go with a NUC and placed it outside of the room if fan gets irritating

You have installed Audirvana on a headless MAC?..if so maybe a Mac Mini M1 will work?


I have it installed on a dedicated old MacBook Air, which is tucked away in a closet in my bedroom. There is a USB cable snaking out to a DAC that I use with headphones in bed. Mainly Tidal and ripped SACD DSD files. Otherwise, it broadcasts to my receiver in the living room through the LAN and my Panasonic UB820 UHD player (which has a decent AKM DAC) in the HT room. All controlled by iPhone app. If I really need to fiddle with something on the Mac, I can connect to it using Screen Sharing from another Mac. Audirvana doesn’t need too much horsepower unless say, you are oversampling 44Khz to the maximum of your DAC or some other compute intensive task. M1 Mac is cheap, but overkill.

Since there is a free trial, I just think everyone should just listen and see if Audirvana sounds better with their equipment. Not everyone hears a difference, but I do.

Separately, for the HT enthusiast who has a musical setup, try 5.1 music DSD files ripped from multichannel SACD. I play them from a SD card attached to my Panasonic UB820 (Audirvana doesn’t understand those files).

Thanks. I have a UB820 too. I guess it played off your mac via DLNA.

Lol…I dont have any Windows or Mac for a number of years now. Going back to McOS will ok but not Windows.

I borrowed the Windows laptop from my daughter to test out Roon. Will try Audirvana with that. For the eventual implementation, will like to go for appliance like. That’s why looking at NUC/ ROCK. Need to get a new device , so maybe a mac mini m1 which can cater for both Roon Server and Audirvana.:grin:

Just install Audirvana on Windows 10.

I see it can be “streamed” to my UB820 and Denon AVR via LAN. Roon to Denon is via Airplay

Ya, User Interface not as flashy as Roon but initial listening with Denon seems better.

Will try out more.

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