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Bluesound Node Replacement (DAC + Streamer + Preamp that delivers full volume)

Pixelhead

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I recently acquired a set of Ohm Walsh 2000 speakers which are being driven by a Buckeye amp that is based on Hypex NC502MP module that's 350w/ch @ 8ohms, 500w/ch @ 4ohms and I have been unable to achieve satisfactory volume levels. The speaker manufacturer recommends a 40-200/ch watts amp for these 6Ω 88 dB speakers. I'm assuming the amp is up to the job and it's just the source that's not putting out enough juice.

My music source is a Bluesound Node (not the 2i... the most recent), which is also serving as a preamp. It seems that it is not putting out the same level of signal that a true preamp would deliver and would be best supplemented with an active preamp? When the volume is at full, it is loud-ish, but by no means excessive. I wish I could go about 25% louder when watching movies and for some music.

My sources are my TV via HDMI ARC for movies (driving just two channels), Spotify and music from my phone via Apple Play 2.

So, I'm wondering what you'd suggest for obtaining higher volume levels without breaking the bank. Are DACs that claim to have variable output not able to replace a preamp volume-wise? Should I replace the Bluesound Node with an Airport Express gen 2 that is compatible with Airplay 2 and an offers an digital optical out and hook that to a DAC such as the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 and connect the digital out from my TV to the same unit. Can it achieve true pre-amp level outputs to the amp? Or maybe a Marantz NA6006 which supports airplay 2 and use the digital outs of my TV.

I don't want to spend more than $1k on the DAC/Streamer/Preamp that must support Airplay 2 (although I can obtain an Airport Express gen 2 for about $35 which would give me Airport 2 with optical digital out)

Advice? What do I need to consider?
 

Jim Matthews

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Chromatischism

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Pixelhead

Pixelhead

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Your amp reaches rated power at less than 2v, so you should be able to summon all the glory of NCore (and possibly blow the Ohm Walsh) with it. Unless I'm missing something?

It could be your music source/player.
HDMI ARC leaves much to be desired volume-wise and Airplay 2 is just a little better. I do not need to limit my volume level at all... just crank it to 100% and wish it could go much higher. I would assume with this amp that I would have to limit my volume level, but that is not the case at all.
 

Chromatischism

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HDMI ARC leaves much to be desired volume-wise and Airplay 2 is just a little better. I do not need to limit my volume level at all... just crank it to 100% and wish it could go much higher. I would assume with this amp that I would have to limit my volume level, but that is not the case at all.
I don't think it's the amp at all. Your amp has the potential to damage the Ohms if used at high power for a period of time. Ohm recommends 200w max. I think your hearing would give up before you got there. Have another source to try?
 
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Pixelhead

Pixelhead

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I don't think it's the amp at all. Your amp has the potential to damage the Ohms if used at high power for a period of time. Ohm recommends 200w max. I think your hearing would give up before you got there. Have another source to try?
Both ARC and Airplay 2 both do not deliver sufficient volume. I walked to the president of the speaker manufacturer who said this amp would not be overkill and that more power is better. So, I'm assuming the amp and speakers are fine... might see if I can borrow an active preamp from a friend to add... but I got a bluesound because folks said it did not need a preamp.
 

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Both ARC and Airplay 2 both do not deliver sufficient volume. I walked to the president of the speaker manufacturer who said this amp would not be overkill and that more power is better. So, I'm assuming the amp and speakers are fine... might see if I can borrow an active preamp from a friend to add... but I got a bluesound because folks said it did not need a preamp.
As a happy Node owner, it would never have occurred to me to use it without a preamp. Then again, I come from an earlier, more primitive time.
 
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Pixelhead

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As a happy Node owner, it would never have occurred to me to use it without a preamp. Then again, I come from an earlier, more primitive time.
What specifically would cause you to think you need a preamp if it claims to offer variable output? I had inquired earlier about using it as a preamp and had multiple people indicate that its variable output could substitute for a preamp as long as I did not need source switching.
 

MaxBuck

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What specifically would cause you to think you need a preamp if it claims to offer variable output? I had inquired earlier about using it as a preamp and had multiple people indicate that its variable output could substitute for a preamp as long as I did not need source switching.
As I am a relic from an earlier, quaint age, I saw the streamer as a component not much different from a tape deck or CD player. As such, I anticipated the need to preamplify before the signal entered the power amp.

Such are the thought processes of old people. I don't expect you whippersnappers to understand.

Get off my lawn!
 
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Pixelhead

Pixelhead

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As I am a relic from an earlier, quaint age, I saw the streamer as a component not much different from a tape deck or CD player. As such, I anticipated the need to preamplify before the signal entered the power amp.

Such are the thought processes of old people. I don't expect you whippersnappers to understand.

Get off my lawn!
I totally understand. If you had not inquired about using it as a variable output device that could replace a preamp, then you'd assume it to the the same as a CD player or tape deck. I totally get that.
 

Chromatischism

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Both ARC and Airplay 2 both do not deliver sufficient volume. I walked to the president of the speaker manufacturer who said this amp would not be overkill and that more power is better. So, I'm assuming the amp and speakers are fine... might see if I can borrow an active preamp from a friend to add... but I got a bluesound because folks said it did not need a preamp.
Do you have another HDMI device like a Chromecast you could try? Or anything else? A PC via USB?
 

ivayvr

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I used both Node 2 and 2i both as a source and as a pre amp. The most powerful amp I ever had connected to it was 50W (Rega Brio current model) and never was even close to need the full volume. I also used it with Adam A5X active, permanently set up at 12 o'clock (should be about half of their max volume) and never was even close to the max volume of the Node. Could it be that you accidentally activated the volume limiter that is available within audio settings? I am always using it set up to -12 to -15dB to prevent damage to the speakers.
 
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Pixelhead

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I also used it with Adam A5X active, permanently set up at 12 o'clock (should be about half of their max volume) and never was even close to the max volume of the Node. Could it be that you accidentally activated the volume limiter that is available within audio settings? I am always using it set up to -12 to -15dB to prevent damage to the speakers.
I've got the limiter set to full range. I'm investigating the HDMI in from my TV and am going to swap out everything for a Denon AV Receiver that I have to see if that fixes things. If it does, then I'll work my way backward until I discover the true source of the issue.
 

HARMAN

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i try bluesound as preamp its sound lifeless,like you took all the fun from the amp:oops:
 

nstzya

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I’ve used the Node 2i and the new Node quite effectively as a preamp and without the issue you describe. My guess would have been the volume limiter, but you seem to be aware of it. The other possibility I can think of is if you are using any bass or treble adjustment. If you do, it automatically drops your level to allow for up adjustments. Older albums are often recorded at much lower absolute levels, but I still have not ever had to go anywhere near 100% volume to get ear splitting levels. I have not used HDMI however. Only online streaming as source.
 
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Hagan66

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I used both Node 2 and 2i both as a source and as a pre amp. The most powerful amp I ever had connected to it was 50W (Rega Brio current model) and never was even close to need the full volume. I also used it with Adam A5X active, permanently set up at 12 o'clock (should be about half of their max volume) and never was even close to the max volume of the Node. Could it be that you accidentally activated the volume limiter that is available within audio settings? I am always using it set up to -12 to -15dB to prevent damage to the speakers.
Similar experience here. I have a Node 2i going into a 25w rated Arcam Solo Mini amp/CD player feeding KEF q150 speakers via QED XT 25 speaker cable The volume is very loud with amp set to no more than 75% of max vol.
 

cheapsoundguy

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I recently acquired a set of Ohm Walsh 2000 speakers which are being driven by a Buckeye amp that is based on Hypex NC502MP module that's 350w/ch @ 8ohms, 500w/ch @ 4ohms and I have been unable to achieve satisfactory volume levels. The speaker manufacturer recommends a 40-200/ch watts amp for these 6Ω 88 dB speakers. I'm assuming the amp is up to the job and it's just the source that's not putting out enough juice.

My music source is a Bluesound Node (not the 2i... the most recent), which is also serving as a preamp. It seems that it is not putting out the same level of signal that a true preamp would deliver and would be best supplemented with an active preamp? When the volume is at full, it is loud-ish, but by no means excessive. I wish I could go about 25% louder when watching movies and for some music.

My sources are my TV via HDMI ARC for movies (driving just two channels), Spotify and music from my phone via Apple Play 2.

So, I'm wondering what you'd suggest for obtaining higher volume levels without breaking the bank. Are DACs that claim to have variable output not able to replace a preamp volume-wise? Should I replace the Bluesound Node with an Airport Express gen 2 that is compatible with Airplay 2 and an offers an digital optical out and hook that to a DAC such as the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 and connect the digital out from my TV to the same unit. Can it achieve true pre-amp level outputs to the amp? Or maybe a Marantz NA6006 which supports airplay 2 and use the digital outs of my TV.

I don't want to spend more than $1k on the DAC/Streamer/Preamp that must support Airplay 2 (although I can obtain an Airport Express gen 2 for about $35 which would give me Airport 2 with optical digital out)

Advice? What do I need to consider?
As a streamer/controller the Node is quite good. Ive had one for a few weeks. The new patch from two days ago also enables USB OUT. However, the Node has fairly poor ratings on the DAC side.

I use an SMSL M400 as the DAC in front of the Amps. Works great and gets super loud.

The DAC connects via either USB or Coax. Both works great.
 

nstzya

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@Pixelhead

I’m curious if you have sorted out the original volume problem. It sounds as if your source(s) are all secondary - TV ARC HDMI or iPhone as player via Airplay2. Please don’t take this as patronizing - because I’ve done this myself… Could the volume just need turned up on your iPhone?

To get around source related issues, I would suggest trying the Node as the player/source - perhaps using Spotify Connect? Or alternatively, Radio Paradise in the “Music Services“ section is a nice “free“ internet radio service. Has MQA based stations that will allow you to try out MQA as well. See how the volume issue does with the Node as a source. It should have more than enough output to drive the Hypex.
 
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