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DAC recommendation to go with Node 2i (D90SE, X26 Pro)

sapkan

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I am looking to improve the sound of my system and from what I read going for an external DAC should give me some improvement over the one in the Node 2i. My amp is Naim XS3 and speakers are Q Acoustics Concept 500. I listen primarily to Tidal and sometimes Spotify. I have grown quite accustomed to the BluOS and want to keep the Node as a streamer. So at this point I am looking for a DAC to sit between the Node and Naim. I have narrowed it down to Topping D90SE and Gustard X26 Pro based on Amir's and Sandu's stellar reviews. Granted the Gustard is quite a bit more expensive but it is also supposed to be sonically superior.

The trouble with my amp is that it does not feature balanced inputs so I would have to use single ended rca. That probably means I will be losing some performance as a result. I read somewhere that using rca on the Topping basically means that you are only using half the DAC. Not sure whether that is true or if the same holds for the Gustard. Also going the Gustard route means I wont be able to enjoy MQA (benefits also debatable) since the Gustard only accepts MQA over USB which the Node 2i cannot dish out. I welcome advice since I am not very technical, I have never owned an external DAC either. I can stretch my budget to the Gustard but not more. Thanks.
 

Pred02

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Has anyone else pired Gustard x16 with Node 2i? The rest or my setup involves Music Fidelity a308 on B&W 7 CDM SE speakers. Source is exclusively streaming Tidal Hifi and Spotify. Thanks
 

AudioJEJ

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I am looking to upgrade my Node 2i DAC as well. Hoping for some input on some of the same concerns.
 

EastConcept

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Hi. I also have Concept 500 speakers with a Node 2i. I use a Chord 2Qute Dac and find I much prefer the sound and performance over the internal Node 2i DAC.

I've never used or heard a Naim XS3, but for an amp of that price and quality I don't think I'd be worrying too much about not having balanced inputs. Firstly I should hope it would be dead silent with it's RCA inputs for the amount you paid for it, and secondly if you buy a DAC with a high quality RCA stage then you should be absolutely fine, especially if you're just using RCA over a shortish length. XLR's become a benefit over longer lengths of cable to my knowledge.
 

DSJR

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Using a Naim amp, not sure you'd 'hear' any difference in a 'better' dac to be brutally honest. Massive can of worms I'm daring to open, but honestly not sure a better performning dac will make any real difference here unless the Naim is to be upgraded for a more modern internal design with greater transparency...





https://www.hifinews.com/content/naim-nait-xs-3-integrated-amplifier-lab-report
 
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