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NAD Wireless USB DAC 2 Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 1.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 3 1.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 56 29.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 131 67.9%

  • Total voters
    193

Raindog123

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Is that "still" the concensus?

“Consensus” is a big word. :)

I think the “state of the affairs” is that scientifically/engineering folks generally do think so. And [rather scarce] properly executed listening sessions confirm it… While the claims — just like yours, no offense :) — of “I [am convinced I] hear that “dynamic” (“veil lifting”, “stage widening”, …) difference keep coming with regularity. To my personal observation, these latter ones either fail to pass a true blind-test comparison when such comparison is actually attempted… or, much more often, they never bother to conduct such a test but rather stay with the “but I can clearly hear it [and unlike you fools I am not affected by (unaware of? :) ) the sighted bias], so who you are you to tell me otherwise!?” attitude.

So, at the end it’s all back to our individual personal beliefs.
 
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srkbear

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I am curious...i was on this board perhaps 5 or 6 years ago and haven't really been active in the hobby in between. At the time, it was the concensus of these forums at the time that "all dacs sound the same", and that any differences we hear are just in our head. Is that "still" the concensus? I may be a minority, but it has always been my belief that different dacs sound different (provided all in "green sinad")? I figured if that was just the concensus, i was just going to sell all my dacs and just use the internal dac in my avr, since it got relatively good reviews. But for shitz and giggles i bought another D90 dac, because i remember when it came out (about when i took a break from the hobby), it was the latest and greatest and getting lots of rave reviews. Anyway, i hooked it up just to my PC and a cheap stereo setup and to my ears it sounds amazing...If i had to use a single word to describe i would say "dynamic".
Anyway, just curious as to any input regarding if all dacs sound the same.
All DACs do not sound the same. The point is is that if they’re doing their job properly, they should. Their purpose is to convert a digital sample of an analog audio master recording back to its original state as faithfully as possible. So the sound we should be aspiring towards on the other end is the way it sounded before it was sampled.

DACs differ in their ability to do exactly that. Those that fail will add varying amounts of unwanted errors, in the form of distortion and noise. But if you’re asking whether they can affect analog characteristics such as tonality, soundstage, bass slam, musicality, etc, then the answer is no. Those colorations are left to the characteristics of your amplifier, headphones/speakers, or the addition of whatever DSPs/ASPs you so choose.
 
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PeteL

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My apologies in advance if English is not your primary language, in which case I’ll feel terrible indeed. But I honestly haven’t a clue what to make of what you just wrote, what you’re attempting to argue, how to parse out your stream of run-on sentences, how to interpret your punctuation cues, or why you’re taking me to task over this issue. At all.

I do know that your assessment of Roon (something about it offering no content?) and your calculations of its cost make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. The cost to benefit ratio for Roon has got to be one of the most sensible slam dunks on the planet.

I was able to decode one sentence in there though, pretty clearly—namely the one in which you offer praise and satisfaction with your BlueSound Node, which by every imaginable assessment criterion (including Amir’s review), is nothing more than an exorbitantly overpriced box of junk. Full stop. It represents the case study in mass market rip-offs, a feloniously-priced toy that truly represents a tragic nadir in the category of streamers.

You have raised so many confusing issues with my post, all of which I’m unable to resolve with the straightforward arguments I tried to convey. However, ad hominems be damned—If you’re satisfied with a device that can’t handle the transmission of a simple digital audio data stream without dropping its SINAD just shy of 16 bit resolution, and you’re willing to pay four to five times the cost of a device such as an RPI that handily can, then I’m afraid that you and I are in this hobby with vastly different expectations. I don’t feel strongly enough about my OP to explain it again or to even defend it—so I’m going to acquiesce to your position here and call it a day. So long…
When used with an other DAC, the Node is perfectly transparent and Indeed, it does do what I need from a network streamer. Sorry for the punctuation and the lack of clarity. What I mean is: My needs, are different than your needs, are different than the need of those who are in the market for these NAD wireless DACs. If I don't need multi rooms, don't need DSD512, all that is worth exactly zero for me. A multi rooms system cost multiple times the cost of this product. Your Zen streamer combined with your main dac is already "multiple" times this product, and you are mentioning numerous end points and a 120 bucks a year player. Simple maths, you need more, cost you more, you don't need that, you don't pay for that. That you find the Node a piece of junk and Roon the deal of the century, ok, they are just opinions, you're allowed to have yours, mines differs.

As an aside, my Node is the very first gen from 2013, It still receive all updates to firmware, player and OS and full instant compatibility with all streaming services versions. I doubt a PI that old would still support the modern distributions needed.
 
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sarumbear

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My point was about questioning the value of such product, Based on the benefits you find in your use case of being a Roon Owner, I don't get that. Yes Room is 10$ a month, that's enormous for a software that don't give you any content with it, that have all the dev cost paid for years ago. That cost zip to deliver and to "make". That is in fact simply outrageous, no less.
Room does deliver content, in the shape of meta data. To many that is worth as much as the music. Here is how they explain it.

Roon models your metadata in an object graph. This means that there are a set of objects--such as albums, tracks, performers, performances, compositions, labels, roles, periods, forms, and so on. Each object has attributes of their own, and links to other objects.

Most software designed for managing music files does not work anything like this. Generally, they represent music by treating each track as a set of key-value pairs, and building a set of views on top of that data. For example, the album view in iTunes is essentially a view of tracks that has been "grouped" by the values of the artist and album tags. The "spreadsheet" model for looking at tracks is frequently seen with this approach. Each of the "keys" represents a possible column, and columns support sorting and filtering.
 

PeteL

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Room does deliver content, in the shape of meta data. To many that is worth as much as the music. Here is how they explain it.
OK, I did not want to make this thread about Roon. Not so sure how all that works. So more search and sort option correct? I don't read this as Roon giving you extra "metadata" content, what I read is that they have maybe better algorithm to manage it, maybe, sounds like marketing to me. Does the Tidal interface give more data on the music I listen to on Tidal? That's most of my listening, along with CDs and LPs. I use mini DSP for EQ. I am quite convinced Roon don't have much to add to my music enjoyment. This did not convinced me. If one desire this I am not to say one should not buy that, it's OK.
 

sarumbear

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OK, I did not want to make this thread about Roon. Not so sure how all that works. So more search and sort option correct? I don't read this as Roon giving you extra "metadata" content, what I read is that they have maybe better algorithm to manage it, maybe, sounds like marketing to me. Does the Tidal interface give more data on the music I listen to on Tidal? That's most of my listening, along with CDs and LPs. I use mini DSP for EQ. I am quite convinced Roon don't have much to add to my music enjoyment. This did not convinced me. If one desire this I am not to say one should not buy that, it's OK.
May I suggest you learn about a product before dissing it in public? After all, they offer a test drive...
 

pseudoid

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...your use case of being a Roon Owner, I don't get that. Yes Room is 10$ a month,...
I was not aware that you had to pay Roon subscription by the Room...:facepalm:
 

srkbear

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I was not aware that you had to pay Roon subscription by the Room...:facepalm:
Not to perseverate on the Roon topic, but I think the reference to me being a Roon “owner” might imply that some folks confuse owning a Roon Nucleus with using Roon software. I don’t own a Nucleus and don’t need one. I pay $9.99 a month to run a tiny server process on my iMac desktop, which has more than enough computational power with its M1 chip and 16gb of RAM. And instead of a Nucleus I use a 4TB SSD attached via Thunderbolt containing around 5,000 FLAC or DSF files, plus my entire libraries from Tidal and Qobuz available via integrated streaming.

I’m able to tune my headphones via an exceptional software PEQ, usually based on Oratory’s Harman curves, and transmit any combination of songs in my library to around 12 endpoints, all with the same monthly fee. I get access to extensive metadata—the DNR of my files, lyrics, album artwork, artist bios and album reviews, and curated selections of new music based on my listening choices.

Roon has evolved substantially over the years, and although I’ve tried Audirvana and HQPlayer, I think Roon is astonishingly cheap and the most satisfying, full-featured audiophile solution available on the market—which is why I made the statement that it renders this nice little NAD product obsolete, and that it offers far more functionality at a comparable cost. If I had a Nucleus, the cost-advantage calculations would be different—my claim was made on the assumption that most folks have an available PC or Mac already available to function as a Core.
 

abrown

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In full disclosure, I run The Audio Factory website. There is 3 units left in Canada and 3 units left in the US then they are discontinued for anyone interested.

US Stock is sold out. 2 Left in Canada then discontinued. If the last two sell out in Canada, I will drop a 15% off discount for everyone in this forum sitewide (Valid until end of June).
 

pseudoid

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CD data rate is less than 1.5Mbps,
Problem is that the 'data' is sent in packetized form and reconstructed from many of the packets possibly taking different network paths to arrive at the destination and then it is 'reconstructed'. Works for most non-time critical data transfers but requires special handling especially when it comes to digital audio streams.
TL&DR version is that data rates ('Mbps') is not comparable to network connection speeds.
 

wemist01

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Mine would have signal drops from 10 ft distance at most. I liked it when it worked but still lusted for a wired connection. So it is in a box.
 

PeteL

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May I suggest you learn about a product before dissing it in public? After all, they offer a test drive...
I was strictly talking about the statement you made about meta data. True, not sure how this part work. My previous statement was about price, This is public info. Don’t need to « learn » the price, We know the price. Sorry if that was not clear to you that when I talked about « content » I was talking about music. This is also not something I need to « learn ». Roon don’t comes with music. You adressed me, not the other way around, Yes willing to learn, what more data do I get from my Tidal streaming service? You say this is the content they offer, meta data, but then you copy paste a quote where they don’t say that they provide meta data, only that they process it differently: "The way Roon model your metadata... " So what is it? Price, music content, this is factual, no need to install it to comment on this those are facts. I did in the past tried it out, not saying it’s no good.It is Good, but it don’t bring anything more to me in the way I consume and enjoy music, that’s me. Did not notice what extra meta data in my use case. You tell me. You’re the one to point out that they provide that content. I wasn’t even talking about that.
 
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sarumbear

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Problem is that the 'data' is sent in packetized form and reconstructed from many of the packets possibly taking different network paths to arrive at the destination and then it is 'reconstructed'. Works for most non-time critical data transfers but requires special handling especially when it comes to digital audio streams.
TL&DR version is that data rates ('Mbps') is not comparable to network connection speeds.
The topic was about a switch on a LAN.
 

Cote Dazur

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Received mine today, plug it, very easy, tried it, sounds great. Thank you @amirm for the recommendation.:)
 

bwaves

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I received today a second-hand dac2. At first it was very unstable, lot of wireless disconnects and the transmitter was getting hot. Now I opened the transmitter so it cools better, and it is stable now.
Maybe that was the reason there were some manufacturer refurbished: improved cooling.

For the rest is works like a charm.
 

amm

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Several comments were made on DAC2's short range. Based on the internal pictures of the device (FCC site) and the way the transmitter and receiver packages are designed, if the transmitter is placed vertically as it is intended, one of the transmitter antennas is cross polarized with both receive diversity antennas. So in general for the best range, one could lay the transmitter on its side, as shown below making all antennas co polarized. Of course there are other variables that affect transmission such as reflections in the room and fading, attenuation through objects, and so on. I have drawn the position of antennas within the transmitter and receiver by red lines. Hope this helps.

1654570076580.png
 

pseudoid

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Several comments were made on DAC2's short range....

I did a little bit of search to find the type of "3 selectable Channel" RF (WiFi? 802.11?) communication is being used.
I found out that the referenced "3 channels" may be those 3 that are considered the "non-overlapping (20MHz)" ones (802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz WiFi-band) shown in diagram below…

202206_WiFi2.4G.jpg

Those same 3-channels are also used by BlueTooth, baby monitors, car alarms sensors, garage doors, MicrowaveOvens, Zigbee/SmartHome devices, etc.
202206_WiFispectrum.jpg

Theoretically the 802.11a/n/ac offers 25 such channels of which only 9 are unrestricted (non-DFS) allocation
202206_WiFi6.jpg

I got nowhere: Even the NAD site lacks any information about the RF technology or type or specs.

The NAD DAC2' FCC certification shows approval for 2.4GHz band but another source alluding to: "The wireless transmission takes place at frequencies of 2.4, 5.2 and 5.8 gigahertz, and you can access the three channels by using the manual switch…"

Not that @amirm' test results showed any disruptions or drop-outs (etc.), but at least one other person talked about line-of-sight obstruction of the wireless signal.
I had an AudioEngine D2 wireless-audio system (using 17-band spread-spectrum in the WiFi (2.4GHz band) which had co-channel interference issues with other neighborhood WiFi activity.


It should not be this difficult but WiFi "6E" (5.925 to 7.125GHz) may even increase the line-of-sight related reception problems.
 
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