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I have ordered a Node 2i myself as I have read great things about the sound quality of the new unit. If I can rid myself of a preamp, that would be great (with the original Node 2, I feel the sound is better with the preamp in place). Will post my impressions later in the week.
I actually just tried the NAD C658 in my system (my current source is a Node 2 into a LTA MZ2 pre and Meridian G57 amp). I didn't like it myself. First, the Dirac room correction is not yet available on this unit for some reason (I was surprised) and I could not get a definitive answer on when it would be. I found the presentation pleasant but very polite and not nearly as resolving of detail as my current system. Maybe more importantly, I found the Node2 directly into my amp was better to my ears by quite a margin. I did note that the C658 throws a very large soundstage which I did like.
Wonder if break-in was a factor. My PS Audio DirectStream Junior took hundreds of hours to fully bloom as many others attest to. Can't imagine the "Node on steroids" sounding worse than the Node. BTW had a brief taste of full MQA via Tidal (what else?) recently. No benefit for a couple of older recordings (how you gonna squeeze more out of lower fidelity master tapes?), but a newer release was more detailed especially on mid/treble frequencies. Unfortunately most of what I listen to is older or not available on MQA/Tidal.
So I received the Node 2i and have tried it direct into my amp and attached to my preamp. My ears can't detect any meaningful difference in sound vs the Node 2. Maybe I kind of thought perhaps I heard some increased detail but given I don't have an A/B switch it means several minutes pass before I can hear the same piece of music on the other unit at the same volume level. Either way, I still like my system better with the preamp in place and am happy to have the new features on the 2i, esp the new wifi given I had occasional issues with that in my house. Will keep the Node 2 around for duty in another system I am playing around with.
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