I don’t have a Node 2i, so I can’t compare the DACs. I use my laptop running iTunes and controlled by my iPhone. Prior to the laptop, I used an Apple TV gen 1 into the Rega DAC. I got rid of the ATV for several reasons; the internal storage space is limited, streaming to it rather than playing from internal memory was a sonic downgrade (it’s old technology), and the hard drive was getting noisy and on its last leg.
I’ve heard the Node 2i in dealers’ demo systems. It always sounded better than good enough. I was going to buy one, but I bought a new camera instead. I’d have loved to do both, but the camera upgrade was a better move for me right now. When I buy it or something similar, I’ll play it on its own and through the Rega DAC and then decide which sounds better.
I bought the USB to coax converter to see if there were sonic differences and to play around with high res. People said the USB input was the Rega’s weak point, and it doesn’t do high res. The converter definitely made a good difference with CD standard sound. If it didn’t, I’d have sent it back. Everything improved. Not dramatically like magazines like to describe, but easily worth the $130 price.
The 10x5 is in a different class than the Ortofon Blue altogether. Comparisons aren’t really fair as there’s a huge gap in price. The Blue is a free with turntable cartridge. As good as it is, and it is pretty good, it’s just not in the same class as the 10x5. You’d be comparing a Toyota Camry to a BMW 540 here. The 10x5 will have a different voice, and I don’t think there’s a single thing it doesn’t do better. I don’t have a Blue on my deck, but I’ve heard it more than enough times. The 10x5 in all its versions has gotten rave reviews from everyone. And honestly, it’s the one instance I agree. I’m not making a specific recommendation on it because I don’t know what you’re after sonically; I was giving a general recommendation of something to research a bit.
My dealer put 3 different cartridges on my deck one afternoon. A Benz something or other, a Linn Adikt and the 10x5. They were all really good, but the 10x5 was the best without any trade offs. My dealer was surprised it did as well as it did on my deck. But we both agreed the 10x5 was pushing the 1Xpression’s limits. He had a 10x5 already mounted on a Rega P5 and that became obvious. Not painfully obvious, but obvious enough.
If your Debut has the carbon fiber tonearm, the 10x5 should work well. If not, don’t waste your money IMO. If you really want to spend money on the vinyl side of things, upgrade the cartridge and deck. What to look into depends on your budget. I threw the 10x5 recommendation out there because I have a B60, 1Xpression and 10x5 and can say they work great together. Sound preferences vary, so it’s just a recommendation to look into it, not a “just buy it” thing.
Bringing it back to the One Source thread, figure out your priority in source format and upgrade that one. The other sources should be secondary.