On Feb 1, 2017, the earth moved. MQA became real. You can stream it. NOW.
Master Quality Authenticated can now be delivered to you in streaming form from Tidal. Surely, there will be many competitors close behind. But you can get it today, for only $20 per month!
The sound of MQA is as good as it gets- better than hi-res- due to faster filtering and a proprietary encode-decode algorithm. The best way to describe MQA is… it’s like listening to a master tape without all of the production processing in the road.
What this means is, you can decode MQA encoded music, NOW, TODAY, HOY, in an affordable fashion. Tidal has about 2000 albums available now. More will be available every month. The avalanche is on its way! All you need a decoder.
Tidal also provides mountains of music in CD quality. It isn’t limited to MQA. We think the vast majority of their library is headed towards MQA due to the quality though.
Bluesound Node 2 $500
Bluesound’s Node 2 shakes hands with music from your computer wirelessly, or wired. That means, CDs or files saved to your computer. Internet radio. Many streaming services.
It will support MQA because it has the decoder on board! It will also stream Hi-Res music, CD quality, and below.
Sonos and Heos are nice, competitive systems. But neither supports Hi-Res or MQA. Bluesound DOES. Bluesound sounds better. It makes sense to get the best source, regardless of what you’re running for an amp and speakers.
Node 2 has analog out, which carries the MQA decoded signal. I promise, you’ll love it! The analog out also plays Hi-Res, CD, and less than CD quality music.
Node 2 also produces digital out. If you’re in love with your DAC for non MQA music, you’re able to run that option as well. MQA music will pass through the digital out, but it won’t be decoded.
You don’t get the full enchilada that MQA is capable of without using the decoder.
For the record, I’m aware that there will be very high end alternatives to Node 2. If you buy a $6k DAC that has an MQA decoder, I’m sure it will be great. It might be better than Node 2. But it might NOT. There’s a lot of stuff going on with DACs that cost fancy money that are much less important- if most of your music is coming through Tidal and MQA.
Since you’ll be running Node 2 into your integrated amp, the world is your oyster. You don’t need any fancy schmancy computer stuff in your integrated amp- not even a DAC. Here are some great choices.
TA-100 $400, 50×2 A/B: With a host of inputs including phono and a DAC- hook up the speakers of your choice. What a bargain! It’s small and muscular.
NAD’s new integrateds are super bargains. With huge headroom and a nice array of features, they have much higher octane than your average bear!
C-338, $650, 50×2, peak 200w!
C-368, $900, 80×2, peak 320w!
C-388, $1600, 150×2, peak 600s!
Sphinx v2, $1500, 100×2, Tube preamp with solid state amp on one chassis.
Hegel makes three marvelous integrateds. They all have their own DACs which you can use, or not. It’s up to you.
H-90 $2000, 60×2
H-190 $4000, 150×2
H-360 $6000, 250×2
Now that you have your Node 2 and a fine integrated amp, just connect up some great speakers to deliver the music. Here are two shelf speakers and a sleek tower to consider. All have ribbon tweeters for great detail, even at low SPLs.
Quad S-1 $800 Per Pair
These stunningly beautiful speakers are best in the near field. 4” Kevlar woof, Ribbon tweet.
Talk about a great office speaker!
GoldenEar Aon 3 $1000 Per Pair
These are bigger and have much more bang with a 7” Woof, two passives and Ribbon tweet.
GoldenEar Triton 3+ $2500 Per Pair
Got room for some sleek towers over there? Run the T3+ which have a 4 ½ Mid-Woof, Ribbon tweet and 5×9 powered (800w!) sub!
All of the above help us do computer audio better than ever!
Power Node 2 $800
Oops. I almost forgot! Power Node 2 is a Node 2 with a 60×2 amp on board! You can run
directly from Power Node 2 right into your speakers! The amp is designed by NAD so this is a dynamite little performer. If you want one box and a pair of speakers- here ya go!