Streaming Newbie: Cambridge 851N, NAD C 658 Or... ?

Hench4Life

Hench4Life

Junior Audioholic
Hi all, I'm a complete moron when it comes to anything that's happened in audio in the last decade and a half. I'm looking at something that will suffice to get me some tunes short term, possibly longer. Here's the skinny - I'll try to be brief.

I have a wonderful 2-channel system, thousands of LPs/CD's. But, it's at my old house with Beelzebub the ex. I had planned to be getting all of it last month, now on hold indefinitely. In the meantime, I'm fixing/painting a big, empty house with no music.

What I do have is an old Adcom GFA 555 amp and GFP 565 preamp I pulled out of storage (I hope they still work!). That's it. I'm going to buy some nice speakers, cable and something to serve up tunes.

I'm vaguely familiar with the Cambridge and NAD, as well as well loved Bluesound node 2i. I know that the Cambridge and NAD can act as preamps, which might come in handy if they sound better than the Adcom, which is possible. I've never needed a DAC, but if either of these is superior to my Oppo BDP-103, so much the better.

I don't know Tidal from Tide pods, or Roon from a spotted Canadian waterfowl.

It's that bad. From what I've been able to understand, the Cambridge would need me to use ApplePlay to access Amazon Music (probably what I'll go with), and BlueTooth is optional on that device. The NAD seems to be the newer, modular tech, and has BlueOS, which seems far more robust and idiot proof. I need idiot proof. It doesn't support DSD (I don't care) and I've seen complaints the balanced outs are terrible. The Dirac Live room correction might be fun to play with, but would not get used once I have my main system back.

In the end, it will only be used for streaming, and possibly the DAC.

So, am I throwing money at features I may never use once I have my electronics back?

At least with the NAD, I might be able to swing a package deal with the speakers. I've never had a desire to rip my entire collection of CDs/SACDs, but it seems I might really want to look at doing this moving forward for the best quality playback. So at some point, that might be where this device will have an extra use. I've certainly got spare HDs, laptops and PC's.

At the moment I'd prefer to keep the budget at <$1500ish.

I appreciate any and all input on this.

System a few blocks away:
Thiel CS 2 2
Balanced Audio Technology VK-220
Balanced Audio Technology VK-3iX
Oppo BDP-103
Music Hall MMF-7.1/Sumiko Blue Point
PS Audio XStream Statement cabling
 
Last edited:
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Spartan
I would probably lean towards Bluesound for streaming audio if something like a Sonos wasn't what I was looking for.

No matter what, I wouldn't drop more than $20 on my audio cables, so don't get suckered into expensive cables that do nothing for you.
 
Hench4Life

Hench4Life

Junior Audioholic
Definitely not looking for a Sonos or any bluetooth type audio, or multi-room stuff. Then again, I do need to think forward and perhaps an outside/backyard setup may be advantageous. The Bluesound seems relatively simple and definitely inexpensive. The more I read about the Node 2i, the better it seems for my purposes.

This is basically going to be my front end source until I can reclaim my stereo proper. I'm a 2-channel purist really. It irks me I've got a big box of old cables sitting just a few blocks away, and can't do anything about it. I definitely don't want to spend any more than necessary when I have plenty of spare interconnects.

Thanks for the input!
 
2

2channel lover

Audioholic Field Marshall
Hi all, I'm a complete moron when it comes to anything that's happened in audio in the last decade and a half. I'm looking at something that will suffice to get me some tunes short term, possibly longer. Here's the skinny - I'll try to be brief.

I have a wonderful 2-channel system, thousands of LPs/CD's. But, it's at my old house with Beelzebub the ex. I had planned to be getting all of it last month, now on hold indefinitely. In the meantime, I'm fixing/painting a big, empty house with no music.

What I do have is an old Adcom GFA 555 amp and GFP 565 preamp I pulled out of storage (I hope they still work!). That's it. I'm going to buy some nice speakers, cable and something to serve up tunes.

I'm vaguely familiar with the Cambridge and NAD, as well as well loved Bluesound node 2i. I know that the Cambridge and NAD can act as preamps, which might come in handy if they sound better than the Adcom, which is possible. I've never needed a DAC, but if either of these is superior to my Oppo BDP-103, so much the better.

I don't know Tidal from Tide pods, or Roon from a spotted Canadian waterfowl.

It's that bad. From what I've been able to understand, the Cambridge would need me to use ApplePlay to access Amazon Music (probably what I'll go with), and BlueTooth is optional on that device. The NAD seems to be the newer, modular tech, and has BlueOS, which seems far more robust and idiot proof. I need idiot proof. It doesn't support DSD (I don't care) and I've seen complaints the balanced outs are terrible. The Dirac Live room correction might be fun to play with, but would not get used once I have my main system back.

In the end, it will only be used for streaming, and possibly the DAC.

So, am I throwing money at features I may never use once I have my electronics back?

At least with the NAD, I might be able to swing a package deal with the speakers. I've never had a desire to rip my entire collection of CDs/SACDs, but it seems I might really want to look at doing this moving forward for the best quality playback. So at some point, that might be where this device will have an extra use. I've certainly got spare HDs, laptops and PC's.

At the moment I'd prefer to keep the budget at <$1500ish.

I appreciate any and all input on this.

System a few blocks away:
Thiel CS 2 2
Balanced Audio Technology VK-220
Balanced Audio Technology VK-3iX
Oppo BDP-103
Music Hall MMF-7.1/Sumiko Blue Point
PS Audio XStream Statement cabling
I'm in the market for a new streaming set up as well, but maybe some different objectives.

If you're dead set on sticking with 2 ch playback only...I've heard enough good things about the Node2 from Bluesound from owners that I would probably go with that. You will need a storage HD but those are fairly inexpensive...I bought a 5T drive for about $140.

The drawbacks...no DSD processing, no multi-ch processing, no storage.
 
Last edited:
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Spartan
Definitely not looking for a Sonos or any bluetooth type audio, or multi-room stuff. Then again, I do need to think forward and perhaps an outside/backyard setup may be advantageous. The Bluesound seems relatively simple and definitely inexpensive. The more I read about the Node 2i, the better it seems for my purposes.
Please be aware that I put Sonos on the table because it does what you want. The Sonos Port and Sonos Amp units are both preamps (well, the amp is the same but with an amp), and they are fully capable of streaming music from the internet or from a locally stored server. So, you get exactly the same thing as you get with Bluesound except it really has some deep pockets for future support.

To my knowledge, it doesn't support Bluetooth, but it supports streaming from your phone, which is something I never do with mine.

As I said, I lean towards Bluesound, but no question that Sonos would be in that list as well. Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, and a ton more are all supported through Sonos and the interface through your phone takes a bit of getting used to, but after you are used to it, it is fine.

Yes, you can do whole house, but it also works fine in a single room as a single product. I own a single unit and it makes it easier to use since I only have one of them in my system to target. I don't have to pay attention to which unit I've selected in the interface. Take a look on YouTube for some videos on it, as it may be a viable option.
 
John Parks

John Parks

Audioholic Chief
I'
Definitely not looking for a Sonos or any bluetooth type audio, or multi-room stuff. Then again, I do need to think forward and perhaps an outside/backyard setup may be advantageous. The Bluesound seems relatively simple and definitely inexpensive. The more I read about the Node 2i, the better it seems for my purposes.

This is basically going to be my front end source until I can reclaim my stereo proper. I'm a 2-channel purist really. It irks me I've got a big box of old cables sitting just a few blocks away, and can't do anything about it. I definitely don't want to spend any more than necessary when I have plenty of spare interconnects.

Thanks for the input!
l'll 2nd (and 3rd!) the vote for the Node 2i - it is by far the best purchase I have made in a long time. I use it as you are proposing; strictly for a 2-channel system but have messed around with it to connect to other (non Bluesound) bluetooth speakers around my home and I do stream from my computer over the network. The BlueOS is simple and intuitive to use (though I like Roon better) and, best of all, it sounds pretty darn good and well worth the asking price. As far as SQ vs the '103, from my experience it is pretty much a wash as I really could not hear an appreciable difference between the two.
 
Hench4Life

Hench4Life

Junior Audioholic
l'll 2nd (and 3rd!) the vote for the Node 2i - it is by far the best purchase I have made in a long time.
Thanks, it seems the Node 2i is vastly improved from the original version.

At some point the way my house is wired, it's screaming for a 7.2.2 type setup in the living room, and I'll probably set up a completely separate system for that. But that's a whole different can of worms.

I see a lot of people loving/hating the NAD and Cambridge for different reasons. I'm probably getting to curmudgeonly, but I'm such a purist I tend to want stand-alone DACs, etc. But can see where having a sort of all-in-one solution to cover pre-amp as well could be desirable. And, TBH I'd probably be all over something like this if it wasn't strictly a 2-channel deal.

I seriously don't know the difference between Roon and BlueOS, I know both seem to have their detractors. At first blush, it seems the Blue is a bit more flexible, but lacks the deeper features Roon offers. At some point I'll re-examine my priorities, especially if I take on ripping my digital collection.

Please be aware that I put Sonos on the table because it does what you want.
I'll still check the Sonos, I was really under the impression that was sort of its own ecosystem. So I appreciate the input. I'm only familiar with this in passing, so I'm trying to compress a few years of information into a couple of days - and need to know who to throw my money at! As long as it's simple, relatively intuitive, and ideally can act as a foundation for further improvements. I'm not sure I'd ever need/use bluetooth, but am shocked when some products require an optional dongle?

If the fidelity is there, I'd love it if this wasn't a 1-2 month bandage until I can spin LP's again.

Thanks again!
 
John Parks

John Parks

Audioholic Chief
Just to be clear, I don't use the 2i as a preamp, but as a streamer almost exclusively (yes, the internal DAC as well). When I read what you had on hand (the Adcom pieces) I was envisioning adding the Node to what I would consider a pretty nice (assuming they are working properly) 2-channel preamp/amp combo...
 
Hench4Life

Hench4Life

Junior Audioholic
Just to be clear, I don't use the 2i as a preamp, but as a streamer almost exclusively (yes, the internal DAC as well). When I read what you had on hand (the Adcom pieces) I was envisioning adding the Node to what I would consider a pretty nice (assuming they are working properly) 2-channel preamp/amp combo...
Exactly. My Adcom should be functioning, and once I have my gear back I really don't think I can (or will) do anything to better my BAT preamp. What does interest me however is the Vault or similar systems (some apparently get pretty pricey). I'd frankly rather spend my loot on some other things.

I'd always scoffed at the idea of ripping my CD's, but if I can improve on the quality of playback by doing so - as well as freeing up shelf space it might be worth exploring. I was also laboring under the idea that the Vault didn't do streaming as well. So that's also a viable option. I like the idea of just being able to sticking a disk into a box and walking away while it does all the work. Thanks!
 

newsletter
  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis
Top