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NAD CS-1 | Comparison with Node 2021

▶️ Available for pre-order now!

Looking for a Hifi-grade music streamer which is even more “budget-friendly” than Bluesound Node 2021 (RSP: RM2899) and iFi Zen Stream (RSP: RM2079), here comes the NAD CS-1!

With only RM1999, the NAD CS-1 supports almost all kinds of major audio streaming platforms and protocols, including TIDAL Connect, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, DLNA/UPNP, Roon Ready and Bluetooth 5.0. It can also decode hi-res music up to PCM 24bit/192kHz and MQA (well…does it still matter?).

To be honest, the functionality of CS-1 is more or less the same compared to its sibling—Bluesound Node 2021 (both under Lenbrook). Nevertheless, the RM900 more expensive Node is still more versatile—it supports HDMI eARC (to connect with your TV), subwoofer output, USB audio out, USB port for external hard drive, 2-ways Bluetooth with aptX HD codec, 3.5mm headphones output and mini-optical input—you couldn’t find any of them from the CS-1. Besides, let’s admit that the Node looks much more classy in terms of exterior and interior—the free of charge BluOS is way more beautiful and user friendly than most of the UPNP apps.

So, what will convince you to choose CS-1 instead of Node?

First, if you’re more familiar with the DLNA app and couldn’t get used to the Node’s BluOS interface (or are too lazy to learn something new :P), then the CS-1 would be an ideal choice. In fact, DLNA is still a more popular way to stream music (though it’s not as user friendly as BluOS in my opinion).

Second, CS-1 comes with a type-C (5V/1A) “DC power input”, which allows you to upgrade the power supply without modification. In comparison, Node comes with a figure-8 “AC power input”, however it’s not easy to find a ready-made audiophile grade power cord with figure-8 plug in the market. Yes, you may modify Node to add the 5V DC input port with some 3rd party kits easily, but do remember that the warranty will be voided.


If you only need a digital transport to stream Tidal, Spotify or Roon to an external DAC, the sound quality in between CS-1 and Node’s digital outputs is pretty close. We tested coaxial and optical outputs of both models with the Matrix X-Sabre 3 DAC. The Node do sound a bit more musical, natural, lively with a wider soundstage, but the difference is acceptable since CS-1 is almost ⅓ cheaper.

However, if comparing the analog (RCA) output section, the difference between CS-1 and Node becomes more noticeable. Though both of them are using the same DAC chips (PCM5242), CS-1 sounds dryer and less airy compared to Node. Sound stage is significantly narrower, and the imaging is not as solid either. We also notice that the mids of Node is richer, and the high is smoother.

By the way, it’s ⅓ cheaper than Node as mentioned, so apa lagi you mahu? For those that already own a good external DAC and just need a steamer to play Roon, Tidal or Spotify via digital out, CS-1 is good enough liao lah.

✒️ Author : Hai Wei | 📷 Photo : Hai Wei
👉 More Stars Picker's In-House Review |


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