Northstar Intenso DAC arrived yesterday!

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
Hey gang, I hate writing reviews of gear now so this is going to be short and border on useless for most. I don't have the time or energy to really A/B anything anymore so what I will be laying out for you are my impressions after a couple hours of casual listening. I won't be doing any "digging" looking for subtle differences, because if I have to try that hard then the upgrade wasn't worthwhile IMO.

So, first off, thank you to @AudioThesis for the very fast shipping and excellent customer service.

And the review;

I have this connected to a Node2 via cheapo coax monster cable that doesn't seem to fit the connector very well. Power cord is one of those cheap amazon hospital grade units mentioned elsewhere. I knew I bought that thing for a reason!

Initial impressions;

Deeper and wider soundstage with better focus and imaging. Cleaner presentation without being sterile sounding. As some have heard me complain, the Node2 in stock form has some weird distortion and hash that I can easily hear on a lot of recordings. This didn't seem to be present after connecting the DAC but time will tell. Overall I listened for a couple hours while on my laptop and phone, and even with it in the background I noticed a palpable difference. There is a little expectation bias going on, but ultimately I didn't go into this expecting much after demoing my friends Benchmark DAC2. It does sound better than the DAC2 did in my system, FWIW.

After I have more time to listen and acclimate I may switch back to the analog outputs on the Node2 to see if I can still hear a difference or not. The days of me sitting and listening a lot to my audio system seem to be years behind me. I don't really enjoy the scrutiny of intense listening anymore, so differences need to be obvious and apparent for me to consider things to be an upgrade.

So, overall I can say I am satisfied, I don't really have anything else to directly compare it to so we're just going to have to leave it at that and say "It's a good sounding DAC that (to me) is clearly an upgrade over the stock Node2".


Thanks for the recommendation @prime minister and @AudioThesis
 

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prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Hey gang, I hate writing reviews of gear now so this is going to be short and border on useless for most. I don't have the time or energy to really A/B anything anymore so what I will be laying out for you are my impressions after a couple hours of casual listening. I won't be doing any "digging" looking for subtle differences, because if I have to try that hard then the upgrade wasn't worthwhile IMO.

So, first off, thank you to @AudioThesis for the very fast shipping and excellent customer service.

And the review;

I have this connected to a Node2 via cheapo coax monster cable that doesn't seem to fit the connector very well. Power cord is one of those cheap amazon hospital grade units mentioned elsewhere. I knew I bought that thing for a reason!

Initial impressions;

Deeper and wider soundstage with better focus and imaging. Cleaner presentation without being sterile sounding. As some have heard me complain, the Node2 in stock form has some weird distortion and hash that I can easily hear on a lot of recordings. This didn't seem to be present after connecting the DAC but time will tell. Overall I listened for a couple hours while on my laptop and phone, and even with it in the background I noticed a palpable difference. There is a little expectation bias going on, but ultimately I didn't go into this expecting much after demoing my friends Benchmark DAC2. It does sound better than the DAC2 did in my system, FWIW.

After I have more time to listen and acclimate I may switch back to the analog outputs on the Node2 to see if I can still hear a difference or not. The days of me sitting and listening a lot to my audio system seem to be years behind me. I don't really enjoy the scrutiny of intense listening anymore, so differences need to be obvious and apparent for me to consider things to be an upgrade.

So, overall I can say I am satisfied, I don't really have anything else to directly compare it to so we're just going to have to leave it at that and say "It's a good sounding DAC that (to me) is clearly an upgrade over the stock Node2".


Thanks for the recommendation @prime minister and @AudioThesis
Glad to hear it's doing well in your system. The Intenso was the gateway drug for me into the NSD line. It went from that, to the Exclesio and then the Supremo. Where I am pretty well stuck for good now. Enjoy!
 

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
Glad to hear it's doing well in your system. The Intenso was the gateway drug for me into the NSD line. It went from that, to the Exclesio and then the Supremo. Where I am pretty well stuck for good now. Enjoy!

I see why, and if I were more invested in digital mentally and financially I bet I'd do the same thing!
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I see why, and if I were more invested in digital mentally and financially I bet I'd do the same thing!
I didn't actually get into digital heavily until I got my Intenso. Then I made the mistake of going to the local NSD dealer, and hearing the Supremo. Just an astonishing piece. The most analog sounding digital I had heard for anything close to the money. It was $4600 Canadian, but seemed to be worth every cent. I sure have not been disappointed.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
I see why, and if I were more invested in digital mentally and financially I bet I'd do the same thing!
If you hook up that Raspberry Pi you have in the car to the USB input someday, you could have a digital epiphany! Power it with your Boulder/Squeezebox PSU and the audiophile sanctioning body might be forced to move you into the Light Heavyweight division.
 

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
If you hook up that Raspberry Pi you have in the car to the USB input someday, you could have a digital epiphany! Power it with your Boulder/Squeezebox PSU and the audiophile sanctioning body might be forced to move you into the Light Heavyweight division.

Definitely on my radar, I should dig out the boulder squeezebox as well and compare it. It's got the digital mod package as well (whatever that consists of!)
 
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