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Bluesound Node Review (Streamer)

Mansinthe86

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Jul 19, 2021
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Someone asked, somewhere, about possible time delay associated with audio out to the Node from a TV. I can verify that yes, there is a delay that makes running audio from the TV through it (at least via Bluetooth) a non-starter. :(
Bluetooth will always have a delay. Just use optical or AirPlay
 

nickt1

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Oct 12, 2021
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This is a review and detailed measurements of the 2021 Bluesound Node wired and wireless streamer and DAC. It is the next generation from Node 2i which I reviewed a while back. The Node costs US $549 and was kindly drop shipped to me by a member. In case you don't know, Bluesound is from the same parent company as NAD.

The Node looks as attractive as the last generation:

View attachment 145926

That said, I can't figure out anything on it. Hopefully the app helps.... Not!!! There is no remote so I downloaded the app to try to figure out how to change inputs. The app downloaded fine and prompted me to upgrade the unit. I let it and it spent some 10 minutes doing so! This is way too clunky. What on earth is it doing for 10 minutes? It rebooted but then nothing would work in the app. The gear icon would do nothing. And neither would the "VCR" (player controls). It thought it was all well but it clearly could not communicate with the unit. I restarted it and the unit and still nothing. I gave up. :(

The back panel shows rich set of connections:
View attachment 145927
Inclusion of eARC over HDMI is very nice as is triggers for integration into the rest of your system. I used Ethernet for testing but there is also Wifi and Bluetooth.

Bluesound Node Meaurements
Roon nicely recognized the unit as an approved endpoint so I used it to stream by 24-bit, 1 kHz tone to get our familiar dashboard view:

View attachment 145928

This is sad. There is a lot of distortion which in this day and age is just not acceptable. I looked up the DAC chip and it is the TI PCM5242. Sadly it is specified at 94 dB SINAD at -1 dBFS. So it is bad to start with but the Node knocks a few more dBs from that, landing it straight in our "poor" bucket of DACs in red:
View attachment 145929

For good or bad, this is almost identical to what Node 2i performance.

Wanting to make sure it was not a pipeline shrink to 16 bits or something, I hooked up the Topping D30Pro to its Coax output. Performance shot way up to what the D3Pro produces on its own:

View attachment 145930

So you do have the option of adding a much higher performance DAC to it.

Surprisingly, the dynamic range is not too bad on the internal DAC:

View attachment 145931

Jitter spectrum is also clean although likely masking fair bit due to high noise floor:

View attachment 145932

Since my Audio Precision analyzer can't control the device directly, I don't have much else I can measure. But I think we know how the internal DAC performs anyway.

Since the app did not work, I had no way of characterizing the input performance even though I was all cabled up and ready to measure!

Conclusions
From pure performance point of view, the Node 2 is a disappointment. OK, I cut it fair bit of slack but come on folks, it needs to at least clear the CD hurdle of 96 dB. Adding fair bit of aggravation was the non functional BlueOS control application. The fact that it didn't work was one thing. But not saying anything when it could not control the unit is something else.

Anyway, I can't recommend the Bluesound Node from performance point of view or reliability of its App. If you use an external DAC, then it works well assuming you can get the app working.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

This is a review and detailed measurements of the 2021 Bluesound Node wired and wireless streamer and DAC. It is the next generation from Node 2i which I reviewed a while back. The Node costs US $549 and was kindly drop shipped to me by a member. In case you don't know, Bluesound is from the same parent company as NAD.

The Node looks as attractive as the last generation:

View attachment 145926

That said, I can't figure out anything on it. Hopefully the app helps.... Not!!! There is no remote so I downloaded the app to try to figure out how to change inputs. The app downloaded fine and prompted me to upgrade the unit. I let it and it spent some 10 minutes doing so! This is way too clunky. What on earth is it doing for 10 minutes? It rebooted but then nothing would work in the app. The gear icon would do nothing. And neither would the "VCR" (player controls). It thought it was all well but it clearly could not communicate with the unit. I restarted it and the unit and still nothing. I gave up. :(

The back panel shows rich set of connections:
View attachment 145927
Inclusion of eARC over HDMI is very nice as is triggers for integration into the rest of your system. I used Ethernet for testing but there is also Wifi and Bluetooth.

Bluesound Node Meaurements
Roon nicely recognized the unit as an approved endpoint so I used it to stream by 24-bit, 1 kHz tone to get our familiar dashboard view:

View attachment 145928

This is sad. There is a lot of distortion which in this day and age is just not acceptable. I looked up the DAC chip and it is the TI PCM5242. Sadly it is specified at 94 dB SINAD at -1 dBFS. So it is bad to start with but the Node knocks a few more dBs from that, landing it straight in our "poor" bucket of DACs in red:
View attachment 145929

For good or bad, this is almost identical to what Node 2i performance.

Wanting to make sure it was not a pipeline shrink to 16 bits or something, I hooked up the Topping D30Pro to its Coax output. Performance shot way up to what the D3Pro produces on its own:

View attachment 145930

So you do have the option of adding a much higher performance DAC to it.

Surprisingly, the dynamic range is not too bad on the internal DAC:

View attachment 145931

Jitter spectrum is also clean although likely masking fair bit due to high noise floor:

View attachment 145932

Since my Audio Precision analyzer can't control the device directly, I don't have much else I can measure. But I think we know how the internal DAC performs anyway.

Since the app did not work, I had no way of characterizing the input performance even though I was all cabled up and ready to measure!

Conclusions
From pure performance point of view, the Node 2 is a disappointment. OK, I cut it fair bit of slack but come on folks, it needs to at least clear the CD hurdle of 96 dB. Adding fair bit of aggravation was the non functional BlueOS control application. The fact that it didn't work was one thing. But not saying anything when it could not control the unit is something else.

Anyway, I can't recommend the Bluesound Node from performance point of view or reliability of its App. If you use an external DAC, then it works well assuming you can get the app working.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
The Blusound node really excels as a streamer and I find the app very simple and reliable to use. One problem I encountered setting up the device was that if you are using Ethernet connection to stream from a gateway both this and the WIFI network have to share the the same IP address or in my case to changing the WIFI access point to 'bridge' from the router.
I find the Blusound way better sound quality and convenience than the PC I was using previosly with my Topping D90. Blusound say they will enable USB output in a future software upgrade which will allow for full MQA support in the D90.
Can't think of a better streamer for the price.
 

fabtou14

New Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2021
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0
Hello,
should i sell my rapsdac mini with volumio to gain user-friendliness?
I don't like Volumio very much
But I wouldn't want to lose in musical quality.
 

nickt1

New Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2021
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Don't hold your breath :cool:
Avatar

Andrew H.
  • 7 days ago

likely before the end of the calendar year
 

rmsanger

Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2020
Messages
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44
You buy the BlueSound Node as a streamer solution and then run it digital out to your statement DAC and bypass the interal dac alltogether. The bluesound software is quite usable as a streaming solution when using your phone or tablet as the control.
 

Ralph_Cramden

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2020
Messages
362
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521
Got a good laugh this morning from this "review".

The new, 2021-released Node is not only far more sonically talented than its predecessor (the 2018 Award-winning Node 2i), it is the best example of superb sound quality and vast features we have seen in the entry-level streaming space to date. It was a closely fought contest between it and the Audiolab, but a more musical sound and more seamless user experience decided the result in the end.
 

Ibsen

Member
Joined
May 2, 2020
Messages
10
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10
Hello there,
Maybe owners might know so , here we go.
Bypassing NODE internal DAC ( be coax/opti or USB with the future firmware) with an external DAC:
1- what do expect from the analog outs. Headphone and subwoofer?
2- how the MQA ability is handled and it is “cascaded”? Would I still need an external DAC with MQA capability or just any DAC?
 

enricoclaudio

Senior Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
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436
If you plug an external DAC with MQA rendering capabilities like a Topping E50, you get MQA Rendering out of the E50 balanced and unbalanced outs. NODE headphone out and pre outs still will use NODE’s internal DAC. If you use a non MQA external DAC, all MQA files will play as PCM out of the external DAC.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2020
Messages
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If you plug an external DAC with MQA rendering capabilities like a Topping E50, you get MQA Rendering out of the E50 balanced and unbalanced outs. NODE headphone out and pre outs still will use NODE’s internal DAC. If you use a non MQA external DAC, all MQA files will play as PCM out of the external DAC.
Great news that can still use a subwoofer out while bypassing the internal DAC
 

Ibsen

Member
Joined
May 2, 2020
Messages
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10
If you plug an external DAC with MQA rendering capabilities like a Topping E50, you get MQA Rendering out of the E50 balanced and unbalanced outs. NODE headphone out and pre outs still will use NODE’s internal DAC. If you use a non MQA external DAC, all MQA files will play as PCM out of the external DAC.
Thanks for the info!
 

Duffy Moon

Member
Joined
May 17, 2020
Messages
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11
I bought a Node yesterday from Richer Sounds (UK retailer of audio/visual electronics). It was one of only two on clearance and I'm listening to it right now (via my RME ADI2 DAC) and couldn't be happier. I couldn't get RME's ASIO driver to work without (very frustrating!) dropouts, no matter how many processes I stopped etc. This works flawlessly and I love the BluOS app (although I still haven't worked out quite how to do everything I want to do).
 
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