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Bluesound Node Review (Streamer)

LuvTheMusic

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Thanks to all who responded to my question about what kind of computer/tablet/whatever to control the Node. It's reassuring to know that just about any reasonable option, old or new, will work! (But I'm taking heed of the warning not to go back too many OS generations.)

BTW, I currently use an older MS Surface Pro, which is my all purpose laptop. I'll report back when I pick up a dedicated device -- which will be after some snow here melts.
 

LuvTheMusic

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Thanks to all who responded to my question about what kind of computer/tablet/whatever to control the Node. It's reassuring to know that just about any reasonable option, old or new, will work! (But I'm taking heed of the warning not to go back too many OS generations.)

BTW, I currently use an older MS Surface Pro, which is my all purpose laptop. I'll report back when I pick up a dedicated device -- which will be after some snow here melts.
Reporting back, part 1: I thought that a basic Chromebook would do nicely as a controller for the Node, and as a bonus of being useful for light duty other tasks. So I picked up an Acer Spin 311 and donwloaded the BluOS Android app because Chromebooks are supposed to run Andriod apps. The app started right up, found the player -- and then I tapped on the source and the app minimized, never to be seen again. (It was running but would [edit: NOT]
restore onto the screen.) I uninstalled and reinstalled (twice), tried different sources (library, Qobuz, TuneIn) -- nothing worked. Back to the store it webt; thank goodness MicroCenter is good about returns.

The Android app runs fine on two different phones. Is it a problem with the app? Or with Android on Chromebook? Or with some weird Acer thing? Who knows? I'm reluctant to try another Chromebook: I don't have time to waste trying to find out find which ones work and which don't.

One down.
 
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LuvTheMusic

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I have three android tablets and a windows 10 laptop, all working with BluOS fine. Each has subtle differences in the display. Try this link for help.
Thanks for the tip, Timcognito, but I did search for any similar issues and found nothing. There are several reports of the Android app not finding a player, but that was not an issue at all: the app running on the Chromebook found the player immediately. I have no doubt that most Android tablets/phones/Chromebooks run the app just fine -- indeed, I have two different Android phones (and a Windows laptop) that work just fine. I did have one issue a while ago with the app, and received decent help from Bluesound support. In this case, it seems most likely that the issue is on the Chrome side, as the app seems to run, it just minimizes and the mouse clicks and keyboard shortcuts that are supposed to make it visible do not work - but at least in my experience, trying to get tech help for anything Google (in this case, the Android exec and/or Chrome OS) is a nonstarter.

Having said all that, I've wasted an afternoon between going to the store, buying the Chromebook, setting it up, trying to get the app to work, then wiping the Chromebook and finally returning it to the store. I just don't have the time to debug faulty software, and am not anxious to repeat that exercise.
 

MaxBuck

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Thanks for the tip, Timcognito, but I did search for any similar issues and found nothing. There are several reports of the Android app not finding a player, but that was not an issue at all: the app running on the Chromebook found the player immediately. I have no doubt that most Android tablets/phones/Chromebooks run the app just fine -- indeed, I have two different Android phones (and a Windows laptop) that work just fine. I did have one issue a while ago with the app, and received decent help from Bluesound support. In this case, it seems most likely that the issue is on the Chrome side, as the app seems to run, it just minimizes and the mouse clicks and keyboard shortcuts that are supposed to make it visible do not work - but at least in my experience, trying to get tech help for anything Google (in this case, the Android exec and/or Chrome OS) is a nonstarter.

Having said all that, I've wasted an afternoon between going to the store, buying the Chromebook, setting it up, trying to get the app to work, then wiping the Chromebook and finally returning it to the store. I just don't have the time to debug faulty software, and am not anxious to repeat that exercise.
You've put your finger on why I've never seen the attraction of Chromebooks. They're neither fish nor fowl; Chrome is a program, not really an operating system.
 

srrxr71

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I have this connected to a topping D10s via usb. It only displays 48Khz.

The input is Windows 11 via HDMI to the Node.

No matter what I set in Windows as the output sampling rate or no matter what I play in the Amazon music app in exclusive mode - even 24/192 files - does it change from displaying 48KHz.

Is this a limitation of the Node?
 

Laserjock

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I have this connected to a topping D10s via usb. It only displays 48Khz.

The input is Windows 11 via HDMI to the Node.

No matter what I set in Windows as the output sampling rate or no matter what I play in the Amazon music app in exclusive mode - even 24/192 files - does it change from displaying 48KHz.

Is this a limitation of the Node?
Why is HDMI connected? Probably that is the limiting factor?
 

MaxBuck

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I have this connected to a topping D10s via usb. It only displays 48Khz.

The input is Windows 11 via HDMI to the Node.

No matter what I set in Windows as the output sampling rate or no matter what I play in the Amazon music app in exclusive mode - even 24/192 files - does it change from displaying 48KHz.

Is this a limitation of the Node?
Why are you controlling the NODE via an HDMI-connected Windows computer? Wouldn't WiFi be more convenient?

I've never heard of anyone else connecting their system in this manner.
 

srrxr71

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Solved the issue. I had to set the LG eARC setting to “pass through”.


So i’m confused. HDMI is the point of this thing to me. It allows me to pass all my video sources through it. Including playing SACD via Sony X800M2.
 

TK33

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Solved the issue. I had to set the LG eARC setting to “pass through”.


So i’m confused. HDMI is the point of this thing to me. It allows me to pass all my video sources through it. Including playing SACD via Sony X800M2.
If you are using Amazon Music, you should be using the BluOS app and streaming directly from the Node, not using the Windows Amazon Music app. Exclusive Mode in the Amazon app does not seem to really work despite what the badge in the app may tell you. If your DAC displays the sample rate, you will see what I mean...Windows will output whatever sample rate is selected in Windows Sound Settings. If you stream directly through BluOS/Node, 16/44.1 will be 16/44.1 and 24/192 will be 24/192 without having to adjust any settings (I.e. no resampling).
 

srrxr71

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If you are using Amazon Music, you should be using the BluOS app and streaming directly from the Node, not using the Windows Amazon Music app. Exclusive Mode in the Amazon app does not seem to really work despite what the badge in the app may tell you. If your DAC displays the sample rate, you will see what I mean...Windows will output whatever sample rate is selected in Windows Sound Settings. If you stream directly through BluOS/Node, 16/44.1 will be 16/44.1 and 24/192 will be 24/192 without having to adjust any settings (I.e. no resampling).


Yes indeed I noticed this. Amazon music needs to get their act together. They are marketing it. I’m on a free 3 month trial. I doubt I would renew unless they sort this out.

However, does it really make a huge difference to just leave the output at 24/192? I mean it’s just math right? I’m assuming it uses 32 bit floating point math to up-rez. If it had 24/176.1 would be better but I guess a computer can run some accurate math.

I have tried the BluOS app and I’ll just say the less said about that app and interface the better.

I’m probably going to use an iPad and Apple Music for TV free listening. Let’s hope Spotify comes up with a hi-rez service soon.
 

Rottmannash

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Yes indeed I noticed this. Amazon music needs to get their act together. They are marketing it. I’m on a free 3 month trial. I doubt I would renew unless they sort this out.

However, does it really make a huge difference to just leave the output at 24/192? I mean it’s just math right? I’m assuming it uses 32 bit floating point math to up-rez. If it had 24/176.1 would be better but I guess a computer can run some accurate math.

I have tried the BluOS app and I’ll just say the less said about that app and interface the better.

I’m probably going to use an iPad and Apple Music for TV free listening. Let’s hope Spotify comes up with a hi-rez service soon.
Spotify has bigger problems right now...
 

srrxr71

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Spotify has bigger problems right now...
Such as?

Ok I just looked. Stock getting trashed. They are still not profitable. Hard to say what will happen here. Probably down.



As it stands I guess I have the Apple Music via iPad/iPhone option. This silly Mac mini does not output past 24/48 on HDMI. The PC does.

I suppose hi res is nice but really even redbook 16/44.1 is just fine. I don’t think I’ll go out of my way too much for it. It’s just because my setup is new i’m testing all this. For actual listening I would rather not get caught up in sampling rate and just listen to what I like.
 
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dananski

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Hey I'm totally late to the game here but I just discovered this site this week, while I happen to be testing the new Node myself. I'm a bit surprised to see the DAC in the Node get trashed by a reviewer, but as a long time Bluesound owner I can definitely empathise with the difficulty of getting it working without getting into a bit of a mood.

Forgive me if I don't have a clue what I'm talking about*, but I might have a theory for the poor SINAD results that seem to be the main complaint. If you can get into the app, in Settings -> Audio there's an option for "Audio clock trim" which makes "small adjustments to the audio clock to maintain glitch-free audio synchronization", and this option is enabled by default. I've found the effect of this inaudible, but it might wreak havoc on synthetic tests. It would be interesting to see if testing with this feature disabled would resolve issues found here.

I really appreciate the technical insight reviewers give on this site, but in this case it feels like we could learn more by asking "if the SINAD is so bad, why does this player still sound good?"**

*Edit: I didn't know what I was talking about. A second look at the graphs and I understood the problem better.

**Reasonably good in an appropriate system, without expecting too much of it. Obviously its DAC is beaten by a dedicated DAC of the same price (my testing against the Chord Mojo confirms this), since as a streamer, the Node has to do a whole load more than just convert digital PCM to analogue.
 
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stony2275

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I have three android tablets and a windows 10 laptop, all working with BluOS fine. Each has subtle differences in the display. Try this link for help.
My primary "remote" for my Node is an old iPad mini, IOS 12.5. On occaision I also use it with a new iPhone and MacBook. Given that I sit in front of a keyboard all day, I prefer not to use computers to select my music.

I like the interface and it was the only reason I got it. I don't use the DAC. In fact I have never tried it. Downstream is a Benchmark and a Topping depending on my mood. My music is on a QNAP.

The node has pretty much replaced my aging collection of Slim Devices which had remarkable functionality for their time.
 

srrxr71

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My primary "remote" for my Node is an old iPad mini, IOS 12.5. On occaision I also use it with a new iPhone and MacBook. Given that I sit in front of a keyboard all day, I prefer not to use computers to select my music.

I like the interface and it was the only reason I got it. I don't use the DAC. In fact I have never tried it. Downstream is a Benchmark and a Topping depending on my mood. My music is on a QNAP.

The node has pretty much replaced my aging collection of Slim Devices which had remarkable functionality for their time.
Don’t get me wrong the node is the ideal device for what I need and it works just fine. However those slim devices had such a nice interface. With album art and sorting by album, artist, song and just click on anything and it would pull up so fast.
 

Eddy

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Similar to Tom, I've been using the Zen Stream from iFi for a few months and have become increasingly frustrated with the constant disconnection issues with Tidal Connect. Having recently bought an RME ADI-2 Dac, I'm now looking to source a streamer that is more 'robust'. I previously had a node 2i and may take a look at a new version node.
Have you already taken a look at the new version of the Node?

So far I have used a Raspi 4 via the USB output with Volumio for streaming. Unfortunately, there are connection problems again and again using Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect. I now plan to stream via the Node's USB output. My DAC is the RME ADI-2.

There are quite a few complaints on the Bluesound forum about the Node's USB output. I wonder if you are also observing these problems.
 
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