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Bluesound Node Review (Streamer)

LuvTheMusic

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Do the latest NODEs come out of the box with the latest firmware?
The answer to that question may be obsolete tomorrow -- whenever a firmware update is released, every Node produced to that point is "behind". But no worries: all Nodes (past and current versions) support over the air updates. The BluOS software will notify you that an update is available, and in my experience the update process is reliable. BTW, updates are free.
 

Timcognito

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Do the latest NODEs come out of the box with the latest firmware?
No, but updates are easy and take 10 mins on average. I upgraded a first gen unit for my garage from ebay hook-up to update in 20 minutes. Worked perfectly
 
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pumpy

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There’s something about the Node measurements that leaves me confused—I went to my local hifi dealer and demoed an NAD C368 with the BlueOS MDC card installed, powering some Lumina II speakers…and the sound was incredible, nothing about the module made me think it would measure poorly. In fact, the demo basically sold me on going for a solution where I can integrate a BlueOS module in my amp. I’m not questioning the measurements of the node, I believe them, but I just…subjectively what I heard was incredible.
 

LuvTheMusic

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There’s something about the Node measurements that leaves me confused—I went to my local hifi dealer and demoed an NAD C368 with the BlueOS MDC card installed, powering some Lumina II speakers…and the sound was incredible, nothing about the module made me think it would measure poorly. In fact, the demo basically sold me on going for a solution where I can integrate a BlueOS module in my amp. I’m not questioning the measurements of the node, I believe them, but I just…subjectively what I heard was incredible.

First, the Node is a Bluesound product; the C368 is a NAD one. Same parent company, but there will be differences. At a glance, it appears that the C368 is more like a C 658 (streamer/DAC/preamp) with an amplifier added, and it uses a different DAC chip than the Node.

If you want to use a Node, then if you already have a DAC or buy a good but reasonably priced one, you can run the digital output of the Node into that. Amir notes that the digital output of the Node is just fine; his complaints are about the DAC section. Doing this gives you the BluOS functionality with better measured performance.

Amir did not like the C658 either, but (a) the unit that he had may have been broken, (b) a firmware update may have fixed the main issue that he saw, and (c) a number of others on the forum (myself included) liked the performance of that unit. Although the SINAD was nothing special, it's unclear how audible any issues there would be -- obviously those of us happy with the 658 weren't complaining.

FWIW, I previously had a C658, which I really liked; I moved to another setup for reasons unrelated to the performance of the 658. I now have a Node running to an external DAC, and like that setup very much -- the Node, like any decent streamer, has excellent digital output, and the BluOS software is intuitive, supports 20-some streaming services natively, and never lets me down.
 

pumpy

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First, the Node is a Bluesound product; the C368 is a NAD one. Same parent company, but there will be differences. At a glance, it appears that the C368 is more like a C 658 (streamer/DAC/preamp) with an amplifier added, and it uses a different DAC chip than the Node.

If you want to use a Node, then if you already have a DAC or buy a good but reasonably priced one, you can run the digital output of the Node into that. Amir notes that the digital output of the Node is just fine; his complaints are about the DAC section. Doing this gives you the BluOS functionality with better measured performance.

Amir did not like the C658 either, but (a) the unit that he had may have been broken, (b) a firmware update may have fixed the main issue that he saw, and (c) a number of others on the forum (myself included) liked the performance of that unit. Although the SINAD was nothing special, it's unclear how audible any issues there would be -- obviously those of us happy with the 658 weren't complaining.

FWIW, I previously had a C658, which I really liked; I moved to another setup for reasons unrelated to the performance of the 658. I now have a Node running to an external DAC, and like that setup very much -- the Node, like any decent streamer, has excellent digital output, and the BluOS software is intuitive, supports 20-some streaming services natively, and never lets me down.
that's a good point, I guess I was just so impressed with it that I didn't focus on the "the node's dac section isn't good"; I don't know what dac is in the C368, NAD doesn't specify it on their site anywhere I could see it. I know that the NAD C399 has an ESS dac pulled from their masters gear, but even then IDK which one.
 

Snoopy

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that's a good point, I guess I was just so impressed with it that I didn't focus on the "the node's dac section isn't good"; I don't know what dac is in the C368, NAD doesn't specify it on their site anywhere I could see it. I know that the NAD C399 has an ESS dac pulled from their masters gear, but even then IDK which one.
The C386 uses a Burr-Brown PCM1795 DAC, the C399 uses a ESS Sabre DAC (9028).


Both are nothing special at all.
 

pumpy

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The C386 uses a Burr-Brown PCM1795 DAC, the C399 uses a ESS Sabre DAC (9028).


Both are nothing special at all.
I'm certainly not saying whether the DAC in the C368 is special, just noting the listening experience with the Lumina II's was wonderful. Thanks for the info on which dacs are in the various products, I appreciate it.
 
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