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Bluesound Powernode 2021

Janala

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I have the Onkyo TX-8150 paired with Monitor Audio Silver 1 speakers.
I would like to get a new network stereo so I don’t need to buy any streamers or Raspberry Pis to use with Roon and have looked at the Bluesound Powernode 2021.
Would this be an upgrade in performance compared to my Onkyo?
 

Jim Matthews

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Is the ROON endpoint the only missing feature?

The ONKYO is a solid, well built product.

(I own a BlueSound PowerNode and Vault)
 
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Janala

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Is the ROON endpoint the only missing feature?

The ONKYO is a solid, well built product.

(I own a BlueSound PowerNode and Vault)
I have connected my MacBook with a toslink to my Onkyo but would like to get higher res like 24/192 and DSD. The Onkyo is limited to 24/96 via coaxial and optical inputs.
I would also like to play music from Qobuz without using the Mac all the time, I understand that the BluOS has Qobuz integrated so that would also be nice.
 
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Janala

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Is the ROON endpoint the only missing feature?

The ONKYO is a solid, well built product.

(I own a BlueSound PowerNode and Vault)
Are you satisfied with the performance of the Powernode?
Will the sound quality improve if I buy the Powernode?
 

Jim Matthews

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Are you satisfied with the performance of the Powernode?
Will the sound quality improve if I buy the Powernode?
I doubt you'll notice an improvement in basic musical presentation.

What BlueSound offers is a very slick interface, through your networked phone or tablet. According to the Onkyo website, the current firmware (December 2020) should support higher resolution formats.

According to the Onkyo manual, you *should * be able to connect directly to your home router. While it's not your preferred service, it does natively support Spotify, which will offer higher resolution streaming, soon.

 

sarumbear

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I doubt you'll notice an improvement in basic musical presentation.

What BlueSound offers is a very slick interface, through your networked phone or tablet. According to the Onkyo website, the current firmware (December 2020) should support higher resolution formats.

According to the Onkyo manual, you *should * be able to connect directly to your home router. While it's not your preferred service, it does natively support Spotify, which will offer higher resolution streaming, soon.

Does anyone know how BlueSound streams hi-res audio wirelessly? What protocol do they use?
 
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Janala

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I doubt you'll notice an improvement in basic musical presentation.

What BlueSound offers is a very slick interface, through your networked phone or tablet. According to the Onkyo website, the current firmware (December 2020) should support higher resolution formats.

According to the Onkyo manual, you *should * be able to connect directly to your home router. While it's not your preferred service, it does natively support Spotify, which will offer higher resolution streaming, soon.

I’m updating it at the moment but I can’t find the info about higher resolution. Where did you read that?
 

Jim Matthews

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Does anyone know how BlueSound streams hi-res audio wirelessly? What protocol do they use?
Bluesound requires an Ethernet connection to your home router.
 

Jim Matthews

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I’m updating it at the moment but I can’t find the info about higher resolution. Where did you read that?
Front page of the link above:

Ready for Hi-Res Audio
The TX-8150 is engineered for universal Hi-Res compatibility and ease of use. Use the remote app to select your 192/24 FLAC or 5.6 MHz DSD files on PC or NAS and bask in the clarity and detail of high-resolution music.
 

tjf

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Bluesound requires an Ethernet connection to your home router.

Not entirely correct -- Your Bluesound Vault does require an Ethernet connection to your Network Router/Modem.

Other Bluesound devices -- Node, Powernode, etc. -- can work on WiFi or Ethernet for their network connectivity.

And to the other poster's question of:

"Does anyone know how BlueSound streams hi-res audio wirelessly? What protocol do they use?"

Not entirely sure what this poster means about "wireless hi-res audio streaming protocols" ??

If he's asking what "hi-res audio" file format (protocol?) is being "streamed" -- then anything in a FLAC file @ 24 Bits -- or more controversially -- MQA files on Tidal.

If he's asking about the network connection requirements for "wireless streaming" -- basically you furnish a conventional WiFi (or Ethernet) connection to the Node/Powernode, it gets network access (via your Internet provider) to the music service via the BluOS App platform that offers "hi-res audio" content (Amazon HD, Tidal, Qobuz), and you get "hi-res audio streaming" -- no end user definable "protocol" is required.

For a WiFi connection -- just a 2.4 Ghz network connection, with moderate speed and good signal strength -- as some Bluesound users have reported performance issues with weak WiFi network connections -- but I've used the Node2i, the Node 3, and the Powernode 2i on WiFi networks with a decent signal strength (typically -40db to -60db when measured) and with modest speed capabilities (30MBS to 60MBS download speeds) and gotten perfectly fine performance results on Tidal, Qobuz, and Amazon's 24 bit "hi-res" tracks.

If this doesn't answer this poster's query, perhaps he could elaborate on what he's specifcally asking about?
 

sarumbear

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Not entirely sure what this poster means about "wireless hi-res audio streaming protocols" ??

If he's asking what "hi-res audio" file format (protocol?) is being "streamed" -- then anything in a FLAC file @ 24 Bits -- or more controversially -- MQA files on Tidal.

If this doesn't answer this poster's query, perhaps he could elaborate on what he's specifcally asking about?
I am enquiring how the audio signal, once it is read and decoded from the FLAC, WAV, etc. file, is sent over Wi-Fi. For instance it have to use a different protocol than AirPlay to offer Hi-Res audio to be sent from an iPhone as AirPlay is limited to 16-bit/44.1kHz.
 

tjf

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I am enquiring how the audio signal, once it is read and decoded from the FLAC, WAV, etc. file, is sent over Wi-Fi. For instance it have to use a different protocol than AirPlay to offer Hi-Res audio to be sent from an iPhone as AirPlay is limited to 16-bit/44.1kHz.

The audio file "container' is not read and decoded prior to being sent over WiFi. The audio file stays in it's FLAC container until it reaches the processor in the Bluesound device, having entered the Node, Powernode, etc., via the Network card interface.

Also -- .WAV files can be acquired thru LAN Networks from NAS drives on the local network -- again, the .WAV file container stays intact until it's sent to the Bluesound SOC (system-on-chip) processor from it's onboard Network card...

Regarding Airplay, this system uses the processor in the iOS device (phone, tablet) to decode the 16/44 container file (I don't think it's AIFF, but not sure on this) and "stream" it over a WiFi network to an Airplay approved "rendering endpoint" -- I've never seen details from Apple (or anybody else for that matter) regarding what form the 16/44 file data takes as it's riding your WiFi network over to the Airplay enabled endpoint.

So you can't use Airplay as the concept model for other streaming platforms like Bluesound, Sonos, Chromecast, etc -- which work in the fashion I outlined above.

Also, Apple has purposely limited their system to 16/44, assuming little consumer demand for 24 bit content.

Hope this helps...
 
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tjf

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Meanwhile, back to the OP's actual query about a Powernode 3 (N330) vs. his Onkyo TX-8150 Stereo receiver for sound quality and streaming functionality...

FWIW, here's my take:

Regarding the DAC devices used, it would seem (on paper) to be a draw...

In the Onkyo = AKM4452 specs:

In the Powernode 3 = T.I. (Burr Brown) PCM5242 specs:

Regarding the comparison of power amp sections, the class AB amp of the Onkyo has the optimistic power rating of 135W in one channel, not 2, @ 6 Ohms @ 1 KHZ @ 1% THD -- I'd be surprised if the 80W/CH Ncore based power amp of the Powernode3 didn't outperform the Onkyo power amp by a substantive margin, but Amir's jury is still out on this comparison...

On subwoofer integration, the Powernode3 wins -- if the OP ever decides to add a Sub to his Monitor Audio speakers:

-- the Onkyo has no High Pass filtering for it's main amplifier channels, and the mono "Subwoofer Pre Out" is just literally a full range mono analog output controlled by the main volume control

-- the Powernode3 offers DSP based High Pass crossovers for it's amplifier channels and an adjustable Low Pass crossover for it's mono Subwoofer output. (the T.I. PCM 5242 DAC has a DSP based programmable xover/bass mgmt function)

Regarding streaming services and capabilities, BluOS gives you Tidal, Qobuz, and Amazon HD for your "HiRes" streaming, and Spotify Connect for Lossy/compressed content. Maybe someday Spotify will offer Lossless, I think it'll be a long wait, seeing how Amazon and Apple Music have fared with their Lossless & HiRes rollouts...

For the Onkyo, it's streaming facilities are pretty dated, Deezer being the only Lossless option -- unless you count Airplay's 16/44 content, so again the Powernode3 wins.

And of course Roon -- not as big an issue IMO...

So...for $900 bucks, I think the Powernode3/Powernode 2021/N330 -- whatever, is a good upgrade from your Onkyo.
 
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Janala

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So...for $900 bucks, I think the Powernode3/Powernode 2021/N330 -- whatever, is a good upgrade from your Onkyo.
Thanks a lot for this detailed info TJF, very much appreciated!
Based on this it seems to be a good choice indeed to go for the Powernode. My main problem has been that I’ve been forced to use my MacBook to listen with Qobuz but that will be no issue with Powernode.
I was also not aware of the one channel 135w output on my Onkyo!
 

tjf

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The Powernode3 (as I call it) is a really good deal for speakers/rooms that don't need an immense amount of power -- it might even be enough for a small set of Magnepans assuming you use a sub and set a high cutoff frequency with it's High Pass filter, but for bookshelf type speakers it should be a great match power-wise.

The 1 channel power spec on your Onkyo has to do with a common trick that amplifier mfgrs. would do -- that is to make their FTC (Federal Trade Commission) specified power tests look as high as possible, they'd only measure 1 channel under load, instead of the honest way of measuring both channels max power output simultaneously under load.

So the amplifier's power supply would be under less strain with only 1 channel driven & measured -- so that 1 channel would have a greater power reserve to draw on from the power supply.

This way you get a higher RMS power spec to advertise for your amplifier. All the major consumer hifi mfgrs. were guilty of this practice, until NAD started giving more honest power specs in the 80's for their amplifiers -- like measuring amps with both channels driven.

Regarding Qobuz, you might want to try Amazon HD as I've found that it offers a greater selection of content than Qobuz/Tidal -- both Lossless and HiRes titles -- but it's less easy to navigate due to it's crappy User Interface design, but you might want to try it.

Lastly, don't be misled by the new NAD "C700" unit, as this is the Powernode3 in a nicer box with a LCD display (not a touchpanel) to show album art, etc., but is the same performance as the Powernode for $1500...
 
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Janala

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Lastly, don't be misled by the new NAD "C700" unit, as this is the Powernode3 in a nicer box with a LCD display (not a touchpanel) to show album art, etc., but is the same performance as the Powernode for $1500...
My only concern is the dac in the Powernode after I read @amirms review of the Node, I assume that the Powernode has the same dac?
I can’t find any reviews of it in here. Otherwise the Powernode ticks all the boxes for my needs and I think it’s a fantastic all-in-one unit.
 

tjf

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Yes, the Powernode 2021 uses the same DAC as the Node 2021, so your concern about its potential sound quality is duly noted.

In response, I'll suggest the following :

* you've been using a DAC in your Onkyo that is at least as limited in performance as the PCM5242,

* the audibility of the measured performance of the PCM5242 DAC in the review of the Node is an open question -- as to whether it's performance is audibly worse - - or audibly similar - - or just as good - - compared to the best measuring DACs tested on ASR recently.

This is an unresolved issue that will only be resolved to the standards of ASR by implementing a "Double Blind Test" with controls and protocols in keeping with the standards of scientific research institutions.

This issue has been debated by many posters on this forum many times when the question of "audibility of electronic circuits" is discussed -- subjective vs. objective performance, listeners bias mechanisms, etc. etc.

* If you're planning on erring on the side of caution by changing your plan to use a system that has a better measuring DAC - - you'll need to add $$ to your budget -- If you prefer to have a system where you can have peace-of-mind as to your DACs measurable performance, you should consider:

-- Bluesound Node ($550)
-- Topping DAC w/volume control ($250-$400, or more)
-- Topping PA5 Amp ($350)

And no bass management/Subwoofer integration with a high pass filter.

Are you sure you can't overcome your concern about DAC performance in the Power node?
 
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Janala

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Are you sure you can't overcome your concern about DAC performance in the Power node?
Now that you put it like this I think it’s a no-brainer. It will cost me a lot more to buy separate units if I want better sound quality, but the main reason I want the Powernode is for its simplicity and convenience.
You have everything in the same unit and you don’t need any computer to play your music.
My plan is to buy a subwoofer so the integration with its high pass filter in the Powernode should also give me a better sound quality.
I think you have convinced me to go for the Powernode and I thank you for that.
 

tjf

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Now that you put it like this I think it’s a no-brainer. It will cost me a lot more to buy separate units if I want better sound quality, but the main reason I want the Powernode is for its simplicity and convenience.
You have everything in the same unit and you don’t need any computer to play your music.
My plan is to buy a subwoofer so the integration with its high pass filter in the Powernode should also give me a better sound quality.
I think you have convinced me to go for the Powernode and I thank you for that.
Great! Please report back with your results, I'd like to hear how it goes! These devices are on back order (I've been waiting a month for my new Node) but everything is on back order these days...
 
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