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Bluesound Powernode Edge Streaming Amp Review

Rate this streaming amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 10 8.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 56 48.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 44 37.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 6 5.2%

  • Total voters
    116

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Bluesound Powernode Edge streaming DAC and amplifier review. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $649.
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier analog in Toslink review.jpg

The unit has lots the elegant look of the regular Bluesound Powernode which I just reviewed. Yes it is still white but I am not a fan of the angles and such. Anyway, it doesn't take away from the functionality of the device which like its larger brother, includes such things as HDMI ARC audio support and dolby digital decoding:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier analog in Toslink HDMI Dolby review.jpg


I was again happy to see the device easily discovered by their app and controlled.

One thing I don't like is that the volume adjustment shows no values. Just a horizontal bar with no indicators. The small control bar for that also made it easy to accidently set the volume to very high levels. Here are the company specs:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier specifications.png


Bluesound Powernode Edge Amplifier Review
I started with using analog input with volume adjusted for a gain of near 29 dB:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier analog in measurement.png


That is inline more or less with the regular Powernode measurements. As with that testing, I also tried Toslink input keeping the volume in the same spot:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in measurement.png


We get much lower noise but distortion goes way up. Suspecting some overload condition, I set the input level to max and lowered the gain to get the same 5 watt output. Performance sharply improved:

Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in 0dbFS measurement.png


This catapults the Edge to near top of our competent category for amplifiers:
best streaming digital amplifier review 2023.png


best streaming digital amplifier review zoomed in 2023.png

This whole gain situation with amplifiers is such a mess. :( From here on, I will stay with digital input and above setting.

EDIT: here is the same measurement but streaming from Roon player:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier Roon in measurement.png


And SNR using Toslink:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in SNR measurement.png


Frequency response was very flat and nice with no load dependency:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in frequency response meas...png


Crosstalk was excellent as well:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in crosstalk measurement.png


There is some strangeness in noise floor though:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in Multitone measurement.png

Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in 19 20 khz measurement.png


Maybe it is noise shaping but it is very extreme as it starts to do this as just 15 kHz.

Let's see how much power we get:

Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in Power 4 ohm measurement.png

Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in max Power 4 ohm measure...png

Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in Power 8 ohm measurement.png


The high ultrasonic noise makes my wideband tests of power vs frequency look very inflated:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier toslink in Power 4 ohm vs frequenc...png


The Edge is stable on power up:
Bluesound Powernode Edge stereo streaming digital amplifier warm up measurement.png


Conclusions
The Edge seems to be a more performent implementation than regular Powernode with lower price -- both of which is to my liking. There is some oddities with respect to noise floor and rising noise at higher frequencies. It could be a combination of both DAC and amplifier doing this. While you can assemble streamers with much higher performance and/or lower cost, it would be difficult to get features like HDMI ARC and Dolby Digital decoding.

I am going to recommend the Bluesound Powernode Edge streamer amplifier.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Click here if you have some audio gear you want me to test.

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

tjf

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Hi, I asked this in the Powernode 3 (N330) review, and I'll ask it here too...

Is there a way to measure either the Powernode Edge or the Powernode N330 using Roon to mimic a streaming source, rather than the Optical and Analog/ADC "external device" inputs?

If so, it might yield a different result for either device? And...the Powernode Edge uses a very different DAC/Class D implementation from the Powernode 3 -- the Edge unit uses (I believe) a "power DAC" or a PCM-to-ClassD amplifier design, where the Powernode3 uses the T.I. PCM5242 DAC and a UcD Class D amp...

I'd love to see both units re-measured with a network interface if this is possible (Roon?)
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Is there a way to measure either the Powernode Edge or the Powernode N330 using Roon to mimic a streaming source, rather than the Optical and Analog/ADC "external device" inputs?
In every case I have tested a streamer, results are identical with streaming or using a digital input. I should have done that here as well but I already have the units packed. :)
 

Zek

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@amirm There is also a USB input - Why were no measurements made on the USB input?
 

Timcognito

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While you can assemble streamers with much higher performance and/or lower cost, it would be difficult to get features like HDMI ARC and Dolby Digital decoding.
As well as the lifetime BluOS app and UI that integrates streaming services, personal network stored content and internet radio in a multi-room format. Also a Roon endpoint.
 

ocinn

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@amirm There is also a USB input - Why were no measurements made on the USB input?
That is for playback from hard drives, not USB audio streaming
 

Hollywood_Bob

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A very timely review for me.

I am quite interested in the Powernode Edge, partly because it includes the Axign AX5689.

I just confirmed with Bluesound the other day that the Edge uses the AX5689 for Post-Filter Feedback, which I have been interested trying for some time.

Come on, Come on Black Friday, hurry up.
 

Rja4000

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Thanks for this review again.
Will patience pay off, at the end ?
The small control bar for that also made it easy to accidently set the volume to very high levels.
True.
But I think there is a way to set a maximum output level that, even with a volume accidentally set to maximum, you cannot exceed.
Correct?

20230803_233110.jpg
 
Last edited:

GiBo61

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Bluesound Powernode Edge streaming DAC and amplifier review. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $649.
View attachment 303103
The unit has lots the elegant look of the regular Bluesound Powernode which I just reviewed. Yes it is still white but I am not a fan of the angles and such. Anyway, it doesn't take away from the functionality of the device which like its larger brother, includes such things as HDMI ARC audio support and dolby digital decoding:
View attachment 303104

I was again happy to see the device easily discovered by their app and controlled.

One thing I don't like is that the volume adjustment shows no values. Just a horizontal bar with no indicators. The small control bar for that also made it easy to accidently set the volume to very high levels. Here are the company specs:
View attachment 303120

Bluesound Powernode Edge Amplifier Review
I started with using analog input with volume adjusted for a gain of near 29 dB:
View attachment 303105

That is inline more or less with the regular Powernode measurements. As with that testing, I also tried Toslink input keeping the volume in the same spot:
View attachment 303106

We get much lower noise but distortion goes way up. Suspecting some overload condition, I set the input level to max and lowered the gain to get the same 5 watt output. Performance sharply improved:

View attachment 303107

This catapults the Edge to near top of our competent category for amplifiers:
View attachment 303108

View attachment 303109
This whole gain situation with amplifiers is such a mess. :( From here on, I will stay with digital input and above setting.

EDIT: here is the same measurement but streaming from Roon player:
View attachment 303135

And SNR using Toslink:
View attachment 303136

Frequency response was very flat and nice with no load dependency:
View attachment 303110

Crosstalk was excellent as well:
View attachment 303111

There is some strangeness in noise floor though:
View attachment 303112
View attachment 303113

Maybe it is noise shaping but it is very extreme as it starts to do this as just 15 kHz.

Let's see how much power we get:

View attachment 303114
View attachment 303115
View attachment 303116

The high ultrasonic noise makes my wideband tests of power vs frequency look very inflated:
View attachment 303118

The Edge is stable on power up:
View attachment 303117

Conclusions
The Edge seems to be a more performent implementation than regular Powernode with lower price -- both of which is to my liking. There is some oddities with respect to noise floor and rising noise at higher frequencies. It could be a combination of both DAC and amplifier doing this. While you can assemble streamers with much higher performance and/or lower cost, it would be difficult to get features like HDMI ARC and Dolby Digital decoding.

I am going to recommend the Bluesound Powernode Edge streamer amplifier.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Click here if you have some audio gear you want me to test.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
If this is a full digital amplifier using the Axign AX5689N controller I guess there is no DAC but only a ADC for the analog input. Is it correct?
 

ocinn

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I just confirmed with Bluesound the other day that the Edge uses the AX5689
Wiim Mini + Sabaj A30a (SMSL VMV A2 re-badge) would be a hugely higher-performing AX5689 streaming setup, for $50 less.

If this is a full digital amplifier using the Axign AX5689N controller I guess there is no DAC but only a ADC for the analog input. Is it correct?
Yes correct, but now knowing this, makes the performance quite disappointing vs. other implementations. See above.
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

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But I think there is a way to set a maximum output level that, even with a volume accidentally set to maximum, you cannot exceed.
Correct?
That wouldn't solve my problem of needing to play at full volume but not normally wanting to go there. Say I am listening at night and just hit the wrong spot on that slider and it goes to max power.
 

Hollywood_Bob

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Wiim Mini + Sabaj A30a (SMSL VMV A2 re-badge) would be a hugely higher-performing AX5689 streaming setup, for $50 less.


Yes correct, but now knowing this, makes the performance quite disappointing vs. other implementations. See above.
Thats a very good point, and I have been thinking of the Sabaj A30a as well. But I can't find any really objective reviews of it, and I am hoping Amir could do one before I have to make up my mind at the end of November.
 

pseudoid

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Thank you for the review, @amirm.;)
I would have readily voted this unit a PostmanPanther but only if they had deducted the power amp and replaced it with real RCA and optical I/Os, along with an eARC that is a thru-put (rather than just an input).
I am not aware of many current TVs which provide eARC at more than a single HDMI output.
 

Rja4000

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That wouldn't solve my problem of needing to play at full volume but not normally wanting to go there.
True. It's more to limit the risk your childrens destroy the speakers, as an example.
Say I am listening at night and just hit the wrong spot on that slider and it goes to max power.
I understand your point and agree.

Still, it never happened to me or my wife in years of daily use.
Which made me wonder why.

In fact, we hardly use the sliders to set the level.
We mostly use them to set the relative volume of one room vs the other(s) in a group of rooms.

To control the listening level, we typically rather use our phone's volume +/- buttons, which the app sends to the (Power,)Node(s). This is not fast, but allows an accurate enough control.

But I agree the slider use should be more accurate or made safer with the app.
 
Last edited:

GWolfman

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The charts are so unique, they’ve definitely got some weird thing going on with their design(s).
 

ocinn

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Thats a very good point, and I have been thinking of the Sabaj A30a as well. But I can't find any really objective reviews of it, and I am hoping Amir could do one before I have to make up my mind at the end of November.
It is the same as the VMV A2. The circuit boards are absolutely identical. It’s just that the VMV is a black PCB and the Sabaj is green. They should perform identically
 

PeteL

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It is the same as the VMV A2. The circuit boards are absolutely identical. It’s just that the VMV is a black PCB and the Sabaj is green. They should perform identically
Wondering who plagiarized who. Not cool.
 

GiBo61

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To the best of my knowledge SMSL and Sabaj belong to the same company so there is no plagiarism. In the automotive world it happens all the time to have cars of different sub-brands that share identical platforms and engines.
 
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