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Review and Measurements of Bluesound NODE 2i Streamer

Darwin

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#61
FYI the owner confirms he too was hearing static/drop out on Toslink input so that issue is real and not anything to do with my testing. I just reached out to the company and hopefully I hear back on what may be going on here.
Bummer. Seems like a great device otherwise. That and ho HDMI, kind of surprised they didn't think of this.
 
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#62
FYI the owner confirms he too was hearing static/drop out on Toslink input so that issue is real and not anything to do with my testing. I just reached out to the company and hopefully I hear back on what may be going on here.
Did you get any response back from the company? Maybe it was a bad unit with a faulty Toslink-in/Analog-in connecter because I have not experienced any issues when I feed my TV’s optical into Node 2i, and then optical-out to RME ADI-2 DAC.
 

amirm

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#63
Did you get any response back from the company? Maybe it was a bad unit with a faulty Toslink-in/Analog-in connecter because I have not experienced any issues when I feed my TV’s optical into Node 2i, and then optical-out to RME ADI-2 DAC.
No, didn't hear back after acknowledging the review. I agree the Toslink is probably broken.
 
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#64
No, didn't hear back after acknowledging the review. I agree the Toslink is probably broken.
Thanks Amir. I use the 2i mostly as a network streamer (to augment my Oppo 205’s lack of apps), routing everything to the RME ADI-2 DAC (or the Oppo 205), bypassing the 2i’s DAC. I only use the Toslink-in on the 2i because I ran out of digital inputs on my other gear. If I see others reporting problems with the 2i’s optical input, I may rethink my connections. But I haven’t seen any problems so far.

Thanks again for all the measurements and reviews. I bought an RME ADI-2 DAC and a Topping NX4 (for portable use with my iPad) because of your measurements, and I love both those devices. Despite a not-so-great review on the Monoprice Monolith Portable DAC, I ordered one anyway, because I like the PEQ (something I got used to using with the ADI-2 DAC) and the LCD display (I wish the Topping NX4 would show the sampling rate being recieved with an LED-color change or something, like the dragonflies). I should have the Monolith this week.

Thanks again.
 
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#65
No, didn't hear back after acknowledging the review. I agree the Toslink is probably broken.
I own a Bluesound Node 2 (not 2i) and I use its toslink input on a regular basis and have not experienced any issues with it. I actually feed the BS-N2 input toslink with my Sonos Connect output toslink. Weird - yes. The reason I do that is because I had been a long time user of Sonos Connect (I have 2 btw) and I was lazy to migrate my playlists from Sonos to BS-N2. Besides I found the BS-N2 DAC superior to the Sonos DAC so it made sense to set them up this way if I were to keep the Sonos.

I'm glad I ran across this thread here at ASR because I wanted to know the performance of the BS-N2 DAC compared to external DACs. I actually find the upper midrange harsh (in some material) in my current 2 ch setup (BS-N2 --> <analog RCA> --> NAD 375BEE --> Philharmonic BMR). The only DACs I have are Topping D10 and Schiit Modi 3. I can't use the D10 because it only accepts USB input. I put Modi 3 in the signal path (fed by BS-N2's SPDIF output) and heard big improvement in sound (subjective). The harshness was almost gone and the upper frequency detail improved a lot. For the record, I was playing a very harsh music to test this aspect. It's the first track of "The Greatest Showman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" in ALAC/M4A format (apple lossless) off my NAS.

Is my observation valid? Is Schitt Modi 3 superior to the BlueSound Node 2's internal DAC? I also use the Modi 3 in my low-cost headphone setup so I cannot pair it with the BS-N2 permanently, until I get another DAC.
 

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#66
I own a Bluesound Node 2 (not 2i) and I use its toslink input on a regular basis and have not experienced any issues with it. I actually feed the BS-N2 input toslink with my Sonos Connect output toslink. Weird - yes. The reason I do that is because I had been a long time user of Sonos Connect (I have 2 btw) and I was lazy to migrate my playlists from Sonos to BS-N2. Besides I found the BS-N2 DAC superior to the Sonos DAC so it made sense to set them up this way if I were to keep the Sonos.

I'm glad I ran across this thread here at ASR because I wanted to know the performance of the BS-N2 DAC compared to external DACs. I actually find the upper midrange harsh (in some material) in my current 2 ch setup (BS-N2 --> <analog RCA> --> NAD 375BEE --> Philharmonic BMR). The only DACs I have are Topping D10 and Schiit Modi 3. I can't use the D10 because it only accepts USB input. I put Modi 3 in the signal path (fed by BS-N2's SPDIF output) and heard big improvement in sound (subjective). The harshness was almost gone and the upper frequency detail improved a lot. For the record, I was playing a very harsh music to test this aspect. It's the first track of "The Greatest Showman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" in ALAC/M4A format (apple lossless) off my NAS.

Is my observation valid? Is Schitt Modi 3 superior to the BlueSound Node 2's internal DAC? I also use the Modi 3 in my low-cost headphone setup so I cannot pair it with the BS-N2 permanently, until I get another DAC.

For what is worth, I had a very similar impression regarding the BS Node 2/2i dac sound 'flavour'. When using the internal dac, RCA outs to my amplifier, I found a bit of harshness on the upper midrange, which brought listening fatigue after 10 minutes. I was also able to test the Bluseound with 2 dacs: Musical Fidelity V90 and then the more expensive Pro-ject DAC Box RS. No listening fatigue when I used these two dacs. Interestingly I could not immediately detect the difference but after 10 minutes or so I noticed I was not getting fatigue.
I also used a sonos connect (coaxial out) with the Pro-ject Dac to compare against the Node 2i (coaxial out also). Using AIFF / FLAC lossless tracks and switching between the two, I could not tell a difference in the system used. Just a subjective impression with all the caveats this entails.
 
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#67
For what is worth, I had a very similar impression regarding the BS Node 2/2i dac sound 'flavour'. When using the internal dac, RCA outs to my amplifier, I found a bit of harshness on the upper midrange, which brought listening fatigue after 10 minutes.
Problem solved.

20190227_165024 copy.jpg
 

Music1969

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Feb 19, 2018
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#68
Sharing for anyone interested, this is data I collected, couldn't find a comparison anywhere. The Node 2i stacks up well for features I want...except for lack of Pandora...got to think they'll add that at some point. Kind of silly not to have it. Denon and Marantz are only ones with displays though, what's up with that? Would have to imagine Sonos and Yamaha will catchup in the next iteration.

View attachment 21534
Hi again

An addition to consider: Cambridge Audio CXN V2

One of the rare streamers so far to support all of the big 3: Airplay, Spotify Connect AND Chromecast Built-in

Still waiting for one that supports the latest Airplay 2, in addition to Spotify Connect and Chromecast Built-in.

Only a matter of time I assume.
 
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#69
I just had an opportunity to listen Node 2i for few days, so I want to share my experience.

I compared Node 2i (coax out) with my CD player Sony CD XB930 QS (also coax out). Both connected with NuPrime DAC-10h (DAC i preamp) -> Nuprime ST-10 (power amp) -> ATC SCM11 (speakers).

Node 2i was connected with ethernet cable to Synology, from where it streamed flac files. Those flac files were burnt as audio CD which was in my CD player. First, I listened Node 2i and then I switched coax cable from Node 2i into CD player.

I turned off Tone controls on Node 2i and put the fixed Output level.

All in all, I wanted to have the same environment except the digital source which I was comparing.

The result: CD player sounded drastically better. Node 2i - lack of musicality, details, dynamics. It sounded absolutely boring and crippled. My wife even noticed that "something lacks" and she didn't know that Node 2i was playing.

If the CD player combo scored 9/10 in sound (where 10 is perfect and 1 is terrible), then Node 2i scored like 5/10. I didn't expected that result. I was really hoping that it would sound better so that I can resolve my personal problem with streamers and buy one :)
 
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#70
I may be a bit dense. So do these measurements just mean that the Node 2i is a bad DAC? Or would it be a bad roon endpoint as well?

It looks like the Allo DigiOne signature is the “best” budget streamer to go with, but I’m curious if the node 2i is at least decent as a streamer. I’d kind of prefer it just due to looks, as lame as that is.
 
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#71
I don't have a scientifically supported answer but based on Amir's analysis, the Node 2i dac is not that great. Whether you will actually hear this in your setup is debatable. I tried a Node 2i in my system initially with the inbuilt dac (RCA outs to my integrated) and I found it ok-ish. I needed to reduce the bass a bit (bad speaker positioning due to space constraints) and it sounded good initially but after about a week of listing I realised that the sound became a bit fatiguing (upper midrange emphasis).
I then introduced 2 DACs:
Feeding the coaxial out of the Node 2i to a musical fidelity V90 or a Rega Dac-R removed the fatigue. I compared the Sonos Connect (coaxial out) to the Node 2i (coaxial out) feeding the same dac with FLAC / AIFF (CD Lossless) and I could not tell a difference. Both good but given the choice I would opt for the Node 2i as i can use Roon to DSP it and tweak the sync with other Roon zones :). Not a blind test mind you so ...subject to all biases etc.

PS: The latest update from Bluesound seems to have fixed most of the issues I reported in my old post in this thread.
 
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