Bluesound Node 2i Network Audio Player Review & Comments

Discussion in 'Music Streamers' started by Phil Hinton, Feb 17, 2019.


    1. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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    2. KenM10759

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      I've had Bluesound gear for about 3-1/2 years now. The progress of evolution in the BluOS format and associated equipment has been a quick one, and (mostly) well-executed. The Burr-Brown PCM5122 used in the 2 and 2i generation units in conjunction with the ARM-9 1Ghz processor makes for a good DAC and I agree with your assessment that it lacks only the very finest details that an upper-level ESS Sabre DAC can deliver, albeit their much higher cost. It still stands far above anything Sonos or dare I say Music Cast for sound quality.

      The Lenbrook Group is smart to incorporate BluOS in NAD products, and now out to non-Lenbrook Group manufacturers. That'll help grow the system which has worked out so well for my situation where I have a desktop system, a living room 5.1.2 system, and a guest room 5.1 system. Anywhere I want music it's there and I can play all the same on all systems by shifting one play queue to other players, or completely different on each.

      I look forward to your review of the new NAD Masters M10 that has now taken place of the Powernode 2 on my desktop. There's where NAD takes Bluesound to the next level with an ESS Sabre 9028 DAC and Dirac Live. Cool unit.
       
    3. resseh

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      I have a pioneer lx-sc79 receiver which has DACS: ESS SABRE Ultra D/A-Wandler ES9016S.

      Would it make any Difference to my setup adding the Node 2i other than a better interface?
       
    4. Gori11a

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      Nice review thanks.
      I see the older model without the "i" is available quite cheap. Anyone know how it compares to the this one, features and sound wise?
       
    5. Grumpyrocker

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      £500 for a network streamer? Crikey.
       
    6. KenM10759

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      Your paying some for the streamer, a lot more of it for the complete operating system and support. And I for one firmly believe it is very much worth it!
       
    7. KenM10759

      KenM10759
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      They sound exactly the same, as the DAC hasn't changed. The 2i adds the authentication chip demanded by Apple for Airplay 2 to work, and it now has 2-way BT so wireless BT headphones work as well as being able to play via BT off your phone. The older version does the latter only.

      If you're heavy into IOS gear, the 2i is probably worth it. If not, and no wireless BT headphones, save with the 2.
       
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    8. Gori11a

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      That's the answer I would have expected. Not the same as What HiFi says though lol.:rotfl:
       
    9. redtigga

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      Great review and uncanny in its timing.

      I recently bought Roon for a year and love it. I listen almost exclusively via Chord Mojo / Poly to Audioquest Phones or direct to my Denon AVR and Monitor Audio speakers.

      The Mojo is great in both cases but a little fidgety and I was looking at a more permanent solution for the Denon. Would the Node 2i be a worthy upgrade or do you think I would notice the downgrade in DAC?
       
    10. Hillskill

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      Using the Node as a Roon endpoint would mean you lose the MQA decode on the Node if using Tidal. It made me think twice about tinkering with Roon.
       
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    11. KenM10759

      KenM10759
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      Why would that happen? If the analog outputs are used, I would think you get full MQA unfold regardless of Roon.
       
    12. Hillskill

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      Apparently not. Only when you are selecting and playing music via Blue OS do you get the second unfold. You can set the software to pass on the MQA encoded stream to another DAC AFAIK. But again the caveat is you have to use Blue OS.
       
    13. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      Outside of the scope of this review but now that Qobuz is part of the Roon ecosystem, I'd urge people to give that a whirl as it bypasses the grey area of MQA altogether and sounds pretty spunky at the same time.
       
    14. redtigga

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      Thanks Ed. Any views on the sonic capabilities of Node vs Mojo?
       
    15. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      Mojo is more detailed and a little more dynamic but I do really like the presentation of the Node 2i. It's very capable across a lot of different material and plays well with others.
       
    16. gadget man

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      I am struggling to see the value in the bluesound. I own a rasberry pi and stream from a NAS with the excellent logitech squeezebox software i can guarantee the bluesound is not in the same league. Yes you get a DAC but if you already own one i fail to see best in class award. the cost vs £30 for the pi.
       
    17. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      On a personal level, I've hated the Squeezebox OS since it was still part of Slim Devices and time has done little to change this view so I'll take your guarantee with a pinch of salt. Blu OS offers native support for a mass of streaming services (no third party plugins), has superb multiroom and adds some extra convenience features at the same time.

      It's also aimed at a completely different corner of the market. Comparing a home build to a retail product sold complete, ready to go with warranty and the like isn't remotely valid.
       
    18. gadget man

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      People have different opinions which is fair enough i like the squeezebox software completely changed years ago and the interface with an app on my ipad is great. Also last year DSD is supported. I take your issue on streaming services which i personally do not use along with the multiroom.

      For a low cost option i still stand by my above comment and only takes 20mins to set up. £500 for this sort of device is crazy, so many options available now even using a laptop with audirvana.
       
    19. KenM10759

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      You may not have spent much (or any) with the Bluesound system. I have had it for 3-1/2 years and seen how it's continually evolved to be something really slick now, while retaining much of the old look. Free firmware and app upgrades for life and a company that responds fast to customer input is hard to beat. THAT is where the value lies.
       
    20. Hillskill

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      Blue OS is great. I much preferred it the Auralic Lightning OS. From what I have seen of Roon though it wipes the floor with every competitor although it should for the money. @Ed Selley I'm seriously considering switching to Qobuz. I have spent some time researching Roon. Any kind of review for the platform coming up in the near future? There is a real lack of decent video content on Roon on youtube too!
       
    21. Ed Selley

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      There are some issues with me reviewing Roon and they are confusingly contradictory. I don't habitually use it- and this computer is not an ideal platform for doing so. I am also on the books of a company who is a Roon development partner which may or may not be a conflict of interest despite me not using it.

      Also, I'm a odd one here but Auralic's Lightning app on the new G Platform products is my fave operating system of the lot at the moment. I prefer it to Roon.
       
    22. Sandyb01

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      Have you seen the Darko Audio video on Roon?

      Guessing you probably have, but link below. It's not a full technical breakdown I grant you, but gives a decent feel for it. I'm about to go down the Roon path too, largely as the usual streaming apps are pretty poor at discovery for me, even on an iPad.

      Roon: for connoisseurs of music streaming


      And to the Pi advocates, remember there are plenty of us who have neither the time, inclination or know how to tinker around with DIY setups. Hell I can't even put up shelves myself, so I'll pay a premium for an off the shelf.

      The key though for me with Roon is that it presents your local music library and streaming libraries more as one integrated library, and from my playing with it in a store, I can see why its the preference of many who really want to engage / immerse themselves in the whole music thing.
       
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    23. Hillskill

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      How funny! I'm a huge fan of John Darko's content. I have however never noticed that video. Will watch that this evening thanks.
       
    24. Sandyb01

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      Only recently discovered him - he's way more into high end audio than I am, but he presents well, explains how stuff works together pretty well, and I was completely sold on getting Roon into my setup after watching that video. But then again, I have no will power....
       
    25. John Kay

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      Great review and discussion. Regarding Roon please be aware that even though Bluesound markets their products as Roon Ready, they are currently not yet certified and there are a number of long standing related bugs. Syncing multiple Bluesound units via Roon does not work, there is a 4-10 second gap when playback starts and units disappear from the network at random times. Well discussed over at the Roon forum and Bluesound has acknowledged these bugs on their end. Good to know if you are thinking of using Roon in conjunction.
       
    26. spl23

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      "... the resolutely 16/48 capable Sonos..."

      Just a point of information on this - while Sonos will indeed handle 16/48, it does so by downsampling to 16/44.1; Sonos' DACs cannot handle 48kHz. I discovered this while trying to get one to pass a DVD-DTS bitstream embedded in a 48kHz lossless file - the Sonos will not do it, and outputs 44.1 when fed a 48 input.

      Which is why I now own a Node 2i in my main system, which is as good as the review suggests. Although Bluesound's Android control app, running on a brand-new Amazon Kindle Fire HD8, is for some reason noticeably more sluggish than the iOS app running on a 4 year old iPad mini...
       
    27. Blues Rock

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      .
       
      Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
    28. fyonn

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      I currently use a pi running volumio and have considered a "proper" streamer with a nice matching iOS app, but I keep struggling to find one that I like. I'd really like one that supports and outputs DSD via USB to my amp/dac.

      The Auralic Aries Mini seems to fit the bill, but it looks like they're wanting to phase it out, it's already gone from the US sites I think and their replacement devices are significantly more expensive...

      Why do so many manufacturers of reasonable priced streamers not fit a USB audio output? It seems a missed opportunity.
       
    29. gadget man

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      Just stick with what you got me never changing from my setup not worth the cost and zero improvement in sound quality and lack of features like no DSD for starters.
       
    30. Khazul

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      Why is that a problem? Roon can do its own MQA decoding (TBH I thought it could use the Node MQA decode as well). I use Roon and TBH the #1 reason I suggest Node 2 (2i) to people is because of its Roon network support. If you have NAD gear, then blueos is another good reason. While its a decent streamer on it own SQ wise, I cant say I its worth a second look if you ignore the blueos and especially the Roon capabilities unless you particularly want the modern 'life-style' product look (which personally I really don't like in a component setup - you feel kind of forced into getting the matching product(s) otherwise it all looks really odd).
       

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