Powernode (2021) and NAD C700 comparison

dasherdiablo1

Active Member
At the end of last week I purchased both a Powernode (2021) and a NAD C700 to compare them side by side for use with my AE109’s in one of our sitting rooms.

First impressions are that they are both very good bits of kit. Both work very well with the BluOS setup.

They are of very good build quality, but for me the NAD feels more solidly built.

Looks-wise and ergonomically the NAD wins by some margin, the way the menu works with the screen is classy yet simple, the dial and buttons are weighty and have lovely positive movements. Don’t get me wrong, the Powernode looks great too but the touch controls just don’t do it for me - although the proximity sensor is a nice touch. The Powernode is in white and I think would suit a modern home very well. I think the NAD can cut it in any style home as it has both modern and classic hues to the styling.

Performance and sound. Hmm, now this has surprised me; both have plenty of oomph to power my AE floorstanders, but the Powernode has it in buckets, its delivery feels and sounds effortless, the detail and precision seem to just climb with the increase in volume, that said the NAD doesn’t lose composure, but almost sounds like it could. I’m a bit of a car nut and I’d compare the two by saying the Powernode is an unstressed V8, whereas the NAD is a smaller 4pot engine with a turbo. There’s nothing wrong with either, but I think I’d find myself picking up the keys to the V8 more often for the sound alone. Now hear comes the odd thing, the Powernode seems more composed, it’s also less boomy, really revealing and can be tweaked to sound quite bright with a huge amount of detail being revealed. The NAD is less sharp, not quite as clear (but I’m talking 2 or 3 % less clear here) than the Powernode, yet I’m only really picking that up as I switch between the two in rapid succession. I don’t think I’d be aware of it if I had a break between the two in longer sessions.

Conclusion - to be honest I’m not sure. Firstly I really, really like both. If I needed an extra two systems I’d have both but for different reasons. I think I prefer the sound of the Powernode; I’m pretty sure it is better, but marginally. Yet, due to the incredibly detailed music reproduction I’m also concerned it could become fatiguing and not as relaxing as the NAD which as an overall package I think is more appealing. I know that at full price there is a £450 price difference between the two, but I’m ignoring that bit because I got a discount on each of them so that they was actually only £200 between them (man maths here in overdrive).

In a nutshell I don’t know which I’m going to keep - but it will certainly be one of them. Anyone else tried both and willing to share their thoughts?

Photo for those interested (ignore the cable mess as it all temporarily at the moment until I decide what is staying and then they’ll get tidied up).
 

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RugbyAl

Well-known Member
Nice review, love the BluOS ecosystem as well. Personally, the album art on the NAD would swing it for me.
 

marinmv1

Standard Member
I listen to both for quite some time before going with the Powernode, both similar but felt the Powernode was slightly cleaner sounding. Both excellent!
 
Not looked at the NAD, its more money and harder to get hold of here.

But loving the powernode, had it a month, cant say I've ever used the controls on the device, it sits in a corner and I use the app. I guess it depends on your use etc.
 

dasherdiablo1

Active Member
Decided to keep the C700, driven by greater flexibility of connections, also the other day is left my phone upstairs on charge and fancied listening to some music. So easy to do with the NAD, I also find it produces a more natural sound. The Powernode is a great bit of kit though and it was very close!
 

robdmarsh

Active Member
Yet, due to the incredibly detailed music reproduction I’m also concerned it could become fatiguing and not as relaxing as the NAD
I had the Node 2021 for a bit and that's exactly what I found with it, namely that it could be fatiguing. I didn't much care for the digital sheen to the sound, maybe it would mellow with time but I don't like the looks and BluOS, what?! ..... why does everyone rave about it, it has nothing like the functionality or great user experience of the Amazon music app, and because Amazon music is all I use (before others talk about all the great functions of integrating your own ripped music etc) the Node was a No from me!
 

Jaded1

Active Member
Haven't heard the NAD but agree about the sound quality of the node. It has detail and soundstage in buckets. Very impressive for the price.
 

Ascotbilly

Well-known Member
Photo for those interested (ignore the cable mess as it all temporarily at the moment until I decide what is staying and then they’ll get tidied up).
Didn’t realise the NAD was so compact looks a decent design.
 

Ascotbilly

Well-known Member
I’ll give it a 2nd look Rod but gotta agree on the Zen, sounds quality as well !
 
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Skebet

Member
Very happy C700 customer here. Initially I used it as the full "just as speakers" package, but now I use it as a dedicated streamer/dac/preamp, running the RCA analog out into a Hegel H20 amplifier (and B&W 702 Signatures).

But why not just get a (Power)Node in that case?

1) The C700 has a better DAC (ESS ES9010) than the Node/Powernode (TI PCM5242)
2) The C700 screen is great

My only complaint about the C700 is its absence of digital out (which would enable an external DAC), which the Node/Powernode do have, but without a screen :(

Would LOVE to get a good Bluesound frontend with a screen and digital out.
 

robdmarsh

Active Member
Very happy C700 customer here. Initially I used it as the full "just as speakers" package, but now I use it as a dedicated streamer/dac/preamp, running the RCA analog out into a Hegel H20 amplifier (and B&W 702 Signatures).

But why not just get a (Power)Node in that case?

1) The C700 has a better DAC (ESS ES9010) than the Node/Powernode (TI PCM5242)
2) The C700 screen is great

My only complaint about the C700 is its absence of digital out (which would enable an external DAC), which the Node/Powernode do have, but without a screen :(

Would LOVE to get a good Bluesound frontend with a screen and digital out.
Why do you want a screen that you can't see properly when you have a perfectly good one you can see in your hand?
 

londonguy1973

Active Member
This argument about people shouldn't like screens is ridiculous. Some people like them, I like to see the album art when something is playing. It just looks good as well. For some people it's not important but for others it's a preference which they are allowed to have.
 

dasherdiablo1

Active Member
Don't agree about the design. It screams "plastic brick", looks totally uninspiring. You want good design, look at your own Zen blue V2!

Totally disagree with you on this. Plastic brick it is not, it’s made of aluminium for a start. I’m guessing you haven’t actually seen or used one because this is a high quality bit of kit and in the flesh looks and feels like it. Obviously this is all in my opinion and appreciate others have different viewpoints!
 
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robdmarsh

Active Member
Totally disagree with you on this. Plastic brick it is not, it’s made of aluminium for a start. I’m guessing you haven’t actually seen or used one because this is a high quality bit of kit and in the flesh looks and feels like it. Obviously this is all in my opinion and appreciate others have different viewpoints!
I've got a Node 2021; it looks and feels like plastic. It also sounds a bit s**t to be perfectly honest!
 

londonguy1973

Active Member
Totally disagree with you on this. Plastic brick it is not, it’s made of aluminium for a start. I’m guessing you haven’t actually seen or used one because this is a high quality bit of kit and in the flesh looks and feels like it. Obviously this is all in my opinion and appreciate others have different viewpoints!
Shows how people's opinions differ. I think the mentioned zen blue V2 looks crappy and cheap personally. The NAD looks good to me. Not as good as my naim atom though
 

robdmarsh

Active Member
Ok, sound then... Sound of Node 2021 is just meh, detailed but meh! Sound of Zen blue is great. Node is £450! Zen blue (v1) is £130! I rest my case.
 

londonguy1973

Active Member
Again....personal preference isnt it. Not sure what case you are intent on making regarding a product that has nothing to do with the threads subject.
 

robdmarsh

Active Member
No case. Just maybe giving a heads up to people who perhaps are not bothered about the last scintilla of resolution that very good sound can be had for a fraction of what the discussed items cost. The "I rest my case" comment was just a careless turn of phrase.
 

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