What is Bluesound Node 2?
Node 2 is a high-resolution second-generation audio transmitter, built on BluOS, the wireless network platform compatible with Bluesound, NAD and PSB speakers. It can be used in isolation as a plug-and-play music transmitter or integrated into a wider Bluesound multiroom audio system to send music to a connected house.
Node 2 is part of a family of Bluesound components, which includes a range of wireless speakers and the Vault 2: a highly sophisticated NAS and CD ripper. All support 24-bit audio.
Bluesound was the original pioneer of high-resolution audio. When 16-bit Sonos was the only game in the city, the company stood alone as the champion of the 24-bit transmission. Today, most of its wireless multiroom rivals have caught up. So, did this upstart audiophile still cut the mustard?
Related: The best multi-room wireless speakers
Bluesound Node 2 – Design
The original Node adopted an uncompromising cube design. This version is considerably more friendly with the lifestyle, and the quality of construction is also more impressive.
With rounded corners and a rubber touch cover, the Node 2 looks appropriately premium. The upper part of the unit combines mesh ventilation with touch-sensitive transport controls. There is no screen; the box communicates through an LED on the front panel. It lights blue when connected online, and alternates between red and green depending on what else you are doing.
Although the device is relatively compact, the power supply is integrated; There is no brick separately It is available in black or white.
Connectivity is varied. The rear panel offers stereo analog and optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, as well as a subwoofer output. There is also a 3.5mm hybrid optical / analog input and a 12v trigger. Below an Ethernet connector, you will find a USB media port.
While there is an IR cable entry, no IR remote control is supplied with the transmitter. I get all the application control treatment, but for £ 500, surely a small credit card zapper is not too much to ask for
The transmitter can also be connected to a custom installation ecosystem, and is compatible with Control4, RTI, Crestron and URC. It is also compatible with Roon, for those who have adopted that particular music playing environment.
Everything you need is included in the box, including a mini-jack for stereo cable and a pair of low-cost phono cables. For this audition, I used Chord Shawline analog stereo cables.
Bluesound Node 2 – Configuration and functions
You can start Node 2 using either Wi-Fi or a wired Ethernet connection. I opted for the latter, since it is faster and more reliable. All you need is the Bluesound Controller application (available for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire) on your smartphone or tablet. Once launched, Node 2 appears automatically. The first time it will come out of the box, you will probably be asked to update the firmware.
In addition to Wi-Fi (only 2.4 GHz) there is also Bluetooth with aptX, although it is not compatible with the transmission to Bluetooth headsets. While it may be surprising that Node 2 has existed for a number of years (the company does not update its product line as often), firmware updates ensure that the box continues to function as a contemporary transmitter.
The BluOS application has a number of pre-set music services. These include Tunein Radio, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal. The transmitter can also access NAS devices, although it is not compatible with UPnP, so you must manually configure network shares, which many users will consider unduly antisocial. Rival devices automatically place NAS boxes on a network and recognize popular media servers.
The support of files and codecs is complete. High resolution support includes FLAC, WAV and AIFF. MQA decoding is also available, though only through the Bluesound application and the player's analog output. If you want to live in the slums, the transmitter will also play MP3, AAC and WMA files.
Bluesound Node 2 – Performance
Node 2 is much more than an aesthetic improvement in the original. It has a 1 GHz ARM Cortex-9 multiple core processor, which is a significant improvement over the Cortex A8 of its predecessor. The audio conversion is handled with a 192-kHz 32-bit DAC. The result is a sweet sound transmitter with a captivating character. There's nothing hard about its analog performance; It is uniformly melodious and seductive.
& # 39; A Horse With No Name & # 39; A Horse With No Name & # 39; of America demonstrates how spacious Node 2 can sound, with a crisp, clean acoustic guitar and pounding percussion. The track moves along, displaying detailed details.
Bowie's "Changes" (version remastered in 2015) are equally sublime. A true sound puff, the Node 2 layers of multi-trajectory chorus on an orchestral bedrock and jazz noodles. All are easily definable, and never decoupled.
Node 2 can be articulated, but it is also courageous. The & # 39; Master of Puppets & # 39; of Metallica is a blizzard of guitars, but the streamer keeps at bay the hard onslaught of rock; the study of sound is powerful but coherent.
While Node 2 has no problems with dynamics, after running some of my favorites, I felt that it possibly lacked absolute resolution, or bite. However, there is no shortage of space and musicality about its performance, and it does a remarkably good job to get the trick out of the lower resolution sources. Everything sounds good.
Why buy Bluesound Node 2?
The Bluesound Node 2 is an expert, musical streamer, with a broad set of features. While it is of primary interest to those who have already invested in Bluesound hardware (and compatible with NAD), it is fairly easy to incorporate into a more traditional audio system, bringing wireless transmission to unconnected components. The streaming support is good, although the functionality of the network could be better.
Node 2 faces strong competition from the likes of Arcam rPlay and Cambridge Audio CXN, but is more than capable of defending against both in a song contest. 19659032] Verdict
Node 2 is an excellent independent high-resolution audio music stream, and works just as well in a multiroom configuration.