The streaming wars are about to get a lot more interesting. With the impending launch of Spotify HiFi and Apple Music HiFi, and the growing popularity of Qobuz, Amazon Music HD and Tidal, music listeners who stream a lot of their music and care about better sound quality now have a really affordable high-end streaming option. The Bluesound NODE will be available in June and we think it was really smart of Bluesound to keep the brand new NODE affordable at $549 USD.
If you take a quick look at our Best Digital Music Streamer article, you’ll appreciate rather quickly what a good deal the forthcoming Bluesound NODE truly is.
Most consumers use their smart phones to stream to either wireless speakers or connect them with a Dongle DAC and a 3.5mm to RCA cable to their existing system.
The new NODE carries over the TOSLINK and Coaxial digital outputs from the previous Node 2i streamer, but we’re more curious about the addition of a USB digital output for the first time. Bluesound and NAD have included USB on other components but they’ve only been used previously for firmware updates.
If the new USB output can support 24-bit/192kHz, that would be a huge new selling point for audiophiles who may want to connect the new NODE to an external DAC.
If you own an AVR for your home theater, you can use either the analog RCA outputs or the digital outputs to stream digital music to your receiver.
The Bluesound NODE is a rather interesting upgrade with a brand new DAC, more powerful processor, and enhanced support for Bluetooth aptX HD.
Have you ever wanted to just relax in your chair and stream from your system to your wireless headphones that support aptX HD? You can do that with the Bluesound NODE.
But remember one thing — Bluetooth aptX HD is still a lossy codec so you can’t stream Hi-Res audio to your speakers or headphones — at least not yet. Changes may be coming in 2021 or 2022 on that front.
The Bluesound NODE can also act as a streaming hub with other Bluesound wireless loudspeakers and you can control everything with the BluOS control app on your mobile device. It’s one of the best apps of its kind with a strong interface, and support for every major streaming service. This will come in handy when Apple and Spotify offer lossless digital audio in 2021.
The previous Bluesound Node 2i and PowerNode 2i were Roon-Ready and we suspect that support for that is forthcoming or already exists. We’ll let you know when our review sample arrives.
The NODE also offers extensive voice control support and for those who utilize MQA with Tidal — you’re good to go. In addition to using the BluOS Controller app with your smart devices, quick access controls like play/pause, track skipping, and volume are available as touch panel controls, via voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Voice, by programming your own IR remote or using the optional Bluesound RC1.
Wifi Your Hifi
The Bluesound NODE unlocks the world of hi-res music streaming and multi-room audio to create a modern addition to existing hi-fi systems or your favorite set of powered speakers. Discover all the music ever recorded with access to hundreds of internet radio stations, dozens of streaming music services, or even your own digital music library, with a few taps of the BluOS Controller app for iOS, Android, Mac or PC computers.
Inside, the NODE features a new audiophile-grade DAC design with notably improved performance that not only supports 24-bit/192kHz audio processing, but also MQA for studio-quality listening. Powerful, user-friendly software features like tone controls and subwoofer crossover optimization allow you to customize your listening preferences in detail.
It is also equipped with an array of digital and analog inputs and outputs for maximum versatility. Bring music into your NODE using Wi-Fi or ethernet, Apple AirPlay 2, aptX HD Bluetooth, or USB Type A connectors, to hear audio content from streaming services, internet radio and your own music library.
The NODE now features an HDMI eARC input on the back panel, to keep your setup flexible and future-friendly. Designed to be as comfortable in a two-channel TV system or gaming console as it is in an audiophile’s dedicated listening room, the NODE provides a hi-res experience no matter where it’s used.
Listen to your music through your hi-fi system or through wired or wireless headphones, by connecting to the RCA, Toslink optical, aptX HD Bluetooth, 3.5mm jack, Apple devices, or other Bluesound or BluOS enabled players.
Bit-perfect music listening can happen away from your hi-fi system with the NODE as your multi-room hub. The award-winning BluOS platform is the only platform in the world that can support up to 64 players, all streaming in 24-bit hi-res audio. With a growing stable of brands and devices being added to the BluOS platform, the NODE opens up a world of hi-res listening options throughout your home that no other player can.
The intuitive touch panel control with proximity sensor now also features 5 presets. Advanced controls, including tone controls are available in the BluOS Controller app. The NODE can also be integrated into a smart home with full-feature drivers for Lutron, Elan, RTI, Crestron, and other popular home control systems.
NODE Key Features and Specifications
- Quad-core 1.8GHz ARM® Cortex™ A53 processor
- 32-bit/384kHz premium DAC design
- HDMI eARC, optical & analog inputs
- Stereo analog, optical, coaxial & USB audio outputs
- AirPlay 2 for integration into Apple ecosystem
- BluOS™ wireless multi-room music capability
- MQA music and hi-res audio streaming
- Voice control with Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Dual-band Wi-Fi + Gigabit ethernet
- Two-way aptX™ HD Bluetooth
- IR remote learning capability, IR input, 12V trigger output
- Wired & wireless headphone output
- Wired & wireless subwoofer output
- Touch controls with presets
- Black or white finish
For more information: Bluesound Digital Steamers
Price & Availability
Bluesound NODE will be available June 7, 2021 in black or white for $549.00. Pre-orders are now being accepted at Amazon.com.