Jump to content

Bluesound Node 2

Recommended Posts

The Node 2 somehow flew under my radar. Along with microRendu and SMS-200 it's now a possible contender as a replacement for my SB Touch.

Any opinions?

I really want to upgrade from the Touch but just can't seem to make up my mind with all the streamer options not to mention third party PSUs, reclockers, cables, etc


Depends on your needs and wants really. For example, when I was looking for a streamer WIFI was a must for me (still is) thus taking some devices like the microRendu (ethernet to USB only) out of the running.

Link to comment
I don't need WIFI. I actually disconnected the WIFI card from my Touch's motherboard. USB is another story as my current DAC doesn't have a USB input. This is where the BS N2 becomes more interesting. I could avoid buying a new DAC. But if it doesn't sound better than the Touch there's no point is there?


You're right of course but how will you know unless you give one a trial in your own system? I had to do the same and it was everything I had hoped. You may find it sucks. If you do decide to try one I hope you'll let us know your findings, surely it will help someone down the line. Good luck.

Link to comment
That's right but he makes a relation between Bluesound Node 2 and his MacMini:


"Even in my Set 1 the Node 2 was acceptable for the occasional listening.It would even be more than sufficient as an internet radio receiver.

When hooked up over SPDIF to the ten times more expensive Chord QDB76 d/a-converter,

it came at about 80% of the quality the Mac Mini offered using USB."

In his microRendu review again he states that this offered the best sound so far in his set up which in return indicates that he finds it to be be better than his MacMini and even more than the Node 2.

I would also love to hear a review saying that BS N2 can compete with mR and sMS200 in SQ because I'd love to get rid of too much boxes, cables and PSUs in favor of an easy one-box-solution. But as far as I understand Hans' reviews this unfortunately does not seem to be the case with the Bluesound Node 2.


Of course anyone's first hand experiences are welcome!


Toward the end of his recently updated Bluesound Node 2 review he gives the Node 2 a nod for best in its class/price-point, which includes the Aries Mini. Out of curiosity I would also be interested in a comparison to the microRendu. (Not that I would get rid of my Bluesound products mind you.)

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...
snip ..


If so, to be able to listen to the Node 2 DAC would I'll need to use the Analog RCA connections?


Yes, the coax and optical out are for connecting to an outboard DAC or a receiver/integrated with an on-board DAC. Glad your issue was handled quickly with the Bluesound Support team.

Link to comment
Hi Melvin, just to be absolutely sure I'll describe my situation.

At the moment I have my Node 2 connected via Toslink to an old Onkyo Receiver which is connected to a pair of Dali Opticons.


In the future I will replace the Onkyo with a amplifier with integrated DAC. However at the moment it is what it is.


In this situation what is the best way to connect the Node 2 to the receiver:

  1. Via Toslink (No DAC of Node 2 used)
  2. through RCA (DAC of Node 2 used, and hopefully improve sound).


Or didn't I understand your reply and is the DAC inside the Node 2 always used? How to by-pass to connect to a better DAC?


Sorry for not being clear. When using the analog out (RCA) to connect to your receiver/integrated you will be hearing the Node's on-board DAC. When using either Toslink or coax, the Node's on-board DAC is bypassed and the signal will be processed by the on-board DAC in your receiver/integrated (or stand-alone DAC if you go down that route). Which sounds better? Only you can decide that.

Link to comment

@MNG .. here is a post from Andrew on the Bluesound Forum:


In October when we announced that we are partnering with Roon, we were hoping to have it integrated by the end of the year and we are continuing to work hard to get it done. We are excited to say that we have it working in our Lab and we are currently putting it through extensive testing to ensure everything is working properly. The next step requires Roon certification so we will be working closely with them to ensure that we are Roon Ready compliant. We expect to complete this process by the end of January, so it’s not long now. Thank you for your patience as we work through this important integration


Taken from this page: https://helpdesk.bluesound.com/discussions/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1807&sid=53bb4dc293a9ecdf737cd82939683d8c&start=140

Link to comment
Thanks very much Melvin. If that is the case, I'll keep it. I like the Node 2 unit and it is a definite step up in sound quality from the Sonos unit that I have been using, but it must be Roon ready for me as I have committed to that for all my devices.


There is always a risk when purchasing a product with "future features" in mind. You could always return your unit for now, watch for the completed Roon implementation, and re-purchase.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
kind of a cross post to the aries mini thread, but im debating between the two. Given the recent software updates I would be interested to hear any thoughts on the sound of the Node using Tidal MQA.


BS appears to be marketing the node as having built in "MQA decoding" Dontknow if that means a MQA dac ala meridian and mytek. So leaving aside the issue of whether MQA is a lossy format-- id be curious to know the thoughts of anyone listening to node>tidal>MQA......thanks


Yes, the MQA decoding is baked in since a firmware update back in June (I think). Bluesound partnered with MQA, meaning, the on-board DAC has been certified and unfolds/de-blurs the files up to and including 24/192 (which is the limit of the DAC) using analog out. When using digital out the decoding of MQA files is limited to 24/96 using a generic DAC profile and thus no "de-blurring".


The sound? Well, it sounds good. Very good. Is the sound "better" than an unfolded but not de-blurred 24/88.1 or 24/96 file sent to my Schiit Bifrost Multibit or Qute EX? Now that is the $100,000 question isn't it. I'm still trying to figure that out myself in fact. Fortunately for me I purchased the Node 2 before they announced the MQA partnership and is a nice bonus (as is Roon integration which arrives at the end of the month via another firmware update). I quite like the platform.


I know some folks think Bluesound products are only mid-fi (or worse) and not suitable for hi-end systems. Only you will know if the platform is good enough in your system. I bought the Node 2 and tested it extensively before removing my well-appointed Mac mini from my system. I'm still happy. Let us know what you decide. Good listening.

Link to comment
The Bluesound firmware image contains a software MQA decoder running on the ARM CPU. Not that this means anything. The Meridian Explorer 2 apparently runs the MQA decoder on the XMOS USB receiver.


Whether the Bluesound decoder is tailored for its DAC is hard to tell without comparing the output to another implementation.


Not sure if this answers the "tailored for its DAC" thing but this quote is from TonyW on the Bluesound forum:


I am going to try and explain this as best I can from my understanding based on my conversations with our engineering team. MQA Certified DACs provide an end to end, from source to decoder to output, overview of the file verifying the content. Though we at Bluesound decode it as MQA and, if you are using our on board DAC via analogue out, the process is covered end to end and Authenticated as Masters Quality (A MQ... MQA ;) ).


If you bypass our CL (Gen1) or Burr Brown (Gen2) DAC and select Optical or COAX out, we decode and the file and provide the content but the 3rd party DAC unfolds it to the best of it's ability. If that DAC is not MQA certified, it will be limited to how much it can open the file and will play at it's best. That's the beauty of MQA, if you do not have MQA certified equipment, you can still at least play the file - just not to the best of it's ability. It would be like watching a BluRay disc in a DVD Player and it still work... just not at 1080p... :D (yeah yeah, 4K I get it - I digress).

Link to comment
I'm not sure I follow. What is this "unfolding" by a non-MQA DAC he talks of? Plain old upsampling?


Well, I took it to mean the unfolding is limited to 24/96 regardless of non-MQA DAC and if your DAC only does Redbook, for example, then it will only "unfold" to the DACs limit of 16/44.1.

Link to comment
I have always viewed Bluesound as "Peachtree" level products. They fit very well with mid to high end systems. Sonos more consumer oriented. Next month I think I will purchase a NODE 2.


Just curious, what is general BLUESOUND upgrade cycle? In other words, when should one expect a Node 3?


I like your perspective @arcman. Bluesound seems to be on a 2 year cycle but God knows. The gen 2 products have been a big hit for them and now with Roon integration coming at the end of the month (never mind MQA) perhaps more audiophiles will see them as a serious contender.

Link to comment

No longer vaporware since Tidal flipped the switch, MQA has obviously impassioned folks not only here on CA but also among audiophiles in general. I don't think we need or want another MQA thread but, Bluesound owners, what are your thoughts? Was it worth the wait? Is MQA everything you hoped for? How do you like the sound quality?


First, I'm happy Bluesound partnered with the folks at MQA for no other reason than I wanted to hear for myself what the fuss is all about and, as promised, with a no-cost-to-us firmware update, voila! Lucky us. While I never thought the on-board DAC sounded bad at all, I preferred using the Node 2 as a preamp/transport in conjunction with one of my stand-alone DACs. Now, with MQA in the mix I'm not so sure. It seems the de-blurring aspect truly elevates the sound quality of the on-board MQA-ified Burr Brown PCM5122 DAC. At the very least the gap has narrowed in my system.


As my listening habits move more and more toward streaming I look forward to Tidal acquiring more MQA content. For now I like what I'm hearing. What do you guys think of the sound quality?

Link to comment
As I understand it when using the analog outputs of the Node 2 you would get full resolution up to 192kHz from the internal DAC with MQA files, but the digital output with MQA is limited to 96kHz from what I've read. Might be more detail (which could prove me wrong!) on the Bluesound forums.


This is also what Bluesound has stated numerous times on their forums. Unfolding to any rate above 24/96 is only done in MQA-certified DACs.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
I am going to give the Vault a try. I need the most simple gear since I don't do digital. I don't know a gig from a bite. I do have a lot of cd's to transfer. I also use Tidal which is my first online music experience.


Good luck with the Vault. I hope you'll share your experience with us after you give it a spin.

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...
7 minutes ago, DarwinOSX said:


Thank you very much.  That's about what I thought after reading this thread but the confirmation is very helpful.  Picking up a Node 2 today :-)

I've been listening to MQA via a Meridian Explorer 2 connected to my MacBook Pro and love it :-)

I even connected the Meridian Explorer 2 to the RCA outputs on the Kef's and it sounded amazing but that's kind of a clunky way to do it.




Nice! I hope you enjoy the Node 2 as much as I do. That Meridian Explorer 2 should still prove interesting for comparison with the Node 2 (despite the clunkiness). I hope you report back here .. your insight will be most welcomed.

Link to comment
11 minutes ago, DarwinOSX said:


I definitely will. Kef said they are looking into MQA and Soon for these speakers but who know if that will really happen.  MQA seems more likely to me than Roon.

I was just looking at your web page.  Would you connect a SPIDF purifier to both optical if I end up using both of them?  

One thing I didn't mention is that I have a lot of FLAC files on a Synology NAS.  My sources are Pandora, Apple Music and iTunes from Apple TV connected to TV, Flac files, and Tidal.

It looks like using a Node 2 with the Kefs would give me both Roon and MQA with these speakers which would be amazing :-)  These are some really great speakers and even the higher bit rate Pandora sounds surprisingly good on them much less lossless files.


Well, I like what the SPIDF iPurifier brings to the mix (especially for optical) so perhaps trying 1 out first to determine if you hear a difference would be a prudent way of approaching it. 


In regards to Apple Music and Pandora I hope you realize neither are "built-in" to the Bluesound platform. When I use Pandora, for example, I connect to my Node 2 via bluetooth from my iPad or iPhone. AND just so you're aware, Apple's AirPlay is not supported! FLAC files aren't a problem (I use FLAC uncompressed). 


More info here: https://helpdesk.bluesound.com/discussions/


Link to comment
Just now, DarwinOSX said:

Yes I am aware of that thanks.  I have a Samsung TV with the full One Connect box with four HDMI ports and one has a 4th gen Apple TV connected to it so I would airplay to that or just use the Apple Music or Pandora app from the Apple TV.




Great .. just wanted to point it out. There is always a work-around, no? Enjoy your new toy.

Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...

The Pandora issue has been addressed a number of times on the Bluesound Forum and their support team has stated several times that they have approached Pandora asking for integration many times (they are frustrated). They continue to do so and actually encourage their users to contact Pandora as well.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...