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Article: A 2020 Review of the BluOS Platform

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Great review.  I use the node 2 with the SPDIF out to the DAC and find it easy to use and can access my NAS, Tidal and Deezer apps very easily.  The one thing that was unclear in your review, especially to a non-roon user, was what exactly does roon add or what is the BlueOS missing compared to roon?

 

Also, did you try the Alexa voice control integration?  I find it a little finicky to use.


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iphone w/ Audioquest Dragon Black & Pro-Ject Expression w/ AT440mlb

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48 minutes ago, MikePM said:

Great review.  I use the node 2 with the SPDIF out to the DAC and find it easy to use and can access my NAS, Tidal and Deezer apps very easily.  The one thing that was unclear in your review, especially to a non-roon user, was what exactly does roon add or what is the BlueOS missing compared to roon?

 

Also, did you try the Alexa voice control integration?  I find it a little finicky to use.

Hi Mike, I think BluOS is quite underrated. It’s great to read you’re using it with success. 
 

The biggest thing Roon offers over BluOS is an integrated / single panel view of all one’s music as if it’s a single library. Searching for Pearl Jam shows all my local albums on my NAS and the albums from streaming services together. As if everything was in my local collection. Searching is also over all sources at once. 
 

I started using Google Assistant and was underwhelmed. However, I need to circle back and really dig in before concluding anything. 


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Another great review Chris! Thanks for bringing reading enjoyment again. You and your collection of reviewers with their quality prose is why I read AS (still liked the CA name better though) every day.

 

I have had a Node 2i for over a year. I thought I would “upgrade” it with a Lumin U1 Mini. As much as I love the U1 Mini, I can’t part with the Node 2i. So I keep them both, side by side, and enjoy those streaming services on the Node 2i that the Lumin app doesn’t support (yes, I’m one of those Radio Paradise aficionados you mentioned). The BluOS apps are good but I like other controller software better. As an audiophile-marketed brand, I wish they would display the bit depth and sample rate of the songs being streamed, not just some dumbed-down icons of “CD”, “HR” or the stylized squiggly “M” for you know what. In their app, I wished they had album art for each song in the Play Queue like the Lumin app.

 

Aside from those minor pet peeves, the sound quality out of the Node 2i coax into my external DAC is as good as the Lumin U1 Mini USB in blind test (I can’t test AES/EBU with my DAC, but that may be better). So, well-done Bluesound! The value for the money in their products is without compare, and with the recent Sonos announcements, I hope they thrive.

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Agreed on the great review.  Can you expound on using Roon with the BlueOS (or vice versa)?  What are the advantages and disadvantages and how seamless is the integration?  I am trying to understand what you would use Roon v BlueOS for in the same system.  Thanks!

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Great to read a comprehensive review of the BluOS/Bluesound platforms; from first looks, I like many of their products as well.  I am not an owner of any BluOS-affiliated products (as of yet), but I'm am really looking forward to the release of the NAD M33 Integrated Amp/Streamer; promising perhaps to be a really significant and ground-breaking product; time will tell.  However, I have read of many Roon-user's dis-enchantments with some of the BluOS/Bluesound products (mainly the Node 2i), because of its frequent fall-outs with the Roon platform (seem to be more prevalent with wireless rather than wired Ethernet setups, but present in both, to some degree).  Wondering, you being an avid Roon user, what is your experience/knowledge of these issues?  I think if NAD/Bluesound could correct most of their issues with Roon, they would have one of the most highly regarded streaming/endpoint platforms.  I know they want to promote their own streaming platforms first and foremost, but they seem reluctant to work hand-in-hand with Roon to achieve full compatibility with it.  Your views on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

 

- john 

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I use a Node2i with Amazon Music.  I am very pleased.  Low equipment cost and low streaming charge with Wireless High Rez!  Is this not what we have always wanted?

 

~ As an aside, I find Amazon Music to have just about any music I want to hear.  (YMMV)

 

 


In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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Am I correct that the Node 2i does not have a USB out to connect a USB DAC? If so, that's a real bummer.


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Excellent and detailed review. I agree with pretty much all of it. Am using the Powernode 2i, which is a stunning piece of kit, especially for the money, and also the Pulse mini 2i, which is great for most music except pieces that need scale. I’m pretty much hooked on the software, which is dead easy to use as you say. It does in my experience, however, hiccup for no discernible reason, at least once a week and can sometimes take a while to fix itself. I would also agree with the poster below that the Roon integration is not seamless. I had no trouble on my gen 2 Pulse mini, but could never get it to work quite right on the 2i. Eventually I decided I was happier with just the BluOS and quit my Roon subscription. If I were convinced that the issues were solved I’d be tempted to return. Anyway, I look forward to more collective brain power going into development of this platform. It really is something special.


Mac Mini (+Tidal) -> WiFi -> Bluesound Powernode 2i (Audioquest NRG Z3) -> JM Reynaud Lucia (Tellurium Q Black v1)

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This is interesting and timely. I've got many zones of Sonos plus Crestron. My Sonos gear is 10-13 yrs old and the Crestron is being upgraded to the newer display. The old one couldn't integrate anything but distributed audio. Nice to know there's an alternative to Sonos. That NAD network music player is intriguing.

 

Sonos was a wonderful experience originally because the Controller was so easy for anyone to figure out. I find the hardware volume controls on cellphones (Sonos or Spotify Connect) are too laggy for the average person (my wife) to figure out, there's huge delays so no tactile response. Does BlueOs handle cellphone hardware volume commands seamlessly? 

 

I'd like to integrate the home on Roon.

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As far as I know, BluOS does not have built-in DSP (like Roon) and thus loses

Also does not work as PC / ARM software to traditional peripherals (in the form of audio cards)


Moscow.Russia

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8 minutes ago, Nickolay_V said:

As far as I know, BluOS does not have built-in DSP (like Roon) and thus loses

Also does not work as PC / ARM software to traditional peripherals (in the form of audio cards)

BluOS has limited DSP options depending on the hardware. Not sure what you mean by “loses.”

 

What do you mean by “PC / ARM software to traditional peripherals (in the form of audio cards)?”


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32 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

BluOS has limited DSP options depending on the hardware. Not sure what you mean by “loses.”

 

What do you mean by “PC / ARM software to traditional peripherals (in the form of audio cards)?”

 

1) As far as I know, BluOS does not have built-in DSP (like Roon) and this is а big minus

2) I mean CLIENT-SERVER SOFTWARE for open hardware (PC & ARM)  and software platforms ( Win/OS X/Linux) for working with usual DAC. Like Roon is


Moscow.Russia

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27 minutes ago, Nickolay_V said:

 

1) As far as I know, BluOS does not have built-in DSP (like Roon) and this is а big minus

2) I mean CLIENT-SERVER SOFTWARE for open hardware (PC & ARM)  and software platforms ( Win/OS X/Linux) for working with usual DAC. Like Roon is

Ah. Correct, there is no EQ or convolution engine. 
 

There are apps for macOS and Windows but they require BluOS hardware endpoints. 


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1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Ah. Correct, there is no EQ or convolution engine. 
 

There are apps for macOS and Windows but they require BluOS hardware endpoints. 

Absolutely right ! Exactly !


Moscow.Russia

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Excellent review, but you did not mention gapless playback...
 
I have had my Node 2 for two years now and I love it. At the time of purchase I had decided that it was necessary to move on from my Squeezebox Touch and I started looking into everything on the market. I was about ready to acquire a highly-regarded model when I discovered that it did not support gapless playback. Further research proved that many of the competing hardware/software offerings out there did not provide gapless support . Even some of the "high-end" models lacked gapless support. I had never thought much about gapless because the Squeezebox just did it, and I expected that it was the norm. I believe that even now, two years later, gapless playback is not a given.
 
Also, I had been ripping CDs and purchasing downloads for 8 years and it was all identified by the usual mess of metadata. Early on I had experimented with editing the metadata myself but decided that organizing in folders suited my needs best. The Squeezebox provided a folder view of my music and that suited me well. I found that many of the systems I was researching did not support accessing music by folder.
 
These two concerns (along with a preference for Android control) effectively narrowed my search down to Bluesound. I had been prepared to spend quite a bit more for a streamer, but it turned out the Node 2 was my only real choice. Both the Bluesound hardware and the BluOS software have been extremely stable and are updated often. I have never had an issue. I use the Node 2 with an external DAC and the SQ is fantastic.
 
Oh, and another difference between BluOS and Roon is that BluOS runs on directly the Bluesound device whereas Roon software needs to run on some sort of central server (basically a PC), much like the old Squeezebox system. That's not a bad thing, but one should realize that to be useful it must be on 24/7. And depending on the platform, computers usually require management tasks to be performed occasionally. With BluOS your music files can reside on a low-energy/low-noise NAS connected to the router, and the Bluesound device pretty much manages itself. Of course one still needs a computer to load music onto the NAS, but it need not be running all the time. Not a huge difference I know, but depending on one's computer skills it's a good thing to know.

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4 hours ago, markebrauer said:
Excellent review, but you did not mention gapless playback...
 
I have had my Node 2 for two years now and I love it. At the time of purchase I had decided that it was necessary to move on from my Squeezebox Touch and I started looking into everything on the market. I was about ready to acquire a highly-regarded model when I discovered that it did not support gapless playback. Further research proved that many of the competing hardware/software offerings out there did not provide gapless support . Even some of the "high-end" models lacked gapless support. I had never thought much about gapless because the Squeezebox just did it, and I expected that it was the norm. I believe that even now, two years later, gapless playback is not a given.
 
Also, I had been ripping CDs and purchasing downloads for 8 years and it was all identified by the usual mess of metadata. Early on I had experimented with editing the metadata myself but decided that organizing in folders suited my needs best. The Squeezebox provided a folder view of my music and that suited me well. I found that many of the systems I was researching did not support accessing music by folder.
 
These two concerns (along with a preference for Android control) effectively narrowed my search down to Bluesound. I had been prepared to spend quite a bit more for a streamer, but it turned out the Node 2 was my only real choice. Both the Bluesound hardware and the BluOS software have been extremely stable and are updated often. I have never had an issue. I use the Node 2 with an external DAC and the SQ is fantastic.
 
Oh, and another difference between BluOS and Roon is that BluOS runs on directly the Bluesound device whereas Roon software needs to run on some sort of central server (basically a PC), much like the old Squeezebox system. That's not a bad thing, but one should realize that to be useful it must be on 24/7. And depending on the platform, computers usually require management tasks to be performed occasionally. With BluOS your music files can reside on a low-energy/low-noise NAS connected to the router, and the Bluesound device pretty much manages itself. Of course one still needs a computer to load music onto the NAS, but it need not be running all the time. Not a huge difference I know, but depending on one's computer skills it's a good thing to know.

I just re-tested the BluOS components I have for gapless. I have full gapless support when using the Bluesound app with local or Qobuz content, and full gapless support when using Roon with local or Qobuz content. 


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23 hours ago, Lobbster said:

This is interesting and timely. I've got many zones of Sonos plus Crestron. My Sonos gear is 10-13 yrs old and the Crestron is being upgraded to the newer display. The old one couldn't integrate anything but distributed audio. Nice to know there's an alternative to Sonos. That NAD network music player is intriguing.

 

Sonos was a wonderful experience originally because the Controller was so easy for anyone to figure out. I find the hardware volume controls on cellphones (Sonos or Spotify Connect) are too laggy for the average person (my wife) to figure out, there's huge delays so no tactile response. Does BlueOs handle cellphone hardware volume commands seamlessly? 

 

I'd like to integrate the home on Roon.

The hardware volume controls on iPhones don't change the level within the BluOS app. 


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Chris,

 

Thanks a lot for the video. That was helpful.

 

While it might not be possible for you to tell because the hardware differs for each OS, do you have an opinion (DSP not enabled) as to which OS sounds best?

 

Finally, will Blue OS run on a NAS as Roon does?

 

Joel

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33 minutes ago, joelha said:

Chris,

 

Thanks a lot for the video. That was helpful.

 

While it might not be possible for you to tell because the hardware differs for each OS, do you have an opinion (DSP not enabled) as to which OS sounds best?

 

Finally, will Blue OS run on a NAS as Roon does?

 

Joel

Hi Joel, I’m unsure if there is a difference between OSs running the Bluesound app. 
 

BluOS will only run on licensed hardware. No NAS. 


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Thanks for the response, Chris, and I can see my question wasn't clear.

 

I should have asked if you noticed a sound difference between the Bluesound app and Roon.

 

Joel

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16 minutes ago, joelha said:

Thanks for the response, Chris, and I can see my question wasn't clear.

 

I should have asked if you noticed a sound difference between the Bluesound app and Roon.

 

Joel

I haven’t really compared the two with the same hardware. 


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