Bluesound Node 2 review
THE NEXT GENERATION
It's quite apparent that Node 2 has received many significant improvements over the first generation release. Node 2 features a new and extremely powerful ARM Cortex A9 that Bluesound says offers faster processing, increased memory and reduced energy consumption. This leads to snappier response from the companion app, faster file indexing, and a lot of headroom for future feature enhancements.
The addition of analogue and mini optical digital audio inputs provides greater flexibility when wanting to use external sources. These inputs can be shared to other players in a Bluesound multi-room system.
The Node 2 is really versatile, but one must stop and think about the possibilities. Node 2 features both optical digital input and output, allowing any sound bar to be used within a Bluesound system, controlled by the Bluesound app. For instance, the digital audio signal from a TV can be connected to the optical input on the Node 2. The optical output on the Node 2 can then be routed to any sound bar with an optical input (i.e. all of them), which then becomes a “slave” to the Bluesound app.
Node 2 also saw the additional of a headphone output has apparently has proven to be a very popular feature. The headphone amplifier stage is well-designed, and has enough current to drive even premium planar headphones.
The updated and new compact design also makes the Node 2 much easier to live with. It is 22cm wide (half normal component width), allowing two units be positioned side-by-side in a rack. The new rubberised finish does not show up annoying fingerprints like the gloss finish on the previous model; first world problem, I know.
The Bluesound range is Wi-Fi certified, and the Gen 2 models have the latest generation chipsets and antennae with 30% improved sensitivity. This results in faster connection times, reduced interference from network traffic and perfect synchronisation between rooms. Up to 16 rooms can be operated wirelessly in a Bluesound system (depending on network strength), which is an extraordinary technological achievement.
The Ethernet port has been increased to Gigabit speed (1000Mbps), for zero network dropouts and music to up to 34 rooms.
The addition of Bluetooth 4.0 with apt-X now built in allows high quality wireless playback direct from any Bluetooth-enabled source.
The USB socket now outputs 1 A, instead of the previous 500 mA, which theoretically gives the Node 2 enough current to spin up any connected USB hard drive.
Like many sound bars, the Node 2 (and all other Bluesound Gen 2 models) can learn IR signals from an IR remote control. This is useful if the TV sound is being routed through the Node 2. When the TV remote power button is pushed, the Node 2 can automatically switch to its Optical input. The volume buttons on the TV remote can then also control Bluesound volume, meaning the user never needs to pick up a device and access the app for these simple functions.
For such a small and compact unit, it certainly packs a punch when it comes to features.
On the output side of things, we have stereo RCA, digital coaxial, optical as well as both a headphone output and subwoofer pre-out.
File support is fantastic, offering MP3, AAC, WMA, WMA-L, OGG, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF and High-Res audio up to 24/192. Unfortunately, for those few wanting DSD capability, you may have to look elsewhere.
There are a good number of music streaming services on hand too, major players such as Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz as well as many others. Somewhat surprising however, is the obvious omission of Pandora.
Lover of Hi-Fi, Music and Recording Engineering. I particularly like the affordable and value-packed products; finding that diamond in the rough.
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