||BluOS supporting iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS
||Wi-Fi5, Ethernet GigE1000 Mbps, Bluetooth 5.0 aptXHD, Mini Toslink, 3.5 mm analogue, Airplay 2
||HDMI eARC, USB Type A
||32-bit, 384 kHz powered by ARM® Cortex Quad Core 1.8ghz processor
|Native sampling rates
||Up to 192 kHz
||RCA analogue stereo, RCA coax, 3.5 mm Headphone, Bluetooth, RCA Sub, Wireless to PULSE SUB+
||Toslink, USB Audio 2.0 (Available for free with future software update)
|File format compatibility
||MP3, AAC, WMA, WMA-L, OGG, ALAC, OPUS, FLAC, MQA, WAV, AIFF
|Signal to Noise Ratio
||220 x 46 x 146 mm (WxHxD)
The current generation BlueSound Node is more of the same as it’s predecessor, the 2i, and it is all good.
PRICE R12 995.00
SUPPLIED BY Audioholics 011-453-2365
I had the Node 2i in my hands for all too short a time recently, and as things work out I swapped it out for the next generation unit, now just called the Node. Odd nomenclature aside this all new Node has a few upgrades in house and yet is cheaper than the model it replaces. This is not the usual norm of matters hi-fi! More for less? Who are they kidding?!
Turns out it weighs a few grams less than it’s predecessor but the chassis it comes in looks to all intents and purposes, identical. It has the same soft touch interface that I used about as much as I did with its predecessor. Which was zero. Because like its predecessor, the smart phone app did all the heavy lifting in under a minute turning my smart phone into the ultimate smart remote.
The most apparent in your face changes between the Node and the Node 2i must lie in the increased processing power. From a single core 1 GHz CPU to a quad core 1.8 GHz unit the sheer blunt force trauma of more calculating power has been increased massively. This is needed because the DAC is now running along now at a fairly nice clip of 384 kHz, twice that of the old one…
So it should sound twice as good right?
Well.. steady on there Annie Oakley. If only life worked like that!
OK, but then is it better?
Unequivocally yes. The Node2i is already a bit of a beast in sheep’s clothing, and the Node continues in that vein. It delivers more signal processing that in my mind’s ear gave me more believability in an ‘evolution as opposed to revolution’ type approach. The added processing power in what was already a capable package means that the Node is off to the races already ahead of the pack and racing against it’s team mate more than anyone else. And it is going to win against it every time.
That’s part of what I really enjoyed about the Node. It’s not a complete re-invention sonically, but rather it bends its added power to the task of improving incrementally across the board. What I heard was an improvement in the dynamics of my music – my speakers seemed to have more impetus behind them which moved the sound stage forward a little more. I had more overall depth and imaging although to be completely fair I did add in a few new reference tracks because well, who doesn’t need more doof doof in their lives? However the balance of neutrality in the Node’s approach is in keeping with what I was hearing on the 2i.
In orchestral music there seems to be more ambience within the sound stage which I dare say also felt a smidgen wider. Switching across the master of the rasper, dear Leonard Cohen and played back to back with Sean Rowe (a newish discovery) gives every sense of a life lived hard and fast, with so much pathos one feels privileged to share in it. A revisit to an old flame Janis Ian courtesy of a reminder from a certain local amp maker rounded off my listening and emotional journey with the Node in a memorable session that reminds one that sometimes upgrades are simply subtle increments of overall improvement that add up over time.
What this new Node does is what the ‘old’ Node did, and that is to get you back to listening to music in effortless fashion. It espouses supremely good value for money, it delivers on every front with confident competence and it will engage you in ways that will delight and distract you into the illusion that is music recreated. Add to that a superb app interface that I found among the best I have used (Tidal is simply waaaay better than Roon’s clunky searching function) and there is really very little on the Node that I can reasonably find fault with. I loved it’s effortless simplicity and behind the scenes clout that has been sensibly executed.
It’s actually a bit of an audiophile bargain…