Bluesound Node (2021)


Bluesound Node image of the front right-hand view

Wi-Fi your Hi-Fi with this compact, affordable and effective wireless streamer. The BluOS app and extensive connectivity make setup simple and flexible, while an audiophile DAC and quad-core processor delivers top-notch audio.

Pros

  • Superb all-round performance
  • Excellent suite of features
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Sleek and well made

Cons

  • No remote control included
  • No DSD support

Availability

  • UKRRP: £549
  • USAunavailable
  • EuropeRRP: €549
  • Canadaunavailable

Key Features


  • Audiophile-grade processingTexas Instruments PCM 5242 DAC and ARM Cortex A53 quad-core processor

  • Hi-res music streamingSupport up to 24-bit/192kHz plus MQA

  • BluOS operating systemMulti-room functionality and Controller App

  • Physical connectivityHDMI eARC; digital and analogue inputs and outputs; USB; Ethernet

  • Wireless connectivityDual-band Wi-Fi; Bluetooth aptX HD; AirPlay 2

Introduction

The Bluesound Node is the third generation of the Canadian company’s network streamer, which, while adding a number of new features, remains an affordable and accomplished wireless hi-fi solution.

The new model boasts an improved finish, redesigned DAC, next-generation quad-core processor, and intuitive touch panel controls. It also supports every high-resolution music streaming service at up to 24-bit/192kHz (along with MQA), plus there’s extensive connectivity via the BluOS Controller app.

Design

  • Compact and nicely designed
  • Touch-sensitive controls
  • Excellent build quality
  • Choice of black or white

The Bluesound Node sports a revised design that uses the same basic chassis with curved corners, but adds a touch-sensitive LED panel on top with a proximity sensor. This provides volume control using a slider, previous/next track, and play/pause. It also adds five presets to which you can allocate functionality using the BluOS Controller app.

Bluesound Node image of the front right-hand view

The chassis looks similar to the earlier generations – but, thankfully, it drops the rubberised finish for something that’s sleeker and cleaner. The overall design is based around two matte sections sandwiched either side of a glossy strip – where you’ll find a small indicator LED and an IR sensor. The Node itself measures W220 x H46 x D146mm, and weighs in at 1.09kg.

Connectivity

  • HDMI eARC; digital; analogue; USB; Ethernet
  • Wi-Fi; Bluetooth aptX HD; AirPlay 2
  • Wired and wireless headphone outputs
  • Subwoofer output

The Bluesound Node is well endowed when it comes to connectivity, with a host of wired and wireless choices that allow you to connect pretty much anything. Kicking off with the wired connectors, these are primarily located at the rear. Here you’ll find an HDMI eARC connector, allowing you to immediately boost the sound quality of your TV by using an amplifier and speakers connected to the Node.

Bluesound Node image of the rear left-hand view

There’s also a dual-function optical digital/analogue input, and coaxial and optical digital outputs, along with stereo RCA outputs for connecting the Node to a power amplifier. There’s a dedicated subwoofer output, along with a trigger out for simultaneously powering up a connected amp when you turn on the Node. There’s also an IR in, a USB Type-A connector, and a Gigabit Ethernet port; plus there’s a 3.5mm jack on the front for connecting a pair of headphones.

Bluesound Node image of the white version

On the wireless side of things there’s dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11ac), enabling you to stream hi-res music to the Node from premium service providers or your own network. There’s also Bluetooth 5.0 aptX HD with two-way connectivity (transmit and receive), allowing you to stream 24-bit audio directly from a phone or tablet, and transmit it back to any paired headphones or speakers. Finally, there’s AirPlay 2 for those with Apple devices, and even a wireless subwoofer output for the Pulse SUB+.

Features

  • Quad-core processor and audiophile-grade DAC
  • BluOS Controller app
  • MQA support
  • Multi-room functionality
  • Works with Alexa, Google and Siri

The Bluesound Node boasts an impressive array of features, starting with a Texas Instruments PCM 5242 DAC and ARM Cortex A53 quad-core processor, allowing it to handle high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192kHz. This processing power is combined with the BluOS operating system, which in turn supports controller operating systems from iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.

Bluesound Node image of the front left-hand view

The Node not only supports PCM up to 24/192, but can handle just about any format imaginable, including MQA. In fact, about the only audio format it can’t deal with is DSD, but at least BluOS is capable of identifying DSD files and cross-convert them to FLAC. It also offers every streaming service you can think of, including Tidal, Spotify, and Qobuz, plus there’s internet radio, and any digital music library you have on a computer or external drive.

Bluesound BluOS Controller App

Bluesound has created its own multi-room system based around the excellent BluOS Controller app. This seamlessly connects the Node to multiple Bluesound speakers throughout your home, creating an intuitive multi-room music system. It also has the ability to support up to 64 players in 24-bit hi-res audio, which is impressive even if you probably have nowhere near 64 rooms in your house!

Bluesound Node image of the touch-sensitive controls

There are extensive control options, including the BluOS Controller app, touch panel controls with presets, voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa, or Google Voice, and even programming your own IR remote. While there’s no included remote, Bluesound offers the optional RC1 controller, and the Node can be integrated into a smart home with full-feature drivers for Lutron, Elan, RTI, Crestron, and other popular home control systems. Finally, the Node is also Roon Ready.

Performance

  • AirPlay 2 connectivity
  • Deals well with poorer quality audio
  • Energetic delivery

The Bluesound Node is simple to set up – but before getting into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to point out this isn’t an all-in-one system; it’s a pre-amp. This means you have to add an amplifier and speakers, or active speakers, for it to work, although if you already have a good pair of passive speakers then you could choose the Bluesound Powernode instead, which is a Node with 80W of two-channel grunt already built-in.

Once you’ve connected the Node to your system (either via the optical, coaxial or analogue outputs), you can then access your Wi-Fi network using the BluOS Controller app – and you’re off to the races. Along with all the music services that the wireless connectivity brings to the party, you can also access files from any connected network drives.

Bluesound Node lifestyle image of the black version

If you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem then you have AirPlay 2 wireless connectivity, plus there’s Bluetooth functionality that not only allows

Go to Source