Bluesound Node 2 review
Haven't heard of Bluesound before? How about Lenbrook? Still nothing?
Ok, well for those of you who don't know, Lenbrook is the company that owns the well-known and respected audio brands NAD Electronics and PSB Speakers.Bluesound also falls under the Lenbrook umbrella and is distributed in Australia by leading importers and specialist brand wholesalers, Convoy International.
Bluesound launched their original line up of components back in 2014 with a clear focus on being a higher quality alternative to mainstream wireless music systems.
They have a range of products which take full advantage of the technological capabilities of their sister brands including a variety of wireless speakers, the Pulse 2, Pulse Mini and Pulse Flex, as well as the Vault 2, a CD ripping/storage playback system.
Finally, the range is completed with a two-channel streaming amplifier dubbed the Powernode 2, and the subject of this review, the Node 2 streaming preamp, which sells for $999 RRP.
Being new to the Bluesound brand, I did a little background checking before putting the product through its paces. Michael Thornton-Smith, Bluesound’s Brand Manager at Convoy offered up some background on the brand.
I posed the question, for consumers who haven't yet invested in multi-room technology, or even for those that have, what reasons should they consider Bluesound over more mainstream products such as Sonos, Heos or others built around the DTS Play-Fi architecture? His thorough insight proved that Bluesound is a force to be reckoned with, with a well thought out architecture and roadmap for the future.
There are a number of compelling reasons why buyers should consider Bluesound ahead of other brands in the multi-room audio category. Firstly, other brands using the DTS Play-Fi platform are (mostly) all limited to playing CD quality music – let’s call this Standard Definition. This has been fine up until now, and certainly offers an improvement over MP3 quality music (Low Definition).
Thornton-Smith offered a good analogy:
What is happening in the world of music now is similar to what happened with television broadcasting: there is a High Definition alternative to Standard Definition music available right now, known as High-Res Audio. High-Res Audio presents music much closer to the studio master quality that the artist and recording engineer approved. Bluesound products are designed to correctly handle and play back High-Res Audio, making them the ideal multi-room option for music lovers. If it’s all about the sound, then Bluesound is the logical choice.
Bluesound will apparently be releasing a software update shortly to include MQA decoding, allowing the players to receive 24-bit streaming from Tidal when later this year.
Bluesound has other advantages too compared to other brands. All Bluesound products have convenience features such as Bluetooth, IR learning, streaming in up to 34 rooms, apps to suit iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows and OSX.
The Bluesound Node 2 for example has best-in-class connectivity options, with inputs for analogue, optical digital, USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi, and outputs including analogue, optical digital, coaxial digital, subwoofer and headphone. And installers love Bluesound for the custom features set such as 12v & 5v trigger outputs, IR input, IR learning and modules to suit third party control systems such as Control 4 and Push Controls.
Lover of Hi-Fi, Music and Recording Engineering. I particularly like the affordable and value-packed products; finding that diamond in the rough.