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Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer

Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer

The latest generation of the Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer is designed as a flexible, innovative extension for hi-fi systems. More performance than the previous generations, a new converter and more interfaces, these are the essential innovations.

The Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer is the latest generation of streaming systems from Bluesound. As before, it is supposed to be an extension for existing hi-fi systems, but it offers even more flexibility and can thus function not only for the actual streaming, but also as a central interface for various sources.

The Bluesound NODE opens up the world of high-resolution music streaming and multi-room audio to create a modern addition to existing hi-fi systems or active speakers, according to the Canadian specialist’s characterisation.

Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer the new control centre

The Bluesound NODE has already shown itself to be an extremely flexible solution in the various generations, but with the latest edition, the developers are taking a decisive step further in quite essential areas.

They promise that you can access countless music sources via the BluOS platform, be it your own media library in the network or various online music offers, from paid streaming services to podcasts and Internet radio.

All this is controlled with the intuitive apps that are available for Apple iOS, Google Android, Apple macOS and Microsoft Windows.

But that’s not all: for the first time, the new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer not only offers outputs on its back to be connected to amplifiers or active speaker systems, but also various inputs.

The new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer really does become the central interface for which, in the simplest case, only a pair of active speaker systems is needed to essentially build a complete hi-fi system.

Familiar design with changes in detail

While Bluesound made a radical change in design when the original version was upgraded to the second generation, the new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer looks like its direct predecessor at first glance.

The device is very flat, elegantly designed with rounded corners, and, optionally in black or white with a matt satin finish, blends easily into any living environment. It measures no more than 220 x 46 x 146 mm and thus weighs 1.09 kg.

However, an exciting innovation can now be found on the top side, where a sensor field was already present in the previous versions for easy control directly on the unit. This sensor keypad has now been redesigned and is intended to allow even more flexible control without an app, for example through directly accessible presets.

Richly equipped rear

Until now, the Bluesound NODE, Bluesound NODE 2 and Bluesound NODE 2i were primarily designed as pure streaming clients. Everything that could be found here in terms of connections was basically used to integrate the device into the network and to route audio signals either in digital or analogue form to other devices.

With the Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer, this is different, because now, in addition to the outputs, numerous inputs are also available.

The Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer has, first and foremost, an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet interface to integrate it into the network. Alternatively, we would like to mention at this point that this can of course also be done via the integrated WiFi module according to IEEE 802.11ac.

Via a USB type A port, corresponding storage media can be connected directly as a source in the proven manner. In addition, this port is now also used for USB Audio 2.0, a function that will be activated via a corresponding firmware update.

To connect an amplifier or active loudspeakers, a pair of RCA connectors is available as analogue output, as well as an optical and coaxial S/PDIF interface.

From analogue for vinyl to HDMI

And now it gets exciting, because the Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer first has an input in the form of a 3.5 mm stereo combo, which thus combines analogue with an optical S/PDIF interface. This makes it possible to connect a phono preamplifier and a record player, for example, or alternatively to connect another digital source such as a CD player.

Another important feature is the HDMI interface. Of course, this is an interface of the latest generation, so that it not only has an ARC, i.e. an audio return channel, but even an eARC, i.e. an enhanced audio return channel. This means that a TV set can be connected directly, whereby the latest sound formats are also supported.

Of course, headphones can also be connected directly via a 3.5 mm stereo mini jack on the front.

Of course, the system can be upgraded simply and “wirelessly” via BluOS with a subwoofer using the Bluesound PULSE SUB+ subwoofer, but there is also a classic RCA connection to use any subwoofer.

Flexible Bluetooth integration

Of course, the new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer is also equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD support.

The Bluetooth module is designed as a so-called transceiver and can therefore transmit and receive in equal measure. This makes it possible not only to connect source devices via Bluetooth, such as smartphones, tablets, notebooks or portable hi-res audio players, but also to use Bluetooth headphones “wirelessly”.

Integration into control solutions

An essential part of the entire Bluesound BluOS ecosystem is the integration into various control solutions. This starts with an IR sensor, i.e. an infrared diode, which can be used to control the new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer with any remote control, as a learning function is available here.

Bluesound also offers the Bluesound RC1 Remote Control as an option.

Furthermore, 12 V trigger connections are available and the BluOS system can be integrated into the leading control solutions on the market, such as Control4, Crestron, URC, RTI, ELAN and Lutron.

More performance, new converter

The Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer is now equipped with a 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex A53 Quad-core processor, which again drastically improves the performance.

For the actual signal processing, a new D/A converter is used, although they do not go into too much detail here. According to the manufacturer, it is a D/A converter with 32-bit 384 kHz differential output design. However, it is probably a Texas Instruments PCM5242 4.2-VRMS DirectPath 32 Bit 384 kHz Burr-Brown.

Ultimately, however, the Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer remains at the standard BluOS resolution of 24 bit and 192 kHz. As before, content can also be played back encoded in the lossy and DRM-infested MQA format.

BluOS as a basis

The real “power” of the system is of course, how could it be otherwise, provided by the BluOS streaming platform, which is being further developed by the sister company of the same name from the Lenbrook Group.

BluOS ensures that up to 64 streaming clients can be combined in the network to form a multi-room audio streaming network, whereby these can come not only from Bluesound itself, but also from companies such as NAD Electronics, Dali Speaker A/S, Monitor Audio Ltd. and probably soon also from Roksan Audio Ltd. and Peachtree Audio Ltd. Regardless of the manufacturer, BluOS and the corresponding apps are all connected in one system.

With BluOS, you can access your own content via a simple SMB file sharing in the network, whereby all relevant data formats are supported.

BluOS is particularly flexible when it comes to supporting a wide range of streaming services; in fact, there is no service that is not directly implemented. Spotify Connect is also supported for the Spotify service and TIDAL Connect of the streaming service TIDAL is of course also available.

In addition, the new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer is of course Apple AirPlay 2 compatible and is designated as Roon Ready for direct use via the media management and multi-room audio streaming software Roon from the software forge Roon Labs LLC.

Voice control included

Even if the new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer does not appear as a “smart device” when it comes to voice control, i.e. it does not have a microphone and corresponding services directly implemented, nothing stands in the way of control by voice.

However, you need the corresponding Smart Speaker, whether from Amazon or Google, in order to ensure with the help of the corresponding Amazon Alexa Skills or Actions for Google Assistant that the BluOS system as a whole, and thus also the new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer, listens to your word. Apple Siri is also involved via Apple AirPlay 2.

The new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer should be available in specialist shops as early as June 2021. The manufacturer states a recommended retail price of € 549. As described, it is available in black or white.

Getting to the point

With the latest generation of the Bluesound NODE, the Canadian specialist Bluesound has made some significant improvements, but without changing the concept of its predecessor. At first glance, the new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer looks like its direct predecessor, but inside it has a more powerful platform and a further improved D/A converter, and offers plenty of connections for a wide range of source devices so that it can now function as a central interface. In the simplest case, a pair of active speakers is enough to create a complete hi-fi system of the latest design.

Manufacturer:Bluesound International
Distribution Austria:smart audio GmbH
Distribution Germany:Dali GmbH
Price:€ 549,-

About Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.com, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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