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Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier

Foto © Bluesound International

The Canadian specialist Bluesound International describes the new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier as having reinvented the concept of a compact hi-fi amplifier and reinterpreted it for the streaming age.

Since the introduction of the BluOS-based multi-room hi-res audio streaming system from Bluesound International, the Bluesound POWERNODE has always been assigned a central task. Essentially, this solution combines a streaming client with a stereo integrated amplifier in the smallest possible form.

This solution can thus be easily integrated into any living environment; all that is needed is a pair of high-quality speaker systems and you have a fine, flexible hi-fi system.

The latest generation of this versatile system is now available, in the form of the new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier.

It is interesting to note that the decision was made not to “upscale” the product name with other numbers, but rather to go “back to the roots”, i.e. to dispense with any numerical additions to the name and simply call the latest generation Bluesound POWERNODE.

Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier – Almost identical design…

The design is almost identical to its direct predecessor, and at first glance the latest generation system can only be distinguished from the previous models by a few details.

The new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier presents itself with an extremely elegant, almost simple design, is comparatively flat and takes up very little space.

To get straight to the point, the new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier measures 220 x 70 x 190 mm and weighs no more than 1.78 kg.

As before, the system is available in either white or black, and in both cases the plastic housing has a matt finish.

New touch-sensor panel for more flexible operation

The most striking difference in design can be found on the top side. The already known touch sensor panel has now been extended, for example by a preset management, so that certain configurations can be called up directly at the touch of a button.

The touch screen control also provides functions such as volume control as a touch slider, forward and back for playback, as well as play and stop. A proximity sensor activates the illumination as soon as the user approaches.

New processor, new converter

The biggest innovations, however, are hidden inside the Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier. The BluOS streaming platform now relies on a new, more powerful processor, namely a 1.8 GHz ARM CORTEX A52 Quad-core processor. This ensures that the performance of signal processing is increased once again and that smooth operation is guaranteed at all times.

Regarding the new converter, the Canadian company Bluesound International is quite cagey in its proven manner and does not reveal too many details. They only talk about a 32-bit 384 kHz differential output design, although the bottom line is that streaming will continue to be supported up to 24-bit and 192 kHz. However, it is likely to be a Texas Instruments PCM5242 4.2-VRMS DirectPath 32-bit 384 kHz Burr-Brown.

New WiFi module

Of course, the new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier will also be integrated directly into the network via cable in the best case scenario; a Gigabit Ethernet interface is available for this purpose. However, it must be mentioned that the now integrated WiFi module according to IEEE 802.11ac also offers sufficient performance to handle hi-res audio streaming without any problems. At least if the WLAN at home is optimally designed…

Bluetooth 5.0 as transceiver

Bluetooth 5.0 is used to connect smartphones, tablets, portable hi-res audio players and notebooks directly as a source.

The Bluetooth module of the new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier can do more, however, because it is a so-called Bluetooth transceiver, i.e. it can transmit and receive. It is also possible to connect Bluetooth headphones with the small streaming amplifier.

The new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier supports aptX HD, allowing signal transmission with up to 24 bit and 48 kHz.

BluOS as the 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. 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 from the streaming service TIDAL is of course also available.

All this is controlled by means of an intuitive app, the BluOS Control App, which is available for Apple iOS, Google Android, Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS.

In addition, the new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier 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 POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier does not appear as a “smart device” itself when it comes to voice control, i.e. it does not have a microphone and corresponding services implemented directly, there is nothing to stop it from being controlled by voice.

However, you need the corresponding Smart Speaker, whether from Amazon or Google, in order to ensure that the BluOS system as a whole, and thus also the new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier, listens to your word with the help of the corresponding Amazon Alexa Skills or Actions for Google Assistant.

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HybridDigital Amplification

An essential component of the Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier is, of course, its amplifier module, which makes it a virtually self-sufficient solution. Only a pair of speakers is required to have a fine hi-fi system with impressive flexibility at your disposal.

Here, the developers rely on a concept that was taken over from the sister company NAD Electronics, namely the so-called HybridDigital Amplification. This is a particularly effective amplifier concept that offers very fine, balanced signal processing.

After all, the “little one” delivers 80 watts twice, and that to speaker systems with an impedance of 8 ohms. As usual, the manufacturer also specifies the so-called IHF Dynamic Power for this amplifier concept, namely an impressive 220 watts at 4 ohms or 130 watts at 8 ohms. Either way, there is enough power available to easily fill a normal living room with rich sound.

Optional subwoofer with cable or “wireless”.

Of course, there is the option of adding an additional subwoofer in two ways. On the one hand, you can of course include any subwoofer via a corresponding output using a cable, but it is more elegant to use the optional Bluesound PULSE SUB+ subwoofer, as this is integrated “wirelessly” as a further component of the BluOS system.

Flexible connections, even analogue for vinyl

This brings us to the list of connection options. The Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier is very flexible in this respect, because in addition to analogue and digital outputs (optical and coaxial S/PDIF interface), a headphone connection is available directly on the front. In addition, two so-called 3.5 mm combo interfaces can be used to connect analogue sources as well as digital sources via an optical S/PDIF interface. This even allows the integration of a record player via a corresponding phono preamplifier, and various digital sources, such as a CD player, can also be connected.

A USB port is also available, which, as before, allows the direct integration of corresponding storage media, but in the future – via a firmware update – will also offer USB 2.0 audio.

What has been introduced as an actual innovation in the new Bluesound NODE Wireless Multi-Room Hi-res Music Streamer is not entirely new in the case of its “active brother”, the Bluesound POWERNODE. A version with an integrated HDMI interface was already available here (Bluesound Powernode 2i with HDMI), and the new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier is also equipped with such an option.

HDMI with HDMI CEC and eARC

The HDMI interface of the Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier supports HDMI CEC for central control, for example with a TV remote control, and features a so-called eARC, i.e. an enhanced Audio Return Channel. This ensures that audio signals, even in the form of the latest surround formats such as those offered by Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV, are transmitted from the TV to the small amplifier.

Of course, solid screw terminals are available here in the proven manner for connecting the speaker systems.

Integration in control solutions

An essential part of the entire Bluesound BluOS ecosystem is the integration into various control solutions. This begins with an IR sensor, an infrared diode, which can be used to control the new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier with any remote control, as already mentioned, since 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.

The new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier is scheduled to be available as early as June 2021, with a choice of black or white, as described. The recommended retail price is € 899.

Getting to the point

The new Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier presents itself in almost the same design as its predecessor; only the newly designed touch control on the top reveals that this is the latest generation. Inside, however, there is much that is new, first and foremost a more powerful processor and a newly designed transducer construction. This means that existing customers are not under too much pressure to switch to the latest generation, but for new customers, the Bluesound POWERNODE Wireless Multi-room Music Streaming Amplifier is even more attractive than it already was.

Manufacturer:Bluesound International
Distribution Austria:smart audio GmbH
Distribution Germany:Dali GmbH
Price:€ 899,-

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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