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Bluesound Node - any users out there?

insider9

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Sep 20, 2016
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Anyone using either Bluesound Node or Node 2? With Tidal allowing access to MQA I'm quite keen to try it out. A simple USB DAC would set me back £129.

As I understand it both iteration have one digital input and that's all I need. Any user experiences either good or bad?

Things of particular interest are:
- sound quality
- wifi performance
- remote app
- firmware/software updates
- things that frustrate

Thanks
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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I'll have more hands on experience Tuesday/Wednesday when the stock turns up. As TIDAL sounds pretty good for a streaming service, I'm keen to see what MQA brings to the table.

I know I'm a "retailer", but I'll certainly give my impressions of the points you've listed.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
854
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David, I appreciate all expert opinion :)

Yes, Tidal sounds great for a streaming service. The new Masters selection via pc into a non MQA enabled DAC even better.

I appreciate that MQA is in its infancy and may crash and burn due to many restrictions put on hardware developers. Still, with Tidal offering it as part of £19.99 subscription I find it incredible value. Can't wait to hear what MQA can really do. I am not in a hurry though.

Looking forward to your post.
 

Barbapapa

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Feb 13, 2016
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I've got a Bluesound Node 2 for a year and am quite happy with it. However, I'm not a very picky listener so may not be able to answer all your questions fully.

I don't use Wifi, only hardwired Ethernet. Only at installation I needed Wifi, and then it did work okay as far as I could tell.

There have been regular software updates to both the control apps (on OSX (computer), iOS (iPad) and Android (mobile phone)), which on occasion have been major changes, but on the whole I think they do a good job. There is a heated debate on the Bluesound forums regarding a past change for adding new tracks (which worked counterintuitively). This has since been changed/improved in a way that resembles how other programs work (for example Audirvana). I think the debate was somewhat overblown, the important thing to me is that there is an active development team working on the software.

The app suits me fine. I have noted some changes in lay-out and so on, but nothing that threw me. Occasionally I lose connection which may be due to my Wifi connection; this seems to occur more often with my phone than from the computer app.

The firmware is also updated regularly. The Node warns that there is an update available and asks whether you like to update. The whole process works automatically (takes at most some 5-10 minutes) and has never failed me. I can't remember that there were major changes.

One thing I don't like is that it always scans the USB-drive (if you have attached one) at start-up, which takes a while depending on the size of the library on the drive. Hence you can't use it instead of a NAS. But frankly I nowadays mostly use streaming (Tidal and Qobuz).

Sound quality is as far as I can tell okay/good. This is difficult for me to describe as I have no experience with real high-end DACs, and furthermore am inclined to believe that the differences between reasonable/good quality DACs are slight anyway. I have played around with various configurations. Using the digital out to the DAC of my Quad Vena is very similar to the Node's DAC, the Vena possibly being just a touch warmer. Using the digital input of the Node to use as a DAC with CD's from a DVD player (used as transport) works fine as well.

I find the Bluesound a nice little streamer, probably quite similar to competing products. To me the benefits are the small form factor and the regular updates for app and firmware, while it does allow streaming of Qobuz and Tidal. I would have liked to attach a hard drive instead of using a NAS, but that doesn't seem feasible.

With respect to MQA: I have tried downloaded MQA files from 2L, and Master quality from Tidal. My vague impression is that the sound has a sharper, more refined quality. Presently I have attached cheap Cambridge Minx speakers and sub to the Quad Vena, and with MQA it seemed as if I suddenly had upgraded my speakers to one class higher. Instruments seem to have more presence, if that makes sense. But of course this is not a controlled double blind test.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
854
399
5,270
Barbapapa said:
I've got a Bluesound Node 2 for a year and am quite happy with it. However, I'm not a very picky listener so may not be able to answer all your questions fully.

I don't use Wifi, only hardwired Ethernet. Only at installation I needed Wifi, and then it did work okay as far as I could tell.

There have been regular software updates to both the control apps (on OSX (computer), iOS (iPad) and Android (mobile phone)), which on occasion have been major changes, but on the whole I think they do a good job. There is a heated debate on the Bluesound forums regarding a past change for adding new tracks (which worked counterintuitively). This has since been changed/improved in a way that resembles how other programs work (for example Audirvana). I think the debate was somewhat overblown, the important thing to me is that there is an active development team working on the software.

The app suits me fine. I have noted some changes in lay-out and so on, but nothing that threw me. Occasionally I lose connection which may be due to my Wifi connection; this seems to occur more often with my phone than from the computer app.

The firmware is also updated regularly. The Node warns that there is an update available and asks whether you like to update. The whole process works automatically (takes at most some 5-10 minutes) and has never failed me. I can't remember that there were major changes.

One thing I don't like is that it always scans the USB-drive (if you have attached one) at start-up, which takes a while depending on the size of the library on the drive. Hence you can't use it instead of a NAS. But frankly I nowadays mostly use streaming (Tidal and Qobuz).

Sound quality is as far as I can tell okay/good. This is difficult for me to describe as I have no experience with real high-end DACs, and furthermore am inclined to believe that the differences between reasonable/good quality DACs are slight anyway. I have played around with various configurations. Using the digital out to the DAC of my Quad Vena is very similar to the Node's DAC, the Vena possibly being just a touch warmer. Using the digital input of the Node to use as a DAC with CD's from a DVD player (used as transport) works fine as well.

I find the Bluesound a nice little streamer, probably quite similar to competing products. To me the benefits are the small form factor and the regular updates for app and firmware, while it does allow streaming of Qobuz and Tidal. I would have liked to attach a hard drive instead of using a NAS, but that doesn't seem feasible.

With respect to MQA: I have tried downloaded MQA files from 2L, and Master quality from Tidal. My vague impression is that the sound has a sharper, more refined quality. Presently I have attached cheap Cambridge Minx speakers and sub to the Quad Vena, and with MQA it seemed as if I suddenly had upgraded my speakers to one class higher. Instruments seem to have more presence, if that makes sense. But of course this is not a controlled double blind test.
Thank you very much for detailed answer!

Will leaving it on 24/7 eliminate the issue of it scanning USB drive? I don't have as much as some people on here but take it scanning of 100GB+ may take a while on each boot up.
 

Barbapapa

Well-known member
Feb 13, 2016
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Yes, scanning the USB-connected drive only occurs at start-up (or possibly also after disconnecting/reconnecting, I've forgotten and can't be bothered to check). It does take 1-2 minutes for a 64 Gb USB stick to scan, during which I can't use the Node. So I'd expect 100+ Gb to be completely unpractical. If your hard disk would be connected on a NAS it only reindexes when you ask it to, and saves the index so doesn't reindex when booting.

So for a library that size I would either leave it on (which I don't like to do) or use a NAS. To be honest, I'm not sure what happens if you restart your NAS: I think it doesn't reindex then but I don't remember whether I've tested that.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
854
399
5,270
Barbapapa said:
Yes, scanning the USB-connected drive only occurs at start-up (or possibly also after disconnecting/reconnecting, I've forgotten and can't be bothered to check). It does take 1-2 minutes for a 64 Gb USB stick to scan, during which I can't use the Node. So I'd expect 100+ Gb to be completely unpractical. If your hard disk would be connected on a NAS it only reindexes when you ask it to, and saves the index so doesn't reindex when booting. 

So for a library that size I would either leave it on (which I don't like to do) or use a NAS. To be honest, I'm not sure what happens if you restart your NAS: I think it doesn't reindex then but I don't remember whether I've tested that. 
Thanks for clarification. It looks like I'd opt for keeping it on only during the day. Strange how they implemented this. Yamaha doesn't have that issue.
 

NJB

New member
Nov 28, 2008
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I have used the Node 2 for the last year. I use a 250Gb SSD connected to the USB, with FLAC lossless files. Yes, indexing takes a while, but only a couple of minutes. I use the App on iOS, it has improved over the year and is much more reliable than it was. I find it quite intuitive now and on the fly updates are straightforward.

SQ is great, the built in DAC is perfectly usable, but I have gone in the direction of an external DAC. It has good connectivity and has proved to be a great replacement for my previous streaming solution.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
854
399
5,270
NJB said:
I have used the Node 2 for the last year. I use a 250Gb SSD connected to the USB, with FLAC lossless files. Yes, indexing takes a while, but only a couple of minutes. I use the App on iOS, it has improved over the year and is much more reliable than it was. I find it quite intuitive now and on the fly updates are straightforward.

SQ is great, the built in DAC is perfectly usable, but I have gone in the direction of an external DAC. It has good connectivity and has proved to be a great replacement for my previous streaming solution.
Thanks! Are streaming services such as Tidal controlled via their own apps? Or is it all done via Bluesound app?
 

Barbapapa

Well-known member
Feb 13, 2016
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Tidal is controlled through the Bluesound app. You can select from a list of sources, among which the streaming services you have configured. Once you have selected Tidal, the search field will search within Tidal. It also recognises favorites ('My Music') that you selected through the Tidal web interface or Tidal desktop app, and vice versa you can select favorites/add to playlists within the Bluesound app.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
854
399
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That sounds like a well thought-out app

Not that it's a deal breaker but haven't notice AirPlay support. It's so frustrating that there isn't one product in that price category that can provide all the services. I still haven't used my 6 months Apple Music I get with EE.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
854
399
5,270
Davidf any thoughts?

I'd particularly like to know how good the headphone amp is and whether it would handle my AKG K712Pro (60 ohm)?

Also, how good is wifi performance with Tidal and FLAC?
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
567
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18,890
insider9 said:
Davidf any thoughts?

I'd particularly like to know how good the headphone amp is and whether it would handle my AKG K712Pro (60 ohm)?

Also, how good is wifi performance with Tidal and FLAC?
The thoughts you've seen me post up so far with regards to MQA were via the PowerNode wing used in wireless mode. I've not yet streamed any FLAC to that system, but the comparison with The Doors album was being compared to hi-res files, and that streamed without any problems at all.

I've not got any headphones in just yet as I've been waiting for the new Audio Technica ones), but AKG is on my radar...
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
854
399
5,270
davidf said:
insider9 said:
Davidf any thoughts?

I'd particularly like to know how good the headphone amp is and whether it would handle my AKG K712Pro (60 ohm)?

Also, how good is wifi performance with Tidal and FLAC?
The thoughts you've seen me post up so far with regards to MQA were via the PowerNode wing used in wireless mode. I've not yet streamed any FLAC to that system, but the comparison with The Doors album was being compared to hi-res files, and that streamed without any problems at all. 

I've not got any headphones in just yet as I've been waiting for the new Audio Technica ones), but AKG is on my radar...
Great, thank you. Please let us know how it sounds with headphones.

Only had Yamaha for a few months so need to be able to justify a streamer upgrade to wife somehow :) and selling the headphone amp would help.
 

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