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Pro-ject Debut Carbon EVO with a Bluesound Node?

Saxondale

Member
Jan 9, 2021
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Hi, i'm new here. Be gentle.

*edited to add detail*

Me and my partner have loved rediscovering vinyl in the last year and after struggling through with a wretched all-in-one unit that skipped, crackled and in some cases wouldn’t even play new vinyl, we decided to invest in some kit that was up to the job.

We love the tangible aspect of vinyl and after hearing a demo in a music store last November were utterly sold on the warmth, natural sound and even just the aspect of watching the music play. Ah, old pleasures eh!

The few caveats we (OK, my partner) had were that the turntable must look aesthetically pleasing and suit the house - ideally wood and ‘traditional’ looking. To be fair, i have no issue with this - i love the wood turntables and 60’s/70’s style. Secondly, and a little more concerning, the amp must be ‘discreet’. I’d never seen a discreet amp in my life ha. Plus, its 2021 - we want to stream. Vinyl is great, but for when we’re just pottering around or want background music then we’re avid streamers.

The main advice we received is from a specialist audio store. I already had a pair of KEF Q35.2 floor standing speakers that, although old, i remember sounding decent. The guy in the store confirmed they should be up to the job and i could upgrade later - makes sense to me! He recommended bringing them into store to test.

In nutshell, we did that and the setup that appealed for the above reasons and because the sales guy did a convincing job of explaining was the following:

Bluesound POWERNODE 2i V2
NAD PP 2e (Graphite) Phono Preamp
Project Debut Carbon EVO Walnut Turntable
Chord Company Shawline X Speaker Cable

The turntable felt like a no-brainer - looked great, sounded good and the reviews were glowing (wish it had automatic stop but hey, you can’t have everything).

The amp - looks nothing like an amp i’ve seen before but the test was very enticing. Full sound on both vinyl and streaming. Streaming sounded a tad stronger/fuller which was odd during the test but figured it can’t be a bad thing.

Got it home, setup and initial reaction was satisfaction. We did the right thing.

However, now i’ve lived with it a few weeks i’m increasingly disappointed in the vinyl. It doesn’t have the warmth or detail i would expect. I mean it sounds good and such a step up from what we had its crazy. But it seems lacking somehow.

The streaming however just through basic Spotify over wifi/Airplay sounds better than i ever thought (which in my head makes no sense - better than vinyl!?!?!). Although i wonder if its just a trick - it sounds louder/fuller but is it better? These old ears can’t quite tell. But to my GF she thinks its great.

Overall it's lacking the bass we had in the store - they had a listening room with carpet. We have solid floor. I’d like more bass.

So whats happening here? I did some reading up and a few people said the Node was digitising the vinyl analogue sound. Then many people disputed this. Is it true? Surely the sales man misinformed me if that’s the case - why would i want digitised vinyl sound?

Is there a weak link here. The phono stage?? Could i do better?

The speakers? If it is then that’s OK - i will upgrade when i can. As long as i know the rest of the setup is all good.

Also, the settings on the Node - can they help? I turned off the tone settings and it all sounds even thinner (even without changing any tones controls when its turned on).

I feel the Node is a fantastic piece of kit. But i also worry i have the wrong amp for the TT. Please say it ain’t so and i’m just missing something?

Thank you all.
 
Last edited:

Al ears

Moderator
Hi, i'm new here.

What are peoples thoughts on pairing the following:

KEF Q35.2 floor standing speakers
Bluesound Powernode 2i
NAD PP 2e Phono Preamp
Project Debut Carbon EVO Turntable

Want to get the most from vinyl collection but also want decent streaming. There is an aesthetic aspect to all this too (yes, you guessed it, my partner has a say 😉)
No idea as to Speaker and amp combo though I would spend a bit more on a moving magnet only phono preamp if I were in your position
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
526
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So is the idea that the Node is converting my vinyl analogue sound to digital a crazy one?
No, some devices do that, but I don’t know about the Node without more digging.

Is the streaming sound through your old speakers much better? Are you sure the turntable is properly set up? Poor siting or incorrect tracking weight might give these symptoms.
 
Last edited:

Al ears

Moderator
No, some devices do that, but I don’t about the Node without more digging.

Is the streaming sound through your old speakers much better? Are you sure the turntable is properly set up? Poor siting or incorrect tracking weight might give these symptoms.
I would suggest that some of the modern amps that are concerned mainly with digital and streaming are not the best things to connect a turntable to. Whether or not the Powernode converts analogue to digital before amplification is a moot point, I don't know if it does., However your sound is not what you were expecting from vinyl suggests the analogue response from the Powernode isn't good so a different phono preamp or even a cartridge change may help here
 
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Saxondale

Member
Jan 9, 2021
6
0
20
No, some devices do that, but I don’t know about the Node without more digging.

Is the streaming sound through your old speakers much better? Are you sure the turntable is properly set up? Poor siting or incorrect tracking weight might give these symptoms.
I wouldn’t say the streaming sound is vastly better. Just has more punch and dynamism.

I endeavoured to set the the turntable as ore Isley as possible following the Project instructions. Level service, correct weighting as per the guide. I could play around with it.
 

Saxondale

Member
Jan 9, 2021
6
0
20
I would suggest that some of the modern amps that are concerned mainly with digital and streaming are not the best things to connect a turntable to. Whether or not the Powernode converts analogue to digital before amplification is a moot point, I don't know if it does., However your sound is not what you were expecting from vinyl suggests the analogue response from the Powernode isn't good so a different phono preamp or even a cartridge change may help here
The cartridge is an Ortofon 2M Red which I’ve read good things about. I do wonder if the phono preamp could be the weak link.
 

gregvet

Well-known member
Dec 24, 2008
127
8
18,595
It would be an interesting exercise for you to see if you can borrow (or maybe buy second hand) a stand-alone amp and run the vinyl system through that to your existing speakers. That would tell you at least if it’s the amp that’s at fault or the TT setup causing the issue

I haven’t used the bluesound so can’t comment specifically, but I used to use the Sonos equivalent and it wasn’t the best amp - fine for convenience but a stand-alone class AB amp was a vast improvement

if it was my system I would have gone for the bluesound node 2i as streaming source only with a stand-alone two channel amp - or active speakers (I have the kef lsx and I love them)
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
513
216
19,270
Hi. I’m gonna blame it on the cartridge, and say try a Nagaoka mp110 (or, even better, mp 150 - budget allowing), maybe look at the phonostage at a later date (schiit mani is a great budget one, for mm at least, and it’s even better with the swagman labs psu). Nagaoka carts give you that warmth and body you’re looking for, and they’re also great with tracking and surface noise.
 

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