Bluesound Node 2i


(Robert McHugo) #1

Hi all, just wondering if anyone on here has purchased the new Node 2i from Bluesound. Would you recommend it? Is it a significant improvement on the Node 2? Some Hi-Fi shops in U.K. are discounting the basic 2 by £100. Any thoughts? Cheers.


(Chris ) #2

What Hi Fi have reviewed all the new Bluesound stuff, so you may want to look it up. It was published on Facebook.


#3

It is $ 50 more than the discounted Node 2, or in other words, the same price as the Node 2 sold for. For that one gets Airplay 2, the latest Wifi standards, and better BT. There are few more tweaks. I believe that it is well worth getting the Node 2i over the Node 2.


(Robert McHugo) #4

Thanks Chris.


(Robert McHugo) #5

Cheers Catman…seems so.


(Greg Steiniger) #6

Doh! Just bought a Node 2 two weeks ago on Amazon. That said, it’s great for my use in my second system, so not complaining.


(Robert McHugo) #7

Still undecided Greg on the 2 or 2i…might see if anything happens on Black Friday or Cyber Monday?


(Greg Steiniger) #8

My plan was to buy a Node 2 first and see if I liked it, and if yes, buy a second one for MQA in my main system. My SimAudio 650D is not an MQA DAC, but I’m not going to replace it just for MQA (which for me, i’m still not sure about), so I wanted a cheap alternative. At the moment, the plan hasn’t really changed, the only difference is that I guess I have to assume the 2i should sound better than the 2 and that I won’t have 2 of the same Nodes. Other than the WhatHiFi “review”, there’s no other comparisons yet, so I guess i’l wait and hope for discounts on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday.


(Yiannis Kouropalatis) #9

I got one a few days ago and have been testing it since. It is very nice but there are some caveats.

About a year ago I briefly owned the previous version (Node 2) and decided to sell it on in order to experiment with RPi based devices. Fast forward one year later and I really need to i) downsize and ii) simplify. Enter the Node 2i. It is currently uncertified by Roon but it is nevertheless recognised and it works ok (I got the ‘roon lost control of the audio device’ message once) with one caveat:

It does not sync with other Roon zones. I am currently operating two zones: The Node 2i and my PC running Roon Core. The two zones go out of sync within a few minutes of playback. This is the well documented issue with Bluesound’s RAAT implementation. It may be solved at some point (or not). My understanding is that this is a Bluesound issue (not Roon’s). I have decided to not care about this as I wanted to find ease of use that the Node 2i brings (even if it means sacrificing multiroom playback). If you don’t care about multiroom sync via Roon then there is no issue at all. Also no issue at all if you only have Bluesound devices and use the Bluesound app mostly.

Sound quality is very good. I am currently using the Node 2i dac feeding analogue outs to my amplifier. It is early days yet and I need to test longer before reaching a conclusion. Initial impressions are: tidy bass. A bit leaner bass than my MacBook pro + USB + Musical fidelity V90 dac. Not in a bad way lean… I had a bit of a bass boom in my living room and had to use EQ. The Node 2i fixed this.
The rest of the frequency range sounds smooth overall with great resolution. I find it a tiny bit smoother than my previous source / dac but it could be psychological. I plan on testing for a week and then re-introducing the V90 dac (Node 2i with coaxial) to see if I hear any difference. I probably will not.

The big advantages: Ease of use and versatility.
I have programmed Node 2i to respond to the Samsung TV remote, TV optical feeds the Node 2i and I can auto switch the input using the TV remote. Essentially the Node 2i becomes a stereo TV receiver and can be totally controlled via the TV remote. Once TV switches off, the Node 2i deactivates / pauses the optical input. Everything via TV remote with no need for smartphone / tablet.

I am using the Node 2i trigger out to power on / off my stereo amplifier. I achieved this by purchasing a trigger power adapter from audiophonics. The end result is that I no longer need to touch the amp remote. Everything is controlled via Roon, BluOS app and Spotify.

Another caveat is that Airplay 2 is not yet active and while bluesound states they are in the process of certification, there is no firm date for activation.

I notice that WiFi connectivity is much better with the 2i.

Will keep testing and update if people are interested


(Robert McHugo) #10

Nice one Yiannis! I would certainly be interested. Presently I have Roon core on my laptop connected via HDMI directly to my Denon AVR X2300W, controlled by my iPad and phone. I also have a V90 DAC which I don’t use ATM as I thought it sounded thin compared to the DAC in the Denon. I feel the Node 2i would simplify my set up, and have up to now read only good things about it. Please post future observations. Much appreciated.


(Yiannis Kouropalatis) #11

A bit of a follow up on the Bluesound Node2i after 6 days of daily use… I decided to return it.

My initial impressions of the sound quality evolved slightly after a few days of listening: Using the on board dac of the Node 2i results in sound quality that is good with tidy and slightly (in a good way) lean bass. It is however a bit smooth… perhaps a bit more than I like.

The high frequencies sounded a bit restrained. Overall slightly warm yet comfortable sound. This however proved a bit problematic when using the TV optical in. Due to warm-ish tone, the vocal clarity in movies was a bit compromised. Not in a big way but enough for me to notice. Using the TV optical feeding the V90 Dac resulted in much more comfortable listening for movies. After 5/6 days of using the Bluesound I switched back to the laptop + V90 dac via USB. The sound was definitely more revealing in the high frequencies and more dynamic in general.

Robert, I can see what you mean regarding the V90 potentially producing a lean sound. In my system I think it works because I use a Rega amplifier (slight warmth) and Dynaudio M10 speakers.
In summary, I preferred the sound from my laptop + V90 dac. Maybe the Bluesound would work better in a different (more revealing) system.

Interestingly the warm / smooth sound remained even when connecting the Bluesound 2i via coaxial to the V90 dac, There was perhaps a tiny bit of an improvement but very difficult to judge.

Bigger issues were found elsewhere:

  • The BluOS app was a bit sluggish and slow, especially so when using the Desktop version (Windows 10 and Mac). I compare this to the sonos app experience which seemed to me a lot snappier and easier.
  • Auto switching between optical and music streaming was a bit buggy. I would stop music streaming and a few hours later I would find the Node 2i had activated the optical input, not sure why considering everything was turned off.
  • Spotify was quite buggy when used with the Node 2i. More specifically the volume control would not work via the Spotify app. I would have to either quit the BluOS app and then relaunch Spotify in order to control volume via the latter. Othewise Spotify volume control was not possible via the Spotify app (when streaming to the Node 2i)
  • Volume level difference between Optical and Music streaming was a bit problematic. I needed to turn the volume up to 75-80?% for TV watching. This high level would remain after optical is deactivated so when switching to music streaming I would get a full blast and the ensuing panic - rush to turn the volume down.
  • The EQ seemed quite detrimental to the sound quality. Once tone controls are activated the sound seemed even less dynamic than before.
  • Syncing with my other Roon zone (Win 10 PC) was impossible. While Bluesound has stated that they intend to fix this, I have little faith that it will be done soon.
  • Finally, I had the chance to listen to the Flex 2i speakers (as I intend to use multiroom sync) and they sounded far too smooth for my liking. Great with vocals but seriously lacking in dynamics.

As a standalone zone, I think that an Allo Digi One + Dac (or laptop + Dac) is the cost effective way to go. Overall these solutions sounded better to my ears.

For a convenient multiroom setup (in sync), Sonos seems a lot better.
A sonos connect + Dac (careful selection to avoid buffering models) sounds more dynamic than the Node 2i.
Also worth noting that Sonos is soon launching the new Sonos Amp. This device appears to be super convenient.
Equally important, Roon syncs well when using multiple sonos devices. The Sonos One sounded more fun to my ears (compared to Flex 2i) and with a bit of EQ one can treat the boominess.

Sorry for rambling. The sound quality is of course subjective.
best
Y


(Chris ) #12

Remember, Sonus is not RAAT as Bluesound is and so will only sync with other Sonus units.


(Robert McHugo) #13

Thanks so much for your observations Yiannis. Going to reassess it all now.


(simon arnold) #14

I have to agree the Bluesounds can sound a little flat when switching from sbc endpoints, but I don’t think this is a bad thing. They feel more neutral than other pi endpoints I have used that always elevated the higher frequencies. Especially the USBridge which was what I was using. Prior. Just had to tweak my speakers to compensate . Really like the sound now but it takes some time to get used t


(Yiannis Kouropalatis) #15

Happy to share and even happier if it helps in any way :-). Worth noting what Chris mentioned above. Sonos is not RAAT and they will only ever sync with other units of the same family. Bluesound syncing via Roon will be fixed at some point and that will mean they can sync with any other RAAT based end point. In the meantime, Bluesound sync via the BluOS app is flawless.

Simon makies a good point. I think the Bluesound is more neutral and this might be an advantage with some speakers. My Dynaudio M10s are a little on the warm side so perhaps better suited to slightly more ‘edgy’ sources.

I


(Robert McHugo) #16

A couple of posters on this site have been singing the praises of the AURALiC ARIES MINI over the Node 2i.
Like you say, I think a lot will depend on amp/DAC/speaker set up.
I would be connecting the streamer via analogue out to either a Denon AVR 2300w or a Monitor Audio A100 stereo amp, feeding a pair of Q Acoustics 3020s, so utilising the DAC in the Node 2i or the Sabre DAC in the Auralic.
I will try and audition both if possible, on a set up as close to mine as the store has.


(simon arnold) #17

Aurialiacs DAC is not as good as the Nodes by all accounts and you need to have iOS to operate it no Android support at all.


(Robert McHugo) #18

The no Android thing wouldn’t bother me as I have an iPad as well, however an interesting observation re the DACs. Thanks.


(simon arnold) #19

I would demo both to be sure, its just what I have read that’s it’s not the best DAC inside.


(Robert McHugo) #20

Yep, will demo both. Another thing I like about the mini however is the ability to put in a cheap SSD (500 gig for £88 from PC World) inside for my local storage. I had an Apple TV first edition with 128 gig HDD, and loved the convenience and speed of it all being self contained.