Streaming & Digital Review

Node 2i Wireless Streamer From Bluesound 

Part of the company’s multi-room project, the Node 2i features a host of wireless technologies that continue to evolve

I’m a bit late off the mark on this one, I know but I’ve been meaning to check out this streamer for some time and failed to get around to it. That said, there is value in splitting from the crowd and producing a later review. Let me tell you why. 

Even after the initial launch and the early reviews, I was continually reminded of the 2i’s presence by a stream (pun intended) of updates and enhancements. 

2i Wireless Streamer From Bluesound 

Which only proves how committed Bluesound is to this product and how the company sees it as a basis, a platform to build upon. 


This one point is very important, deserves to be dwelt upon for a moment and is hardly ever talked about in the media.

Bluesound’s post-launch actions should breed customer confidence, a fragile thing at the best of times.

I don’t know how many products I’ve seen hit the streets with a loud bang, seen lots of early reviews, heard lots of fuss from the attendant company amongst the lights, music and party hats, heard about the plans and the in-house developments only to realise, five minutes afterwards, that the company has dropped the entire product like a hot potato, turned its back upon it a month later and denied it had ever released it after six months. 


2i Wireless Streamer From Bluesound 

Not with Bluesound and not with the Node 2i. That’s important if you’re looking to make an investment in this thing. Hence, this review covers a rapidly maturing product.

Benefitting from initial research ploughed, by mutual owner Lenbrook, into the NAD M50.2, the Node 2i is the recipient of thought and time taken. Powered by an ARM Cortex A9 speeding along at 1GHz, you’ll find a 32bit/192kHz DAC inside. On the rear of the chassis, audio inputs include a coax and optical while audio outs include a pair of fixed RCAs, coax/optical, 12V Trigger, subwoofer and – on the front – a headphone socket for a 3.5mm jack. 

2i Wireless Streamer From Bluesound 

Digitally? You’ll also find a USB-A at the back which will take USB stick sources and a Type B for servicing.


Internet services include the usual hordes: Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, Napster and more. Internet radio is there too.

Most recently, the 2i now supports Amazon Music HD and Ultra HD.

Sound quality has been addressed within the design, just look at the internal isolation between the compact wireless technologies and the basic audio kit for proof of that. Speaking of wireless, that’s dual band (802.11ac) and that comes with Bluetooth 5.0 aptX HD, via Qualcomm CSR8675 chip, that runs both ways so you can receive a signal for Bluetooth headphone use, for example.


2i Wireless Streamer From Bluesound 

AirPlay 2 is also included which will aid multi-room set-up, no end. AirPlay 2 also gives you more options for control, including using Siri voice assistance. Amazon and Google Assistant can also be used in this respect too. By grouping a Node 2i with older Bluesound Players in the BluOS App, you can also add AirPlay 2 compatibility to your entire BluOS system.

Finally, the RC1 (£49) remote control should be available now as an additional, alternative control option. 

INSTALLATION

Locating and loading BluOS onto my iPhone was easy. Looking for the 2i via my home’s Wi-Fi was a tad difficult. Now, my Wi-Fi is not the fastest or the most reliable so that might be something to do with my location/broadband but the app steadfastly refused to see the machine. During the tests, I actually much preferred attaching the 2i to a wired connection. In my case, I used a high-speed CAT 6a cable for enhanced signal transfer speeds. 


If sound quality is everything, you should be running the 2i wired anyway. The latter will produce inherently superior sound quality than a wireless link. 

Desktop App

Once the app saw my 2i, it then updated the software automatically. This was a five-stage process which lasted a few minutes only. In the meantime, the 2i produced a red/green flashing light show to indicate that it was receiving the updates. I recommend this action as a first step before use. Getting the late updates may improve usability, compatibility and sound quality.

While I was waiting, I switched on Bluetooth via my phone. The 2i was seen on my phone’s Bluetooth list, immediately. No pairing buttons had to be pressed on the 2i’s chassis.

SOUND QUALITY

Once the All Done! notification flashed on my phone to indicate the completion of the updates, the 2i shone a rather confidant blue light and my app popped up a menu of source choices. 

I started with radio via TuneIn and dived into a bit of chat via BBC Radio 4. Chatty radio is often ignored during streamer tests but I actually see it as the most valuable source in the entire test because of vocal tonal nuances and changes in ambience. 

Tablet App

For example, I was intrigued to hear tonal differences from three voices. More than that, though, I also successfully heard ambient effects. The latter was actually extremely important in terms of evaluating the 2i’s overall sound quality because the sounds behind the voices or the differences in modulation of the voices because of the room are often some of the most difficult suites of information that a streamer like this can project. 

So I heard a studio broadcast chatting about Chinese food. The studio sounded relatively spacious with the microphone at an appreciable distance from the mouth. The guest Chinese chef wasn’t in the studio. It sounded like she was outside on the street with a microphone even further from the mouth. Finally, I heard a continuity announcer. Rich, fruity, obviously sitting in a small, enclosed space with the microphone near to the mouth. The voice full of texture and resonance. 

That I heard all of this from a mere streamer was intriguing to say the least. It also proved a point, that the 2i offers a sound quality that is high in detail and clarity, low in noise and with a potent midrange insight. In many ways, this was the most valuable part of the sound test because it revealed just how sensitive the 2i could be in terms of refinement. 

I then tried Swissgroove Radio – well, why not? – listened and was impressed with the overall clarity and low noise presentation from this pop/funk track. The soundstage was not only broad but the attendant detail was rich. I noted the fine treble performance, focused yet delicate.

I then switched to Amazon Music and sent a stream of Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now via Airplay to the 2i. A still lower noise stream sourced this music, like the TuneIn app above, produced a rock-solid streamed connection without the hint of a break or interruption of any sort.  

The quality was very good indeed. Soundstage produced a wide and spacious output with a relatively neutral presentation. Frequencies were disciplined with a rhythmic bass output to drive the music forward.

2i Wireless Streamer From Bluesound 

I then plugged in a USB stick and played jazz via Sonny Rollins’ St Thomas at 24bit/96kHz. Sound quality was admirable. Dynamic reach may have been clipped at the extremes while midrange insight hit a glass ceiling and was a little forward during sax crescendos at high volumes.

That could have been me, though. I was busy using a Wi-Fi extender in my listening room – digital noise from that can have an affect. That said, there was much to like here. I was happy to hear the instrumental separation and how the ear was able to easily pick up either frequency extreme with ease. Hence, the cymbal taps were precise and informative yet the upright bass was never, at any time, masked or hidden by the associated cacophony from the sax and piano. The bass was focused and occupied enough space to create a foundation for the track as a whole.

2i Wireless Streamer From Bluesound 

The midrange focus was an obvious highlight of the music as a whole. The 2i was able to dig deep into the mix to reveal everything. The lot. No piece of information was left on the studio floor. The 2i offer nothing if not musical value here. 

2i Wireless Streamer From Bluesound 

I then looked at Bluetooth via my phone. Pushing a Paul McCartney track, My Valentine, via a lossy file to the 2i, I was happy with the overall playback. Yes, the inherent file type lacked finesse and detail while the 2i repeated that slight forward element at high volumes in the upper mids (nothing harsh you understand, it’s subtle although it is there) but the overall sound was fairly neutral and balanced with no obvious nasties to make you wince. Bluetooth can sometimes produce an edgy and brittle playback, especially via a lossy file but the 2i performed well here, giving a rather civilised presentation. Instrumental separation was satisfyingly implemented meaning that space was able to infuse the soundstage and in between each instrument, adding a relatively full and wholesome tone to the music. 

CONCLUSION

Compact, well built, fully featured and easy to use, what’s not to like? The price is spot on. I’m more than happy with the sound quality, especially at this price point. The Node 2i tackled all sources – whatever their stripe – with aplomb. Whether they be streamed from devices, over the Internet or plugged in directly, this Swiss Army knife of a streamer maintains a high quality of sound across the board. A brilliant little box and no mistake.


BLUESOUND NODE 2i WIRELESS STREAMER 

Price: £499

Website: www.bluesound.com 

GOOD: build, features, overall sound quality, easy to set up

BAD: nothing 

RATING: 8


If you would like to purchase this turntable, you can from the following links: 

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REFERENCE

Arcam rPlay

Audiolab 6000A amplifier

Spendor A1 speakers

Tellurium Blue Cables

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

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75 Comments

  • Reply
    John Norris
    12th December 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Paul, I liked this review. Usually when you review one box solutions you sniff out some noise but it seems scant here. I have the Bluesound 2, the unit that preceded this one. If you heard that, and I don’t know if you did, do you think the sonics of the 2i are worthy of an upgrade on my version 2? I do have an iPhone so Airplay would be useful but it’s not something on its own that would validate the purchase and trade in of the old one. But if the 2i is a sonic upgrade then I think I could sell my existing one on eBay for approx £200-£250 and that would partly find the 2i. Opinion?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      13th December 2019 at 12:22 pm

      Hi John – there was a bit of noise but it seemed to derive more from my WiFi Extender. To be honest, I’d stick your 2. The 2i is nice but I’d be looking for bigger, better value for money upgrade. The 2i is worth £500. Sound is excellent but £500 is about right. Save your cash on this one 🙂

      • Reply
        John Norris
        19th December 2019 at 11:11 pm

        That’s sound advice, I am definitely going to do that. I don’t want a minor upgrade. The Node 2 will do just fine. I would love to see a review of the Meridian 210 streamer (hint hint)

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          20th December 2019 at 4:05 pm

          I’ll see what I can do, John 🙂

      • Reply
        Mack Khan
        25th February 2020 at 4:54 pm

        Paul
        How would you rate the Bluesound against the Sony streamer?

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          25th February 2020 at 5:12 pm

          Hi Mack – do you mean the LF-S50G or something else?

  • Reply
    MarkB
    13th December 2019 at 5:02 pm

    First, for Paul
    Good review. You are spot-on about Bluesound’s commitment. I have the previous gen Node 2 and it gets regular updates that enhance functionality. The controller app (mine is Android) keeps improving too.

    Then, for John Norris
    I have not heard the Node 2i, but my impression, from Bluesound product info, is that sound quality is the same as the Node 2. The “improvements” are confined to features like Airplay, Bluetooth output, and upgraded WiFi. For an improvement in sound quality I would recommend using a high quality external DAC with the Node 2. I have one that uses the ESS Sabre 9018 chip. It’s connected to the Node’s digital coax output. The external DAC gives a cleaner, more detailed, more dynamic sound than the Node 2’s internal DAC.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      13th December 2019 at 5:11 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts, MarkB.

    • Reply
      John Norris
      19th December 2019 at 11:12 pm

      I already have the Node 2 plugged into the Rega DAC-R, Mark.

      • Reply
        Alan F
        31st March 2020 at 4:44 pm

        I am having difficulty (ignorance) connecting my Node 2i to my Rega DAC -r. USB out of Node into USB input on DAC. I canot get it to work on any of the inputs on the DAC.

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          31st March 2020 at 5:10 pm

          You need to connect it to your amplifier Alan.

    • Reply
      Mack Khan
      25th February 2020 at 9:26 pm

      It’s the HAP Series, either S1 or Z1 ES

  • Reply
    Eli
    13th December 2019 at 5:27 pm

    I’ve had a Bluesound Node 2i for a few months now. I originally purchased it to compare directly with my Sonos Connect and then a Sonos Port that I later purchased.

    Here’s my experience:
    The Sonos app is much better than the Bluesound app. Easier to use, less likely to crash and freeze.

    Node 2i wins with sound quality. It’s not even close. The built-in DAC is really, really good. I also directly compared it with an older high-end ($5,500 when new!) AVR’s DAC and my ears preferred the Node 2i’s DAC.

    User experience goes to Sonos. My Node 2i has all the latest updates and yet, if I’m using it on wi-fi as most of us will be, the Node 2i crashes constantly. Listening just last night for about 2 hours and I had to unplug the Node 2i two times to get it to reboot. Then it crashed a third time…. tired of this experience, I simply switched over to my Sonos Port.

    While the Port might not sound as good as the Node 2i, nothing kills the mood/enjoyment of music like faulty gear.

    Don’t get me wrong, I really want to like the Node 2i and want to replace all 5 of my Sonos boxes with the Bluesound but the current performance is disappointing at best. Also, Pandora might not be high-res audio but the lack of Pandora is ridiculous.

    Bluesound, I’m cheering for you guys but this product needs some work.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      13th December 2019 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts, Eli – interesting stuff.

    • Reply
      MarkB
      13th December 2019 at 7:17 pm

      I have had my Node 2 since August 2017, so over 2 years now, and it has NEVER EVER crashed or needed rebooting. I use it solely on WiFi. The help/diagnostics screen typically reports a signal strength of ‘medium”, about -63 db, so not especially strong. Given the severity of your problem I would say you should contact Bluesound support and see if they can help. Hopefully the 2i’s new “better” WiFi is not the problem. Maybe your’s is defective?

    • Reply
      Eli
      19th December 2019 at 4:54 am

      UPDATE:
      Came home this evening and decided to give it another shot tonight. The last time I had used it, the Node 2i locked up and refused to respond to commands from the app. Because of this, I wasn’t shocked to discover that I needed to do a power disconnect and reconnect cycle.

      When the Node 2i came back online, I was annoyed to find that the Node 2i had lost all memory of my setup – reverting back to factory settings.

      After repeating the setup, I began listening to music through the Node 2i. Oh my, this little black box sounds amazing with tubes and horns. Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Daft Punk, Stevie Ray Vaughan… I’ve been listening for roughly 4 hours without a single hiccup. Hopefully that’s the end of my challenges because I am a big fan of this product when it’s working properly.

      • Reply
        Paul Rigby
        19th December 2019 at 10:49 am

        Phew! Hopefully all is well from now on Eli.

      • Reply
        Eli
        29th December 2019 at 3:55 am

        Additional Update:
        Over a week of frequent listening without any of the previously-seen issues reappearing.

        We even experienced a brief power outage when I turned off the wrong breaker in the middle of replacing a light fixture. Once the power was back on, the Node 2i quickly reconnected to my network and even remembered the album I had been enjoying prior to the power loss.

        Time to buy a couple more of these awesome-sounding little black boxes!

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          29th December 2019 at 1:54 pm

          Good to hear, Eli – glad everything is ok.

  • Reply
    geoffrey
    14th December 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Hello,

    Indeed the Node 2 is very stable and the app is also lovely.

    Best regards
    Geoff

  • Reply
    Gar
    15th December 2019 at 11:30 pm

    The Node units do sound decent and they are a reasonably priced streamers, but the App is broke. Not sure if anyone has been trying to hook the units up via Ethernet but I have 2 newer units and the App quits working once you hook the unit up. Everything else you plug into the cable works, computers other device etc.. but once you hook up via the Node 2i the App doesn’t work. Anyone know of this issue?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      16th December 2019 at 11:43 am

      Hi Gar – talk to your supplier about this because I had no issues with the App with Ethernet.

    • Reply
      Mark E Brauer
      17th December 2019 at 2:15 pm

      GAR
      It sounds like your Ethernet and your WiFi, even though using the same router, are on different “networks”. Bluesound requires the streamer and the device running the controller app be on the same network. I searched the Internet for “ethernet wifi different network names” and found users describing cases where the Ethernet connections and the WiFi connections on the same router do not communicate with each other. This causes printers not to be accessible, makes file transfers to other devices impossible, etc. Also, with multi-band WiFi, one band could be “on the network” while the other one isn’t.
      Hope this helps.

  • Reply
    geoffrey
    8th February 2020 at 4:25 pm

    Hello Paul,

    Did you connect the Benchmark to the Node to see how far the Node goes?

    Best regards
    Geoff

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      9th February 2020 at 2:24 pm

      Hi Geoff – I thought about doing that and then thought twice because the box has its own DAC and I wanted to focus on what you’re buying. As an upgrade, I would recommend a separate DAC sure, but then the budget shoots way up and, again, value for money has a place in the 2i so I was afraid of distorting the review.

  • Reply
    Nuno
    19th February 2020 at 12:20 am

    Hi Paul,
    Do you know the Yamaha NP-S 303?I already had the chance to hear the node 2, and I like it, but I wonder if the Yamaha might be an alternative.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      19th February 2020 at 11:59 am

      Hi Nuno – it appears to offer good value and I’ve heard good things about it in sonic terms. How it compares to the 2i? Haven’t a clue, to be honest. Not yet. It’s certainly a low cost alternative to the 2i, sure. Do you know a retailer that sells them? You could ask about a home demo.

  • Reply
    Nuno
    26th February 2020 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Paul,
    I guess the new Denon DNP 800 NE might be an alternative to the Bluesound..How is the sound of the Denon, have you had the chance to hear it?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      27th February 2020 at 8:39 am

      I’m afraid that I have no experience with that one, Nuno. I don’t have any colleagues who have heard it either, for that matter. Sorry.

  • Reply
    Raj
    3rd March 2020 at 12:35 pm

    Hi Paul,
    How does this compare to Cambridge Audio CXN V2 in terms of sound quality? It will be interesting to see what your views are. I will be auditioning the 2 in the next week or so.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      3rd March 2020 at 4:08 pm

      I haven’t compare the two, to be honest Raj so can’t be definitive in terms of advice. Of course, the Cambridge offers a much larger footprint and there are variations in the spec sheet. I’d advise opening two windows of specs, one for each, and running through them to see which are more important to you. I did talk to colleagues and they did enjoy the Cambridge’s sound.

      • Reply
        Raj
        4th March 2020 at 12:06 am

        Ok, thanks for the reply Paul. I am big on sound quality rather than other features normally but have to see what the actual difference is in specs. Thanks again.

    • Reply
      Nish G
      19th April 2020 at 1:51 pm

      The Cambridge is more $ so I would expect it will sound better, however, if you use Tidal like I do, the Node 2i will support MQA, the Cambridge will not. I use a Node 2i with B&W 603, a Cambridge CXA80 (analog input since the CXA80 can’t decode MQA) and I think it sounds fantastic. At some point, I will try comparing using a digital input (CXA80 DAC) vs. analog (2i DAC), but at this point it sounds so good, I don’t feel the need to.

      • Reply
        Nish G
        1st May 2020 at 12:55 pm

        Update: I tried using the CXA80 DAC via digital input instead of the 2i DAC and it seems like sound has improved slightly. MQA tracks don’t seem to sound much different even though the CXA80 doesn’t support MQA which I’m a bit confused about.
        Next step will be switching from wireless to wired on the 2i.

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          1st May 2020 at 3:22 pm

          Good luck on your sonic travels.

  • Reply
    Ignacio Perez
    31st March 2020 at 9:55 am

    Hi Paul, hope you and your family are doing OK in this difficult and particular time. On the more positive side, it’s a good opportunity for listening to more music. I wanted to seek your advice on a good streamer under £ 1000. I read your review of the Bluesound Node 2i and I understand you recommend it. Would you have other recommendations in this price range? What is the difference between the Node and the Node 2i? Is the set up easy? In my case, it would be my first music streamer (beside a Sonos One which I do not use much) and I would like to hook it up to my hifi system (Rega Elicit amp, Planar 3, Apollo CD player and Spica TC 60 speakers). I think a good streamer would be a nice addition to my current system and would allow me to make full use of my music streaming subscription (Spotify and particularly Qobuz). Thanks a lot in advance for any advice you can provide. Kind regards, Ignacio

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      31st March 2020 at 12:04 pm

      We’re fine here, thank you for asking Ignacio. Are you ok?

      I’d look at the Audiolab 6000N. The 2i offers a quality sound (any external streamer will improve upon built in models) and is easy to set up but is a little warm when compared to the 6000N. The latter is more open and spacious in the mids.

  • Reply
    Nish G
    19th April 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Paul, can you elaborate further on this comment: “If sound quality is everything, you should be running the 2i wired anyway. The latter will produce inherently superior sound quality than a wireless link.”

    I run my 2i wireless using 802.11ac to my router. 802.11ac is capable of anywhere from 400Mbps to 1Gbps speeds which is much more than the 1.5Mbps required for high-res/MQA streaming. So I’m not understanding how a wired connection can produce superior sound quality unless you have a very poor wireless connection/signal strength. Or is there an impact on the internal sound circuitry of the 2i if the wireless chipset is in use? Interested to hear the reasoning behind your comment. I’m tempted to run a wired connection now to compare!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      19th April 2020 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Nish – it’s not a black and white issue. It depends on the product and the underlying system and the engineers behind the tech. For most lower quality hi-fi and I mean budget level like the 2i, the issue is noise. Wi-Fi, because of what it does and how it does it and how it interacts with resident hardware on your component and the associated components lying nearby, creates noise for a host of reasons. I can certainly hear it. It gets in the way of the music. Most of the time, wired is quieter in terms of sonics (again, wired can be noisy if it’s not designed correctly and you use poor cabling). But…if you pile time, money and expertise into a quality Wi-Fi system then sure, the latter can sound lovely.
      To give you a tangential example, it’s like stuffing a phono amp into an integrated amp box, 99% of the time it’ll sound very poor. Yet Moon, for example, spent time money and effort on this issue and have produced a superb all-in-one digital hub with a built in phono amp that sounds lovely. But the whole thing costs £5k: https://theaudiophileman.com/390-network-preamp-streamer-review-digital/

  • Reply
    John Love
    26th April 2020 at 9:16 am

    Hi Paul,
    I’ve read your review and many others and have decided that a Bluesound front end will give me all the functionality I need for a very reasonable outlay. I have 2 options for my money (approx £1500).
    Node 2i and Acoustic Energy AE1 Actives
    or
    Powernode 2i and £600 speakers (recomendations welcome)

    Main usage would be Tidal HiFi/MQA and occasionally Asset UPnP but I’ll probably give Qobuz a go as well.

    Many thanks,
    John

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th April 2020 at 11:16 am

      Hi John – the 2i and AE speakers would be ideal.

      • Reply
        John
        26th April 2020 at 11:40 am

        Many thanks Paul, being honest that’s the option I hoped you would suggest.
        Keep well
        John

  • Reply
    John
    30th April 2020 at 2:07 am

    Hi Paul,
    Another question if I may.

    Before I take the plunge could you advise me on how the Node 2i/AE1 Active combo would compare to either the Kef LSX or LS50W in terms of sound character and quality?

    To give you some idea of what I like, the rich and detailed character of my Naim system (172/250.2/Concept 40s)) is preferable to the detailed but very dry sound I hear from a Linn system. I did have a 5 minute listen to a B&W Formation Duo setup and was impressed but of course they are way out of my budget.

    If VFM is a consideration, I’ve been offered some ex dem LSX for £700 and LS50W for £1700 but I cannot hear them at home before buying.

    Thanks and regards,
    John

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th April 2020 at 11:10 am

      Both are very good indeed and if you have a hankering for either then I’m sure you’ll be happy with those, especially if you want to also set them up in a near field fashion. For me? I’d still lean towards the AE speakers. Try and get a home demo on these, if will help to settle any thoughts you may be having re. speaker choice.

  • Reply
    Ionut
    30th April 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Hope you’re holding up fine in these difficult times. I was wondering what do you think of this combo: Chord Qutest Dac, Bluesound Node 2i as a streamer/preamplifier and the XTZ Edge A2-300 power amp?? Many thanks

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th April 2020 at 1:32 pm

      I think you’d still need a pre in the middle of the DAC and Edge. Maybe something suitable from Schiit?

  • Reply
    John
    30th April 2020 at 12:47 pm

    I think that’s settled it for me thanks Paul, I’ll arrange a home demo of the AE1’s as soon as I can.
    Best regards
    John

  • Reply
    Ionut
    30th April 2020 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks Paul, any suggestions for the Schiit preamp?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th April 2020 at 4:02 pm

      Do you have a budget figure please?

  • Reply
    Ionut
    30th April 2020 at 8:40 pm

    A maximum of 500 euro. Thanks

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      1st May 2020 at 9:44 am

      I’d look at the Saga Plus, Ionut.

  • Reply
    Ionut
    1st May 2020 at 8:33 pm

    Thank you sir

  • Reply
    Roger
    6th May 2020 at 1:43 pm

    Paul

    How would you rate it against the Yamaha wxc 50 in term of sound quality ?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      6th May 2020 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Roger – I’d go for the 2i.

  • Reply
    Ionut
    9th May 2020 at 9:13 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Would you consider a pre/power amp combo i.e the schiit saga Plus and the xtz edge A2-300 a better option than the audiolab 6000A, soundwise??? Thanks

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      10th May 2020 at 9:32 am

      Yes – separating the pre and power is always an attractive move to lower noise.

  • Reply
    Ionut
    10th May 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you.

  • Reply
    Clement Legendre
    11th May 2020 at 10:00 am

    Hi Paul
    Thanks for this review and i’ve looked at the comments as well. I know you recommend using a separate pre-amp (as always) but does the Node 2 even have a pre-amp? I guess it does given you can change the output volume?
    If so, to choose between the Node 2 pre-amp + power amp OR bypass the Node 2 pre-amp (by selecting the fixed output level option) + integrated amp? In both situations the pre-amp will be integrated somewhere, but it’s just a question of which of 2 evils to choose, if it makes sense?
    Likewise, would you go for the internal DAC or the DAC of an integrated amp? All things equal of course!
    Many thanks in advance and hope the above makes sense!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      11th May 2020 at 11:17 am

      Firstly – what’s your budget on all of this, Clement? That will concentrate our minds 🙂

      • Reply
        Clement
        11th May 2020 at 2:23 pm

        Guess the question is of a broader nature. If the say “audiophile entry level” where components are say £500-750 each – are you typically better off with a DAC that’s integrated to a streamer or a DAC that’s integrated in a power amp? Assuming you are in the same value for money sort of range on either end of the chain

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          11th May 2020 at 2:52 pm

          Separate is always better, Clement. But you do what you can with the money you have, of course. The less cash you have, the more compromises you make and the more choices you have to consider. Each case is different and you can’t really generalise on the best of two evils. It depends. It always depends. Which is why I’m in a job 🙂

        • Reply
          Nish G
          15th May 2020 at 2:21 am

          If it helps, I tried comparing the DAC on my Cambridge CXA80 vs. the 2i DAC and I did notice a slight improvement using the CXA80 DAC (source material from Tidal). The difference seemed less noticeable with Tidal MQA tracks.

  • Reply
    Nuno
    12th May 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Paul,
    From your comments I see you prefer the Audiolab 6000N to the Node 2i.But the Node app is better than the Audiolab app, no? Or you don´t know?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      12th May 2020 at 12:21 pm

      I like the ‘N’ sound but the 2i has much to recommend it and I wouldn’t complain at all if I was to live with it, Nuno. And for me, sound quality has precedence over any app issues. I haven’t tested the N’s app but colleagues tell me that it works well.

  • Reply
    Ignacio Perez
    13th May 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Dear Paul, thanks a lot for your advice on the Node 2i and the Audiolab. I purchased the Node in the end and must say I’m very satisfied, especially considering the price. It’s a very musical and natural sounding streamer and the app is also very good. I have read however that its internal DAC is its weak point. Would you recommend adding an external DAC? Would this dramatically improve performance? I have been thinking about the Musical Fidelity MX or the Chord Mojo. Grateful for any advice you can provide and hope you’re doing OK. Best regards

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      14th May 2020 at 9:07 am

      Hi Ignacio – separating the DAC would be a good idea, yes. What budget do you have for this potential purchase?

  • Reply
    Ignacio Perez
    15th May 2020 at 10:19 am

    Thanks a lot, Paul. In terms of budget, I would like to keep it below £ 1000. These are some of the models I’m considering: Musical Fidelity MX DAC, Rega DAC R, DAC Heed Abacus, Chord Mojo (but looks like it’s more for on the go), Chord Qutest (might be a little over my budget), Audiolab M DAC. Considering the Node 2i already has more than a pretty decent sound (perhaps some lack of detail), if I go for an external DAC I would like to ensure it will be an added value to the streamer which will significantly improve its performance and sound. And also be able to use it with my Apollo CD player. Kind regards

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      15th May 2020 at 5:51 pm

      On that basis – I’d go for the Heed, Ignacio. Did you see my review on that one?

  • Reply
    Ignacio Perez
    18th May 2020 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks a lot, Paul. Yes I did. The Heed looks pretty good and indeed has received several good reviews. Do you think it would outperform the Rega DAC and the Chord Qutest? Kind regards

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      19th May 2020 at 10:46 am

      I’m unsure, to be honest, Ignacio because I haven’t directly compared the Heed with those DACs. That said, I found nothing to complain about with the Heed and would have been very happy to integrate into my reference system.

  • Reply
    Ignacio Perez
    19th May 2020 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks again, Paul, much appreciated. To be honest, I hesitate to spend, at least in the short term, a hefty sum on an external DAC as I find, as the days go by, the Node 2i does a pretty good job. Kind regards

  • Reply
    Navin RS
    17th June 2020 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Lovely reading your reviews and read about the Audiolab 6000A as well. I can’t quite make my mind up but was hoping you could help.

    So a bit of context:

    1. I have a Sonos Beam and One which I bought mainly because I live in a tiny flat in London and don’t have much space to spare. I must say that I truly enjoy the convenience that it gives and sound quality is okay when watching movies but sorta falls apart with music.

    2. I am thinking of getting the B&W 606 but could use some recommendations with the amp pairing.

    3. I intend to hook the pair up to my TV for Netflix/YouTube/Prime and also to play loads of music (say 80% music – jazz, easy listening, R&B, soul, world etc.) and I like warm sounding music.

    4. I hope to move into a bigger space in just over a year and this system will move into my study purely for music.

    5. Currently thinking of either the Audiolab 6000A or BlueSound PowerNode 2i or Marantz NR1200. I love that the BlueSound and Marantz and NAD have an ARC connection so will be easy using with my TV. Also, they have Alexa and support streaming whereas with the Audiolab, it will be Bluetooth only streaming. I have seen many rave reviews of the Audiolab but not so much of the latter. Ultimately, I am happy to sacrifice niceties like the ARC connection and Alexa for better sound as this will eventually be in my study.

    6. My music source will pretty much be Spotify Premium @highest setting (TIDAL and Amazon Music HD don’t have all the songs I listen to) so suppose it won’t matter if its Bluetooth streaming?

    Appreciate your opinion on this.
    Thank you.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      18th June 2020 at 9:06 am

      In sonic terms, I prefer the separates route. Hence, I’d go 6000A/2i instead of Powernode. Separating the tools, lowers the noise floor. The 2i will provide all the Internet services you need and can connect to your TV while the 6000A will give you the best tonal balance of the amps in your shortlist. Any particular reason why you prefer the 606 speakers?

  • Reply
    Adrian Mortimer
    22nd June 2020 at 11:23 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Thank you for your review which really helped in deciding to purchase the Node 2i to replace my 10 year old Sonos Connect. Out of interest, which cables did you find worked well with the 2i?
    The Node 2i is a 50th Birthday present and is within my budget of £500. For reference, the remainder of my system is a Linn Exotik pre-amp, Linn Power amps and Linn Katan speakers. I use a very basic QED rca cable and a chord C Stream usb cable with my Sonos at the moment.
    I suspect the 2I will benefit from something a bit better. I am considering the Chord Shawline which will improve on where I am now BUT will also not be out of place when I can afford to progress on beyond the 2i in the future.
    Many thanks – Adrian

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      23rd June 2020 at 10:14 am

      No problem. I used Telurium Q Ultra Blacks but QED cables (rather lower in cost) also worked very well, Adrian. And yes, Chord is also recommended in general terms.

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