Continuing my extended look at the new Bluesound 2i lineup, today I’m test-driving the new Bluesound Node 2i – a wireless streamer that works with speakers or headphones to deliver HiFi sound in all of its uncompressed glory. But at $499, what kind of features and listening experience can one expect to find?
Bluesound Node 2i Review
The Bluesound Node 2i comes with a few basic accessories, including power cables, an ethernet cable, and two AUX-to-Toslink adapters. There’s also a user manual.
Surprisingly slim and relatively light, the Node 2i features a fairly minimalist, svelte exterior. Like other Bluesound devices, there’s a top plate with controls for adjusting volume or playback. The front of the unit also sports a 3.5 mm headphone output.
On the back of the Node 2i, you’ll find RCA, Subwoofer, Coaxial, and Optical outputs. There’s also inputs for 3.5mm and Optical, and ethernet and USB ports. A simple power adapter port rounds out the back panel.
Under the hood, the Node 2i relies on the latest Wifi 5 and Bluetooth protocols to offer an impressive streaming experience, as well as 2-way aptx HD Bluetooth communication. There’s also a decent processor and DAC in there, allowing the Node 2i to decode and play MQA tracks in all their glory.
With a wealth of connections and cutting-edge protocols, the Node 2i offers a wealth of compatibility. Setup and control of this wireless streamer is achieved through a Bluesound app which also allows easy integration with streaming services like Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, or even Spotify.
In terms of peripherals, the quality nature of this machine begs a decent speaker setup or a good pair of headphones. Most of my listening sessions were conducted with the staple Audio Technica ATH-M50x ($149) and the higher-end Final Audio Sonorous VI ($699).
When it comes to sound quality, the Bluesound Node 2i delivers an impressive performance. There’s a certain depth to the sound that seems to increase the weight and space in a given track, letting you feel a real relationship to the music.
Bass and treble are rendered expertly, with plenty of gusto. This naturally rich sound works wonders with Tidal MQA – a point that is not lost on me, as that service is fast becoming one of my favorite services to test gear with.
Okay, so you want a streaming device for your MQA listening needs, right? But which one do you choose? Under the $500 price point, your options amount to:
- The Yamaha WXC-50 ($349)
- The Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital ($399)
- The Bluesound Node 2i ($499)
Unfortunately, Yamaha makes great motorcycles (RD400C anyone?), but their DACs suck. The same goes for the Pro-Ject stuff, unless you don’t mind buttons and ports falling off like crazy. That pretty much leaves you with the Bluesound Node 2i – which, fortunately, offers better build quality and a richer, more accurate sound to boot.
Of course, if you’re down to spend even more money, you could consider something from Macintosh or Cambridge Audio – but even then, my money would probably still go to the Powernode 2i.
The Bluesound Node 2i utilizes the latest technology in connectivity, along with surprisingly good internals – and all at a relatively cheap price of just $499. Want to hear it for yourself? Hook this wireless streaming device up to a good pair of headphones or a speaker system. Then get ready for an exacting sound with TONS of detail and accuracy.
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