Bluesound Node 2i Review

Bluesound Node 2i Review

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

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.

Bluesound Node 2i Review

Compatibility

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).

Bluesound Node 2i Review

Sound Quality

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.

Bluesound Node 2i Review

Recommendations

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.

Final Analysis

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.