A few weeks ago I got the chance to check out a live demo of the Bluesound Powernode 2i. Impressed by the sound quality I witnessed in the demo, I’ve been itching to get ahold of one for my own review purposes. Now, with the Powernode 2i plugged in and hooked up to wifi network, I am finally ready to put this hi-res streamer through the paces. But at $799, does it pass muster? And is this a niche product or the next audiophile must-have? MajorHiFi investigates.
Bluesound Powernode 2i Review
Along with the necessary power cables, the Bluesound Powernode 2i comes with an ethernet cable and two mini-jack to Toslink adapters.
My sample is encased in a pristine white plastic shell, exuding an air of unassuming sophistication. Heavy in my hands, it gives the impression of a solid piece of machinery. A top plate sports playback controls for adjusting volume and track progression. The center button will pause or resume playback, while also offering color-coded indications for various states of operation.
On the front of the unit, a single 3.5 mm headphone jack breaks up the Powernode 2i’s otherwise-minimalist facade.
The rear panel offers a port for the power supply, along with inputs for USB A, IR, and ethernet. In addition to these input ports, the unit also includes two combination ports for analog and optical inputs.
In terms of outputs, the backside of the unit also features left and right speaker hookups, and a dedicated subwoofer-out port.
The Powernode 2i utilizes two-way Bluetooth functionality, allowing me to pair to my phone and channel playback through a pair of wireless headphones. The protocol is aptX HD, but wifi connectivity remains the bigger perk here.
Optimized for Wifi 5 technology, the Powernode 2i allows truly lossless wireless streaming. Using the Bluesound App, you can setup and control the device from your smartphone or tablet. The app allows integration between your chosen player (in this case, the Powernode 2i) and various streaming services, including Amazon Music, Deezer, Qobuz, and Tidal, among others. There’s even the option to tune in to local radio stations.
The Bluesound App also allows for minor EQ-ing, timing playback, and defining volume limitations.
As a multi-room wireless streaming system, the Powernode offers the beefiest options for output and input (compared to the amp-less Node 2i). But this wireless hifi streamer also works as a wifi-enabled DAC, ensuring you don’t ruin a good thing with less-than-stellar internals.
In the interest of keeping things brief and not-too-exhausting, I won’t actually post any specs for the device here. If you want to pour over the technical details, you can check them out over at the Bluesound website.
The Powernode 2i delivers a rich, full sound with amazing fidelity and accuracy, allowing me to truly connect to the music I am listening to. Hooked up to a good headphone or a good set of speakers, the audio quality astounds my ears. Like hearing music for the first time, I am treated to new layers and new depths of detail.
There’s no coloration to the sound, either, giving the Powernode 2i a startlingly clean presence. The quality of sound remains great for music enjoyment, but with a good service like Tidal, the integrity of the source remains high enough to provide a analytical point of reference. Of course, you could also use wired hi-res sources, too. But for the convenience of wireless streaming, it’s hard to beat Tidal’s resources.
In all honesty, the number of wifi streaming devices I’ve tested remains low. Compared to the higher end IFI streaming products, this may come close – but the IFI offers a lot more audiophile features for a much higher price.
The Bluesound Powernode 2i offers an alternative for those who want to build a multi-room wireless streaming system that can draw from a number of sources and deliver fantastic audio every time.
For the price, nothing is going to beat this kind of performance, but if you’re a dedicated audio addict, there may be even higher-end units out there (albeit without the emphasis on multi-room listening).
At a modest $799, the Bluesound Powernode 2i offers a heady mix of quality sound and accessible technology. It supplies casual consumers and dyed-in-the-wool audiophiles with an intoxicating, ear-opening listening experience. It connects you to your favorite music in a way you never knew you were missing. Our advice? Whether you’re looking for a wireless streamer to use with a speaker or headphone setup, or if you’re just looking for a fantastic DAC, this gem really shines.
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