Bluesound Node 2


I'm a complete newbie in the digital space, not counting CD players of course. I'm also on a path to upgrade my system from other various angles, mostly preamp and speakers. All that said, I'm currently using a Bluesound Node 2 with a hifi Tidal subscription. No computer files or hardwired USB connections. My first question is where does Bluesound fit in the digital wireless streaming quality hierarchy. And a related question is what would be a good upgrade path, again assuming only wireless streaming as the source. I see a lot of high end DACs out there, some several thousand dollars and wonder if those are only used for connection to a laptop and running computer hirez files, etc. Not a whole lot about wireless streaming. All in all, some guidance in the digital wireless streaming space would be appreciated. Thanks.
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I use Bluesound.  I started with the Vault 2, subsequently added a Node 2 for a system in another room, then a Pulse Mini for my kitchen .
  Do you have more than 1 system?  The Node was intended to be part of a whole home unit, similar to Sonos but better quality.  If you do I would but the Vault and rip your CDs with that.  It is possible but not easy to integrate the Blu Sound with another Source of files, such as a PC.  Since you haven't started saving music to another system I think you will find it easier to keep it all under 1 roof
. If you only have 1 system, and you want to rip your CDs, I would suggest buy the Vault anyway and sell the Node.  You will take a slight beating on this but since you already like what the Blusound sounds like with Tidal this is still an easier and potentially less expensive than going the PC route--and certainly less frustrating .
Thanks. I actually don't have much of a need to store my existing CDs in a separate storage device mainly because I can listen to almost all of those CDs using Tidal. At this time, I'm primarily looking to upgrade to another device that can play the Tidal-sourced content with higher quality audio. Of course it also needs to provide a simple user interface - similar to the Bluesound app, to access Tidal selections, etc.  Unless I'm missing the details, the majority of the high end outboard DACs or even the high end preamps with a built-in DAC only seem to support hardwire/USB connectivity for content retrieval.
@mahler123, @kalali...sorry to hijack this thread, but I have a quick question.

On the Bluesound Node 2 using Tidal, does the Artists folder, list your saved (favorite) Artists in alphabetical order?

OP--it sounds like you just need a better dac.  The DAC in the Node is good, better than the dacs in the receiver that mine is hooked up with, but the Node 2 costs around $500, and that doesn't leave much in the budget for a high quality dac.

From the first post you appear to be a newbie, so if you don't understand what I am talking about, don't be afraid to say s  

  However, one cause for pause...Tidal is supposedly going to add a lot of MQA content, and Blue sound dacs are MQA compatible.  If that is important to you, then you might want to use the Bluesound Dac.  My suggestion would be to upgrade to a better DAC now, and if MQA ever actually hits the market place, you can always switch on your preamp between the two dacs .

  Again, if you are trying to figure out what I've just written...don't be afraid to ask.


mofi--regrettably the answer to your question is no, the favorites section tends to be helter skelter.  However, blusound itself keeps alist of Artists

in alphabetical order.  I listen primarily to classical music so the bluesound organization scheme winds up being haphazard, but it probably works well for non classical

I would agree with mahler123 that an external DAC is the way to go. I use an Auralic Aries Mini which I suspect is pretty much on par with Bluesound quality wise and it benefits tremendously from running into my standalone DAC. Definitely check one out and if you have a budget and want specific recs let us know.

Thank you guys again for your great input. I feel I'm really spoiled by the ease of using the Bluesound/Tidal combo to play any music I like, or don't like, from my mobile device. It has allowed me to explore the music genres that I never knew I liked this much. I have also used this opportunity to educate myself about various audio coding formats out there just to keep up with what some of you guys talk about. We have a brick and mortar hifi store nearby and I might stop by and see if they'd let me borrow one of their high quality DACs for a few days. This would at least help me decide where to focus for the best bang for the bucks upgrade path in my audio chain. Maybe after all, this piece is not the weakest link in the chain. My current set up is:

Bluesound Node 2 -> NAD C165BEE (MP input) -> McIntosh MC2200 -> ML Aerius I.

I also have a Vincent SP-331 amp being fed from the second preamp out port driving a pair of Definitive Technology BP20s in an adjacent room.

@ mofi

My Tidal artists list is in order on my Bluesound Node
@mofimadness 
Looking back I see that your question was about Tidal on Blusound. My answer pertained more to Blusound itself.
  I did try the free trial of Tidal and for me, it was simply awful, but I listen to Classical, and Tidal doesn't seem to care about Classical
mahler123 - Out of curiosity, when you say awful do you mean sound quality of the user interface? I do occasionally listen to western classical selections in Tidal and in most cases I find the SQ worse than a standard CD. The jazz selections, especially the newer recordings sound much much better. That is also true for other genres and I attributed the disparity to original recordings quality. I'm now wondering if they stream certain selections or even genres at lower resolution rates than others. I wish there was a way to know at what rate the content is being streamed. Maybe there is...
Yes, I meant the interface .  Another poster here described the Classical Interface on Tidal as appearing to have been designed by a Chimpanzee ; that is probably an insult to chimpanzees. Fwiw I didn't think the sonics on Tidal were anything special.  A great streaming site for Classical is ClassicsOnline.
I would agree the search function for Tidal leaves something to be desired but not really an issue for me as I don't really listen to classical. Much easier searching non-classical music on Tidal.
As an experiment, I hooked up my Node 2 directly to my amp which is as older McIntosh MC2200 with separate channel gain controls. It sounds great, actually sounds a little more open when compared going through the preamp. Node 2 is literally a preamp itself allowing a subwoofer connection. Using the mobile app, you can control bass, treble, etc. Anyway, you guys with a Node 2 should try a direct connection and may just be pleasantly surprised.
The Bluesound Node 2 is fantastic. I've had mine for a couple of months now. It has become my primary source. I use it connected by Ethernet to my router and its analog out to my integrated amp to stream internet radio and my music library on my iMac. The dac in it is very good and it sounds great.

I had been using mine for streaming Tidal through Wifor several months and had it connected to my preamp but about a month ago I started using it as a preamp/DAC and have go right into my amp. I think it sounds a little better this way. I might get a very basic switch or a passive preamp just to be able to switch between source components. It's even driving my active subwoofer quite well. All in all, its a real nice little gadget.
It's a great toy. Even though I don't have my music on files, it's just the most fun piece for Internet-radio streaming. I have mine connected via digital coax to Marantz sa8004 SACD player's dac. Sounds much better than when connected directly to my preamp.
Those of you who own a Node 2, or any other DAC that can stream music wirelessly, have you tried a comparison in the sound quality among these configurations: 1) wireless streaming using a service such as Tidal, 2) stream the same source using hard-wire connection to the router, and 3) playing high resolution music from a laptop via USB? I'm particularly wondering if I'm losing some sound quality by streaming wirelessly vs. having my Bluesound directly wired to my router. Thanks.
According to the Roon Labs website the Node 2 will be Roon Ready soon. Another reason to try this great affordable streamer. Also, it sounds fantastic.

Cheers,

Scott
Will the Roon upgrade be pushed to existing units or only on new models? Also, has anyone tried using the USB port to play music from a computer? So far I've only used mine for wireless streaming. Thanks.

It is my understanding that Roon is software and Bluesound would provide an update which would make existing Node 2 streamers "Roon Ready".

According to Bluesound; the type A USB port is for "connection to USB memory sticks and supported peripherals" and the type B port is for "product servicing".

It is also my understanding that you cannot connect a computer by USB to the Node 2.

I am really looking forward to the BluOS update to support Roon. I will also give credit to Bluesound because their BluOS is extremely good itself. Bluesound has really impressed me by keeping things up to date and their customer service is outstanding.

Cheers,

Scott


"It is also my understanding that you cannot connect a computer by USB to the Node 2."

This line should read; ".......cannot connect to a computer by USB to the Node 2 to play music."
Thank you guys. I'm also quite impressed by both their product as well as their customer service. It is practically a complete preamp/DAC, even with a subwoofer output, of course with the limitations noted above. They spent literally two hours on the phone with my wife to help her set it up while I was away on a trip. 
back to the question of how does it sound in the hierarchy of streamers? Meaning, using it as a streamer only and by passing the internal DAC in favor of an external DAC. I know there is a debate that streamers shouldn’t really have a sound signature, their primary purpose is just functionality and features, but from doing a lot of reading it seems people do hear a difference in sound quality from streamers. Otherwise why would anyone pay several thousand dollars for an Aurender streamer  like the N10 if you can get pretty much the same functions from a much cheaper streamer?
I think Dar Ko might be closer to answering this question than most. He often makes direct comparisons and you may want to check out his reviews.
Who or what is Dar Ko?  I did a search and came up empty.   
https://wyred4sound.com/products/digital-converters/remedy-reclocker

or

try John Darko audio reviews
I’m Bluesound smitten!

I started with the Powernode to replace-downsize my A/V system

Upon hearing it I immediately went out and bought the Node 2 for my Audio system - wow what a difference

I’ve just purchased the Pulse Mini for outside music - again, what a great component

If you have not done so - treat your Blusesound products to good power cables and interconnects - you will be rewarded with an amazing performance.

Power cables make the most significant improvements - the salesperson in the store could not believe the improvement when i took my power cable in to audition the Pulse Mini. The look on his face was worth the effort of a second visit, with my power cable in tow.

Regards...
williewonka.  are you using the internal DAC with your Node 2 or an external one?
@klone - I'm using the DAC in the Node 2 with good cables on the analogue outputs

I had a Bifrost with the 4490 mod + v-link192, but the Node 2 with the same good cables trounced the Bifrost, so I sold it.

I thought the Bifrost combo was good, but the Node 2 is an exceptional perofrmer and incredible value.

I now sure that the standard computer USB interface is not really meant for  high end audio - unless you buy one of those specialty USB boxes, but that's a lot more expensive.

It would be interesting to hear the Node 2 with a really good DAC - like the Ygg'y, but that's not in the cards while I have sound this good.:-)

It would be interesting to know what type of DAC the Node 2 uses

I'm listening to the Pulse Mini as I type this and the details, balance and clarity are outstanding. I've actually reduced the bass by 4db and it's still powerful

Perhaps I'll get another one and link them as a stereo pair - yowzer ! :-)

Cheers
I think the Node 2 uses Sabre DAC's. I think.....
Thanks, williewonka!  Your comments are very helpful.  I am seriously eyeing the Node 2 for my 2018 audio purchase, if I am still employed.
Hey williewonka - exactly which power cable made such a difference in Bluesound output quality?  
@wgutz - the cables I use are a DIY cable with a Helix geometry that I have perfected over the last couple of years - see link below

http://image99.net/blog/files/be8de0c383c5434907610d6b55049e69-75.html

If you are not into that level of DIY you could simply take a piece of 12 or 14 guage extension cord, remove the outer sleeve and then braid the three internal conductors and add IEC connectors - that works much better tan the stock cable.

I use the IEC C7 figure 8 connector below on my cables - it should make some improvement on a standard power cord
http://www.ebay.ca/itm/one-pieces-Gold-Plated-Figure-8-IEC-C7-AC-Power-Plug-Female-Connector-Audio-/...

Otherwise you could simply buy a cable from one of the reputable cable companies.

- Signal Cable
- Pangea does a nice one with the C7 plug - see
http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PGAC14C7
 
Whats the difference?
- The HELIX Power - provides superb imaging, deep controlled bass, exceptional clarity.
- The braided extension cord - is better across the board than the stock cable, but lacks the finesse of the helix geometry
- A larger gauge power cord with the IEC above should also provide some benefit - mainly better bass control

If you can find a cable with a similar helix geometry in a commercial product I'd opt for that, but the only one I know of that has a variation on the Helix geometry is from Nordost and costs more than the Node-2 :-(

Anti Cables does a braided cable, but it does not come with a C7 Figure 8 connector

I would recommend not using an IEC - C7 adapter they are OK in a pinch to try different cables, but not a final solution
 
Hope that Helps
 



I will give it a try (DIY) as soon as I finish my re-tile of the shower, a non-audiophile endeavor. Thanks for your thoughtful response. 
I have a Bluesound Node 2. It replaced an older Logitech Squeezebox that was glitchy but worked fine. I like the sound of the Node 2 and with it:
1. I can bypass using my Macbook Pro computer to play music stored from Itunes on my HDD. Now I can play that same stored music directly streamed to the Node 2 into my stereo and use my Iphone as the controller.
2. Additionally, I can stream music from Spotify or Tidal
3. I can also try MQA files on Tidal.

2psyop:  Did you use the DAC in the SBT, or anexternal DAC?  Do you use the Node 2's built-in DAC or an external DAC?  How would you compare the sound of the SBT to the Node 2 in your system?  TIA.
Streaming via the node 2 requires attention right from where your ISP enters the premises.

I used a Node 2 and slowly paid attention to Fibre modem, router, switch, media converters.


The Node 2 streaming tidal hifi through the dac section of a top tier cd player is almost indistinguisable with cd playback.

I have 99% stopped spinning discs in the last 2 years.
I might add that i also use a mutec mc3+ to reclock the output from the node 2 to get where i am at.
Has anyone on this thread or otherwise had an opportunity to compare the overall sound quality (DAC and analog stage) of the Node 2 to the Oppo UDP-205? If so, what are your impressions?
I compared the Oppo 105--and perhaps you are not interested in that-to the Bluesound Vault 2, which I believe has the same DAC chip as the Node 2.  The Oppo is better but it was subtle.  Presumably the 205 would widen that gap a bit.
it should be noted that the price difference between the Oppo 205 and the Node 2 is almost a grand.  If you don't need the other functionality of the Oppo, I know which way my wallet would lean...
gdhal - also, assuming the UDP-205 uses the same DAC and streamer as the Sonica DAC, the UDP-205 may lack gapless playback, like the Sonica.  This can be addressed with a software upgrade via the net, but so far, I don't see such an update coming from Oppo.  Also, if you are going to rely on the Oppo's streaming capabilities, you may want to compare the Oppo streamer UI to that of the Node 2.  I don't even know if the UDP-205 offers a phone app controller for streaming like the Node 2 does.
Thank you @mahler123  and  @bondmanp

I already have the UDP-205 and am quite happy with it. I'm just curious as to the Node 2 as it may sound different, given that it has a different DAC. The UDP205 uses an ESS Sabre 9038 pro dac and I believe the Node 2 uses a Burr Brown PCM5122.

By the way, the UDP205 does play gapless.

I'm not all that interested in streaming, but am not dismissing that option either. From what I read the Blue Sound may be better in that department. 

Here is one downside of the Node 2 compared to the UDP205. If I insert a USB flash memory stick in the Oppo, and it only has flac or wav files at the root level folder, I *can* select and play those files without any video interface. In the case of the Node 2, their tech support responds "You will need to select which file you want to start the playing with on our BluOS app whether it is on Android, Windows or MacOS and once that is done you can use the hardware buttons on the Node 2 to start playback, skip songs, change the volume etc."

If I were to purchase the Node 2 no doubt I would have some redundancy in my system from a source perspective. But at the affordable price point of the Node 2, it has me thinking "why not".