After nine years in the market, Bluesound comes with the new NODE. Are we going back in time? No. Bluesound is dropping the numbers for this latest generation – officially Gen 3. It’s now just Bluesound NODE, POWERNODE, et cetera. Not a lot just seems to have changed. But appearances are deceiving! We take a look and listen at the Bluesound NODE
When Bluesound entered the streaming market with their ecosystem in 2012, we were actually pleasantly surprised right away. We also liked the design, although placement was a challenge.
In late 2015, Bluesound came with the Gen 2 Node. A sleeker look that is a little easier to accept. As an ‘update’ the Node 2i was launched. That one in particular brought slightly more useful features. Think Airplay 2. Now it’s the NODE’s turn. Right… no more numbers.
Under the skin
At first glance, we don’t see any major changes. The clean lines have remained. The white is a bit whiter if you compare the old to the new. And on top we see no small touch panel, but a larger panel that also responds to your hand when you come close (proximity sensor). Luxury!
The touch panel is also arranged differently. The volume control is a line in the middle across the width. On either side are dots for + and -. Above five dots for presets. Below the volume control a < and a > for track-skip. In the middle a circle for play and pause. Simple and intuitive. We continue to find it very convenient that there are controls on the device as well.
Internally, there have been some changes, the most important of which are the central processor and the d/a converter. The processor is now a faster, quad core ARM A53 that does its work at 1.8 GHz. The previous generation worked at 1 GHz. In short: indexing should be faster just like the response to a command.
The DAC chip is a Texas / Burr Brown PCM 5242 32 bit / 384 kHz MQA compatible dac (it has to be, because Bluesound is MQA compatible). It is a stereo dac chip with a differential output. The noise floor, according to the specifications, is -114 dB. That’s fine for a product in this class. To convert analog to digital a PCM1863 is used.
What also stands out is that the processing board is completely separate now. The connection is made through some interfaces on the mainboard. In short: it can now very easily be placed in any bluesound equiped product. This again reduces costs (which is necessary in this price range).
The new Bluesound NODE is again excellently constructed. It is exactly the same size as the old one. And it too comes in black and white. The white is slightly whiter than the old one. We have a ‘new old one’ so it can’t turn yellowish just yet, but when you see them side by side, it’s clear that the new one comes with whiter white from the factory.
The choice of materials is also slightly different. The old one has a somewhat softer feel. But we all know that material can deteriorate in the long run. So we understand why Bluesound is abandoning that. Thankfully, not for cheap plastic. The look and feel of the new one is excellent. Chic, robust… finished. Neat work.
Inputs and outputs
At the rear, not much seems to have changed. But nothing could be further from the truth. There is an HDMI eARC input added. And that opens up many possibilities. The TV can be connected directly to the NODE, so the NODE can serve as a hub. And takes care of the digital-to-analogue conversion. In short: anyone with a TV that supports (e)ARC but does not have a fancy receiver or amplifier with a decent dac will be happy with this addition! From now on, decent sound when you watch TV. Finally!
No price increase
What is immediately noticeable is that all this beauty has come without a price increase. The new Bluesound NODE still costs 549 euros (Netherlands). And that’s remarkable in these times of chip shortages, rising transportation costs and raw materials that just keep getting more and more expensive. Fingers crossed that it stays that way.
For sale here
Bol.com: Bluesound node white