Earlier this week we made an install guide around a custom power supply for the Bluesound Node 2i. We also put some samples online so you can hear what a difference it can make in combination with a Sbooster BOTW 5 volt power supply. In the meantime, we’ve done some more listening. We will share these short notes with you.
We are not going to explain everything in great detail this time. The reason is that the differences are quite small and they are quite easy to interpret. We have not measured and only worked with one power supply: the Sbooster BOTW 5 volt version. However, we will treat analog and digital separately.
If we use the analog outputs, we hear – via the standard cables – a clearly identifiable difference. The modification brings a little tighter focussed stereo image, a little more 3D feel, and more refinement in the mids and highs. The bass also seems to gain a bit in definition and strenght.
These differences are readily apparent with two Node 2i’s that we can simply switch through the inputs of the Pass Labs XP12. (Inputs 3, 4 and 5 are single ended).
Does the PD power supply mod (actually it’s a PCB that allows for an external power supply) make the Bluesound Node 2i more musical? Better? Well… yes… we think the overall performance is definitely better with the external Sbooster attached. More space, tighter focus and smoother playback is always nice. In short: if you have a Node 2 or Node 2i and are reasonably handy … it’s worth considering!
But then… digital out. This is a whole different story. We connected both Node 2i’s via an Audioquest Diamond to the Metrum Acoustics Pavane. Now the Pavane doesn’t have 2 coaxial inputs that we can switch, so we had to switch the cable.
The differences now are incredibly small. And that with a coaxial connection on a NOS dac. In short: an electrical connection on a dac that does not up- / oversample. With a converter that does up-/oversampling and an optical connection the difference will be even smaller, we estimate.
Do you have an external dac, then we can really not recommend this tweak. We would not dare to do a blind test. With the analog output, however…
All in all
It is of course great that PD comes up with a modification that allows for an external power supply. And for those who have a Bluesound and like to try something, it’s a great tweak. It is easy to perform – you do lose warranty – and it makes an audible difference, especially on the analog outputs. The quality of the external power supply will determine the result. The Sbooster did an excellent job in our case.
Through the digital output we hear little difference. At least on our system. Although that should be the least favorable scenario, which should therefore yield the greatest difference.
On the next page you will find an install guide, samples and the conclusion.