Posted at 12:00 p.m.
Can a device sold for $699.99 be said to be affordable? This is however the case of the Node, manufactured by the company Bluesound and whose mandate is “to open up the world of high-resolution music streaming”. Let’s understand here that we are talking to music lovers ready to pay up to 20 times that price for a small box that you plug into a stereo system in order to taste the nectar that is high-definition music.
The Bluesound Node, therefore, is a small computer equipped with a 1.8 GHz processor and, above all, a digital-analog converter called DAC, from its English acronym. It can manage and send to your analog speakers digital music files whose quality approaches the original recording. The Node can convert audio resolution up to 24-bit/192kHz, where good old CDs stop at 16-bit/44.1kHz.
Streaming services offering high-resolution music have proliferated in recent years, including Tidal, Amazon Music HD, Qobuz and Apple Music.
Do we really hear the difference? No doubt as far as we are concerned, with a good recording at the start, a quality amplifier and speakers.
The music grows, the details of the instruments are clearly perceptible, we get what connoisseurs call “a sound image” where we can no longer determine the exact origin of the sound.
It is this experience that provides the Bluesound Node. In the most classic configuration, it is plugged into the stereo system using its AV outputs. It also has HDMI eARC, coaxial RCA, optical outputs, a subwoofer socket and a 3.5mm socket. In addition, it can stream Bluetooth 5.0 to your headphones and use the aptx HD format, the only one capable of transmitting 24-bit resolution.
It is connected to the internet by WiFi or by its Gigabit Ethernet input.
Finally, you can pair the Node in Bluetooth to rebroadcast the sound of a television, a computer or a mobile device. It is AirPlay2 compatible.
The Node connects to twenty streaming services or your music library stored on a network drive. For some services like Tidal, we control the music directly in the application BluOS, which subsequently makes the Node completely independent of your phone or tablet, which you can turn off or move away. It is also compatible with the Roon service.
The Node has a simplified touch screen that allows you to control the volume and to advance or stop the music.
We love less
L’application BluOS is far from being a model of clarity. We get lost a little between the parameters, the musical services offered which are not all high resolution and the equalizer.
And unlike the app Sonos, not all music services can be searched. Another limit, the control by several mobile devices on the same WiFi network seemed capricious to us, the Node not being detected every time.
Some services, including Spotify, are not supported by the app BluOS and must be managed from their own application. Same problem with Apple Music, which only works with AirPlay. The problem is that the Node then becomes dependent on your phone: a call, listening to a video or switching it off will cause the music to stop.
One buys ?
To enjoy the Bluesound Node and be willing to pay nearly $700, you basically need to have the right things: a subscription to a high-resolution music service and good-caliber audio equipment. For this music lover who has not necessarily invested tens of thousands of dollars, the Node is indeed an excellent gateway to the world of high resolution.
A user simply looking to stream standard resolution music over Bluetooth to their basic stereo will find more economical solutions.
As for the wealthiest enthusiasts, they have much more expensive and more specialized devices.
- Manufacturer: Bluesound
- Price: $699.99
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5