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This article was published on May 11, 2021


Bluesound’s new Node music streamer is here and I just piddled with joy

Clean up on aisle 3. And 4. And 5. Actually, all the aisles.

Bluesound’s new Node music streamer is here and I just piddled with joy
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

It’s rare that a bog-standard product update gets me hot and wet. But friends, today is that day: Bluesound has announced the next generation of its Node and Powernode hardware.

Don’t know Bluesound? Firstly, shame on you. Secondly, the company makes hi-res multi-room audio hardware. Think of it as an audiophile Sonos.

The company’s components are an integral part of my at-home audio set-up, so you’ll be pleased to hear that a lil’ yellow puddle formed around me when I first heard the news.

But let’s talk specifics.

[Read more: This dude drove an EV from the Netherlands to New Zealand — here are his 3 top road trip tips]

The Node and Powernode are both music streamers. You can connect to them in a range of ways, including physical cables and wireless standards like AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth. From there, you can play audio from pretty much whatever you want.

The main difference between the pair is is that the Bluesound Node needs to be connected to an amplifier, while the Powernode is one. Basically, that means you can simply plug some speakers into the latter bit of hardware and get busting out tunes.

Bluesound NODE and POWERNODE PNG
Okay, the Node and Powernode look basically identical to the older versions, but why fix what ain’t broke?

What’s new with the Bluesound Node and Powernode?

A number of things. Let’s start with the names: Bluesound has simplified its products’ monikers. Confusingly.

The previous models of this hardware are called the Node 2i and the Powernode 2i. The next logical step would surely be… the Node 3?

I can kinda see why Bluesound made this decision. Not putting a number after a product is quite fashionable these days (AirPods, anyone?), but I’m not sure it makes sense.

In this current state, it can easily be construed that the Node 2i is an updated version of the Node — not the other way around. There’s no way that someone doesn’t accidentally buy the wrong model at some point. Or maybe I’m projecting.

What else? Oh yeah — Bluesound has also changed the touch controls on the top of the devices. They used to look like this:

bluesound node 2i top view PNG
BORING!

But now the models look like this:

new bluesound node top view PNG
RIVETING!

Okay, so it’s not a huge change. In fact, you could argue that the top of the new Node and Powernode is actually less clear than before.

But there is a method to this madness: the buttons on the updated generation can be assigned to shortcuts for your preferred music. Think of setting it to a specific internet radio station. I can safely say I’ve never actually used the buttons on the top of my Node 2i (see how confusing this is?), but maybe you find this is important.

On the topic of features I don’t really care for, the new devices now also have support for Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. That your thing? Great! But I rarely, if ever, put music on with my voice.

Oh, while we’re here, we should also speak about hardware upgrades too.

Both the new Node and Powernode have new DAC designs (they can decode 24-bit/192kHz and MQA files) and more powerful processors. In addition to this, the Powernode’s amp now pumps out 80W per channel, compared to 60W before.

These are all solid steps, but maybe aren’t enough to twist my arm to upgrade. I’d need to hear the beautiful thing to make sure though. I’d like to think there’s a clear audio leap.

Concluding this, the Bluesound Node 2i (AKA the previous generation) is one of the best bits of electronic equipment in my life. I can’t imagine this new generation will be anything but superior. And that’s exciting. Damn exciting.

Finally, boring stuff: Bluesound’s Node and Powernode cost $549 and $849 respectively. They’re available for pre-order now on the company’s website. They’ll be shipped in June. Happy?

Now, excuse me, I need to go and change out of these urine-soaked clothes. I have a reputation to uphold.

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