The NODE X marks 10 years of Bluesound, advancing the world of multi-room hi-res music streaming to create a modern addition to your existing hi-fi system or powered speakers.
Best Value Streamer for Audio Lovers
There is no question, the Bluesound units give the best sound we have heard for the money. They sound far better than the mass-market gear but are not that much more expensive with even more features.
Uncomparable Subwoofer Control
Most streamers do not even give you the option of adding a subwoofer for improved bass. The ones that do, only give you a subwoofer out, with no real control. Bluesound lets you fine-tune the subwoofer the same way you would on separate components with crossover adjustments in their great app.
Love the Presets
The new units have 5 presets you can set up in the app. This means you can just walk up to your unit, touch a button to get your favorite tunes, then control the volume from the slider on the top, super cool!
The NODE X: A 10th Birthday Gift from Bluesound
Some folks celebrate a birthday with cake or perhaps champagne. Bluesound, on the other hand, decided to go the extra mile and create something special for their 10th anniversary - the limited edition Bluesound NODE X.
It’s been more than a decade since our group from Audio Advice, along with a few other dealers, witnessed the unveiling of the Bluesound product line from our friends at Lenbrook. At that time, music streaming was just coming on the scene, especially for whole house home music systems. Lenbrook, the parent company of NAD, has always been known for great value gear. They saw a place for products that had much better performance with a price tag similar to Sonos.
This led to the launch of Bluesound and it turned out they had hit the metaphorical nail on the head. The first Bluesound products were just like their sister company NAD, offering far better audio performance than you would expect for the money.
The most popular Bluesound piece has been the NODE. For those of you who are not familiar with the NODE, we will go over all of the things that have made it such a great value, then get into the parts that were improved on for the NODE X.
The NODE is like a Swiss army knife of music streamers. Its flexibility allows it to be used in many different kinds of applications, which, along with its wonderful sound, is why it has been so successful.
The NODE X works natively with almost all of the major streaming services including Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Neil Young Archives, and more. It has the ability to play the MQA HiRes audio files Tidal is famous for, Airplay2, and two-way Bluetooth aptX HD, which lets you or your friends stream from a smartphone or tablet. Finally, the NODE X can access music files you have stored on your network. Yes, that is an impressive list of options.
All of this is easily accessed and controlled from the BlueOS app for Android or Apple. The app is eye-catching and, more importantly, easy to use. We also love the way it lets you tailor the sound as you like with tone controls and different modes you can easily access from the app.
What About Analog Inputs for the Node X?
The NODE X will give you a set of analog audio outs you can configure to work in two different ways. If you are adding a NODE X to an existing audio system that has components like a receiver or integrated amp, you would set these outputs to be a fixed level for the volume using the component connection.
The NODE is so flexible it could easily try out for Cirque du Soleil. Kidding aside, many people use it with variable output as their main control center. The NODE not only has streaming built-in, but it has multiple ways to get other audio sources into it. There is a 3.5mm audio connector that would accept an adapter from a turntable with a built-in phono preamp or a feed from a phono preamp. The NODE also has an HDMI eARC connector, which will allow one remote to control everything. It also has a USB input for local music files.
Can I Plug in My Subwoofer?
Another one of our favorite tech features on the NODE is the subwoofer out. This gives you flexibility if you are using it as a streamer/preamp or with a pair of powered speakers. You can tell the app you have a powered sub engaged and it will let you set the crossover point anywhere from 40-200 Hz. We don’t know of any other piece of gear like the NODE that lets you do this.
You would then connect the NODEs variable audio out to a power amplifier or pair of powered speakers. This makes the NODE great for a small, yet high-performing two-channel music system. But, the real magic comes in how Bluesound implemented Hi-Res audio for multiple rooms. You can actually connect up to 64 Bluesound pieces in a system and have them all playback bit perfect 24- bit Hi-Res Audio in perfect sync. The BlueOS platform is the only one in the world that can support this many simultaneous streams. You can either group rooms together or send different feeds to every zone. We feel this makes the Bluesound system, with the NODE at its heart, the best choice for high-performance complete home theater systems.
There is one more way to use the NODE in an audio system. Once upon a time, many people bought high-performance DAC’s to improve the sound of CD players back in the day, but those DAC’s have no way to access music streaming. The NODE has an incredibly fast internal processor with a state-of-the-art Quad-Core 1.8ghz ARM® Cortex™ A53 processor, which gives it a leg up in bringing streaming audio into your home. It then has COAX, Optical, and USB digital outputs that would let you connect it up to that DAC you love and bring your system into the wonderful world of streaming music.
Be Close to Your Music
In 2021, Bluesound upgraded the top of the NODE to a touch-sensitive glass panel. It has a proximity sensor that keeps it dark until you get close by. You’ll have a slider for volume with skip/back and play/pause, but the great part is the presets. There are 5 buttons you can program in their app to be a playlist or radio station. This means you can quickly get your favorite music going without having to hunt down your phone.
What is new for the 10th anniversary NODE X?
The NODE 130 got an upgrade in 2021 to a Burr-Brown 5242 fully balanced DAC that is 32bit/384K compatible. In their quest for even better audio, they have upgraded the DAC to an audiophile ESS 9028Q2M Sabre DAC. This new DAC has much less jitter, is quieter with lower distortion, and has a wider dynamic range. Of course, being the geeks that we were, we had to look up the raw parts costs to compare. It turns out the new DAC in large quantities costs about 2 ½ times that of the Burr Brown, it replaced. If you look at the specs alone, the ESS is 5 db quieter with almost 7 times less distortion. Of course, the proof is in the listening, which we go over in the performance section below.
Another upgrade we are thrilled to see is the headphone section. The NODE 130 did include a good headphone amp with the typical 3.5 mm connector. The NODE X gets a full-sized 6.5mm headphone jack so you don’t have to use an adapter with your high-end headphones.
It has a THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier. THX has set the standard for larger-than-life audio, as they led the charge in the early days of home theater of how to design speakers and gear for the best sound. This is an actual piece of hardware they sell that was developed for a better headphone listening experience. It is starting to show up in other headphone amps because it has incredibly low noise and distortion, which translates into a fatigue-free listening experience. If you are a fan of good headphones, you can hear anything wrong with a headphone amp far easier on a good set of headphones than with physical speakers.
As an added bonus, the NODE X now comes with a small handled remote that mimics the buttons on the top of the unit. It also has a swank silver finish to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
How Does the NODE X Perform?
We set up the current NODE and this new model to compare them. We used the exact same Transparent cables on each unit. Using Roon, we started up the same track about 10 seconds apart so we could easily flip back and forth between the two. That didn’t go well, as the new Node was much louder, even in fixed output, which is probably due to the balanced DAC. We then put them both in variable output and got the levels the same.
We used a variety of our favorite test tracks and it is clear - the new model is superior. The biggest thing we heard was more subtle details in voices and instruments. If you are using your Node in a more revealing system, we feel it would be worth upgrading. However, if it is used for whole-house background music or casual listening, you are good to stay put — although the proximity display and presets are really cool!
We love all of the updates Bluesound made, especially while not increasing the price - the Node X is the best value streamer on the market for under $1,000.
To celebrate 10 years of #LivingHiFi, the NODE X offers a new take on the iconic NODE with a silver finish, premium ESS Sabre DAC, and dedicated THX headphone amplifier. Enhance your existing HiFi setup or powered speakers with this modern addition. With a few taps on the BluOS Controller app, available for iOS, Android, Mac, and PC, you can explore near unlimited collections of music, from hundreds of internet radio stations to dozens of streaming services and your own digital music library.
- Connect to any existing stereo amplifier, AV receiver, or powered audio system.
- Powered by a state of the art Quad-Core 1.8GHz ARM® Cortex™ A53 processor and a premium ESS Sabre HiFi DAC.
- State of the art headphone amplifier features THX’s Achromatic Audio Amplifier (THX AAA™) technology and a full-sized 1/4” (6.35mm) jack for no-compromise headphone listening
- HDMI eARC connectivity, digital, optical and analog input/output options, with wired and wireless headphone and subwoofer outputs.
- Hi-res audio streaming with access to Internet radio stations, cloud music services, and your own local music library.
- Dual band Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and support for 2-way Bluetooth aptX™ HD Bluetooth ensures music playback without interruption.
- Create and control a seamless multi-room system with the intuitive BluOS Controller app.
- Top panel touch controls with presets.
- IR input and remote learning capability – Control it with the included Bluesound RC1 Remote Controller.
- Connect with the BluVoice skill in the Alexa app and use Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to control Players around the home.
- AirPlay 2 lets you play music or podcasts from wireless stereo components throughout your house — all in sync.
An upgraded audiophile ESS 9028Q2M Sabre DAC design outputs amazing musicality, near-zero levels of clock jitter, ultra-low noise and distortion, and a wide dynamic range. A truly high-end headphone amp with a full-sized ¼” headphone jack uses a THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier (THX AAA™) with patented feed-forward error correction to deliver infinitesimally low levels of noise, distortion and power consumption for a realistic, fatigue-free listening experience. This positions the NODE X not only as the ultimate streaming source for a HiFi system, but also a hi-res streamer for no-compromise headphone listening.
ULTIMATE HIFI STREAMER<
In addition to a high-performance internal DAC, the NODE X continues to support external DACs via an assortment of digital outputs. Optical, Coaxial or USB Audio 2.0 output turns the NODE X into a simple high-quality streamer, sending music from hi-res services to your favorite outboard equipment. Powerful software features like tone controls and listening modes, allow you to customize your listening preferences with detail.
THE INS AND OUTS<
Like a jack of all trades, the NODE X supports a broad spectrum of digital and analog inputs and outputs. WiFi, Ethernet, Apple AirPlay 2, aptX HD Bluetooth, 3.5mm aux-in, HDMI eARC or USB Type A connectors let you input audio from streaming services, TV and gaming consoles, or a personal music library. Deliver music to your HiFi system via Stereo RCA, Optical, Coaxial and USB outputs, and even to wireless headphones via Bluetooth, in aptX HD quality.
INTUITIVE TOUCH CONTROLS<
Unparalleled elegance shines through in the all-glass, capacitive touch LED control panel that graces the top of the NODE X with an intuitive touchpoint for quick access controls like play, pause, track skipping, and volume. One-touch presets are available on the product itself, or by using the included Bluesound RC1 remote. Advanced controls, including tone controls, subwoofer crossover optimization, and listening modes are available in the BluOS Controller app. The NODE X can also be integrated into a smart home with full-feature drivers for Lutron, Elan, RTI, Crestron, and other popular home control systems.
Bit-perfect music listening can happen away from your HiFi system with the NODE X as your multi-room streamer. The NODE X is supported by the BluOS platform, the only platform in the world that can support up to 64 players, all streaming up to 24-bit, hi-res audio. With a growing stable of brands and devices being added to the BluOS platform, the NODE X opens up a world of hi-res listening options throughout your home that no other player can.
The NODE X is unique and set apart, in performance and in looks. A special, anniversary edition painted silver finish celebrates 10 years of Bluesound and marks a decade of distinction in the streaming category.
|Operating System: BluOS|
|Supported Controller Operating System: iOS, Android, Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10, macOS 10.10-10.15, 11|
|Supported Audio File Formats: MP3, AAC, WMA, WMA-L, OGG, ALAC, OPUS|
|Supported Hi-Res Audio File Formats: FLAC, MQA, WAV, AIFF, MPEG-4 SLS|
|Supported Network File Sharing: Server Messsage Block (SMB)|
|Native Sampling Rates: up to 192 kHz|
|Bit Depths: 16-24|
|Music Service Integrations: 23+|
|3rd-Party Integrations: AirPlay 2|
|Apple Wireless Accessory Configuration (WAC)|
|Control System Integrations: Crestron, Control 4, RTI, ELAN, URC, Push, Lutron, iPort|
|Voice Control Integrations: Amazon Alexa Skills; Actions on Google|
|Status Indicator: LED x 2|
|Play/Pause Button: Touch LED|
|Volume Control Buttons: Touch Slider LED|
|Previous/Next Track Buttons: Touch LED|
|Preset Buttons: Touch LED x 5|
|Proximity Sensor: Yes|
|Audio Controls & EQ: In-App|
|Processor: ARM® Cortex™ -A53, Quad-Core, 1.8GHz per core|
|DAC: ESS 9028Q2M|
|Signal-to-Noise Ratio: -118dB|
|Distortion: THD+N, 0.0003%|
|Power: Universal bi-pin AC cord input (100-240AC)|
|Ethernet/LAN: Ethernet RJ45, GigE 1000 Mbps|
|Wi-Fi Built In: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), dual-band|
|Bluetooth Quality: Bluetooth 5.0 aptX HD|
|Bluetooth Connectivity: Two-Way (transmit & receive)|
|IR Optical Built In: IR Sensor Built In - front panel with IR Remote Learning|
|IR Input: 3.5mm Jack|
|Optical/Analog Input: Combo Mini TOSLINK; 3.5mm Analog Line In|
|HDMI Input: HDMI eARC|
|USB IN: Type A (Fat32 Formatted)|
|Audio Output: Analog RCA Stereo with Fixed Output option|
|USB Audio 2.0 (Type A)|
|Coaxial Output: RCA|
|Optical Output: TOSLINK digital optical|
|Trigger Out: 12 Volt|
|Headphone Output: 6.35mm Stereo; Bluetooth|
|Headphone Signal-to-Noise Ratio: -95dB ref 1mW / 32ohms|
|Headphone Distortion: THD+N, 0.002%|
|Subwoofer Output: RCA x 1; Wireless to PULSE SUB+|
|Supported Formats||MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, ALAC, OPUS
Hi-Res formats - FLAC, MQA, WAV, AIFF
|Sample Rate||32 - 192 kHz|
|Signal To Noise Ratio||110dBA|
|Controller||IR Sensor built in - Front panel|
|Wifi Enabled||Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac, dual-band)|
|Power Supply||Universal bi-pin AC Cord input (100 - 240AC)|