All Hail the meek --yet mighty – NODE 2i

Here’s a salute to the venerable Bluesound NODE 2i. It’s not much to look at, but what piece of audio gear has been more ubiquitous and held up better over the past ten years than the NODE 2i? It opened the door to the wonders of quality streaming audio for legions of us. I’m guessing the lion’s share of us on this forum have owned or are very familiar with the NODE. So let’s take a moment to acknowledge and applaud that it has been the mainstream standard for nearly a decade. How many other pieces of gear have come and gone in our systems over that timeframe while the NODE continued to sit humbly on its perch?

But I’m not writing an obituary here. The Node 2i continues to be the standard, in my mind, for sub-$1000k streamers – and then some. With smartphones and cars -- even though they might have years of service left in them --we reach a point where we want something new. So it is with audio gear. Like many, I got caught up in the hype of the latest Chinese streamer last year. At first, I was amazed at its level of detail. But with time I realized that the detail came from an overly bright top end, and that other frequencies, especially bass, were lacking. When I put the NODE back into my system, it was music to my ears. Over the entire spectrum, it was simply better. With the NODE the mids and treble still had plenty of detail, but they also had body and tone – and musicality. And let’s not overlook its excellent and rock-solid user interface software. All it lacked was the sexy touch screen that I never actually touched.

I also tried a $3k streamer last fall. It was excellent across the entire spectrum, but its overall sound was dry and analytical. I can’t claim the NODE was better, but in many ways, I preferred its more natural sonic signature, and in terms of price, there is no comparison. I couldn’t justify spending that much money for only minor improvements.  

So here’s to the NODE 2i. I will continue to keep my eyes open for a streamer upgrade that is reasonably priced and that is actually a noticeable improvement, but until then I’m going to continue to enjoy my NODE 2i without apology. Anybody else out there agree with me?


I agree. I'm in the camp that sees digital data as very robust. Buffering and error correction results in the data stream transmitting an exact copy of the original file that gets sent to my DAC. Only in analog is the transmission of audio subject to numerous sources of distortion. That's where I spend my time and money to improve. I'm always open to change but I need to see data.


Still using my Node 2i. The software is good too.

the WiiM mini streamer isn’t bad either for around $100, but you need to connect these up to an external Dac. 

After years still enjoying my node 2i, never an issue.  Using standalone DAC.

I agree. The N130 was my first streamer, $400 open box. Added the LHY LPS and then a tube DAC, Mullard NOS tubes that cost more than the streamer, good ethernet & USB cables and to me it sounds really good.

I plan to home audition a HIFI Rose 150 in a month or so - my dealer bets it will easily surpass my current set up and there is zero risk / cost to me. We'll see!

I am still using my OG Node2.  I did also replace the power supply board with the LHY unit and added the LHY outboard LPS.

I sure enjoy it...

I use a Node 2i as well. I really like their interface, as I can use Amazon music as well. I have it powered with a Teddy Pardo LPS and run an outboard DAC (Rega DAC-R). In my system/room it’s more than adequate and I like the sonics I get from this setup. I haven't felt compelled to change it. 

I've got 4 nodes, all older and a bluesound vault. The only issue I had with one node is the black coating became tacky.

The Bluesound vault, my oldest Bluesound product will celebrate its 6 year birthday coming this July!

I should have mentioned that I use the NODE 2i as a streamer only -- into a stand-alone Dac. The other gear in my system costs in the range of $15k, but I've never felt the Node was a weak link in any way. I haven't tried a LPS but have been tempted to do so. I have two NODES, and just a few weeks ago purchased a used one for my son for his birthday. It only cost $250, and that included shipping. You can't beat that quality at that price!

3+ years with a used Node 2i and a PS Audio Direct Stream DAC Sr. Sounds amazing. No need for those high dollar Streamer DAC's ! Most of them don't play Amazon Music Hi Res anyways.

3 years with the Node 2i with PD Creative upgrade and  outboard LPS. Everything works flawlessly and jaws drop often: “You mean you’re streaming that?”.  I use an older model node 2 for the whole house/outdoor system. The  app/software are damn near bulletproof. Look, I know there’s better (ive wanted a Aruender N200 or better for awhile), but the 2i just keeps chugging along t like the Little Train That Could.  I’m happy. 

I've been using a 2i for 4 years now.

I'd been running it with an external DAC and was quite pleased.

Last fall I got a open box N130 for under $200. I haven't tried a different PS yet, but I did a an audio quest power cable to the mix.

The N130 is in my main system and the 2i had been relegated to the dining room with a tube-integrated amp and KEF Q350's. The SQ is great and it keeps perfectly synchronized with the main system in the living room. I've also got 2 Pulse in the kitchen and one in the garage... It's just great to have pleasing sound in the main system and reasonable facimilies in the other rooms.... All in sync. Great for companies, parties etc.

I've looked at the Eversolo and a couple others... The sound nice, but force me to do without my distributed, yet synchronized, remote speakers.

If they'd come out with a Qubuz direct, I'd be really pleased.


Hey all! Mine is still in play after several years as well, really no complaints. I do find the internal DAC a tad lackluster so I utilize the dac in my integrated which has a hint more 'life". I hate to add another piece of gear right now but for external dacs, what are some good choices to explore that will be an improvement without blowing up my retirement account?

I've had my Vault 2i for 5 years.   It's been great.  Totally changed the way I listen to music, I have discovered more music in 5 years than in the last 50 !

I have since bought an Aurender but the Vault is in my second system and getting more use than ever.   

Bluesound is my first recommendation when it comes to affordable streamers. 


Had one and enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s definitely great for what it is, but it’s no giant killer.

The Node was the one that put streaming on the map for many people, especially those not willing to waste hours of time building a Raspberry Pi device and hoping for the best and jumping through hoops to set up Volumio or one of the other O/Ses. And then being their own tech support when things didn’t go right.

One question I would like someone with a Node to answer (depending on which one) is whether the USB can be used as an USB Output to an external DAC? As we have seen stated time and time again, if you don’t use an asynchronous output (USB, I2S) to an external DAC, then all the clocking is still being done by the streamer, so if your DAC is "better" in clocking, you are still leaving that extra performance on the table.

WiiM has a new streamer/DAC coming out soon with a small display screen. All for around $400. If it has an USB Output I might be tempted to get one (or a Node) to feed an external DAC in the $1500 to $2K range. (Denafrips Pontus 15th maybe).

The software in the Node set the bar high. Many much more expensive streamers have far better hardware for sure, but their user interface apps leave much to be desired according to comments made on this forum and from some YouTubers. WiiM seemed to understand this and has made their software on par with Blue O/S.

I have an N130 as well that I use as a streamer into my DAC. I would really like to try out a higher end streamer, but the selection of streaming services integrated with BluOS is unmatched as far as I can tell. For instance, in addition to Qobuz, I use a service called Presto Music that is focused on jazz and classical and I find discovering music in those genres much better than with Qobuz. It integrates directly with the Node. 

I have mine now set up in a secondary system in the main house. Running Teddy Pardo LPS through Gustard X26 PRO dac. Very big improvement comparing to using it by itself. Excellent OS with bluos, main reason to start your streaming journey with a NODE imo. Ease of use is key at first or it may turn you off streaming.

I work in an audio store part time, and all of us are dinosaurs.  We sell Bluesound and have had a hard time finding something better that isn’t crazily expensive. I personally use an N130 with an LHY LPS and a Mytek Liberty DAC via USB to stream Tidal. Suits my needs and I doubt I will change it.  My other systems use WiiM.

Totally agree here. I have a Bluesound Node in my second system and it works flawlessly every time. Easy to use, affordable, sounds great and takes up very little real estate. I've been curious though to hear the new-ish Bluesound Node X. 

I have a N130, with a Teddy Pardo LPS in my second system.  While I don’t listen to it as often, it still sounds great after 3+ years.

Absolutely, the Node and excellent BluOS app is often underestimated. When tweaked wtih the Teddy Pardo LPS, ethernet cabled, and coax cabled to exteral DAC - the SQ is really good (of course not using much of the Node but the transport).  We use the Node's in our systems as BluOS is the only app that internally streams Hi Res Neil Young Archieves and Sirrius XM in CD quality.  The new Node X only improves if using the internal DAC.

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3 years with the Node 2i with PD Creative upgrade and  outboard LPS. Everything works flawlessly and jaws drop often: “You mean you’re streaming that?”.  I use an older model node 2 for the whole house/outdoor system. The  app/software are damn near bulletproof. Look, I know there’s better (ive wanted a Aruender N200 or better for awhile), but the 2i just keeps chugging along t like the Little Train That Could.  I’m happy. 

I bought my Node last fall because of one feature - a headphone jack. I was about to have shoulder replacement surgery and looking at about a month of enforced indolence. You don't move around much for  at least the first couple weeks, so I wanted to catch up on my listening with my HiFiman Sundaras. At full volume, the Node could just drive those notoriously inefficient phones to a good listening level. Other than that, I've been completely pleased. I've since moved the Node to my office and added a Topping DX3 Pro which drives my Sundaras very nicely.

Overall, the Bluesound Node reminds me of the Large Advent speakers from the 70s: It sets a bar for overall performance and value that's hard  to beat. It may not be the absolute greatest at any single performance aspect, but it is very good and sins are those of mostly omission, not commission. And you have to spend a lot more for small improvements. It will probably be the last thing I'll upgrade. 


Yes, you can use the USB as an output to a DAC--that's what I do, but this only became available starting with the Node 130, so the 2i or earlier models won't do that, if I understand correctly.

I'm using a Denafrips Ares II DAC, and I think it is only marginally better than the DAC in my Node 130.  I suspect you have to go further up the Denafrips line to get a significant improvement over the Node's DAC.

The addition of the Teddy Pardo LPS to the Node made more of a sound quality improvement than the Ares II does.  I think the Pardo people say it elevates the sound quality of the Node to the level of $2000 streamers.

Yesterday I listened to a few YouTube comparisons of the Node X and the Eversolo AM6.  Based on these reviewers' impressions, it sounds like the Eversolo might be more detailed and brighter, so a good match for a laidback-sounding system.  I hear live music as not so analytical, detailed or bright, and I think the Node provides a more natural, "musical" presentation than some analytical and detailed components do.  I have compared Node hi-res streams to the same CDs and LPs, and often the streams sound just as good.

I also wonder if the lack of a graphical screen on the Node is actually a plus; if the electronics needed for a screen might detract from sound quality.  I have two universal disc players that have controls for disabling the video electronics for improved audio quality.  I have heard the improvement in deep bass when disabling the video.  The info provided by such screens is available on my smartphone when I'm using the Node, so I think that is more convenient anyway.


@drmuso, Thanks for those insights.  Yes, I've heard others (on YouTube) say the Eversolo AM6 is somewhat "bright" or "analytical" sounding (but that the more expensive AM8 is a bit more neutral). I think I'd be using an external DAC in any case - eventually.  I was looking at the Ares II but "mission creep" is setting in and I don't want to have to entertain selling and then buying again, hence my interest in a Pontus 15th and calling it a day, since that DAC or another one in the $2K or less range likely will provide all my system is capable of delivering. 

Nice to know that Node (the current version) or Node X can provide USB output to a DAC.  Thanks again!  I do find it a bit strange that since a LPS can indeed bring out the "best" in the Node that they don't simply offer one themselves as an option. Wish they did. 

Oh, and yes, in many cases - depending on how well things are isolated - a display screen can elevate the noise floor of electronics, at least in theory. I had an old 1990s portable Sony DAT recorder and the recordings sounded better when the display light was not on.  Perhaps WiiM will make a setting in software to turn the screen off for critical listening. We'll see. 


I hate to add another piece of gear right now but for external dacs, what are some good choices to explore that will be an improvement without blowing up my retirement account?

My only experience is with my current Black Ice tube DAC. $900 but with all the jewelry I've got, all-in $2K. NOS tubes were the most significant upgrade.

Maybe look at Schiit? They have a 15 day in-home trial that will cost you 5% + shipping if you don't like it. Bifrost is $799 or the older Yggdrasil+ GS2 $1699 

I recently bought their Skoll phono stage ($400) to use while my GoldNote PH-10 was out for a warranty repair and it was shockingly good considering it replaced a $3K phono. When I was done with it I sold it in 2 days for $300. 

I'm seriously considering auditioning the new Yggdrasil MIB and comparing the Node 130 with the Black Ice / Yggdrasil against the HiFI Rose 150b.

Having said all that, for fun I just tried the Node without my DAC, and it sounded pretty darn good for a $500 component. So either the Node is amazing on it's own for the price OR, using the Node as a streamer-only is my bottleneck.  


I have been running my second system built on a Node 2i for about 3 years. Other components are NAD integrated C 316BEE and Klipsch RP600M speakers. This is my garage (AKA woodshop AKA Garage Mahal) system. It makes me happy every time I turn it on.

Grilles protect speakers from wood dust, and amplifier and Node 2i are on the top shelf of my kitchen pantry just on the other side of the wall from the garage. I drilled through the wall to run the speaker cable.

Control is via Roon on my iPhone.

The Node 2i was the perfect component for this system. 

It’s definitely good for the money. Initially I thought the software was terrible and clunky to use, but it has definitely improved with subsequent upgrades. 

I had a Node 2i in my main system for a couple years and thought it was great, had an upgraded power cable for it and things were better, then did the PD Creative/Allo Shanti LPS power upgrade hoping for a big difference but it was maybe only marginally better than before. Always used a standalone DAC though so maybe the difference would be more dramatic if using the internal DAC only.

I have since upgraded to an Auralic Aries G1.1 streamer and it was a dramatic difference in sound quality. I have that feeding into an Yggdrasil MIB and a Musical Fidelity M6si and it sounds incredible. The Node is now in my garage system, it’s probably the best in its price range, but the higher end streamers do make a noticeable difference. And Auralic supports Amazon Music as well, one of the only brands other than Bluesound that I know of.

Been running a Bluesound Node 130, LHY LPS, to Denafrips Iris DDC, to Denafrips Pontus II DAC for nearly 3 years.....and it's been rock solid without failure, and sounds great. That said, a new Innuous/Aurender/Lumin will be feeding the Pontus by the end of the year

I own a Node N130 into an external DAC (Topping E70 Velvet) along with the Eversolo DMP-A8 streamer. With the Node/Topping combo, I use the Benchmark LA4 for preamp duties.

The Eversolo’s DAC is similar to the Topping’s. Both are capable of state-of-the-art performance as independently verified in measurements. Same for the Eversolo’s preamp vs the Benchmark. 

Despite these similarities, I find the Bluesound consistently sounds leaner (with the Topping and other DACs) than the Eversolo. The bass and lower midrange of the Eversolo is “meatier” and less fatiguing. Not that the Node is fatiguing per se, it’s merely less refined relative to the Eversolo.

Initially, I figured that maybe the Eversolo was inverting its XLR polarity, but regardless of switching between its “forward” and “reverse” polarity options, the same character remains. As of now I am enjoying the Eversolo’s presentation a little more, but I do wonder it I’d miss the versatility of separates.

Anyhow, both streamers are excellent when considered as streamers alone. The Node’s built-in DAC was disappointing, however, paired with an outboard DAC like the Topping E70V, the sound quality is exceptional, and not just for the price. 

I'm in the Node 2i fanboy camp. Loved mine for years, delighted with the interface (BluOS app). I pimped mine with an external Sean Jacobs linear PSU and it stepped up a league. The Mutec MC-3 gave it a further boost. I then auditioned an Innuos Pulse and have been Innuos since. It does everything the Node 2i does but more (to my ears).

All of the above into a dCS Puccini DAC and U-Clock so the Node held its own in some good company.

I also started my streaming with the Node 2i.  I always had it going coax out to an external DAC.  That list was(not in this order) Schiit Gungnir & Yggy,  Audio Research DAC 7, DAC 8, GSi 75 and CD6.  At one point I tried an Aurender N10 and could not appreciate much of an improvement so let it go.  I had reported this in some older posts and others said the DAC 7 at the time was limiting me and did now allow me to appreciate what the N10 could do.  I later decided to move to an all-in-one so I have the Aurender A20 and it works beautifully.  I always recommend a Node to anyone wanting to get into streaming but do strongly encourage separate DACs as I do not believe the internal DAC is hi-fi quality.  I had mine for about 3 years, an open box from Crutchfield and never had a single issue.  I miss the BluOS app....the conductor app is frustrating at times.

Agree w/OP. Had an original Node 2(?) then a Node. First one died (red light). Learned later it was an easy DIY fix: a power supply cap. Now I have two. Don’t use the Node DAC any longer, didn’t know about a streamer only version. 

I bought an Innuos Zen MK 3 to “upgrade” from my Node 2i, yet I still have the Node. I find myself using it far more than the Innuos mostly because I much prefer the features and stability of the BluOs app. The Node is a great product. 

Owner of a node 2i here.  Word on the street is that people are dumping their Aurenders and Wadaxs to purchase nodes.  

Our hobby seems awash with rave reviews of the latest, greatest streamer, but perhaps what’s missing are longer term analyses of performance, reliability etc, etc.

My Node 2i has unquestionably been my most cost effective and rewarding purchase in just under 40 years of being involved in this insanity we call Hi Fi.

I use my Node exclusively as a transport feeding my Benchmark DAC2 HGC and, even though I was very happy with it, like so many of us I fell prey to those gushing reviews of the Eversolo DMP A6 of about a year or so ago.

I didn’t sell my Node to fund the purchase of the A6, thank goodness, because while it is a lovely piece of kit in its own right, its sonic capabilities in that transport role were, I have to say, quite inferior to the very solid and balanced sound of the Node.

I eventually moved the Eversolo on and here I am, over six or seven years into Node 2i ownership (I've not been counting) and completely happy.

Given that streaming is the area of audio where technology should be influencing equipment more rapidly than any other component category, this is a remarkable endorsement of something that cost just under $500 at the time and, if anything, keeps getting better, as BluOS is now arguably unrivaled in its functionality and ease of use.

At the present time, it would seem that those of us who are using our streamers as transports to an external dac have little or nothing to gain from quite serious upgrading.

I’m sure that, at some price point or other, the Node 2i can be beaten as a transport. However I suspect that’s more money than I’d wish to throw at the "problem" and I’m reminded of the adage: "If it ain’t broke don’t fix it."

I hear nothing from the Node that even hints at the budget component it is. Bluesound should be commended for getting it so right with this product.

My node 2 has had interface problems many times over the years, it locks up and I have to uninstall the app and then reinstall it. When I change songs it used to change the music but the data would still be stuck on the same song, that has not been a problem after the last update, but after the last update the interface has a hard time staying connected to the wifi, I have to constantly tap on the looking for players.