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!