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?


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.