Bluesound Powernode 2i vs Bel Canto C5i

I posted this over in Audio Asylum the other day and didn't get much feedback, so figured I'd try here.  

    I currently have a set of Ohm 1000s being driven by a Bel Canto C5i which is rated at 60 watts a channel at 8 ohms. The Ohms are 6 ohm speakers so I'm probably getting closer to 90 watts max as the Bel Canto doubles power into a 4 ohm load. I'm very happy with the performance of this combo. I use a Squeezebox Touch (long discontinued) which feeds digital out into the C5i's built-in DAC.

    I'm thinking about simplifying things by switching to a Bluesound Powernode 2i which is also rated at 60 watts a channel (8 ohms) and has a built in streamer and DAC.

    Anyone have any experience or comments about the amplifier side of the Powernode?
I own a Powernode 2 and have auditioned the bel canto c5i.
If I were you I think I’d stick with what you have. To be fair, the bel canto costs double what the Powernode does.
Details: I’ve used Powernode with my low cost NHT and $2k Spendor bookshelves.
Bel canto audition was with Maggie LRS and Rega CD player.
To me the Powernode is a bit unfulfilling in its fullness of presentation. Just my opinion. I’ve not heard the bel canto with my speakers, just the dealer demo.

ill say that the demo also included listening to reg elex r on same lrs speakers and I liked Rega little better than bel canto if just talking about the amplifiers but close.

of course Powernode also has streamer dac built in so not really apples to apples

Okay, here goes on the BlueSound Node and a Bel Canto C5i. In my setup the BlueSound Node feeds into the Bel Canto C5i. Yes, both have DAC's. Also, the BlueSound PowerNode can function as an 'all-in-one'.

Here's what you will find. The PowerNode alone will be competent, yet not truly fulfilling. Yet, you certainly have a budget and compact unit.

Now, let's say you take a BlueSound Node and connect it straight to an amp. The sound will be on the harsh side. In short, this won't work either, You can even try this with a tube amp and it won't help enough,


So, take a  BlueSound Node and run it to a Bel Canto C5i. The Bel Canto C5i's can be found used for about $800. Now, do you run RCA Connect using the the BlueSound Doc or a USB connection which will then default to the BelCanto C5i DAC.  There is a difference in sound. Try it yourself.


The BlueSound DAC is a very neutral one. The BelCanto DAC brings certain parts of the audio more forward and would be defined as slightly 'bright'. I preferred the BlueSound DAC, which I was surprised at. Yet, there you are.

These are with Tannoy Autograph Mini's and they sound great. The RCA interconnects and speaker cable are Nordost Heimdall 2's which were recently added and expanded the dynamic range on speakers that were already very musical. You can achieve a lot of this with Nordost Blue Heaven, yet not all of it.

I use this on a second system in a small front room. Really happy with this,

Again, surprised at how good the DAC is in the BlueSound Node. Yet, I would not bypass the integrated's contributions.

Lastly, if you want better dynamic range, you'll need different speakers. Yet, for my listening I would give up the Tannoy's.


I have a c5i running similar “Super” Ohm Walsh 2 upgraded with 8” series 3 driver in the family room. It has stuck there now for a number of years. C5i is a very clean sounding and very flexible device. It has everything except streamer including phono and a decent headphone amp to boot. I think it originally sold for over 2K and you have to spend more on the amp side mainly to beat it. Or run it to a separate beefier outboard power amp. A little more power and current wouldn’t hurt. There is a c6i model now BTW.

Always interesting as to how a three year old thread can pop back to life after sitting dormant. For what it's worth, I passed on the Powernode and have also moved on from the Bel Canto C5i.