I recently bought a Bluesound Node2i.
It is a pretty nice product. I have been working on a similar device for my own DIY system, so it was nice to find something commercial that ALMOST meets my needs. Thus, I have a few suggestions that would make it a GREAT product.
First, what I like about it (with a few comments):
The Blue Sound App for iOS is nice. There are a few issues with how the settings and selections are organized, for example as a user, I don’t really distinguish between player settings, playback settings and audio controls, so all of those could be in one place, and things would be easier to find. But overall, I found it easy to use, and I like that you can select a variety of sources from within the app: streaming, network stores, optical, etc.).
I really like the ability to set a maximum sound level, which then re-scales the app volume slider control. My system is very powerful, and before I found that feature, I was only using the lower ½ inch of the slider! HOWEVER, it would be nice if the slider was also linked to the iPad volume button (on the side of the iPad). I use the iPad for all music selection and control, and it is nice to be able to just pick it up and adjust the volume with the button, as opposed to picking it up entering your PIN, selecting the app, and moving the slider.
I am also enjoying Tidal. However, my wife loves Pandora, and sadly, that is not available. I rigged up a work around by using a TOS cable to link the airport express to the Optical Input on the Node2i, so, with some app switching on the iPad, we can use Pandora.
I have a fairly large collection of digital music. This is a combination of Hi Res files stored on a NAS, and iTunes tracks stored on the iPad. Inexplicably, while the BlueSound app is running on the iPad, I was unable to access any of the iTunes files on the iPad from the App. I ended up copying them to the NAS, so that works, but it would seem like an easy solution to treat local iTunes library as another NAS, and show those tracks in the App as well.
Now for my suggestions:
I have been using an external room equalizer. This is a DSP that supports both room EQ and provides user controllable crossover control.
I THOUGHT that the Optical Out and Optical In would allow me to loop in the DSP, but this is, apparently, not the case. As it is set up, if you want to use the Optical Out feature, you basically can’t use the nice 32 bit 192 KHz DAC, and this means you also can’t use the App volume control…so as it stands, that feature is basically useless. A REALLY USEFUL FEATURE would be to provide an Optical_Out and a DAC_In. You could either connect these with a TOS jumper, or provide a switch to open or close the external loop.
In addition, the combining of the analog input and the TOS input is very limiting. I’d like to be able to use both at the same time, and select them in the App.
Lastly, the Sub_Out is not very useful because it appears to not limit the low frequencies to the main outputs (i.e it is a simple low pass filter, but there is no corresponding high pass filter on the mains). This means that your mains are getting full bass signal. One of the reasons for using a sub is to relieve smaller main speakers from that task. Personally, I’d love to see (and would pay good money for) an option that had an extra DAC (so, two DSP loops), so you could use the external DSP for EQ and crossover, and still control the overall output from the BlueSound App. I suspect you could then sell me an optional DSP (check out the systems offered by MiniDSP) that I could then use to fully configure a killer digital system.
So, overall, a great product:
My wish list:
- Move the settings in the app to one place, so they are easier to find.
- Connect the iPad volume control button to the app volume slider.
- Cut a deal with Pandora and include a connection to it in the App.
- Make the App able to access the local iTunes library on the iPad
- Separate the Optical_In and Analog_in inputs and make them independently selectable in the App (adding a second optical input would also be nice)
- Eliminate the Coaxial S/PDIF connector and replace it with a DAC-In TOS connector to provide a digital loop for an external processor (Pre-DAC digital-out, and then digital-in to the DAC). Use a switch or a jumper to connect these when the loop is not used.
- Ideally, provide a digital out and TWO DAC-In ports to two DACs for separate sub and main processing (I know that’s asking a lot…but to me, that would be worth another $500…Just sayin’).
Here is what I would really like to see:
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