Something of a personal blog today. I'm going talk about the Bluesound Powernode 2 and B&W 686 system I use in my kitchen diner. Most of the cooking in our home is done by me and I have to share a lounge with my significant other and the home cinema system. Therefore, most of my home music listening is done whilst I'm slaving away in the galley, so it makes sense to have something enjoyable to use which lets me whistle while I work. I also work in the toy shop, so, ya know...
Bluesound Powernode 2 and B&W 686 System
I originally used a Sonos Connect (£349) and an old Rega Brio amplifier to drive my Bowers & Wilkins 686S2s (£349) - which sounded great – and lived happily on top of the fridge freezer. Then the packed up; boo!
We bought a shiny new fridge freezer which turned out to be somewhat taller than the old one. Sadly for my diminutive darling honeybun, we discovered she could no longer reach the amplifier controls – cue Grumpyface Emoji.
Something had to be done...
We've had the Bluesound brand for a little while now in a number of Audio T's, but we hadn't evaluated it here in Swansea, that's until young Kris from Anatech Distribution came down with a few toys for us to play with just before Christmas.
Appraised in our reference system, we immediately thought that the Bluesound Node 2 streamer (£499) was a winner and sonically superior to the Sonos Connect, even when by-passing the on-board DAC and using our favourite* one by Chord Electronics. With 16-bit (CD quality) files the Node 2 was quite a lot better, much less grain, a far more open and solid sound. Switching to 24-bit and MQA (Meridian Quality Assured) files via Tidal Masters and it ate the Connect for breakfast.
Historically a strong product for us has been the Sonos Connect Amp (£499). Essentially a Connect with on-board amplification, we've used it in a number of multi-room installations to good effect, the only caveat being it's inability to drive large rooms, or zones with outdoor speakers, (it just hasn't got the horsepower) so I was interested to see how the Bluesound Powernode 2 (£799) would perform.
We connected it up to a pair of B&W 684S2s (compact floorstanding speakers at £799) and let her rip. Wow! You can tell NAD designed the amplifier section – solid, clean, musical, exciting, tons of power and a lovely sense of scale, way more grip than the Sonos Connect Amp and loads more meat on the bone. We like it, we like it very much indeed.
The control interface is similar to Sonos is logical and is easy to use. Volume, Pause Play and Track Forward Back are placed on the top of the unit for convenience, plus analogue and digital inputs appear on the rear, which is very handy for those wishing to squirt the audio from a telly into it. Also you can if you want add a subwoofer. Fortunately m'darlinghoneybun doesn't read Hi-Fi blogs, so I can confirm that I'm planning to sneak a wireless-equipped REL T5i into the system soon. (There's space behind the cat basket, she'll never know...)