No streamer that I am aware of gives you such a complete package for the money. With all the features, quality of music and flexibility of use, the Bluesound Node 2i would cost at least 3 times the price; and I am not sure that a much more expensive device will be better.
How long does it take to set-up; well, pairing with my phone, firmware update, connecting, and start playing Tidal MQA quality with Wi-Fi streaming, all done in less than 20 minutes. The set-up was fast and flawless.
In my research which streamer to buy, I read many complains from buyers that are not happy with the software and firmware setup, if your Wi-Fi connection is fast enough you be done in 10 minutes pairing and update, I did it over Wi-Fi, you can use ethernet as well, comes included with an ethernet cable to do so.
Other complains, the DAC is not good enough, important, what is your source and other equipment; I connected the Node 2i to my pre-amp (no external DAC) (analogue). My preamp is connected to 2 Monoblock reference amps going to my speakers (Usher Dancers) The sound is extremely good, better than my hi-end CD player (4K), Yes, the sound of the Node 2i is better than my CD player. I was baffled, perplexed.
What most users do not check is dBm (decibel milliwatts), which is one of the most important factors in streaming high quality music over Wi-Fi, (Most Wi-Fi users assume that not enough speed (Mbps) is the issue) well, dBm is the signal strength not speed (If you go close to your modem or extender using a dBm meter or app that you can download on your phone, the dBm numbers will tell you the story 99% of the time; if you measure dBm, the best value is about 20 inches in circumference around modem/router or extender, so, in a lot of cases it is advisable to have an extender in the close proximity of your streamer. In case you want the best sound, here we go.
Wireless Signal Strength:
For Player Firmware upgrades: -70dBm
For streaming 44.1/16 content: -70dBm
For streaming 96/24 content: -55dBm
For streaming 192/24 content: -45dBm
So, if you want MQA, you need to be around -45 dBm. If all you other equipment is Audiophile quality do not be afraid and think about complains from buyers; assuming the inexpensive price of the Node 2i, is why it is not working properly or the sound is bad, or it is the DAC, nonsense; buy this streamer, no better deal around. Hence, this is a streamer for everyone liking music, audiophile, or casual listener. Keep in mind that room acoustics, source and speakers are very important, if you do your end, the Node 2i will not disappoint.
Btw. Apps for dBm measurement are available for Android and IOS. I use the Network Cell Info app for my Android phone. This will tell you your dBm and gives you the capability to move around and find the best location for signal strength and Wi-Fi speed.
I am not going to go any further with my review, for the simple reason, the Node 2i has so many more features. Check the Buesound website, they have all the info you need.
Highly recommended. And do not forget, buy from the GOOD PEOPLE from AUDIOLAB they have excellent service and free shipping in the US. Support small businesses, the US was built on it.
Apr 10th 2021