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Bluesound Node 2 vs. Sonos Connect

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by RichPA, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. RichPA

    RichPA Don't drive angry Staff Member Super Mod Subscriber

    I searched quite a bit for a direct comparison of the Bluesound Node 2 and the Sonos Connect, without really finding what I was looking for. So I finally bit the bullet and bought a Node 2. I set it up in this system http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/richpas-main-system.356545/page-5 (see post #89), also hardwired to the router and using another digital input on the Benchmark DAC.

    First, the functional advantages of the Bluesound:
    • Handles high-res files (Sonos is limited to 16/44.1) and MQA
    • Higher indexing limit (Sonos is limited to 65K tracks)
    • Better looking :)
    • Has bluetooth connectivity
    and the disadvantages:
    • No universal search across services (have to pick a source, and search within)
    • No direct support for SiriusXM
    • The Windows app, well, sucks
    And an oddity - although I'm using the digital output, it appears the level is 6 dB lower on the Bluesound. No shortage of gain in this system, but strange.

    The mobile app for the Bluesound is pretty good, but more complicated and less intuitive than the Sonos apps. After 10 days, I'm still learning my way around it. I've used the Sonos for a number of years, though, so I'm much earlier in the learning curve. The display for the Bluesound app is better, I think.

    And the crux of the matter - sound quality. The Bluesound is clearly superior to the Sonos (which has the Wyred 4 Sound mod), with levels matched. The difference is similar to the difference between a good dac and an excellent one - greater clarity, especially in the bass, a more open sound with greater depth. The difference is especially apparent on "busy" mixes, those with a lot of bass, and on voices. Lori immediately noticed this. We liked it enough that we bought a second one for System #2, which arrived today. The difference from the Sonos is clear, but less obvious, in that system. I would not have said prior to the comparison that there was anything wrong with the sound from the Sonos - it's just not as refined-sounding. I've been told that the dac in the Bluesound is quite good, and sometime soon I'll try the analog outputs and report on those.

    Finally, all of this is based on just a few days of listening, but I thought I'd get it out there. If anyone else has made this comparison, I'd be curious to hear your impressions.


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  2. 2broke4this

    2broke4this Active Member

    Arlington, VA

    I'm glad you weren't disappointed! I love my little first gen Node. I don't really have anything to compare it to, but it sounds pretty darn great in my much more modest system. I'm using the analog outputs into my Dynaco SCA-35.

  3. richamor

    richamor Blue Collar Subscriber

    Lancaster, SC
    Nice post. I went through the same process a few weeks ago and ended up with an Auralic Aires Mini. Mainly because I got a great price on a slightly used one with a 1TB HD. After using the Sonos for a couple of years I can only say that the LighteningDS interface is poor. And the streaming is limited to Tidal...anything else has to use the airplay via phone which has it's own problems. Auralic say they are working on other streaming services so maybe this year Spotify will be integrated.

    As for sound quality.....on it's own it is better than the Sonos. But neither can compare with the Ami Musik DDH-1 DAC. With the Auralic and Ami my system has never sounded better via internet. The internal HD playing flac files is as close to vinyl as I can get without getting up to flip albums.
  4. uofmtiger

    uofmtiger Super Member

    Very strange that there is that much difference in the digital out feeding the same DAC. Does Sonos do some sort of processing to the signal before passing through the signal?
  5. RichPA

    RichPA Don't drive angry Staff Member Super Mod Subscriber

    I agree that it's surprising. My motivation was really to get around the indexing and resolution limits of the Sonos, and I'd have been happy with equivalent sound quality and similarly usable interfaces. I have stock, Wyred 4 Sound modded 44.1K, and Wyred 4 Sound modded upsampling to 96K Sonos, and the Bluesound sounds better than all. Why? Difference in jitter don't seem likely, I suppose noise is a possibility. I had assumed that rendering of FLAC files wasn't an issue, but maybe? Both the Sonos and Bluesound offer digital level adjustment, but both are set to fixed output. Could the volume control processing matter with fixed output?

    Both my wife and I are convinced of the difference, though, and she's called me out on plenty of things where I thought I heard a difference.
  6. uofmtiger

    uofmtiger Super Member

    There was some speculation that the Connect isn't bit perfect at 16/44.1. I have yet to see anything other than forum comments on that subject, so I have taken those comments with a grain of salt. If it is bit perfect, the fixed output should be the correct setting.

    I wonder in you get the same results with a wav file? Just curious if something is causing an issue with their FLAC decompression.


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  7. RichPA

    RichPA Don't drive angry Staff Member Super Mod Subscriber

    Interesting possibility. I did a little poking around in the Sonos forums and found a number of such comments, including this attempt to test it and the ensuing discussion: https://en.community.sonos.com/components-228996/connect-no-longer-bit-perfect-6738927

    Trying a .wav file is an interesting thought, and I may give it a try. It's really moot for me, given that the Bluesound functionality is enough to make me switch. In any case, it's clear the Bluesound is a more-than-viable alternative to the Sonos.
  8. doctorrazz

    doctorrazz New Member

    I did a AB comparison at a friend of mine's house, he uses the Sonos/Deezer hi fi, and has B $ W diamonds, with a pair of DB1 subs, Bryston amp, great system, connected my Bluesound Node to his system but as noted above the output was 6db down, my bud was forced to crank up his pre-amp to level he was uncomfortable with, as he has blow a few sets of Diamond tweeters, lol. That is why I have had a pair of K-horns. I have been living with the BlueOs Node for over a year now, it was $100 cheaper than the Node 2, but the internals were almost the same, and to me it was not worth the upgrade. Tidal Masters MQA files, particularly newly recorded true HiRes music makes me smile.

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