Bluesound gives its Node streamer a new DAC/headphone amp for its 10th birthday

Bluesound Node X with headphones.

It has been 10 years since Bluesound debuted its Node wireless media streamer and to commemorate that event, the company has decided to release a limited-run anniversary edition of the device, known appropriately as the Node X. It looks almost identical to the regular Node, but headphone addicts will be quick to note the one difference: the Node’s 3.5mm headphone jack has been swapped with a quarter-inch output. And if you suspect that change is more than just about accommodating a larger plug, you’re right.

Bluesound says that the centrally-mounted headphone jack is powered by a THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier (AAA) — the same technology found in the $200 THX Onyx headphone DAC/amp — “with patented feed-forward error correction resulting in infinitesimally low levels of noise, distortion, and power consumption.”

Bluesound Node X seen from the front.

Feeding that amp (and the RCA analog outputs) is a new digital-to-analog converter (DAC). The ESS 9028Q2M Sabre DAC replaces the Node’s Texas Instruments / Burr Brown PCM 5242 DAC. Bluesound claims the ESS DAC is a favorite of audiophiles for its “amazing musicality, near-zero levels of clock jitter, ultra-low noise, and a wide dynamic range.”

Finally, Bluesound is also throwing in an RC1 remote to control the Node X, an accessory that normally costs $59 extra.

Bluesound Node X rear panel.

Otherwise, the Node X has the same capabilities as its sibling:

  • Two-way Bluetooth with aptX HD for streaming to wireless headphones or from a compatible smartphone
  • HDMI eARC, optical and analog inputs
  • Stereo analog output
  • Optical, coaxial, and USB audio outputs
  • BluOS wireless multi-room software compatible
  • MQA and hi-res audio support, up to 24-bit/192kHz
  • AirPlay 2
  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi, gigabit Ethernet
  • IR remote learning capability
  • IR input
  • 12V trigger output
  • Wired and wireless subwoofer outputs

The Node X costs $749 — a $150 premium on the price of the $599 Node. Still, if you’re a fan of wirelessly streaming hi-res audio via headphones or powered speakers, and with the ability to do multiroom audio with Bluesound’s many other wireless speakers and soundbars, the higher price might be easily justified by the extra goodies Bluesound has included.

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