Bluesound PowerNode Edge: Compact Versatility
Bluesound’s PowerNode Edge is a formidable contender to the Sonos Amp, offering compact design, extensive streaming capabilities, and multi-room functionality. Priced at 699 euros, it’s a more affordable alternative, maintaining the core features of its predecessor, the PowerNode, while offering HDMI-eARC and a slimmer profile.
|What||Stereo amplifier with multiroom and streaming|
|streaming||BluOS, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth (aptX HD)|
|Inputs||HDMI-eARC, optical or auxiliary input, IR extender input|
|Extras||surround mode with additional Bluesound speakers|
|Dimensions||22 x 4.5 x 19.3 cm|
Compact and Feature-Rich
The PowerNode Edge’s compact size, measuring 22 x 4.5 x 19.3 cm, earned it an EISA Award. Despite its small footprint, it packs a punch as a class D amplifier, providing Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, and the BluOS platform for streaming. It offers a range of connections, including optical, analog, and HDMI. Note that the 3.5mm input serves both analog and digital signals, requiring you to choose between connecting a record player or a CD player via an optical cable.
The slim design and minimal heat production make the PowerNode Edge suitable for built-in speakers or discreet placement in a TV cabinet. Wall-mounting brackets are available, and an infrared remote control can be added for visible or concealed setups.
BluOS: A World of Options
BluOS, the platform powering the PowerNode Edge, sets it apart as a versatile competitor to the Sonos Amp. Compatible with a wide range of audio devices, including DALI, NAD, Monitor Audio, and Roksan, it offers a comprehensive multi-room experience. BluOS is also used in various wireless speakers, soundbars, and audio devices from Bluesound, providing a cohesive ecosystem.
The PowerNode Edge features speaker connections for a stereo pair and a subwoofer output, offering flexibility in speaker configurations. You can even add a Bluesound Pulse Sub + wirelessly, providing wall-mounted bass reinforcement.
Streaming and Connectivity
BluOS provides extensive streaming options and control over physical inputs through its app, available on iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. With a wide selection of streaming services, including audiophile favorites like Idagio and the Neil Young Archives, along with FLAC-quality Radio Paradise integration, it caters to diverse musical tastes. The PowerNode Edge also supports hi-res audio formats, making it a treat for audiophiles.
While Spotify, AirPlay 2, and Bluetooth (with aptX HD support) are available for streaming, Apple Music and YouTube users can utilize AirPlay 2 or Bluetooth. The PowerNode Edge is Roon Ready, offering seamless integration with the Roon music platform.
TV Sound and Surround
The PowerNode Edge simplifies TV audio by featuring an HDMI eARC port. It can process Dolby Digital, a rarity for stereo amplifiers, eliminating the need to adjust the TV’s audio format to PCM. This feature opens the door to expanding your setup with Bluesound speakers to create a basic yet effective surround system.
HDMI-CEC support enables volume control using your TV’s remote, and an IR learning function allows customization of remote controls. An autosense function automatically switches to the ARC input when the TV is turned on.
The sound performance of the Bluesound PowerNode Edge is a crucial aspect to evaluate, as it determines its ability to deliver high-quality audio. Here, we delve deeper into the sound test to provide a comprehensive understanding of its sonic capabilities.
Amplification and Power Output: The PowerNode Edge boasts a power rating of 2 x 40 Watts at 8 Ohms. While this may not sound particularly high on paper, it’s essential to note that the quality of amplification matters as much as the quantity of power. In real-world scenarios, this amplifier effectively drives speakers, including demanding ones like the KEF R7 Metas. Even at normal listening volumes, it handles dynamic peaks gracefully, ensuring a clean and enjoyable listening experience.
Speaker Compatibility: The PowerNode Edge’s suitability with various speaker types is a significant factor in its performance. It’s capable of powering floorstanding speakers, such as the KEF R7 Metas, which require substantial power to produce impactful sound. This compatibility opens up possibilities for users with different speaker preferences, allowing them to achieve their desired sound signature.
Bass Response: One essential aspect of any amplifier’s performance is its bass reproduction. In the case of the PowerNode Edge, it exhibits a competent ability to deliver full and controlled bass. When playing tracks with deep bass elements, it provides a satisfying low-end presence without sacrificing clarity or control. This is a testament to the amplifier’s ability to handle lower frequencies with finesse.
Soundstage and Imaging: The PowerNode Edge excels in creating a spacious soundstage. When paired with suitable speakers, it can reproduce a wide and immersive audio environment. Instruments and vocals are well-defined within the soundstage, allowing listeners to perceive the placement and location of sound sources. This contributes to a more engaging and enveloping listening experience.
Sound Character and Warmth: The amplifier’s sonic character is another crucial aspect to consider. The PowerNode Edge tends to deliver a warm and inviting sound signature. It adds a touch of warmth to the music, making it pleasing to the ears. This tonal balance works well with a wide range of music genres, ensuring that different musical styles sound enjoyable and engaging.
Distortion and Clarity: The absence of distortion in the PowerNode Edge’s analog input is a notable feature. When connected to a turntable with a built-in phono preamp, it reproduces vinyl records cleanly and accurately. This attention to detail ensures that the nuances and subtleties of analog music are faithfully preserved, making it a desirable choice for vinyl enthusiasts.
Dynamic Range and Volume Handling: The amplifier’s dynamic range is commendable, allowing it to handle both subtle and explosive musical passages with finesse. It can deliver intricate details in quiet moments and seamlessly transition to powerful crescendos without compression or distortion. This dynamic capability contributes to a more engaging and emotionally resonant listening experience.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the Bluesound PowerNode Edge impresses with its sound performance. Despite its modest power output rating, it excels in driving a variety of speakers, delivering a warm and inviting sound character, and preserving the clarity and detail of music. Its bass response, soundstage, and dynamic range contribute to a fulfilling audio experience. Whether used for streaming, vinyl playback, or enhancing TV sound, the PowerNode Edge proves to be a capable and versatile amplifier that prioritizes audio quality.
Ample Power for the Job
Despite its 2 x 40 Watts power rating at 8 Ohms, the PowerNode Edge capably drives speakers like the KEF R7 Metas, handling dynamic peaks and offering substantial bass. It’s an excellent match for speakers like the DALI Rubicon 2, delivering controlled and expansive sound.
The analog input on the PowerNode Edge doesn’t suffer from distortion, unlike some competitors, making it an appealing choice for vinyl enthusiasts using turntables with built-in phono preamps.
Conclusion: Compact Versatility
In summary, the Bluesound PowerNode Edge may not be the ultimate all-in-one amplifier, but it doesn’t strive to be. Instead, it offers a compact and affordable option that combines impressive sound quality with extensive functionality. The BluOS platform enhances the listening experience, providing seamless integration with various streaming services and a wide array of compatible audio devices. Whether you seek a compact, high-quality amplifier for a small space or desire to enhance your TV sound and create a versatile multi-room audio system, the PowerNode Edge delivers on all fronts.
- HDMI eARC
- Excellent streaming options and BluOS app
- Fits in many scenarios, including built-in
- Good quality analog input
- Sufficiently powerful
- Demanding speakers can use more power
- No support for DLNA shares