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Is anyone using AirPlay on Bluesound Node 2i?

SachinChavan

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Hi guys,

Bluesound recently provided AirPlay with their Node 2i model. I am considering buying it. Has anyone of you tried/used the AirPlay on Node 2i?

If so, firstly, does it work well? And is the sound quality comparable to if you connected an iPad directly to the USB input of a comparable DAC with same streaming service? Also, how good is the signal steadiness with the AirPlay?

Secondly, are you able to AirPlay Apple Music, Saavn, Gaana etc. to the Node 2i? Note that I am not referring to Bluetooth play, but to AirPlay. And if it was possible, was it through BluOS or the Apple apps on the iPhone or iPad?

Your answers will be a great help for me in deciding on my purchase. Thank you.
 
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bornfi

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I don’t have that extensive experience but I recently bought one for a friend and yes, AirPlay works fine with no issues.
 

bornfi

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Also, since Node 2i has multiple things in it, you need to first think about as to why you are buying it for? If just for AirPlay then you can buy an Apple TV and one HDMI to Coax converter to feed your DAC.
 

SachinChavan

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I don’t have that extensive experience but I recently bought one for a friend and yes, AirPlay works fine with no issues.
Thanks for the confirmation. Though I’d like to know whether the streaming services such as Gaana, Saavn etc. are supported over AirPlay or Bluetooth as the later like be poorer in quality.

Also, since Node 2i has multiple things in it, you need to first think about as to why you are buying it for? If just for AirPlay then you can buy an Apple TV and one HDMI to Coax converter to feed your DAC.
Oh, I was only asking a specific query within my purchasing decision in this post. There are of course more considerations and I have asked it in another thread (link below). I am of course looking at Hi-res streaming too. But AirPlay is important to me for exploring new music on Apple Music, Gaana etc.

 

bornfi

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Thanks for the confirmation. Though I’d like to know whether the streaming services such as Gaana, Saavn etc. are supported over AirPlay or Bluetooth as the later like be poorer in quality.
Oh yes, everything goes through pretty well and you are paying $$ for good implementation of Bluetooth connection too.
 

shibashis

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Thanks for the confirmation. Though I’d like to know whether the streaming services such as Gaana, Saavn etc. are supported over AirPlay or Bluetooth as the later like be poorer in quality.
Anything playing on your iOS device can be sent via AirPlay to a compatible receiver. AirPlay is a global overlay on iOS as opposed to being app specific.
 
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superczar

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Are you planning to use these with the amp and speakers in your signature or something else?
Reason I ask is Airplay can be used in bitstream mode - Thus with the right configuration, something as cheap as an apple TV or even an airport express (with digital out) hooked to a quality DAC and amp (or a quality AVR + Amp) will be exactly equal to something that may cost even 10X

You are liable to get much better improvements in streaming SQ with say a speaker upgrade rather than spending too much on a dedicated streamer
 

SachinChavan

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Ok. Here’s an experiment I did. I had my Apple TV connected to my Panasonic plasma and then analogue RCA out to my preamp in my stereo system. Now, I played various music from both Apple Music (256 Kbps) as well as Radio Paradise (lossless). So this is set up 1 in which there’s no AirPlay involved. And then in set up 2 I kept all the above as it is and Airplayed same songs in same bit rate as above to the Apple TV. So there only an additional AirPlay in set up 2 over and above set up 1.

Now, for the song on Apple Music (256 Kbps), there was no perceivable difference in sound quality when played through set up 1 and 2.

But we could hear a significant drop in sound quality in set up 2 as compared to set up 1 on the Radio Paradise song (lossless). So, it is proven for me that AirPlay does indeed compress (or modify in some way) FLAC/lossless files though on paper it is supposed to support FLAC bitrate.

Now, since the difference between the two setups is only the additional AirPlay, I have reason to believe that the same quality drop will happen in AirPlay even to Bluesound or even any better streamer. Just that you don’t have a comparable (integrated) stream to compare it with so may not realise.

Are you planning to use these with the amp and speakers in your signature or something else?
Reason I ask is Airplay can be used in bitstream mode - Thus with the right configuration, something as cheap as an apple TV or even an airport express (with digital out) hooked to a quality DAC and amp (or a quality AVR + Amp) will be exactly equal to something that may cost even 10X

You are liable to get much better improvements in streaming SQ with say a speaker upgrade rather than spending too much on a dedicated streamer
I am not sure I’ve understood you well here. But if you are saying I should be upgrading my speakers or amp instead of ensuring better source for streaming, I don’t agree with you. You should listen to my system when I play CD. It is clearly not the bottleneck. And my reason to add a streamer to my set up is not to get better sound (I am extremely satisfied with its sound), but to play app based and internet radio music through it, for larger variety and to explore newer music.
 
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amit11

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So, it is proven for me that AirPlay does indeed compress (or modify in some way) FLAC/lossless files though on paper it is supposed to support FLAC bitrate.

Now, since the difference between the two setups is only the additional AirPlay, I have reason to believe that the same quality drop will happen in AirPlay even to Bluesound or even any better streamer.
Apple tv will convert everything to 48 khz. So even though it is flac 44.1 it will get changed to 48 khz. This brings in a subtle change in sound which i do not like.

This is done by apple tv, and not airplay.

Hence later i had purchased airport express which does not do conversion.
 
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superczar

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Ok. Here’s an experiment I did. I had my Apple TV connected to my Panasonic plasma and then analogue RCA out to my preamp in my stereo system. Now, I played various music from both Apple Music (256 Kbps) as well as Radio Paradise (lossless). So this is set up 1 in which there’s no AirPlay involved. And then in set up 2 I kept all the above as it is and Airplayed same songs in same bit rate as above to the Apple TV. So there only an additional AirPlay in set up 2 over and above set up 1.

Now, for the song on Apple Music (256 Kbps), there was no perceivable difference in sound quality when played through set up 1 and 2.

But we could hear a significant drop in sound quality in set up 2 as compared to set up 1 on the Radio Paradise song (lossless). So, it is proven for me that AirPlay does indeed compress (or modify in some way) FLAC/lossless files though on paper it is supposed to support FLAC bitrate.
That's odd because Airplay shouldn't be applying any kind of compression
However I do see a flaw in your setup - The digital o/p from the ATV should feed into your Stereo system via a clean DAC process if you are into critical listening
I see in your sig you already have a high grade standalone DAC - you should try using that rather than than relying on your TV doing the conversion the conversion to analog amidst the high noise circuitry nearby which will mess up the RCA o/p
Do you have the old gen ATV in which case you can use the TOSLINK out?
If it's the newer gen ATV, see if you can use an airport express instead.

I have five airplay setup - 1 that relies on ATV directly feeding digital into a Marantz SR6010 -> Analog RCA to a Marantz PM17 / direct airplay to Marantz SR6010
1 that relies on an airport express feeding optical out to an old Harman AVR5000
The other 3 use direct analog out from Airport express

As a stopgap during a setup, I used the ATV out in another room going to the TV and then analog out from the TV to amp but the result was rather sad - Having said that, the TV in question was a Mi and it may have a far worse DAC than yours
However, if i were you, I would really really try to move the analog conversion process elsewhere

Now, since the difference between the two setups is only the additional AirPlay, I have reason to believe that the same quality drop will happen in AirPlay even to Bluesound or even any better streamer. Just that you don’t have a comparable (integrated) stream to compare it with so may not realise.


I am not sure I’ve understood you well here. But if you are saying I should be upgrading my speakers or amp instead of ensuring better source for streaming, I don’t agree with you. You should listen to my system when I play CD. It is clearly not the bottleneck. And my reason to add a streamer to my set up is not to get better sound (I am extremely satisfied with its sound), but to play app based and internet radio music through it, for larger variety and to explore newer music.
If you are happy with your speakers and amp, absolutely no reason to change
All I am trying to say is as far as adding streaming capabilities goes, you shouldn't need to spend too much considering you got a quality DAC already
Try getting hold of an airport express, you may be more than pleasantly surprised
 

newlash09

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Well iam not a apple chap. So I will just repeat the blurb I read on the net.

Airplay vs chrome cast

When we chrome cast something from the phone or tab, the chrome cast straight away streams from that site. In fact we can choose a song on gaana, and once it starts playing, we can switch off the phone. The song will continue playing as chrome cast streams directly from that site and not from your phone .

Where as in airplay, the same track from saavn will be streamed actually from the iPhone or ipad via the wireless airplay protocol to your airplay compatible receiver. So if one switches off his iPhone, then the there will be a signal outage and music will stop.

As can be gauged by numerous reviews on the net. A hard wired Ian is superior to Wi-Fi. But with airplay we are committing to twice the Wi-Fi transmission.. router to phone, and again from phone to router and airplay device. This could lead to less SQ unless the Wi-Fi network is very robust
 

amit11

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As can be gauged by numerous reviews on the net. A hard wired Ian is superior to Wi-Fi. But with airplay we are committing to twice the Wi-Fi transmission.. router to phone, and again from phone to router and airplay device. This could lead to less SQ unless the Wi-Fi network is very robust
My experience with airplay is "it simply works".
Theoretically the double wifi transmission may sound slow, but in fact it works without any hassle.
My airport express is G model version (2004 model) hence my router also then operates on G frequency ( instead of a/b and latest n). Still it works fine surprisingly.
 

newlash09

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My experience with airplay is "it simply works".
Theoretically the double wifi transmission may sound slow, but in fact it works without any hassle.
My airport express is G model version (2004 model) hence my router also then operates on G frequency ( instead of a/b and latest n). Still it works fine surprisingly.
Thanks for sharing that Amit :)

I will keep my apple rants to myself. Don't want to ruffle any feathers in a dedicated apple boy's thread :D

But I urge you all to give the chrome cast a try for just once. You might become converts like me for life :)
 

superczar

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Thanks for sharing that Amit :)

I will keep my apple rants to myself. Don't want to ruffle any feathers in a dedicated apple boy's thread :D

But I urge you all to give the chrome cast a try for just once. You might become converts like me for life :)
I use a CCA for redundancy if someone wants to stream something from an android phone
Preference between the two is a simple function of what phone you prefer
If you are on iOS, using CCA is a PITA and the reverse is true for Airplay
 

newlash09

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I use a CCA for redundancy if someone wants to stream something from an android phone
Preference between the two is a simple function of what phone you prefer
If you are on iOS, using CCA is a PITA and the reverse is true for Airplay
Thanks super czar...

By any chance do you find any difference in SQ between the two. Been dying to ask this for ages. But never came across anyone using both so far. Hence the curiosity :D
 

SachinChavan

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I see in your sig you already have a high grade standalone DAC - you should try using that rather than than relying on your TV doing the conversion the conversion to analog amidst the high noise circuitry nearby which will mess up the RCA o/p
Do you have the old gen ATV in which case you can use the TOSLINK out?
If it's the newer gen ATV, see if you can use an airport express instead.
Yes, I know processing through the TV is a compromise, however good the TV’s DAC is. My ATV is 4th gen (I don’t have older gen with Toslink out - didn’t even know they existed). As for Airport Express, I see that it has been discontinued by Apple. Also, wouldn’t it use AirPlay as well? That’s good enough for Apple Music, but not for steaming FLAC quality files. I could still try buying an old one from Ebay, but help me understand how without being connected to a display (unlike Apple TV), would you select/control what to stream through it? Is there an iPad based software for that?

As can be gauged by numerous reviews on the net. A hard wired Ian is superior to Wi-Fi. But with airplay we are committing to twice the Wi-Fi transmission.. router to phone, and again from phone to router and airplay device. This could lead to less SQ unless the Wi-Fi network is very robust
Yes, either that and/or that Apple does some conversion while streaming anything at FLAC
level through AirPlay.

My experience with airplay is "it simply works".
Theoretically the double wifi transmission may sound slow, but in fact it works without any hassle.
My airport express is G model version (2004 model) hence my router also then operates on G frequency ( instead of a/b and latest n). Still it works fine surprisingly.
The issue is not about ‘simply working’. Am an Apple ecosystem user and can attest that everything Apple ‘simply works’. However as said earlier, I hear a drop in sound quality when streaming anything above Apple Music resolution (256 Kbps).
 
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superczar

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Yes, I know processing through the TV is a compromise, however good the TV’s DAC is. My ATV is 4th gen (I don’t have older gen with Toslink out - didn’t even know they existed). As for Airport Express, I see that it has been discontinued by Apple. Also, wouldn’t it use AirPlay as well? That’s good enough for Apple Music, but not for steaming FLAC quality files. I could still try buying an old one from Ebay, but help me understand how without being connected to a display (unlike Apple TV), would you select/control what to stream through it? Is there an iPad based software for that?



Yes, either that and/or that Apple does some conversion while streaming anything at FLAC
level through AirPlay.



The issue is not about ‘simply working’. Am an Apple ecosystem user and can attest that everything Apple ‘simply works’. However as said earlier, I hear a drop in sound quality when streaming anything above Apple Music resolution (256 Kbps).
Airport express been discontinued but is often still available on olx or on ebay if you manage carrying/ to get it carried from the US or UK
Try getting hold of one to test from someone you know - The weakest link in all likelihood in your chain is the TV audio conversion..

Thanks super czar...

By any chance do you find any difference in SQ between the two. Been dying to ask this for ages. But never came across anyone using both so far. Hence the curiosity :D
I am not really an audiophile - initially the CCA seemed really bad but after enabling the high resolution settings, I felt that both sound equally good..
I haven't really done any critical A-B listening between the two but can do so and update you.

On a side note, technically the Chromecast audio does 24bit/96khz which I don't think airplay devices support (16 bit /44.1 khz is what they support I think)
Maybe the CCA may be a better option for the OP
 

amit11

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, but help me understand how without being connected to a display (unlike Apple TV), would you select/control what to stream through it? Is there an iPad based software for that?
In case of airport express, an icon similar to apple tv will appear. The only difference is it will move the audio to airplay, and the visuals will remain on your ipad. So example you are watching youtube on ipad, and you press that icon of airplay, the audio will come from your external speakers (to which the airport express is connected) and the video will keep running on ipad.

Yes, either that and/or that Apple does some conversion while streaming anything at FLAC
level through AirPlay.
The conversion is done in apple tv as i had mentioned earlier. from anything to 48khz.
In case of airport express, it can support max till 16 bit 44.1 khz. i.e. max CD quality.
So any FLAC/lossless above this will get converted to CD level.

The issue is not about ‘simply working’. Am an Apple ecosystem user and can attest that everything Apple ‘simply works’. However as said earlier, I hear a drop in sound quality when streaming anything above Apple Music resolution (256 Kbps).
Does this happen with Apple music app where streaming from internet happens?
And does it happen also when you play local file from your ipad via the default music app? And what exactly it means you hear a drop in sound quality. I mean you are trying to compare same song with less than 256 kbps and same song another file but with greater than 256 kbps?
 

newlash09

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Airport express been discontinued but is often still available on olx or on ebay if you manage carrying/ to get it carried from the US or UK
Try getting hold of one to test from someone you know - The weakest link in all likelihood in your chain is the TV audio conversion..


I am not really an audiophile - initially the CCA seemed really bad but after enabling the high resolution settings, I felt that both sound equally good..
I haven't really done any critical A-B listening between the two but can do so and update you.

On a side note, technically the Chromecast audio does 24bit/96khz which I don't think airplay devices support (16 bit /44.1 khz is what they support I think)
Maybe the CCA may be a better option for the OP
Thanks for that supeczar :)

Please bear with my rumblings on the chrome cast audio :D

The problem with source components as compared to high capacity amps, is that their power supplies are meagre. And really don't have room to filter the incoming power. So I have eliminated that problem by running my Chromecast audio from a PS1200 power regenerator proving pure AC power and again filtered by a isotek evo3 Polaris power filter. I also have my chrome cast hard wired with a lan cable to avoid wireless gremlins. On top of all this , I run it off a 5V LPSU. And I can vouch the results are stellar. And very comparable to my almost 30 x digital streamer cum roon end point. One would be hard pressed to notice the differences between the two. And why all this effort to get CCA working well in the first place. Because it is the only way to stream local desi sites like gaana or saavn on good 256kbps quality.
 
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