How do you follow an Award-winner? That's the conundrum facing Bluesound, whose last Node device picked up a 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award. Its approach? Release a model with amplification built in, to succeed last year's Powernode and to rival the Cambridge Audio Evo 150, Naim Uniti Atom or Technics SA-C600 – but much, much cheaper.
The Powernode Edge combines streaming services, controls and amplification in one device – all you have to do is add speakers. (And, because it packs amplification, they can be passive speakers, rather than more expensive active ones.)
Of course you can do a lot more than just that. Add a subwoofer as well to make a compact 2.1 stereo system, or have it power the rear channels of a wireless surround sound system.
Like the Node before it, it is equipped for hi-res files up to 24-bit/192kHz and supports Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) playback, letting you in on the studio masters of your favourite albums. The power output is 40W per channel into 8 ohms.
It's a compact device, small enough to sit on a shelf or desktop, so you shouldn't have much trouble finding space for it. And it comes with a multi-orientation wall bracket so you can hide it in a unit or behind the sofa.
More than 20 music services are natively integrated into the Powernode Edge – think the usual suspects such as Tidal, Spotify, Amazon Music, Qobuz et al. – and can be controlled using the BluOS Controller app. Or you can play your digital music collection over wi-fi, Gigabit Ethernet or an external USB drive. You can stream music from a device using aptX HD Bluetooth or Apple AirPlay 2, or connect a TV or turntable with preamplifier using the HDMI eARC or analogue/digital input.
Its BluOS platform makes it a viable alternative to Sonos – like other multi-room systems, you can play different tunes in different rooms or the same music throughout the home. As well as using the BluOS Controller app on iOS, Android, Mac or PC, you can control it using the on-player controls or with your voice using Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Pre-orders are available now ahead of a release date of "early October", with the device coming in black or white. It costs £599 / $649 (about AU$1045).
Read our round-up of the best music streamers
Read our Audiolab 6000N Play review