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Bluesound marks 10 years with NODE X streaming DAC

  • 🎥 Camera: John Darko
    🎬 Editor: John Darko
    🕺🏻 Motion GFX: John Darko

    Further information: Bluesound


    Bluesound, the original hi-res multiroom streaming audio ecosystem, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its founding with the launch of a limited-run anniversary product, the NODE X, and a digital campaign that celebrates and thanks the many partners that have helped it become an award-winning, best-selling audiophile brand.

    Prior to 2013, computer companies and TV manufacturers had started making audio equipment, which, while popular with younger consumers for their styling, was generally designed to play highly compressed audio files with no regard for higher resolution formats. At the same time, the hi-fi industry watched from the sidelines, struggling to make younger consumers care about audio quality and faced the very real possibility that the entire industry might soon cease to exist.

    “We knew we had to adapt to the new ways that people were accessing music if we were going to give the hi-fi industry new life,” says John Banks, Chief Strategy Officer for Lenbrook International, Bluesound’s parent company. “When we first conceived of Bluesound there were intense discussions about whether the products should carry the NAD Electronics name since that brand already had broad recognition in hi-fi circles.”

    Bluesound ultimately made its debut to the hi-fi industry in mid-2013 at an unveiling event in Munich, Germany, where Lenbrook’s global distribution network saw the products that would bring audiophile values to wireless multi-room audio. Bluesound launched to a private group of embargoed press in New York City in the fall of 2013, while the brand made its public announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2014.

    “The hi-fi industry was used to hardware being the main draw but Bluesound, from the beginning, was more about the software, which we now know as BluOS,” says Greg Stidsen, Chief Technology Officer of Lenbrook International. “BluOS was more limited in functionality at the start but it has matured and is now offered in a number of high-end audio brands and is often considered the most comprehensive hi-res multiroom streaming platform in the industry.”

    Brought on as Product Coordinator in 2015 and later becoming Product Manager, Matthew Simmonds was tasked to carry and build on the early momentum. Overseeing the development and expansion of the brand’s product portfolio, Simmonds is now concentrated on launching a limited-run anniversary product, the NODE X. Featuring a sleek silver finish and containing upgraded componentry, the NODE X takes the fan-favorite NODE to the highest order of performance. With an ESS Sabre DAC, it flawlessly delivers streamed audio to amplifiers or powered speakers in hi-res up to 24/192, and deftly handles files encoded in FLAC, MQA, ALAC, among others. Headphone listeners will appreciate the dedicated headphone amplifier using THX AAA™ technology and full-sized ¼” jack. As a limited-run anniversary product, the NODE X will play a significant part in helping Bluesound celebrate 10 years as a brand. This special product will launch with suggested retail pricing of USD $749 / EUR €799 / GBP £699 / CAD $999 and retail availability starting May 11, 2023.

    “The NODE has been our top selling product and it’s the most common entry point for audiophiles coming into the Bluesound brand, so it seemed fitting to create an anniversary product based on the NODE,” adds Simmonds.

    Coupled with the launch of the NODE X, the brand has also been working closely with some of its most strategically important partners to support a digital campaign to celebrate the milestone.

    “We recognize that building a new brand is a team sport and requires a lot of people, vendors, and partners to be aligned and to trust each other all the way,” says Gordon Simmonds, Chief Executive Officer of the Lenbrook Group of Companies. “We are so grateful that in the early days our status as a nascent brand didn’t deter people from working with us, and some of those early relationships have turned out to be some of our most valued partnerships today.”

    A few of Bluesound’s dedicated partners
    Launching at the end of May will be a series of videos highlighting some of the partners that have been core to the Bluesound story to date, including specialty streaming partners like Neil Young Archives, Qobuz, Radio Paradise, and SoundMachine, as well as technology partners like MQA, Axign, and Hypex. Jason Knott, Chief Content Officer of CE Pro discusses Bluesound’s place in a modern smarthome, while retail partners like HiFi Klubben, SevenOaks Sound and Vision, SoriShop, and the ProSource buying group offer their perspectives of Bluesound’s first 10 years from Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and the United States respectively.

    “Each one of these partners enrich the Bluesound experience for our audiophile consumers in some way by helping our brand be differentiated,” says Matthew Simmonds. “Music content, particularly in hi-res, is what our consumers want, and our streaming partners carry that content while our technology partners ensure the music reaches our consumers’ ears unadulterated. Meanwhile, our smarthome partners and retail partners are often how our end consumers first discover the Bluesound brand.”

    As part of our celebration, and as a token of gratitude, each of our participating partners will award a special NODE X in to-be-announced consumer contests. These special NODE X’s will wear a unique metallic blue finish and will not be offered for sale.

    “We really didn’t feel comfortable celebrating our anniversary without involving our partners and drawing attention to the work they do and the leadership they provide in their own domains,” says June Ip, Vice President of Marketing for Lenbrook International. “The only way for consumers to get their hands on one of these metallic blue NODE X’s is to visit the digital properties of these partners to learn about them.”

    The contest will run during the month of July, capping off the anniversary celebrations.

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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