With the launch of the new Bluesound Edge, a ‘pared back’ version of the just-add-speakers PowerNode, I had the opportunity of chatting to Matt Simmonds, Bluesound’s Product Manager, who explained they were looking for a ‘Hero Product’. Priced at a stunning £599, they may have just done it with the Bluesound Edge.
I was at the launch of the introduction of Bluesound to the UK in London in 2014, it was clearly a moment in time. The Node and the Powernode were the more interesting products at the time, being HiRes streamers in the early world of compressed music. Bluesound, I suggested to Matt, has a clear USP in the streaming world with the BluOS App, which spans Windows, iOS and Android seamlessly, it is still the one to beat. Having heard all of the Bluesound Nodes, including the 3rd generation recently, and the Powernodes, I was keen to understand why Bluesound has gone in this direction.
Why launch the Bluesound Edge?
The new Bluesound Edge, says Matt, is Bluesound’s entry-level just-add-speakers product. It is a move to a mass market with a compact footprint that is specifically designed to be half rack sized and to fit into custom-installed solutions, says Matt, as he explained to me the 1U rack height into which the Edge fits at just 1.75 inches tall. For this, new amplifier technology was required and a move away from the previous Hybrid Digital platform has been made. This wireless music streaming amplifier has a new platform called DirectDigital that offers 40W per channel into 8 ohms with a looped feedback design that is more efficient and, my notes say, cooler. I’m thinking this is temperature cool but having received and plugged in the new Edge last night, maybe I meant cool as in looks because it is very sleek indeed. The glass touch panel allows for quick-access controls like Play, Pause, and Volume Up/Down, there are two presets as well.
What’s Different with the Edge?
Aside from the amplification tech inside and a new processor, it seems many of the features are the same as a Powernode. The usual BluOS platform, the Sub Out (a subwoofer wired or wireless) and all of the 20 odd native streaming platforms are here with the various Siri and Alexa-type assistants involved, I’m not clear what Google’s Assistant is called. Airplay 2 is in the Edge, with the usual MQA support, Roon ready status and the HDMI ARC and eARC are retained, meaning the Edge can service your television needs as well your HiFi needs, in one place.
What is not in here compared to the Powernode is there is no physical headphone output in the Edge, although there is a two-way aptX HD Bluetooth that will do the job of a wireless headphone solution.
A very pleasant chat with Matt concluded with a few questions on my side since everything was covered by a very ‘clued-in’ younger executive in Toronto who is really doing one of the easiest jobs going; talking about a brilliantly innovative product with an infrastructure behind it that has propelled Bluesound to the leading edge of HiRes streaming technology.
My just-add-speakers choice for this Edge is the Acoustic Energy AE500s (sadly I had just said goodbye to the AE100.2s) and so I too will be doing one of the easiest jobs going; listening to a fantastic system with my favourite music, and then writing about! Expect a review this December.