This is a HiFi review of the Bluesound Edge, driven by the Bluesound operating system BluOS. The Edge is a ‘pared back’ version of the Bluesound PowerNode 2i, reviewed here. It is also a lot cheaper. What is clear, particularly in the interview with Matt Simmonds, the Product Manager at Bluesound, is that the lower price point is not offered at the expense of sound quality, instead, it is augmented by a step up in innovation and new technology.
The Bluesound Edge is a ‘just add speakers’, streaming amplifier that features just about everything you can think of, from Tidal and Spotify Connect to Roon ready and AirPlay2. With built-in MQA it is ready for all Hi-Res streaming options up to 192kHz and 24-bit depth. The Edge has a Quad-Core 1.8GHz ARM® Cortex™ A53 processor and a 32-bit/384khz premium DAC (cut and pasted)! It is all feeling very cutting edge, or rather cutting Edge!
The Edge has a proprietary 2 x 40 watts DirectDigital™ amplifier that drives two-channel passive loudspeakers. This power output is a grade down from the PowerNode that features 80W/channel of their outgoing HybridDigital™ amplification technology.
The Edge has two-way Bluetooth that is 5.0 aptX HD which means you can both transmit Bluetooth to the Edge and receive it via Bluetooth headphones. There is, incidentally, no physical headphone jack-style output.
Additionally, the Edge has voice assistants built in like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. It can be network connected via WiFi or Ethernet at the rear. Inputs include HDMI eARC (for TVs, AV etc.), a USB-A (FAT32) input for an external drive, an optical Mini TOSLINK or stereo 3.5mm jack AND Bluetooth. You can put a turntable output into the 3.5mm rear jack if you needed to.
Outputs to the loudspeakers are 5-way binding posts, there is a single RCA output to the subwoofer. There is a remote control available, but you won’t need it, a smartphone with the BluOS App is all you need. BluOS is so responsive and stable and is available in Android, iOS, Windows and macOS.
The Bluesound Edge is presented in a sleek-looking and stylish hard plastic shell with a subtly angled facia indicating the box is on and offering the choice of track management or volume control. It is fairly intuitive and touch-sensitive. Out of the Box, everything is offered including the power lead, and ethernet cable and rather usefully, since I wanted to try the CD transport from my Oppo DBP-105, a TOSLINK Optical to 3.5mm Mini Adapter. The matte finish is soft to the touch and presents the usual fingerprint issues associated with nice black boxes in the HiFi game.
The dimensions are a 1U rack height for custom installers and this is a significant design tweak by Bluesound. The measurements are 219 x 44.5 x 193 mm, the Edge is 2.62kg out of the box. It is available in Black or White, finished with matte satin paint. Custom installers could use the Edge to support rear surround sound channels in an AV solution, custom system integrations include Control4, Crestron, URC, RTI, ELAN, and Lutron.
The Bluesound Edge is priced at £599.
We’ve got the Bluesound Edge connected by Ethernet to the side in our Kitchen, on a low wood cabinet, that has some sofas opposite it, and it is where we spend 90% of our time as a family. There’s a log fire here too. It is the ideal space for the Edge. I’ve put it variously with a pair of 2017 ‘Drop’ by Podspeakers loudspeakers, some AE500s and my favourite Jern 14DS loudspeakers. I’m supplementing the speakers with a subwoofer because the Drop speakers only go down to 52Hz and Jerns are designed anyway with a subwoofer in mind. The setups are small footprints and are unobtrusive in the room. I’m using the excellent Atlas Hyper 5.0 loudspeaker cable from this review.
We have been controlling the Edge with BluOS on a Pixel 6 Pro, mainly and also the iPad.
The Edge just sits there, it is always available and reliability has been 100%, with no dropouts, connectivity issues or bother…
The Edge just sits there, it is always available and reliability has been 100%, with no dropouts, connectivity issues or bother at all. It has been there every time, so in the morning for the radio, afternoons for reading by the fire, evenings for dinner time background and other incidentals, it is great. We often go to this Sunday morning jazz playlist, and the Edge makes this a breeze. I simply cannot fault it in the 3 months plus, it has been here.
The Drop by Podspeakers
These Kevlar woofer bookshelves are rather innovative and offer a crisp, neat and fast presentation that has much to endorse them. I’ve set the Bluesound subwoofer at 50Hz using the App to support the quoted frequency Range of 52Hz – 22KHz (±6dB). The Edge drives them with ease and as a family, we have no complaints about the sound being offered by both the Podspeakers and the Edge.
…the Edge puts on a fine show and the Jerns retain their accuracy, energy and fun.
If you are a regular here, you will know how much of a fan of the Jern speakers I am. With an easy driving sensitivity and proven Scanspeak tweeters and woofers, these speakers are pinpoint accurate and nothing but a joy to listen to. Adjusting the subwoofer crossover in the App up to 90Hz, the Edge puts on a fine show and the Jerns retain their accuracy, energy and fun. It is a
significantly warmer and more satisfying soundstage with Jerns, though they are several orders of magnitude in price terms compared to the Podspeakers.
Acoustic Energy AE500
The AE500s, though only briefly in partnership with the Edge, did not need the subwoofer in my limited time with this combination. The output was smooth, controlled and significant and the 500s indicated that a likely ideal priced partner for the Edge could probably be the sibling Acoustic Energy AE100 Mk2s at £259 which I listened to recently with an old PowerNode 2i. As a combination, well short of a thousand pounds, you really have a decent system here.
Bluetooth to T+A Solitaire T or Mark Levinson No.5909 headphones
As reported in the T+A review, the Solitaire T are outstanding Bluetooth headphones, possibly even better in passive mode, and here with the Edge, they are outstanding. The combination of the Solitaire Ts with the Edge Bluetooth output is smooth, detailed and musically vibrant. The same is true with the Mark Levinson 5909 with barely a cigarette paper between them in Bluetooth performance terms.
Rega RP3 Turntable
…the turntable output….as an addition to the Edge package, …is perfect.
The turntable input is just what you would want from the Edge. I’m using a fairly rudimentary RCA to 3.5mm jack input cable (there is no Phono stage in the Edge) and as such, the turntable output is not what you would call the last word in depth or nuance but as an addition to the Edge package, the overall setup is perfect. The next section was inspired only by hooking up the turntable to the Edge to see what the deal was, and it works, we must always remember with this daft HiFi game, it’s only about the music!
New for 2023, this will be a section on music that has overtaken me during a review process. And if you have not heard Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasuredome, I urge you to there now.
Inevitably Frankie Goes to Hollywood will lead you to listen to the definitive FGTH track Two Tribes (Annihilation Mix) (the definitive version of Two Tribes) which will then lead you onto the Blow Monkeys Diggin Your Scene 12″. Oh Lucky You, as the Lightning Seeds once sang.
Here’s the inaugural Musical Interlude Playlist.
There is a lot of really good equipment out there in the HiFi world and Bluesound has contributed heavily to this streaming revolution. The BluOS streaming controller is still the best and most consistent platform out there, in my view. If you’re after a compact, sleek second system, an AV upgrade, a desktop solution, or even if you are starting out, this is a fine reliable flexible platform on which to begin a system journey.
We associate Bluesound, across the board, with the following words: Hi-Res, stable, consistent, audio excellence, and innovation. To this, with this Bluesound Edge, we can add compact, sleek and exceptional value for money. Where this Edge is, in our family space, we’re buying one!
Analogue input at the back
Full details of the Bluesound Edge are on the company’s site.