The Best Speaker Receiver For Your Garage and Home
When searching for an AV receiver, you’re primarily looking for a unit that keeps all system components (tuners, pre-amp, amplifier) together in one device. Speaker receivers are convenient if space is an issue or you don't want to fumble around using separate units for audio/video processing and amplification. So, after spending a few months buying and vetting several pieces of equipment, I narrowed it down to what I think the best speaker receiver is for your garage and home.
I consider myself to be a true audiophile or hi-fi enthusiast. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the audio world and still, to this day, have a strong passion for it. I knew I wanted to incorporate amplifiers, speakers, and subwoofers into the garage space one day, which is Obsessed Garage’s primary application. I’ve finally reached the point where I can have all this cool stuff inside the one place I spend most of my time - the garage. If you’re someone who’s looking to level up your listening experience, you’ll want to start with one of the best streaming amplifiers I’ve discovered to date, the Bluesound Powernode.
A Solid Option for Your 2.1 Audio Setup
The Powernode is perfect for a 2.1 audio setup. The term 2.1 “two dot one” refers to one speaker for the left channel, one for the right channel, and a single subwoofer channel. It’s a perfect intro to a good system for even the most critical listeners. We have several audio solutions on our site where you can use the Powernode as well as other amplifiers/DACs (digital to analog converters) for more sophisticated arrangements.
It comes with a really simple framework. On the back, it has a SUB Out, Speaker Out, eARC In, Optical In, and an Analog In where you would do a ⅛” to RCA Adapter or ⅛” to fiber optic adapter. It also has a USB slot you’d use for software updates, but I suggest connecting directly to your home network through the LAN port on the device's rear for a more stable connection.
Connect With Ease
The magic with this receiver is how easy it is to set up and connect to your speakers. I’ve been saying for years that I want to have the best products in the world and not make them difficult to piece together. I’m a plug-and-play kind of dude; yes, I have an engineering background, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend hours trying to figure things out. My team and I have spent the time finding these audio solutions, so you wouldn’t have to waste yours searching the web for them.
Here’s an example of how you would set the Powernode up with your passive speakers. Passive, meaning you have non-powered speakers that require an external amplifier.
- Step 1: Connect speaker wires with banana plugs from the Powernode to a pair of passive speakers like PSB Alpha P3/P5 bookshelf speakers or Dynaudio Emits.
- Step 2: Done.
You see, this isn’t rocket science. It’s straight to the point. I love the simplicity that comes with a stereo receiver like this one. Things can get complicated with more advanced amplifiers, and I do have an appreciation for them; however, when it comes to keeping things painless, you and I both want a device that won’t result in any kind of rage. Specifically, when we’re talking about a 2.1 setup.
Your best experience with this unit will be when you’re connecting directly to BluOS, a universal remote control for all BluOS-enabled wireless hi-res music systems. I'll talk about that more in detail later. In summary, it will allow you to control the Powernode from your phone. Don’t use Bluetooth with this streaming amplifier if you can help it, especially if you plan to hide it away. You will have connectivity issues. The BluOS software will make your audio listening more pleasant with no interference.
The Awesomeness In This Powernode
The Powernode has Class-D amplification, which means it will run extremely efficiently. The smaller transformers inside the amp take up far less interior space, allowing this digital amplifier to run cooler. I usually place my amps/DACs inside my locker cabinet for a cleaner look; having a receiver that runs cool means I don’t have to worry about it overheating while in the locker.
This device can play any digital music in your collection, including high-resolution files up to 32-bit/384kHz. I’m using it to play music off Tidal’s Hi-Fi plan, but you can use any streaming service. It does come with Apple Airplay 2 built-in to stream high-res audio directly from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer.
It’s a multi-room music system. Although our primary use for this is to jam out in the garage, you can also connect it wirelessly to other Bluesound components throughout your home while still enjoying high-res music.
Below, you will find some of the other key features in this streaming amp I like:
- It’s rated at 80-watts per channel into 8-ohms.
- A state-of-the-art Quad-Core 1.8ghz ARM® Cortex™ A53 processor - think Apple M1 chip. The entire system is on a single chip rather than having different sections where you would have the processor and RAM separated.
- It communicates with other Bluesound players via your home network (wired or wireless). Please do wired.
- It has multi-room control and expansion with Bluesound/BluOS wireless speakers and components (up to 64 zones).
- It plays MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, FLAC, MQA, OPUS, ALAC, WAV, AIFF, and MPEG-4 SLS files - supports up to 32-bit/384kHz resolution.
- Supports Spotify, Deezer, TIDAL, Qobuz, Amazon Music HD, and Napster.
- Has HDMI eARC input.
- An ethernet port for a wired connection to a home network. I highly recommend hardwiring this device for software updates and a more stable connection.
The top panel allows you to adjust volume, switch through tracks, and change sources. I’ll be honest with you; you’re not going to use that much. The BluOS app gives you complete control via your phone, making this device so enjoyable.
BluOS - Premium Multi-Room Music Software
One of the best things about using this amplifier is connecting to it with the BluOS controller. Compared to the Sonos app, which I’ve tried, the BluOS platform is light-years ahead and so much better.
So, what exactly is it? BluOS is a wireless ecosystem that uses a home network to connect more than one enabled device and play your music in perfect sync or different music simultaneously, anywhere in the house. Using advanced technologies, BluOS can wirelessly transmit lossless music up to 24-bit/192kHz at fast speeds with no lag and zero loss in sound quality. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m using Tidal’s Hi-Fi plan, and I couldn’t be more impressed with the above CD-quality sound.
When playing your music with the BluOS app through the Powernode, please note that it is native. Your phone is just the remote control. Many people have gotten confused with this - they see the phone as the player; it’s the remote that controls the player (the Bluesound Powernode).
BluOS does work with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Although I’m not a user of any of these, you can use voice commands to control this amplifier.
A bold statement that I stand by: This is the best-distributed audio streamer on the planet at the moment. Super simple to set up, easy software updates, and fluid handshaking capabilities make it a winner in my mind. The source component you need at the epicenter of your home.
It’s built for the hi-fi guy/gal who not only likes audio but wants quality resolution in any area of the house. You don’t realize how important it is to have great audio throughout your home until you’ve been around it and then go to a place where it’s subpar. I have such high regard for optimum sound. I’ve spent hours in my garage listening to music and then I’d go inside the house where the presence of premier audio awaits me. It’s incredible.
I’ve made this space (the garage) my sanctum because this is where I spend the majority of my time. The last thing I’m going to do is skimp out on making it as perfect as possible. I’ve taken the time to put the proper cabinets, flooring, shop fans, pressure washer, garage storage solution, and other essentials to make it comfortable; why wouldn’t I complete it with the best sound?
Whether you’re creating a garage space that’s filled with awesomeness or forging an environment in your home where you can be completely submerged in musical delight, the Bluesound Powernode is the speaker receiver you want to own.I did an in-depth review of the Bluesound Node and Powernode. Be sure to check that video out.