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Idagio + Bluesound Node 2i = A Revolution in my listening to Classical Music

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  • Idagio + Bluesound Node 2i = A Revolution in my listening to Classical Music

    So far music streaming was all about convenience : Latest pop tunes in candy colour squeaky earphones, with harmonics squeezed by MP3. But in October 2019 Idagio became available on the Bluesound App and the world has changed. What is Idagio ? It is Spotify for the german Beethoven lover. I say german because it is very much a no nonsense elitist product for connaisseurs, and it is operated out of Germany by a team clearly very well connected to Deutsche Grammophon, even if all the classical labels, including niche Publishers like Erato or Naxos, seem to be involved. The challenge for Idagio was (A) to channel high quality processing formats, such as FLAC, if your hardware could support them, (B) to offer a comprehensive catalogue - and it is : I have not found one CD in my thousand-strong collection that could not be accessible in a second - and (C) some intelligent indexing system to explore and find your way in this avalanche of music. On the latter point, the issue is that every classical piece has been interpreted by so many people or orchestras, often proposed in so many variations, including for differing instruments, that finding your way is a problem. The chosen entry points : Instrument formations, Period, "Genre", etc... are still arbitrary. And to avoid overwhelming the user, Idagio tries to limit the "menus" to five items, which of course steers you to the usual favourites. But when you hit or touch (on my Ipad) "All others" everything is there. Some progress still needs to be made in helping navigate through hundreds of "Apassionata's" or thousands of composers, but if you know exactly what you're looking for, you'll find it. It is easier to do so in the full version of Igagio interface which features on the screen of your device (PC, smartphone or whatever) but will only play through whatever usually lousy sound system is fitted to that device. Enters the Bluesound Node 2i. This little black box is offered by the Canadian company that also owns the highly respected german-designed NAD Hifi systems. It is basically a way to connect any Internet music streaming service (Spotify, Tidal, etc + a lot of digital radio stations) to an existing HiFi rig, using the highest quality available protocols and DAC (digital to analog converter). Its cost is in the $500 range. Using the Bluesound Node 2i feeds your legacy audio system (The one you lovingly assembled over the years with the fabulous speakers that put these nasty Google or Amazon contraptions to shame). Cleverly, the Node 2i is fed from your internet connexion by Wifi or Ethernet cable, but it is controlled (operating on the same Wifi channel) by your computer (in my case an iPad) with a BlueSound App that integrates the interface of the streaming service used (to which you need to suscribe separately. In Europe Idagio is €9.99 per month). And in October, as I mentioned Idagio was included. The simplified Idagio interface on the Bluesound App is not as comprehensive as the standalone all-purpose Idagio Interface, but it covers the whole catalogue, that is practically everything ever recorded. It also provides a volume control, so everything can be done from your armchair, and the only action needed regarding your hifi is to turn it on. As I am blessed with a perfect Internet connection, the best channeling protocols are used, and I am unable to see any quality of sound difference versus CD's. The only caveat is that both Idagio and Bluesound are new technologies, subject to frequent updating.
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    Hybrid Home Organ : Viscount Sonus 45 with additional 154 real pipes. Steinway A 188. Roland LX 706. Pianoforte : Walter 1805 Copy by Benjamin Renoux. Harpsichords : Franco-German by Marc Fontaine, Jacob Kirkmann single (1752).