If you are looking for a great all in one whole-home audio system that not only gives that gives a pleasant listening experience that doesn’t just need heightened volumes to sound good, you should truly check out the Bluesound PULSE 2 Speaker.
Bluesound sent over their PULSE 2, their second edition of Hi-Fi speakers that the company says fixes components from the original PULSE speaker that customers may not have liked. Unfortunately, we have not had the chance to try out the original speaker, but if it’s anything like the Bluesound PULSE 2 has been over the past month, it may be the bookshelf speaker that you need in your home. So let’s get right into it by listing the specs.
AUDIO : Supported File Formats MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, ALAC, OPUS
Hi-Res formats: FLAC, MQA, WAV, AIFF
Native Sampling Rates: 32 – 192 kHz
Bit Depths: 16 – 24
Performance: Frequency Response: 45Hz – 20kHz
DAC: 35-Bit, 844kHz
Distortion: THD+N – 0.005%
Speakers: 2 x 2.75″, 1 x 5.25″
Power Output: 80W Tri-Amplified, DIRECTDIGITAL™ Amplifier
Supported Operating Systems: Plays music from network shares on the following desktop operating systems: Microsoft Windows XP, 2000, Vista, 7, 8, Apple Macintosh
Free Internet Radio: TuneIn Radio, iHeartRadio, Calm Radio, Radio Paradise
Supported Cloud Services: WiMP, Slacker Radio, Qobuz, HighResAudio, JUKE, Deezer, Murfie, HDTracks, Spotify, TIDAL, Napster, Microsoft Groove.
Album Art: JPG
Network: Gigabit Ethernet RJ45, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
USB: 1 x Type-A (Fat32 or NTSF formatted) port for connection to USB memory sticks and supported peripherals, 1 x Type-B (mini) for product servicing
Audio Input: Combo – Toslink/3.5mm
Audio Output: Headphone output – 3.5 Stereo
Power: Universal tri-pin AC Cord input (100 – 240AC)
Wireless: aptX® Bluetooth wireless built-in
Mobile: Free Android and iOS App Available Online at Google Play and Apple App Store
Pushbuttons: Simple top-panel touch controls.
Control: IR Sensor built-in – Front panel
An all-in-one wireless system, the Bluesound PULSE 2 speaker is one of the best that I’ve personally be able to use. At $699, it’s certainly not the cheapest speaker on the market, but it honestly does so much, that it justifies the price tag. Available in black or white, the PULSE 2 is a bit heavy weighing in at 13.45 lbs., which goes without saying when you first unbox it. The upside to the design though is that it’s still minimal to sit at a dinner table, or even a mounted television like my current setup for it. I received the white color as I’ve grown a bit tired of traditional black speakers, and it truly stands out on a black tv stand. I’ve used the Naim Mu-So speaker before and while a nice speaker, the issue with it I had was its large footprint. You’ll be happy to know that the PULSE 2 not only is smaller, but its build quality is absolutely phenomenal.
On the front of theBluesound PULSE 2 speaker, you get an awesome looking grill that hides two 2.5″ tweeters and a 5.25″ woofer that work with an 80-watt amp. This means it has all of the potential to be an audiophile’s dream.
On the rear, Bluesound kept the device pretty simple. There’s connectivity via USB, an analog in option that sits beside a “service” button, LAN/USB port, and a port to plug the included cable into the wall. The cord itself isn’t long enough to reach from one side of the room to the next and isn’t very hidable if you intend on making the place you set it on look wire-free, so this is something that you should be mindful of. A big thing that may seem small to some, however, is the inclusion of a headphone jack. Now a lot of people might not see this as practical, but as someone who owns an aux cord, being able to plug my iPhone into the speaker is a huge deal, something you can’t do with many others on the market.
At the top of the Bluesound PULSE 2 speaker is the control center where you are able to change the track as well as the volume. The buttons aren’t physical but rather on-screen, but seem to work just as well. What’s more, underneath the controls is a little area where you can actually go and grab the PULSE 2, making the speaker a bit more portable. While I wouldn’t go to lengths of traveling outdoors with this as it’s still heavy, it’s nice knowing I can go from room to room without it being cradled under my arm.
Courtesy of the BluOS Controller app (free on the app store), you can control your PULSE 2 from any room. Since the PULSE 2 is simply plug-and-play, once connected it creates its own network that you can sync to any smartphone or tablet. Although the app hasn’t been updated since October of 2016, it’s worth mentioning that I found the BluOS app a lot more user-friendly than SONOS. With the ability to sync playlists and presets, you can control your Spotify, Slacker, TuneIn, Tidal and more directly from the app, meaningless apps on your home screen to deal with. And it handles music surprisingly well. I found myself very pleased at the fact I didn’t have to overcompensate sound quality by upping the volume, which I tend to do on most speakers. The ability to play Kid Cudi’s “Surfin'” from the PULSE 2 at a reasonable level I could hear vocals clearly without disturbing nearby neighbors, because the PULSE 2 doesn’t give you bass that just sounds more like knocking, drowning the actual lyrics out.
One thing that sets the Bluesound PULSE 2 speaker apart from SONOS though (after doing extensive research on both) is that even though you can have a SONOS speaker for over 10 years and still receive frequent updates and functionalities, a lot of my friends who have SONOS complain about the simple things, like configurable hard buttons that allow you direct access to playlists, on top the headphone jack feature, which could be a MAJOR thing if you intend on having this in your office or study. And since you can actually connect the PULSE 2 to your television, you essentially saved yourself money buying an additional sound bar, while getting one that has multiple functions. And thanks to TuneIn being included into the PULSE 2, while I’m at work, I can simply play a radio station to entertain my dog while I’m at work.
Overall, BlueSound’s PULSE2 has been a delight to use in my home, and it actually has been even better knowing that I wouldn’t have to go out and buy an additional sound bar if I wanted to upgrade my home entertainment center. I haven’t witnessed any Bluetooth dropouts in the month of using the unit either which is something I experienced once or twice with Naim’s Mu-So previously. Despite the price being $699, if you can manage it in your budget, thePULSE 2 is a speaker with a quality sound that’s performance is worth every penny.
For more information on the Bluesound PULSE 2 Speaker, head over to Bluesound’s website today.
Source: Manufacturer review unit
What I Like: Compared to a friend’s SONOS, the PULSE 2 sounded crisper; Works with iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire
What Needs Improvement: A bit pricey