Bluesound Pulse Mini review

Bluesound shoehorns its impressive sound quality into a slightly smaller package...

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Our Verdict

The Pulse Flex remains a talented member of the Bluesound family, but other speakers have bettered its performance since its release

For

  • Rich, refined sound
  • Good drive and attack
  • Myriad streaming services
  • Hi-res support
  • Sophisticated app

Against

  • A price increase and new rivals have lost the Mini some ground in this market

The recent price increases across most of Bluesound’s multi-room range, and some new and/or rejuvenated competition, all contributes to our revisiting some of our Bluesound reviews. And this Pulse Mini is probably the product in the range that's feeling the pinch most of all.

As you may have guessed, it’s a marginally smaller version of the Pulse 2. The price increase of £80 to its current £500 means the Pulse Mini inches a little closer to its larger sibling in terms of cost, and comes into the sights of some newer rivals too.

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Build and features

Like its big brother, the Pulse Mini is a bi-amplified 2.1 speaker. A 50-watt amplifier drives a 10cm woofer (the Pulse 2’s is 13cm) in a dual-port enclosure, and there are two 5cm full-range drivers in individual acoustic chambers (each with a dedicated amplifier channel).

The fresh-faced Pulse Mini keeps the distinct shape of its sibling but, true to its name is a dress-size down, trimmed back at every dimension.

This less-is-more approach presents us with a smart, neat box, with just a simple touch control panel and recessed gap for a handle up top as points of interest.

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The Pulse Mini handles everything from MP3s and WMAs to FLACs and WAVs up to 24bit/192kHz – an important feature for those coveting hi-res sound.

The most popular streaming services are all here, including Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, Tidal and Qobuz - all of which show up within Bluesound’s BluOS app.

The Mini matches its big brother for physical connections, with single USB and optical/analogue combo inputs, a headphone output and micro-USB for service.

An ethernet socket provides the most stable way to get online, although wi-fi connectivity also opens the door to your digital network library.

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Sound

With the Pulse Mini, Bluesound claims to have “shrunk down the footprint without compromising the performance” and we are not inclined to disagree.

Rich and full-bodied, weighty yet agile, the Pulse Mini may not be capable of the same level of room-filling, powerful sound as the Pulse 2 but it retains much of the character of the latter.

Tonally it’s a little more neutral, if still slightly leaning towards the bass end. We’d avoid putting it in a corner - although you can adjust balance through the app’s EQ. The midrange is clear and articulate, too, and the treble clean and open.

It’s an expressive listen as well, and timing isn’t an issue - though on both fronts it is bested by Audio Pro’s (now £200 less expensive) Addon C10.

And its bigger, pricier stablemate is better organised and better able to describe the subleties of an arrangement.

MORE: Audio Pro Addon C10 review

With the extra cabinet volume on offer from a larger speaker, that doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. And when the Pulse Mini cost £420, its relative shortcomings were less of stick to beat it with than they are at this new price.

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Verdict

Two and a half years is a long time in the world of wireless speakers - some very capable alternatives have come along in that time, and there's no dressing up a near-20 per cent price increase in that time either.

So a combination of factors that has seen the Pulse Mini relinquish its grip on five stars.

But that's not to suggest it's without charm. It remains a sturdy listen and a product you should certainly audition. But its place in our list of favourite wireless speakers is a fair bit less secure now.

See our Bluesound reviews