Forget Ray Winstone and his sock full of snooker balls, the Pulse is the daddy of Bluesound multi-room. Near half a metre wide and weighing in at over 6kg, it’s a brute.
Build and features
That isn’t to say it’s ungainly. Its rounded edges and smooth triangular back – shrinking its footprint smartly for easier placement in the corner of a room – help give the Pulse a refined sense of grace.
Most of the time you will probably be managing the Pulse using the app, which has freed Bluesound to be minimalistic with the control pad too – its touch-sensitive rectangle is in keeping with the overall elegance and the rest of the range.
Inside that polished shell, are twin NAD Electronics direct-digital amplifiers, feeding a claimed 80W total power into a 2.1 speaker configuration, comprising a pair of 7cm drivers and a hefty 13cm woofer in a dual-acoustic chamber.
But Bluesound’s commitment is not to muscle but to great sounding hi-res audio. It isn’t snobbish about it – its products are more than happy to work with MP3s, as well as pretty much any other type of file you throw at it – but you’ll really want to let rip with something that pushes the Pulse’s 24-bit/192kHz capabilities.
You have more or less free rein in terms of wireless sound. Via the control app, you can access most popular streaming services, any NAS device on the same network and any files you have stored on your phone or tablet.
We begin with Kris Drever’s Mark The Hard Earth and are soon impressed with the solidity of the Pulse’s midrange. This isn’t the most spacious soundstage we’ve heard from a speaker of this size, but anything lacking here is made up for by a detailed and expressive core.
From the opening track, Drever’s voice is emotional and engaging, the Pulse unwaveringly capturing the intimacy of the song’s opening.
Then, as the texture builds with vocal harmony, fiddle and accordion, the luscious warmth does not harden, even with the volume right up.
As we reach pieces of more intricate guitar work, such as Sweet Honey In The Rock, we are similarly impressed by the Pulse’s sense of timing, which keeps this spritely work dancing to their conclusion. Yes, we’ve experienced more agile footwork by some of the Pulse’s competitors, but rarely is it bettered for expression.
We give the woofer a proper workout with Deantoni Parks’s Technoself album. And from the first beat of Black Axioms, it gives us a shake, scooping out frequencies many wireless speakers wouldn’t even know were there.
But the bass is just a little soft. Music such as this, based upon angular rhythms and samples, does need an especially taut bass to keep up, but a lack of detail and differentiation in the Pulse’s low end detracts from whatever you’re playing.
The weight is impressive and it won’t ruin your listening experience, but that level of definition is the difference between the Pulse and class-leaders such as the Sonos Play:5 and B&W Zeppelin Wireless.
Needless to say we are huge fans of the Bluesound multi-room family, and the Pulse has played no small part in securing its 2015 Product of the Year crown.
You’ll struggle to find a wireless speaker at this price with a more solid, smooth and expressive midrange, nor with quite so much bass. Oh yes, it’s quite the daddy.
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