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Bluesound Pulse Soundbar and Pulse Subwoofer review: Reference sound and outstanding streaming features

Bluesound Pulse Soundbar and Pulse Subwoofer review: Reference sound and outstanding streaming features


This soundbar/subwoofer combo is for audiophiles and cineastes who can afford to indulge their longing for refined, dynamic sound.

Canadian producer Bluesound makes some huge audiophile claims for its Pulse Soundbar and Pulse Sub. Based mostly on my expertise with these audio system, these claims are legitimate. With all due respect to the competitors, the construct high quality for each audio system is head and shoulders above common. Assume high-performance luxurious automotive versus run-of-the-mill econobox.

The Pulse Soundbar is among the many beefiest soundbars I’ve reviewed. The 42.25 x 5.5 x 2.75-inch speaker weighs in at a hefty 15 kilos. Moreover, there’s a noticeably dense really feel to the soundbar whenever you maintain it, because of an aluminum enclosure and a metallic grille that’s in stark distinction to the plastic shells gracing a lot of the competitors. The speaker is accessible in black (as my evaluate unit was) or white, however the white end will value you one other C-note.

The Pulse Soundbar and subwoofer unboxed with included accessories.

The Pulse Soundbar and subwoofer unboxed with included equipment.

The Pulse is a three-way soundbar outfitted with two zero.75-inch delicate dome tweeters, two 2-inch treated-paper-cone midrange drivers, and two Four-inch woofers. A pair of passive radiators additional emphasize low-end frequency response.

You possibly can wall-mount the Pulse Soundbar or relaxation it on a desk in entrance of your TV. For those who take that strategy, as I did with a 65-inch Vizio P-Collection TV in for an additional evaluation, you may uncover that the soundbar blocks the decrease a part of the TV display. Whereas watching soccer, the speaker obscured the decrease 25 % of the lower-third ID that shows that recreation’s rating and the present down. It additionally blocked the TV’s IR receiver window, and because the speaker doesn’t have an onboard IR repeater to re-send the TV remotes instructions, I needed to elevate the TV a couple of inches to compensate for the soundbar’s peak.

The Pulse Soundbar comes with a high-quality wall mounting bracket for wall installations, and elective ft to maintain the sound bar upright when positioned on a credenza. These ft are metallic, not plastic. Bluesound additionally provides a well-built tabletop TV stand ($299 at Amazon) that may accommodate as much as a 65-inch TV that has a particular aluminum-and-steel mounting bracket for the Pulse Soundbar. This can be a slick choice that you simply gained’t discover with different soundbar producers.

Detail view of the Pulse Soundbar’s high quality metal feet.

Element view of the Pulse Soundbar’s top quality metallic ft.

Given the soundbar’s general dimensions and the dimensions of its drivers, you may be stunned to study that it is just rated to breed frequencies right down to 55Hz +/-3db. Some smaller sound bars declare to supply deeper bass, however numbers don’t all the time inform the entire story. The Pulse Sound Bar delivers noticeably superior efficiency and management in comparison with lesser fashions claiming higher specs.

Add a subwoofer (or two)

Performed by itself, the Pulse Soundbar delivers deeply satisfying sound. Do you have to need to take its efficiency to the subsequent degree, add the optionally available wi-fi Pulse Sub. You’ll create a 2.1 setup with low-end efficiency rated right down to 30Hz +/-3db.

Detail view of the Pulse Subwoofer’s driver.

An in depth view of the Bluesound Pulse Sub’s driver.

The upright Pulse Subwoofer is available in a slim profile, measuring simply 17.6 x 11.25 x Four.Eight-inches. The sub’s slim profile makes it tremendous straightforward to prioritize placement for peak efficiency or aesthetics. It’s straightforward to tuck in a nook, slide beneath a settee, or grasp on a wall. Sure, cling on a wall. The sub comes with each a wall-mount bracket and a pair of rubber ft for standing it upright.

Detail view of the Pulse Subwoofer’s optional rubber feet.

The Bluesound Pulse Sub comes with rubber ft, however you can too mount it to a wall..

A 100-watt Class D energy amplifier drives the Sub’s 6.5-inch polypropylene cone. For those who’re a technophobe, relaxation assured that establishing the Pulse Sub is straightforward to arrange. Merely plug it in, flip it and the Pulse Soundbar on, and the 2 will pair routinely. Ought to you could have the house community infrastructure to take benefit, each soundbar and the subwoofer even have gigabit ethernet connections as nicely. In case you do run into hassle with connections, Bluesound offers step-by-step troubleshooting movies on its web site.

Including the Pulse Sub to the combination considerably improved the system’s frequency response. Once more don’t be fooled, the Pulse Sub isn’t your typical soundbar companion. It’s clearly designed as an audiophile-grade sub with all of the instruments it is advisable dial in its efficiency to your room. For instance, most wi-fi subs paired with sound bars supply quantity management—and that’s it.

The Pulse Sub has the identical controls as a high-end residence theater subwoofer: Quantity management, variable crossover frequency from 50- to 150Hz, and variable part adjustment  (zero or 180 levels). Crossover and part settings are important to maximise a subwoofer’s efficiency in your specific room.

When you’re not accustomed to setting a sub’s part, put the part at zero levels (the default) in case you’re putting the sub on the entrance of the room, and at 180 levels if it’s on the rear. To dial within the part extra exactly, play some low-frequency check tones or music with deep bass, and then change the part whereas measuring the sound strain degree (SPL) output with an SPL meter. Whichever part setting is loudest is the right part.

View of the Pulse Subwoofer’s input and output options.

A view of the Pulse Sub’s enter and output choices.

Much more uncommon is the presence of LFE (Low-frequency Results) and stereo inputs and outputs. This permits the choices of connecting the the Pulse sub to an present preamplifier, or linking a number of Pulse Subs collectively. Because of the pioneering analysis achieved by Todd Welti at Harman, we all know that including two or extra subwoofers will assist clean any room’s bass response. You’ll be able to learn extra concerning the science of utilizing a number of subs in a house theater right here.

Management from a cellular or desktop app

In contrast to most soundbars, the Pulse Soundbar and Pulse Sub don’t include a bodily distant management. It’s essential to use the BluOS Controller app for Android or iOS. When you setup the Pulse, you possibly can train the soundbar to simply accept primary instructions—reminiscent of play/pause, quantity, subsequent monitor, and earlier monitor—from an present IR distant. I didn’t check this function.

You can teach the Pulse to respond to basic IR commands.

You possibly can train the Pulse Soundbar to answer primary IR instructions.

Utilizing the BlueOS Controller app is simple: Open up your cellular gadget’s settings, choose the Bluesound product from the listing of Wi-Fi entry factors, and then return to the BlueOS Controller app to complete the setup. For those who’d choose, you may as well use a Home windows or MacOS pc to regulate the soundbar and the music sources you employ with it.

Bluesound helps all the key streaming providers, together with the standard suspects—Tidal, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer—in addition to many much less well-known providers, together with KKBox, Juke, Qobuz, Radio Paradise, and Slacker.

Wi-fi multi-room audio for audiophiles

The Bluesound Pulse Soundbar and Pulse Sub be included right into a wi-fi whole-home audio system utilizing different Bluesound elements, together with the beforehand reviewed Pulse Mini. Like competing merchandise from Sonos, Denon’s Heos, and Yamaha’s MusicCast, Bluesound audio system and elements are designed to work collectively. You’ll be able to assign audio system to totally different rooms; stream totally different music to audio system in several rooms; group audio system collectively; and management quantity independently or all collectively by way of the BlueOS Controller app.

Bluesound has a wealthy product lineup to enrich the Pulse Soundbar and Pulse Sub, together with the aforementioned wi-fi speaker, a NAS field with an built-in CD-ripper (the Vault 2); an built-in amplifier (the Powernode 2); and a pre-amp interface for high-end two-channel audio setups (the Node 2).

pulse soundbar white top angle view

The Blusound Pulse’s edges are angled.

Audiophiles will rejoice to know that each one Bluesound merchandise supply native help for the outstanding Roon music server. I plugged the Pulse into my community, fired up the Mac desktop app, chosen my Roon server, and bingo, the Pulse was in Roon mode and able to obtain a music sign. The Bluesound desktop app confirmed album paintings, allowed me to regulate quantity, and extra when used with Roon. When built-in with Roon, you possibly can: 1) Create a whole-home music community based mostly purely on Bluesound’s proprietary setup or 2) Create a music community by way of Roon, the place you possibly can combine and match BlueOS, Chromecast, and AirPlay merchandise; or three) Create a seamless hybrid between the 2 fashions.

The cellular and desktop apps allow you to customise the listening modes of the soundbar as nicely. You possibly can set the Pulse for TV, music, or film mode and additional tailor every preset with dialog enhancement, late-night listening, lip-sync delay, treble and bass changes, subwoofer delay, and extra.

Make no mistake, this can be a mature, highly effective system that’s straightforward sufficient for the novice to make use of, however simply suited to the facility consumer.

And there’s a lot rather more the Bluesound app can do. I merely don’t have the area to speak about different features, reminiscent of DSD help, alarms, custom-made auto-off, indicator-light management, quantity limiting, and a lot extra.

You will have ample inputs to select from, together with Bluetooth with aptX, optical, RCA, and a USB enter for USB reminiscence sticks and supported peripherals. Simply notice there isn’t any HDMI enter or HDMI port with ARC.

Bluesound supports the outstanding Roon media server. I served up hi-res tracks and ripped CDs with

Bluesound helps the outstanding Roon media server. I served up hi-res tracks and previously-ripped CDs with ease from my Roon server.

True surround-sound expertise is an choice

In case you’re targeted on the aesthetics of a soundbar, however crave the magic of a real Four.1 surround-sound expertise, you’ll be comfortable to know that Bluesound has you coated:  You possibly can add two of its Pulse Flex audio system to function left and proper surrounds. Bluesound didn’t provide me with Pulse Flex audio system, so I used to be unable to check this configuration.

Excessive-resolution music help

The Pulse Soundbar will play audio information encoded with as much as 24-bit decision and 192kHz sampling charges. Music streamed over a Wi-Fi connection is required for optimum constancy. Do you have to want Bluetooth, for no matter cause, the Pulse Soundbar delivers high-quality streaming with aptX codec help for close to CD-quality.

The Pulse Subwoofer’s fine-tune controls are located under a rubber cover on the subwoofer’s top.

The Pulse Sub’s fine-tuning controls are situated beneath a rubber cowl on the subwoofer’s prime.

You’ll even be glad to know that the Pulse Soundbar helps each main high-resolution format: FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF, OGG, DSD are all included, along with the lossy stalwarts MP3, AAC, and WMA. It’s value noting that the Pulse Soundbar additionally decodes MQA (Grasp High quality Authenticated) encoded information, which will probably be of specific curiosity to Tidal subscribers on the HiFi degree.

Setup and the enjoyment of listening

I initially had problem establishing this soundbar on my wi-fi community. I had a hunch I had acquired a faulty demo unit; however, Bluesound insisted on conducting a tech-support session earlier than sending a alternative.

I used to be delighted to see that Bluesound’s help technicians have been extremely expert and skilled. They initiated a Teamviewer session and then opening an SSH connection to the Bluesound’s underlying Linux OS. For sure, ought to you will have any points with Bluesound merchandise, you possibly can relaxation assured you’ll have competent workforce serving to you on the different finish. Bluesound’s technicians confirmed what I already knew: the primary soundbar was a dud.

Bluesound despatched a alternative unit that labored flawlessly. Configuring the soundbar and pairing the sub took minutes. I arrange the Bluesound Soundbar on a table-top set up related to a 65-inch Vizio P-Collection 4K/UHD TV (2018). I used an Oppo UDP-205 Extremely HD Blu-ray participant and a Roon music server as sources. I performed the soundbar in direct mode.

The Bluesound app’s interface is gorgeous and extremely intuitive. It was a pleasure to make use of. I didn’t expertise any hiccups.

Bluesound’s powerful feature set allowed me the option of cfreating groups for whole home streaming.

Bluesound’s highly effective function set allowed me the choice of pairing audio system or creating teams for whole-home streaming.

Firing up music and films, I’ve to say the Bluesound Pulse Soundbar is pure and easy, delivering an expertise eerily just like audiophile freestanding stereo audio system. The Bluesound Pulse Soundbar is a uncommon gem that made listening to music by means of a sound bar an actual pleasure.

The Pulse’s midrange readability struck me instantly. From the primary notes of Adele’s “Send My Love (To Your New Lover),” Adele’s vocals exhibited wonderful timbral character. Bass was strong and punchy, and the Pulse created a large soundstage that prolonged past the soundbar’s boundaries. Merely put, I skilled refined sound from prime to backside.

The bass strains on Sade’s “Soldier of Love” have been merely outstanding. The Pulse sub did a really respectable job on Holly Cole’s “Train Song,” which is an audiophile favourite for measuring a system’s bass capabilities. In a nutshell, it doesn’t matter what I threw at it, the Pulse Sub delivered clear, authoritative bass with out straining.

Bluesound’s app has several advanced features for power users and custom installers.

Bluesound’s app has a number of superior features for energy customers and customized installers.


If a soundbar can exhibit uncanny musicality, relaxation assured it may present mastery over any TV programming or films. Certainly, the Pulse Soundbar and Sub combo was a one-two knockout. Dialog was extremely intelligible throughout all kinds of streaming and 4K UltraHD Blu-ray content material. Whether or not it was Rogue One, Thor Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity Conflict, The Biggest Showman, or Spectre, the Pulse accepted any problem. All through, the Pulse Soundbar and Sub conjured each grand, other-worldly pleasure as effortlessly because it slowed issues down for an intimate second. It will probably deal with something you throw at it with grace and sophistication.


Spending $800 on a soundbar—$1,400 on a soundbar/subwoofer combo—is a big funding by any measure. You possibly can definitely purchase cheaper options, however you’ll be arduous pressed to accumulate a extra satisfying one. Should you’re the kind of one that appears at soundbars from a utilitarian perspective, then this Bluesound package deal isn’t for you. You gained’t recognize it. In case you’re the kind of shopper who prizes refinement and excessive efficiency with each music and leisure, however, then Bluesound’s Pulse Soundbar and Pulse Sub are nicely well worth the funding. What’s extra, I’d haven’t any qualms constructing my whole-home audio system round Bluesound’s ecosystem.

(techhive.com, http://bit.ly/2NQF8wM)


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