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Bluesound Pulse M review: Little speaker, great big sound

Our Rating :
£449.00 from
Price when reviewed : £449
inc VAT

The Bluesound Pulse M is guaranteed to get your pulse racing with its combination of attractive design and engaging performance


  • Nicely made and finished
  • Good control options and extensive specification
  • Detailed, dynamic and downright hefty sound


  • Not cheap
  • Can sound a little blunt if given unsympathetic content
  • Soundstage could be better defined

In some ways, the Bluesound Pulse M is absolutely textbook Bluesound: big, full-scale, detailed and convincing sound from a product that’s properly made, extensively specified and basically all business.

But at the same time, the attention that’s been paid to industrial design, use of materials and general desirability is a bit of a step-change for Bluesound – the Pulse M is more tactile, more visually pleasing and more all-around covetable than the company has previously seemed bothered about delivering.

Add in the usual Bluesound virtues of high-resolution audio compatibility, the best control app this side of one that says Sonos on it, and extensive multi-room and multi-channel connectivity options, and the Pulse M is approaching compelling status.

Bluesound Pulse M review: What do you get for the money?

By prevailing wireless speaker standards the Bluesound Pulse M isn’t what you might call affordable – but in Bluesound’s four-strong wireless speaker lineup, only the Pulse Flex 2i is less expensive. So it seems everything’s relative.

At least the Pulse M has the looks and the specification to go some distance towards justifying the asking price. £449 put Bluesound’s way buys a vaguely elliptical speaker made from a combination of high-quality plastic (most of the bottom portion of the cabinet), acoustic cloth (the upper portion) and glass (the top plate). It’s visually arresting, especially by Bluesound’s standards up until now, and even quite tactile – and at 171 x 204 x 149mm (WHD) it’s somewhere between purposeful and discreet. It’s available in white as well as the black of this review sample.

At the rear of the cabinet, there’s a figure-of-eight socket for mains power, an Ethernet input and a hybrid analogue/digital optical socket. These are joined by a USB-A slot and a 3.5mm headphone output. As far as wireless connectivity is concerned, there’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD codec compatibility, the Connect versions of Spotify and TIDAL, and Apple AirPlay 2. It’s a Bluetooth transmitter as well as a receiver, so can be paired with wireless headphones for some alone time listening. And the Pulse M is Roon Ready, too, for those who like to collate their music from many different sources.

The glass top plate features some touch controls that reveal themselves using a proximity sensor. There’s a volume slider, play/pause and skip forwards/backwards, along with five user-definable presets. Voice control is available too, although at one remove – if you’ve got Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri smart speakers on a common network, those voice assistants will operate your Pulse M if you ask them to.

The most sensible (and easiest) way of controlling the Bluesound, though, is by using the BluOS control app. It’s stable, comprehensive and – some questionable typeface choices aside – easy to navigate. It puts you in complete charge of your Pulse M, and offers the opportunity to create a stereo pair using two speakers, to specify a couple of Pulse M as rear speakers in a Bluesound home cinema system using the Soundbar+ (with or without the Sub+ subwoofer), or create a Bluesound-centric multi-room system.

On the inside of the Pulse M, Bluesound has gone to town somewhat. It’s packing 80W of Class D amplification – 50W is for the 133mm upward-firing mid/bass driver, and there are 15 watts each for the two 19mm tweeters. These two drivers are angled out at 45 degrees from each other in an effort to create as wide and immersive soundstage as possible – Bluesound calls this arrangement “omni-hybrid”. There’s an acoustic reflector above the mid/bass driver that’s designed to direct the driver’s higher frequencies away from the body of the speaker and contribute to the width of the overall presentation.

The Pulse M is compatible with every worthwhile digital audio file type (MP3, WAV, FLAC, MQA and so on) as well as quite a few less worthy alternatives. The crucial digital-to-analogue conversion process is handled by a DAC chipset with 24bit/192kHz native resolution.

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Bluesound Pulse M review: What did we like about it?

You’ll make your own mind up about the merits (or otherwise) of the Bluesound Pulse M where aesthetics are concerned, as well as its physical suitability for the purpose you have in mind for your nice new wireless speaker. But you can be assured right here and now that this is a high-achieving, high-performance speaker that sounds its money’s worth in virtually every respect.

With an MQA-powered TIDAL Masters file of KRS-One’s “MCs Act Like They Don’t Know” playing via the BluOS control app, the Pulse M is a punchy, well-defined listen that’s capable of summoning frankly unlikely low-frequency presence. Bass sounds are deep, textured, nicely shaped and properly controlled – the circumstances in which the leading edges of low-end sounds aren’t nice and straight are few and far between. There’s good tonal variation to the bottom of the frequency range, and the Pulse M is a convincing listen as a result.

The opposite end of the frequency range is realised just as well and just as pleasantly defined. There’s more than adequate bite and crunch to treble sounds, but the Pulse M resists the temptation to spill over into edginess or hardness with real determination – even if you shop it the whip in terms of volume, it stays reasonably controlled and eminently listenable. Detail levels are as high here as they are at the bottom of the frequency range, and there’s plenty of substance to treble sounds to go along with the shine.

In every respect where dynamic potency is concerned, the Pulse M continues to impress. It’s powerful and judicious enough to switch from quiet and contemplative to loud and rabble-rousing almost instantaneously, and has the power to put considerable distance between the two positions. Lower-key dynamic variations where harmonics and vocal inflection are concerned are given appropriate weighting, too, and the Pulse M is able to contextualise these elements without sounding in any way analytical or restive about it.

The omni-hybrid driver arrangement certainly makes good on its intention of delivering a soundstage that’s far bigger than the speaker from which it emanates. There’s significant width to the Pulse M’s sound and no obvious sweet spot in which a listener should position themselves in order to get the best of the speaker. If it’s a big presentation with a less overt point source than quite a few rivals can manage you’re after, the Bluesound could well be the speaker for you.

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Bluesound Pulse M review: What could be improved?

The soundstage this speaker creates is big, all right, but it’s not the most rigorously defined you’ve ever heard. It seems the effort Bluesound has gone to in order to create as broad a presentation as possible has had a knock-on effect – and that manifests itself as a slightly diffused sound. A big sound that’s consistent from any number of listening positions is not to be sniffed at, of course – but it means the definition of the soundstage isn’t all it might be. It’s most obvious when listening to a recording that employs big spaces and silences (something like, say, Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express”) – those spaces get filled by a slightly smeary after-image of the sounds that ought by rights to keep their distance.

It’s also true to say the Pulse M isn’t completely wild about low-resolution digital audio files. It doesn’t give up the ghost entirely, of course, but can sound slightly blunt and (relatively speaking) two-dimensional when it’s asked to deal with that kind of content. But then you don’t spend £449 on a wireless speaker in order to listen to 128kbps MP3 files… do you?

Bluesound Pulse M: Should you buy it?

Just like every product this website reviews, the Bluesound Pulse M isn’t perfect – but it’ll be perfect for some listeners, no doubt about it. Specifically, we’re thinking about those listeners who want big, insightful and convincing sound from a realistically sized speaker, and who are perhaps open to the idea of the multi-room and multi-channel possibilities ownership of a Pulse M opens up.

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