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Bluesound Pulse review

Richard Easton
16 Jan 2015
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Bluesound Pulse front angle
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
600
inc VAT

The Bluesound Pulse is a great choice for audiophiles with high-resolution audio support but its app isn’t the most elegant

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Specifications

Speakers: 5, RMS power output: 80W, Dock connector: None, Networking: 802.11n Wi-Fi, 1x 10/100 Ethernet, optional Bluetooth (SBC), Dimensions: 420x190x197mm, Weight: 6.1kg, Streaming formats: Proprietary (BluOS)

A lot of multiroom audio systems are about delivering the convenience of music everywhere, without necessarily delivering on quality. With the Pulse, Bluesound intends to do both, as this is one of the only players that supports the Tidal CD-quality streaming music service.

Although a fairly hefty £20 a month, Tidal offers a lot of benefits over other lossy streaming services, with its tracks clearer and more detailed. Of course, if you want to stream your own music over the network, then its supports 24bit/192kHz FLAC files.

Format support is one thing, but the ability to deliver high-quality sound is something else. Fortunately, the Pulse has it where it counts and the audio it produces is fantastic. It helps that the build quality is so good. At 6.1kg, the Pulse is reassuringly heavy and feels extremely well made. Weight naturally translates into size and, at 420x190x197mm, the Pulse is a fairly big player, which means that there’s plenty of room inside for amps and large speakers.

The Pulse delivers its audio emphatically and with real gusto. Bass is incredibly deep, so much so that you feel the reverberations deep in your core. Not to say that the Bluesound Pulse produces sound with a lack of grace, as its midrange and treble were delicate and refined. The Pulse is also exceptional. We expected the weight and build of the Pulse to help reduce cabinet vibrations. However, we found the bass would still cause the Pulse’s cabinet to vibrate when the speaker was driven to loud volumes. This proved distracting although thankfully this only happened on certain tracks that had a strong bass layer. Otherwise we found the sound signature of the Bluesound Pulse to be delightful.

As well as sounding great, we quite like the way it looks, with its neat triangular case and front dominated by a large speaker grille. On top are media controls, so you can control music playback without having to reach for the app every time. You also get a built in handle, so you can easily move the Pulse from one room to another.

It’s available in either Gloss Black or White. Our review model came in White but we prefer the Gloss Black model. Both models are in fact glossy and we were slightly disappointed to find the plastic cabinet felt a little cheap and certainly not as premium as we expected. We also found the white model quickly picked up dust and grime.

To set up the Pulse you can either use the PC or Mac applications or the iOS or Android apps. As the configuration is actually browser-based, you can actually set up the Pulse using any web browser by first connecting to the Pulse’s Wi-Fi network and then using a browser to access http://setup.bluesound.com to then be taken through the setup wizard. This takes you through the process of entering the Wi-Fi details of your home network so that the Pulse can connect. You then need to give your Pulse a name, so that it’s easy to identify if you’ve got multiple Bluesound devices.