It’s always interesting to me when I run across an audio company I’ve never heard of before. I’ve reviewed so many audio products I didn’t think there could be any more companies out there. The Bluesound Pulse 2i is my first experience with Bluesound. The company says it’s an alliance of audiophiles dedicated to delivering on the promise of wireless, digitally perfect high-fidelity audio.
Bluesound’s website and other devices certainly point to a high-end premium product, and I was intrigued to learn more about them. The Bluesound Pulse 2i is a multi-room-music streaming speaker and its look, feel and sound certainly compete with the likes of SONOS. Read on for the full review of the Bluesound Pulse 2i.
The Bluesound Pulse 2i has the following features and specifications:
- Supported File Formats:
- MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, ALAC, OPUS
Hi-Res formats – FLAC, MQA, WAV, AIFF
- MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, ALAC, OPUS
- Native Sampling Rates:
- 32 – 192 kHz
- Bit Depths:
- 16 – 24
- Frequency Response: 40Hz – 20kHz ±1.5dB, -10dB @ 33Hz
- THD+N, 0.030%
- Power Output:
- 150W total system power, bi-amplified
- 65W x 2 Woofer; 10W x 2 Tweeter
- 2 x 5.25” (133mm) Woofers
- 2 x 1” (25mm) Tweeters
- Supported Operating Systems:
- iOS, Android, Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10, macOS X 7-10
- Free Internet Radio:
- TuneIn Radio, iHeartRadio, Calm Radio, Radio Paradise, LiveXLive, Radio.com
- Supported Cloud Services:
- Spotify, Amazon Music HD, TIDAL, Deezer , Qobuz, HighResAudio (VAULT Required), Napster, KKBox, Bugs, Taihe Music ZONE, SoundMachine, IDAGIO, OraStream
- Voice Control Integrations:
- Amazon Alexa
- Google Assistant
- Ethernet RJ45, GigE
- Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac, dual-band)
- 1 x Type-A port for connection to USB memory sticks (Fat32 or NTFS formatted) and supported peripherals
- 1 x Type-B (mini) for product servicing
- Audio Input:
- Combo – Toslink/3.5mm
- Audio Output:
- Headphone output – 3.5 Stereo
- Bluetooth Quality:
- Bluetooth 5.0 aptX HD wireless built-in
- Bluetooth Connectivity:
- Two-Way (transmit & receive)
- Universal tri-pin AC Cord input (100 – 240AC)
- Mobile Operating System:
- BluOS – Free Android and iOS App Available Online at Google Play and Apple App Store
- Simple top-panel touch controls.
- IR Sensor built in – Front panel
- ARM® CORTEX™ A9, 1 GHz
- Unit Weight:
- Gross Dimensions:
- 420 x 198 x 192 mm
- 16.5 x 7.8 x 7.55 in
- Power Consumption (Idle):
- 14 Watts
- 2x AC power cords (Europe & North America)
- Toslink Optical to 3.5mm Mini Adaptor
- Ethernet Cable
- Safety/Warranty Guide
- Quick Setup Guide
- Storage Environment:
- -10° C to 50° C, 20% to 80% relative humidity
- Operating Environment:
- 0° C to 40° C
- Black Matte
What’s In The Box
- Bluesound Pulse 2i
- Power Cord
- Optical Cable
- Manuals and Documentation
Bluesound deserves a big thumbs up for the design of the Pulse 2i. It’s certainly different but not so crazy that it’s not attractive. The Bluesound Pulse 2i combines curves with angular lines, which provides the speaker’s unique look.
The materials used for construction vary from metal, plastic, and a hard rubber-like surface. Everything feels very well built and robust, and the Pulse 2i isn’t heavy, given its size.
The front of the speaker has a metal grill with the Bluesound logo at the top and centered. The top of the speaker has a very nice integrated handle that also houses the touch controls. These controls control the playback features such as play/pause and volume up/down. The Bluesound name is also located on this panel and looks classy, not gaudy at all.
The rear of the Bluesound Pulse 2i has a variety of connections, including a LAN port, USB port, mini-USB port, AUX port, Optical Port, Service button, and power port.
Overall, the design of the Bluesound Pulse 2i is sleek, unique, and minimally conceived. It reminds us of other high-end speakers on the market, and it should be competing against those very same speakers.
Ease of Use/Setup
The Bluesound Pulse 2i is simple to set up. You can set this up without the software or app; power it up and head to your device’s Bluetooth settings to connect.
If you want to use the app and keep your Pulse 2i’s firmware updated, you should set it up through the app. That’s as simple as downloading the app and choosing to connect to the Bluesound Pulse 2i, more on that in the next section.
Overall, setup is dead simple whether you’re using just Bluetooth or using the app. Playback controls are also super simple and very straightforward.
As I mentioned before, there is no need to use the Bluesound app if you don’t want to. You can Bluetooth into the Bluesound Pulse 2i and be done. But if you want to update the firmware or use one of your music streaming services within the Bluesound app, you’ll need to download the app.
Let me start with my two cons of this app. First, there is no option to sync and use your Apple Music account within the app. You can certainly still use Apple Music and simply Bluetooth over, but then you have to toggle between apps to adjust EQ and whatnot. Second, the user interface feels dated, and the iOS version feels more like a ported Android app, not like a proper iOS app.
This is not to say the app isn’t functional; you can get things done in it. I would have just liked to see a nicer, more fluid user interface. As for Apple Music, maybe that will be added later, and maybe that has to do with Apple not allowing them to include it. The music services you can integrate with are:
- Amazon Music
- Calm Radio
- Custom Channels
- Neil Young Archives
- Radio Paradise
- XIAMI MUSIC
The app also lets you set up playlists, presets, and favorites. When you go into My Players, the Bluesound Pulse 2i will show up there. Here you can choose 3 main EQ settings, including TV, Music, and Movie.
Going deeper into the menu you’ll find a few more settings that can impact the sound.
- Front Row: Brings the music forward giving the illusion of being in the front row of a concert.
- Wide Mode: This makes the music feel more immersive and you have the option of Off, Wide, and Wider.
- Enhanced Dialog: This puts emphasis on the vocals or voices over the music and background. Useful for movies and TV.
- Late Night: This takes blunts some of the highs and mids, giving the music a more rounded and soft sound.
- Deep Bass: This pushes the bass forward and really brings it to the front but without it overpowering everything else.
You also have sliders for Treble and Bass, and you can adjust them from -6dB to +6dB. You can also connect via AUX or Optical if you preferred not to use Bluetooth or app streaming.
Overall, the app works and is functional. Since I use Apple Music, the only real reason to use the app is firmware updates and the EQ. Once the EQ is set up, there’s nothing much the app is good for in my case. But if you’re using one of the supported streaming services, you can control everything from the app, so that’s convenient for you.
Out of the box and without the app, the Bluesound Pulse 2i has a very flat sound. I usually like a flat and level sound signature, but this sounded a bit too flat.
The EQ settings in the app improved the sound immensely. I highly recommend using the app not only for the firmware updates but also for the EQ. I ended up being very happy with the Wide Mode (Wider) setting, and funny enough, the Deep Bass engaged. Considering I’m not a huge fan of thumping bass, I found it funny that I would like that setting.
But given that the out of the box sound is so flat, it’s not surprising that I chose those EQ settings. I also pulled the highs down 1dB and the lows up 1dB.
Once I had the EQ where I wanted it, the sound on the Bluesound Pulse 2i is really vibrant and rich. It fills a very nice sized bedroom without a problem. I also love that it has an independent volume control. So I can turn the volume up all the way on my iPhone and then turn it up some more on the Bluesound Pulse 2i. The volume is not device-dependent. This means this thing can get really loud.
Overall, the sound on the Bluesound Pulse 2i is really exceptional once you get the EQ settings where you like them.
The Bluesound Pulse 2i comes in at US$699. That’s a lot of cash, but it’s also competing in a higher-priced market with two big names also priced around the same. For those looking for premium audio, the value is there for those not looking to spend this much and not caring too much about the brand name and premium audio quality. This may not be a great choice.
I’ve tested SONOS and Bose, which I believe Bluesound is competing with, and I think this speaker holds its own against them. Overall, if you’re considering the aforementioned brands, you should give Bluesound a look as well.
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Bluesound Pulse 2i$US699
- Very unique and clean design
- Not super heavy, easy to move around
- Easy to setup and use
- Great sound
- Nice EQ settings in the app
- Price may not set well with some users
- App interface could use an update
- No Apple Music option within the app but you can Bluetooth it over