Soundbars are in all places, however at every finish of the value vary they might hardly be extra completely different. Any low cost sounder can enhance on the sound of your TV’s audio system, however the Pulse Soundbar does so, a lot extra. 

Sure, it may possibly take a feed from a TV (through optical audio/Toslink) and ship a terrific film soundtrack or dialogue-heavy TV present. It’s additionally not too long ago been upgraded to deal with Dolby Digital soundtracks. And like many mid-range soundbars it may possibly stream audio from a pill or cellphone through Bluetooth.

However as a part of the Bluesound Pulse lineup, the soundbar can be a succesful multi-room speaker in its personal proper, just like the Sonos Playbar and Playbase. So how does it stack as much as the multi-room incumbent?

Options

The Pulse Soundbar is a part of a group wi-fi audio system that features Bluesound’s Pulse 2, Pulse Mini and moveable PulseFlex in addition to the Pulse Sub and Vault 2 laborious drive. Purchase a few PulseFlex audio system and so they can act as wi-fi rear audio system in a 5.1 encompass sound system, with the Pulse Soundbar performing as a the centre, left and proper channels. 

Contained in the soundbar itself are six 20W audio system (two soft-dome tweeters, two mid-range drivers and two passive woofers) powered by a DirectDigital amp.

There’s one thing else in regards to the Pulse Soundbar that makes it standout from the group; streaming. Nevertheless, in addition to with the ability to stream music from the likes of Amazon Music, Spotfiy, Tidal and Deezer (and scores of others), it may possibly stream lossless music in 192kHz/24-bit high quality. 

Admittedly, lossless and hi-res audio is one thing of a distinct segment, and fully unknown to many, however with Tidal and Deezer each making strikes to embrace the MQA codec, the library of simply accessible hi-res music is beginning to slowly develop. 

Promoting in matte black or white for £999 (US$999 / AUS$1,799), the Pulse Soundbar measures 1073x141x70mm (and ships with a wall bracket), and weighs 6.8kg.

Set-up and efficiency

Though the core set-up process of linking the Pulse Soundbar to a house community through a cellphone works easily, there are some preliminary disappointments. The primary is the relatively weird 141mm top of the Pulse Soundbar, which makes it unsuitable for putting in entrance of most TVs. Not solely was the grille pitched about an inch too excessive for our 50-inch TV, thus obscuring a part of the display screen, however on this orientation the connections panel is ranged upwards. Any hooked up cables (equivalent to the ability cable, optical audio and Ethernet LAN) poke out of the highest.

The Pulse Soundbar is subsequently finest suited to hanging beneath a wall-mounted TV, and this seems to be no mistake; Bluesound additionally sells its TS100 Universal TV Stand, custom-made stand that lifts each the soundbar and a TV as much as 65-inches in dimension. At $299, that’s an costly heavy-duty workaround. 

Nevertheless, it’s concentrate on lossless audio and its pro-install design is probably not so surprisingly when you take into account that the Pulse Soundbar’s management app, BluOS, additionally works with NAD amplifiers and streaming units. It additionally performs properly with set up management manufacturers URC, RTI and Control4.

No matter Bluesound’s goal market, BluOS itself does a good job of linking disparate sources collectively from a lot of completely different platforms. It is out there for iOS (together with Apple Watch), Android and Kindle Fireplace, in addition to in a desktop app for Home windows and Mac.

It streams from linked accounts, nevertheless it additionally carries internet radio streams, makes use of Bluetooth four.zero (together with aptX), and handles as much as 192kHz/24-bit lossless music recordsdata equivalent to FLAC, WAV, AIFF and MQA.

Nevertheless, do not drop all the way down to Bluetooth when you will help it. Sure, the Pulse Soundbar does a significantly better job with this poor man’s wi-fi music than most routinely unhealthy Bluetooth audio system, however there is a noticeable drop in width and element.

Though the Pulse Soundbar can stream from a PC, Mac or NAS drive, it does so in a disappointingly handbook approach. Bluesound’s OS is bespoke and is constructed on a Linux platform, so has no third get together middleware. The flip-side of that’s that it is not appropriate with DLNA and UPnP units, so sharing with a PC, Mac or a NAS drive means setting-up a handbook community share – and it is not only a case of shopping the community and choosing the music folder. In our take a look at it proved a bit of too time-consuming, which is a disgrace as a result of the BluOS app gives the look that will probably be straightforward.

The BluOS app is just like the Sonos equal, although small thumbnail variations of album cowl artwork typically get confused, which makes it troublesome to swap between zones at-a-glance when multiple Bluesound product is put in. Nevertheless, the multi-room facet of the Bluesound idea works very effectively; we had been in a position to ‘carry’ songs between rooms, play songs concurrently in a number of rooms, and play two completely different playlists on two completely different audio system with ease.

And relating to sound high quality, the Pulse Soundbar does actually impress sufficient for a ‘wow’ second. Oddly, it’s essential to go to the supply web page and put the Pulse Soundbar into both TV, music or film mode, however every one is a reasonably well-judged preset. 

Straight out of the field the soundstage for films is heat and detailed, though the vocal monitor does generally tend to get misplaced. Cue a web page of tone settings in BluOS, which current a few efficient choices for enhancing dialogue. There are additionally tweaks for ‘deep bass’ and a ‘late evening’ quantity decreaser. The lip sync delay adjuster is a pleasant contact, too, although apart from a easy treble and bass tweaks, there’s little to regulate. Regardless of, as a result of the beautiful soundtrack and chilling results of Stranger Issues on Netflix had been rendered exceptionally effectively. 

Music additionally impresses with its total heat and the element inside treble peaks, with the in any other case relatively pointless ‘vast mode’ bringing ahead some background element. It’s finest to maintain ‘enhanced dialogue’ engaged for clear vocals, and ‘deep bass’ can be value conserving a trigger-finger on. 

Nevertheless, for an idea so happy with its lossless music streaming capabilities, the app fails to let precisely what high quality you’re streaming in. Nevertheless, when you do subscribe to the likes of Tidal HiFi and Deezer HiFi, you do see a tiny ‘hifi’ icon. Principally, the Pulse Soundbar performs no matter you chuck at it – and it does all of it very impressively.  

Here is a great-sounding speaker that is far much more succesful than your common soundbar, and but there’s sufficient quirks for it to be a specialist buy. 

We preferred

We have no complaints in regards to the heat, mellow and but extremely exact sound that the Pulse Soundbar lends to each music and flicks regardless of not having a lot in the way in which of customisation choices. 

The power to stream, through one app, tunes from myriad streaming providers could be very welcome (these apps embody Amazon Music, Calm Radio, Deezer, Groove Music, JUKE, KKBOX, Murfie, Napster, Qobuz, Radio Paradise, Slacker, Spotify, Tidal, TuneIn and WiMP). The multi-room facet additionally labored effectively.

We did not like

All soundbars wanting prime place in a front room should provide HDMI switching, and the nascence of any HDMI inputs on the Pulse Soundbar makes us consider it as an oddly-shaped hi-fi. 

Our impression of it as having a confused design is underlined by its frankly weird top, which makes it obscure the display screen if positioned in entrance of a TV. Is the Pulse Soundbar solely meant to be hung underneath a wall-mounted TV? Maybe so, as a result of inserting in entrance of a TV can be prone to block your TV’s distant sensor. 

Sure, there may be an choice to show the app to study the IR instructions of your TV’s distant, however that simply provides to the admin that setting-up the Pulse Soundbar already calls for. Setting-up community share with a Mac or PC is a hurdle most gained’t overcome, and what’s extra, the BluOS app is usually imprecise. 

It additionally has a penchant for flashing-up error messages when a connection goes awry; one one event, it flashed-up six error messages in a row. 

We had been additionally relatively irritated that I needed to manually put the Pulse Soundbar into music, TV or film mode every time I swapped. 

Last verdict

Though it dazzled us with its sound high quality throughout the board – from compressed TV audio proper by to lossless music streaming – the Pulse Soundbar simply fails to be the house cinema hub it might have been. 

A multi-room community audio participant that may fetch streams from anyplace, its lack of HDMI switching, handbook community shares and odd design (that sees it block the view of a TV it’s positioned in entrance of) takes a bit of of the shine from the in any other case intriguing and spectacular Bluesound idea. 

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