Bluesound Pulse M review: This all-in-one is half full and half empty

Microsoft
By Microsoft 14 Min Read
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At first sight

Expert analysis

Professionals

Sleek look and small footprint Runs on the wonderful BluOS 4.0 platform Touch controls kickstart your favorites Can get very loud

Against

Non-dynamic music playback Lacks built-in voice management Glass contact display is a fingerprint magnet

Our verdict

Listeners with different BluOS parts who wish to stream music for background listening in secondary rooms, such because the kitchen or residence workplace, will respect this speaker, however it’s not a robust entry level into the ecosystem.

Price at time of overview

$399.00

Today’s finest costs: Bluesound Pulse M

Retail worth

$399.00 View the offer Bluesound $399.00 View the offer

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$399.99 View the offer Price comparability from over 24,000 shops worldwide Product Price Backmarket Price Comparison

The Bluesound Pulse M wi-fi speaker presents a glass half full or glass half empty scenario.

The BluOS multi-room audio platform it runs on is able to delivering ultra-hi-res efficiency, as evidenced by {hardware} just like the $599 Bluesound Node audio player and $1,499 NAD C700 streaming amplifier. The excellent news is that the $399 Pulse M not solely prices lower than both of those parts, however it additionally has built-in audio system—you need not purchase the rest. The dangerous information is that its audio efficiency is nowhere close to that of those parts when paired with audio system of comparable high quality.

On the opposite hand, listeners who wish to add BluOS parts to rooms the place area is restricted and background music is appreciated over crucial listening classes, for instance within the kitchen or workplace, the Pulse M will supply medium-quality excessive. trend. It’s additionally straightforward to make use of, each with built-in controls and app entry Freshly polished BluOS 4.0– the way it is to take a look at.

For jamming round the home and whistling ambient listening when you work, the Bluesound Pulse M is greater than good.

Design and construct

origin 1The Bluesound Pulse M incorporates a proximity sensor that lights up the contact management panel when your hand approaches.

The 5.5-pound oval Pulse M requires minimal shelf area, measuring simply 8 inches tall with a footprint of 6.7 x 5.9 inches. Similar in design to the $249 Sonos Era 100 and $379 Bose 500 home speaker, the Pulse M incorporates a 50-watt Class D amplifier that powers a 5.25-inch upward-firing woofer. A separate Class D amplifier sends 15 watts every to a pair of outward-facing 0.75-inch tweeters, set at 45-degree angles to supply extensively dispersed, but barely stereo, sound. Of the three single-cabinet audio system I simply talked about, Bose gives the most effective stereo imaging.

While the Bluesound Pulse M may be managed with an Alexa-powered sensible speaker, it is not a sensible speaker itself. We suppose these are the best smart speakers.

On paper, the remainder of the Pulse M’s specs look unbelievable. Like all issues BluOS, it could extract ultra-high decision content material at 16 or 24 bit depths and with pattern charges as much as 192kHz from premium content material suppliers like Amazon, Qobuz, and Tidal, together with the latter’s “Master” grade. streams encoded in MQA. (Bluesound’s dad or mum firm, Lenbrook, acquired MQA Limited in September.)

BluOS additionally helps nearly each different service supplier you would need, together with Deezer, Napster, nugs.internet, Pandora, Presto Music, Spotify; plus, radio providers together with Calm Radio, iHeartRadio, Radio Paradise (which additionally gives MQA streaming), SiriusXM, TuneIn, and 15 extra. If you’ve a paid There is a subscription and a Roon Core in your community, you possibly can management Pulse M with that software program too.

origin 1The songs for my listening take a look at ranged from classic British people (Bert Jansch) to huge band swinger Frank Sinatra to Latin hip hop celebrity Bad Bunny and extra.

Jonathan Takiff/Foundry

Apple Music is lacking right here, however it may be introduced residence by way of AirPlay 2. Other content material may be yours by way of the Pulse M’s Bluetooth 5.0 radio, with assist for the aptX HD codec. Not surprisingly, working this speaker in multi-room sharing mode with different BluOS parts doesn’t lead to a drop in decision. Compare that to the Sonos Era 300, which loses its Dolby Atmos decoding capability when sharing a stream with different Sonos gadgets.

Wired connection choices on the again embody a USB-A enter (for streaming music saved on a thumb drive) stacked on prime of an RJ45 port for wired community connectivity if the dual-band Wi-Fi 5 wi-fi choice is not out there. enough. There’s additionally a 3.5mm stereo digital optical/analog Toslink combo enter (with equipped adapter) and a 3.5mm headphone jack. (Good high quality wi-fi listening with headphones is potential by way of bidirectional Bluetooth.)

A smoked glass prime management panel is the sexiest a part of this minimalist package deal. A proximity sensor lights it up when your hand approaches, revealing capacitive contact controls: a quantity slider; subsequent and earlier monitor; play pause; and 5 spots that may be programmed within the BluOS app as presets for favourite radio stations, playlists or albums. If your Pulse M is grouped (within the app) with different BluOS gamers, tapping a preset right here will make the opposite music makers hum in excellent sync too.

origin 1Pulse M has a built-in Ethernet port for those who just like the safety {that a} wired community connection can present. There’s additionally a mixed Toslink/3.5mm analog enter and a 3.5mm headphone output on the again.

Jonathan Takiff/Foundry

I’m a giant fan of preset buttons on streaming gadgets: Bose even has them on its cheaper sensible speaker, the Home Speaker 300; Grace Digital has them on some fashions, together with yours Classic World; as SVS does in its Prime Wireless line. But not Sonos.

If your music field is inside attain, with the ability to begin the present with a faucet is a lot sooner than asserting your radio station request to a voice assistant or digging into the app, which is the fallback location on all audio system in streaming. Voice activation is how Sonos works, in fact, and it is an choice on Bose sensible audio system. The Pulse M does not have a built-in microphone, so you will want to attach a separate Alexa-compatible gadget that is close by and That the method is sophisticated.

Audio efficiency

I predict that 4 out of 5 docs would advocate a Pulse M for his or her ready rooms. It takes me again to the desktop radio taking part in soothing or straightforward listening classical music in my pediatrician’s workplace. The form of background sound meant to maintain a toddler calm earlier than the outdated physician stabs you with a dreaded needle.

To be trustworthy, I had the Pulse M in my residence workplace for six months earlier than I lastly received round to formally reviewing it. At first I rationally considered suspending writing to let its drivers kick in; later, the promise of a significant replace to the BluOS platform gave me cause to pause. I hoped the brand new basis would enhance this speaker’s disappointing musical persona: extra bland than outright destructive.

Both stalling ways labored, to some extent. With time and use, the low-end response has develop into slightly deeper and extra dynamic. This made it simpler to tell apart, for instance, between electrical and acoustic stand-up basses. The BluOS 4.0 replace, in the meantime, improved the Pulse M’s digital sign processing choice, dubbed Front Row. Tapping the FR activator icon now pushes the system’s in any other case reticent and listless midrange ahead and noticeably sharpens/brightens the in any other case uninteresting excessive finish.

origin 1Siblings from different moms: I could not assist however evaluate the $399 Bluesound Pulse M (proper) to the equally configured $379 Bose Home Speaker 500 (left) and the $249 Sonos ERA 100 (at middle).

Jonathan Takiff/Foundry

Curiously, Front Row gives a way more intense and boisterous character than you possibly can obtain by merely maxing out BluOS’s tone controls. The FR EQ optimization works fairly effectively with quite a lot of music, however it is not adjustable and is not excellent. Like Bose’s Immersive Audio digital processing for its new Ultra headphones (in the ear AND above the ear), Bluesound’s Front Row already sparks peaked or echo-boosted vocals and devices to sizzle like bacon in a frying pan at medium-warm to scorching quantity ranges, as neo-soulsters Black Pumas demonstrated in an audition for “More Than a Love Song” and Global Hip Hop Icon Bad Bunny Scored His Newcomer “Gracias Por Nada.”

Dynamics additionally appear a bit compressed with Front Row engaged. But for those who like loud quantity, you most likely will not discover, because the Pulse M nonetheless screams at 96 decibels (as measured on my dB meter). This output is corresponding to that of the Bose Home Speaker 500 (which has a extra pure and participating excessive finish), and is 10 decibels louder than the Sonos Era 100. For this take a look at, I used the identical symphonic materials: the highly effective “‘Spring “Robert Schumann’s Symphony No.1” – streamed from New York’s WQXR, by way of TuneIn, to all three audio system concurrently.

While much less appropriate for a big room, the Era 100’s bass response was higher articulated and its total sonic illustration was probably the most refined of the three. It has come as shut as potential to providing a live performance corridor listening expertise. I additionally discovered Sonos extra revealing with the brass-colored gems from the brand new Frank Sinatra assortment Platinumand on one basic, minimalist monitor (vocals, acoustic guitar, double bass and drums) I did not thoughts making comparisons over and over once more: British raga-folk innovator Bert Jansch’s vigorous “A Woman Like You” remastered Blues birthday set to.

origin 1You can tweak the Pulse-M’s tone controls or lock the entrance row EQ, however not each on the similar time. Replay acquire adjustments can be found with each. The monitor’s acquire activation lights up barely.

Jonathan Takiff/Foundry

Should you purchase a Bluesound Pulse M?

While its seems are good and operation is easy, the Pulse M is not an amazing entry-level element that may encourage you to fill your abode with appropriate high-end gadgets. It is the least performing product of the BluOS household, with a premium worth, however incapable of offering the sound high quality of which the platform is succesful.

If you are already firmly entrenched within the BluOS ecosystem, alternatively, the ergonomics, small footprint, and easy-to-live-with nature of this streaming speaker will serve you and your family members fairly effectively. For whole-house jamming and whistling ambient listening when you work, it is greater than nice.

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