Big sound from a little box. Isn’t that everyone‘s dream?
The Bluesound PULSE 2i is an all-in-one streaming speaker. And when I say “all”, I mean it more so than many other so-called all-in-one devices.
As a Roon Ready endpoint, the Bluesound Pulse 2i is ready to play music from your network attached storage, streaming services, and Internet Radio within minutes of firing it up. Just plug it in, connect it to your home network via Ethernet or WiFi, power it on, wait a minute or so, and then simply select it from within the Roon app and hit play. Done.
If Roon is not your thing, you can also stream to the Pulse 2i via Bluetooth (5.0 aptX HD) or Apple’s AirPlay 2 and use the free BluOS Controller app (for iOS, Android, and desktop) to control playback which includes multi-room capabilities. If you prefer talking to your hifi, Bluesound speaks both Alexa (with an Amazon Echo) and Siri (using the Apple Home app) and it is also MQA savvy. The Pulse 2i passes hi-res PCM up to 24/192 (i.e. all you need).
Frequency response is a claimed 45Hz – 20kHz, there’s a total of 150Watts of bi-amplified system power distributed between the 2x 5.25” (133mm) woofers and 2x 1” (25mm) tweeters, and the company also claims their built-in DSP “extends its true stereo soundfield far beyond the limits of other speakers.” Big sound, little box. The Pulse needs to be plugged into wall power so while it is portable in terms of size and weight and WiFi, it has a tail.
Of all the free apps out there, I find BluOS to be one of my favorites which means if you’re thinking about an all-Bluesound multi-room setup, the BluOS app will serve you very well. While my main streaming interests revolve around Tidal HiFi and Qobuz Studio, BluOS also supports Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer , HighResAudio (VAULT Required), Murfie, Napster, KKBox, Bugs, Taihe Music ZONE, and SoundMachine. Whew! That’s like access to one billion albums.
In addition to its network capabilities, the Pulse 2i offers Toslink (for your TV) and USB Type A inputs so you can hang a USB drive filled with music off the Pulse. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack for those private listening moments.
Here are the ins, outs, and on-unit functions:
The Pulse 2i weighs in at nearly 12 lbs and measures a portable 16.5 x 7.8 x 7.55 inches. There’s a handy hand-hole up top making the one-fisted carry a breeze. The Pulse 2i comes in your choice of Black Matte or White.
I used the Pulse 2i both wired and via WiFi. We own good quality routers from Netgear and live in a fairly rural area (I can only see one other WiFi network) so the Pulse via WiFi easily reached everywhere we would want to use it, both inside and outside our home and the sound quality did not suffer one bit as compared to a wired connection. YMMV.
I reviewed the original Bluesound Pulse for AudioStream back in 2014 and found, “the Pulse delivers very capable sound along with a great app in a nice compact package.” The new Pulse 2i is better looking, think sleeker and more refined, and while I cannot offer a direct comparison to the original in terms of music-ability, the new Pulse 2i sounds damn fine. It also sounds big, bigger than its box would suggest, rather bold with nice punch and weight to the bass, while being no slouch in terms of making things sound as they should. Big sound, little box.
While I spent most of my listening-time using Roon, which allowed me to switch back-n-forth between my main system and the Pulse 2i in seconds, not for comparison purposes mind you because that would just be silly, but to get a feel for multi-room play and it proved to be a very positive experience. I can absolutely imagine having a Pulse 2i for use in various rooms in our house including the bedroom, bathroom for shower-time vocalizing, and out on the veranda. OK, I admit we don’t have a veranda but I really like that word much better than patio. The Pulse 2i is a very good sounding feature rich all-in-one player that is not embarrassed when flipping back-n-forth between it and a system costing a crap-ton more than the Pulse’s asking price.
As a matter of fact, I perched the Pulse atop one of my Ikea Expedit shelving units and let it play out into the listening area of the Barn (roughly 35 x 18 x 12′), and it offered satisfying one-box sound. Again, think punchy with fairly full bass and a nicely colorful and textured musical presentation. Of course, its tonal palette is nowhere near the full spectrum sound of more costly separates but in my experience miracles don’t often occur when hardware, production costs, and physics are involved.
While I cannot offer a comparison to other similarly-priced portable all-in-one players, there are no competitors that can match Bluesound’s feature set. Whether you are a Roon user or a Bluesound devotee, the multi-room-ready Bluesound Pulse 2i delivers big sound in a small, feature-rich box that defines plug-and-play for the gamut of today’s streaming and serving music sources. Bravo!
Bluesound PULSE 2i Premium Wireless Multi-Room Music Streaming Speaker