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Bluesound Pulse High-Res SoundBar Review

by July 31, 2017
  • Product Name: Pulse Soundbar
  • Manufacturer: Bluesound
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: July 31, 2017 08:00
  • MSRP: $ 999
  • Supported File Formats: MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, ALAC, OPUS & Hi-Res formats - FLAC, MQA, WAV, AIFF, Dolby Digital 
  • Native Sampling Rates: 32 - 192 kHz
  • Bit Depths: 16 - 24 
  • Frequency Response: +/- 1dB 70Hz - 20kHz, 3dB down @ 55Hz,
  • Power Output: 120 watts of DirectDigital power
  • Speakers: Tweeter 2 x 3/4” (19mm) Soft Dome
    •   Mid-Range : 2 x 2” (50mm) Treated Paper Cone, Rubber Surround
    •   Woofer : 2 x 4” (102mm) Rubber Surround
  • Network: Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Digital/Analog Input: Optical, RCA Line In
  • Bluetooth aptX wireless built-in
  • Dimensions:42.25” x 5.5” x 2.75”
  • Weight: 15lb


  • Sleek Design
  • High-Res Sound Quality
  • Quick Setup
  • Audio Range and Output


  • No Remote Control
  • A Bit Tall Making it More Challenging to Place under an HDTV
  • No Surround Sound Decoding or Processing


Pulse Soundbar Introduction

Bluesound is the newest brand of parent company Lenbrook Inc.’s three brands, including NAD Electronics and PSB Speakers. Even if you’ve never heard of Bluesound, if you’re an audiophile, you’ve probably heard of NAD. For 45 years, NAD has been an iconic producer of exceptional amplifiers and has been known to design and manufacture products that focus on innovation, performance, value, and simplicity. To compete with whole home audio companies like SONOS, Bluesound combines the amplification prowess of NAD Electronics with PSB’s expertise in acoustics while adding their BluOS operating and music management system to control a wireless home music network. The free BluOS app running on a smart phone, tablet or desktop allows you to create playlists from your digital library or from a host of streaming music services  and in Bluesound’s case, this includes high definition files to be streamed to different Bluesound devices around the home.

I first encountered the Bluesound Pulse Soundbar at CEDIA last year and was really impressed with the full rich sound even on a crowded convention floor. The optional Pulse Sub wireless subwoofer has a compact, slim design that allows it to be hidden easily in any room. The deep bass was enveloping but not overpowering, and the separation and soundstage was excellent as much as the area would allow. Then the floor spokesperson informed us that the optional $600 sub was in fact turned off. Impressive. Most impressive. When Bluesound called and asked if I’d like to demo their new Pulse Soundbar I of course jumped at the opportunity.

Unpacking and Setup

The Bluesound Pulse Soundbar comes in a 45” x 10” x 7” box weighing in at about 26lbs. Once I carried it into my living room, I began the unpacking process and was quick to notice a bit of awkwardness with how it was packaged, as the flaps are oriented in such a way that it makes it difficult to untuck and unfold in order to access the bar. This was an extremely minor annoyance and I soon found myself opening the main box and staring at its contents.

 pulse box1.jpg      pulsebox2.jpg     pulsebox3.jpg

The Pulse Soundbar comes with the large soundbar itself, as well as a mounting bracket and template, a stereo RCA to RCA cable, an Ethernet cable, two kickstand feet, and both a 120V and a 230V power cord.  The Pulse does not come with its own digital optical cable, although it does have the port for it and a recommendation for using one can be found in the quick set-up guide. After removing the contents, I began the set-up process by placing the bar just below my TV using the included kickstand feet. The feet also come with easily attachable extenders to help the bar rest on many different surfaces and achieve the appropriate angle.

pulse inputs.jpg 

Once the bar was placed, I plugged the 120V power cord into the back of the bar and into my wall outlet, and then attached the RCA cable to the bar as well as my TV. A green light appeared on the bar, and I assumed it was ready to go. As I sat down to perform the listening test, I realized that no sound was coming from the bar so I consulted the quick set-up guide to make sure I connected everything correctly. It turns out that the green light does not indicate the bar is ready to go, but instead indicates that the bar is ready to be synced with your WiFi connection. Following the easy-to-understand directions in the set-up guide, I quickly used my phone to select the soundbar from the list of WiFi connections available, and proceeded to open a web browser and go to setup.bluesound.com to finish the setup process. The final steps to setup were as easy as finding my home WiFi network on the website and typing in my password to connect the bar to the home WiFi network. The green light on the bar turned to blue, indicating that the setup was complete and I could proceed to downloading the BluOS controller app. Alternatively, if you do not feel comfortable setting up the wireless connection through your home WiFi, you can use the included Ethernet cable to connect directly to your router and complete the setup. I found the app on the Google Play Store, downloaded it, and began using the app to control the bar from my phone. As the bar does not come with a remote, this is the only way to control it and is therefore a required step. I found the app very easy to use, although it did take some time to navigate and find all of the features that I wanted to test. The app also allows you to connect other Bluesound devices and control them all seamlessly at the same time.


pulse appearance.jpg 

The soundbar has a very sleek and classic design at first glance, and I found it to be overall very visually appealing. The two front-facing speakers are separated by a thin, glossy strip that houses the aforementioned indicator light, and when seated in front of the bar, no wires or ports are visible. The bar had a flawless matte black finish and beautiful rounded edges, and will certainly fit in with almost any room aesthetic. The bar is definitely on the larger side, but is not bulky or distracting in any way. The one complaint I had was the height of the bar, as it did obstruct the bottom inch or so of my TV screen when sitting on the TV stand. This could be easily remedied by either wall-mounting the bar or utilizing the optional Bluesound TS100 TV Stand ($300). The clean look of the grill and rounded edges of the unit give it an inviting appearance if mounted to your wall and the included mounting kit is a nice touch, indicating Bluesound’s dedication to their customers and at 2.75” thick the Pulse Soundbar won’t stick out past most Flatscreens.

pulse tv.jpg 

Inside, the Bluesound Pulse Soundbar has six integrated high performance speakers and two passive radiators. With two ¾” soft dome tweeters, two 2” treated paper cone midranges, and two 4” woofers Bluesound has covered the bases for the range of sound and with 24-bit/192kHz resolution of hi res playback formats like LAC, MQA, WAV, AIFF, and Dolby Digital, Bluesound has quality of sound covered as well.

Bluesound Pulse Listening Tests and Conclusion

In order to experience the mad maxfull force of the Pulse Soundbar, I decided on viewing the 2015 effects-heavy hit Mad Max: Fury Road. Going in, I knew that the movie itself was an audio powerhouse, and wanted to see if the soundbar could add to the experience. I learned very quickly just how much the Pulse Soundbar could do, as right from the start I was immersed in an ocean of sound, and it only got better as the movie progressed. During the first chase scene, I could literally feel the horsepower coming from the vehicles, adding depth and urgency to the scene. Even without a separate subwoofer, the bass emanating from the soundbar felt very rich and powerful, although not overpowering to the point of discomfort. The bass was very robust, and the roar of the engines did not drown out the sounds of clanking metal and the twang of the fire-breathing guitar. Each sound had its own distinct place in the experience, and the extreme attention to detail concerning the sound effects from the movies director, George Miller, were translated beautifully by the soundbar. As the action slowed, crisp, clear dialogue soon filled the room. I could hear the subtleties of each character’s voice, including the harsh, raspy grunts delivered by Max himself. The background effects during the dialogue scenes did get a bit lost in the mix, as the sounds of wind and sand came off a bit bland and unremarkable. As the action began to pick up again, I paid particular attention to the score, as it really enhances the action occurring on screen. The soundbar was able to intensify the crescendo of the music, with thumping lows and pointed highs. With the roar of the engines back, the music played beautifully over the action, upping the stakes and really allowing the viewer to fully immerse themselves in the desert wasteland.  Although the music and action blended very well, there was a bit of concern in the middle, as some of these sounds were overshadowed by the beautiful bass and treble, and there was a bit of an edge detected with some of the dialogue during the intense action scenes. I tried manipulating the volume from the BluOS app I downloaded earlier, and found the range of volumes too limiting. On the high end, the sound was extremely robust and certainly filled the room, but on the low end the crispness began to fade and the warmth of the bass dropped off quickly. The sweet spot was at about the three-quarter setting, where I found a great balance between the highs, middles, and lows. As the final battle was being set up, I found myself anticipating the sounds of screeching tires and the clanking of metal I knew was soon to follow. Once underway, I could literally hear the war boys spitting nitrous into the roaring engines, a delicate balance of sharp highs and booming lows. The pang of bullets ricocheting off of metal was clearly audible as the thunderous score picked up, and I could feel the intensity of the scene through the soundbar. To me, this was what sound was supposed to do for a movie, and it clearly enhanced an already great experience.


For my next test, I decided to use the Bluetooth pairing to link my phone and play some music through Spotify. The pairing was extremely smooth, and I soon found my living room filled with the sounds of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They are known for their brilliant guitar play, and the Pulse Soundbar showcased this extremely well. The wahhh-wahhs of the whammy came in gorgeous waves, and the deep thump of Flea’s bass play was not overpowering, yet gave the sound weight and rhythm. The playback was smooth, with no connection issues and seamless segues both between songs and individual parts of songs. There was little harshness to the vocals, and the drumbeat came through with just the right amount of smack. The soundbar could easily be used to impress guests with the richness and volume of sound, and would serve well for both parties and personal listening alike.

Bottom Line

The $1000 price tag may steer away lower budget buyers from this awesome sounding soundbar, but in this case you get what you pay for- A device able to play high resolution formats from just about any source as well as give you cinema quality sound for your HDTV. With every audio company coming out with their version of the whole home speaker system, Bluesound has done a great job with their Bluos app and the Pulse Soundbar. The ability to play hi-res audio formats wirelessly in itself warrants the higher price and we found the Bluesound Pulse Soundbar to be a high quality all around wireless music system as well as an impressive soundbar for your home theater.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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Tony is our resident expert for lifestyle and wireless products including soundbars. He does most of the reviews for wireless and streaming loudspeakers and often compares soundbars in round ups and helps us cover the trade shows.

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