Bluesound is a brand that aims to take on Sonos, and it usually does so with great success. Just like that company, Bluesound’s product lineup consists of a range of wireless speakers, soundbars and subwoofers, as well as amplifiers that can be used to bring wireless streaming to any old speaker.
The latest wireless speaker to arrive from Bluesound is the Pulse M ($449 / £449 / €549 / around AU$700), which at first glance looks like a slightly beefier Sonos One. Similar to that model, the Pulse M is a compact standalone speaker with high-res streaming capability that can be wirelessly paired with a second Pulse M for stereo listening. It can also be coupled to a wireless subwoofer for extended bass, or used as a surround speaker in a 5.1 system complete with one of the company’s soundbars.
In terms of specs, the Pulse M seems to have more going on than the Sonos One, which currently tops our list of best wireless speakers. In addition to being slightly larger at 6.7 x 8 x 5.9 inches (W x H x D), Bluesound’s new somewhat cylindrical speaker has a more intricate “Omni-Hybrid” design that combines a 5.25-inch with a pair of 0.75-inch tweeters that are offset from each other at a 45-degree angle.
The Pulse M’s design also incorporates an acoustic reflector that serves to radiate high-frequency sound in a 360-degree pattern. The goal here is to deliver a wide, immersive performance from a single speaker, with a “smart” 80-watt DSP amplifier working to monitor performance in real-time to enhance dynamic range and reduce distortion.
On top of all that, the Pulse M, which is available in a satin white or black finish with matching fabric grille, is controlled by the company’s excellent BluOS app and can stream music from a wide range of services via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or AirPlay. 2. MQA decoding is built-in to handle Tidal’s high-resolution audio, and there’s also aptX HD Bluetooth bi-directional support.
The wired inputs are extensive for a compact wireless speaker: along with the USB Type-A Ethernet ports, the Pulse M has a combination of digital and optical analog audio input, and there’s also a 3.5mm output for Connect wired headphones to enjoy high resolution audio goodness.
Analysis: More than one
With its innovative 360-degree sound propagation design, the Pulse M seems perhaps less interested in taking on the Sonos One than the five sleeps, another top-notch model on our best wireless speakers list. As with the Pulse M, this Sonos model is designed to deliver a wide soundstage and fill the room with as much high-quality audio as possible from a reasonably compact package.
Another thing the Pulse M and Sonos Five share in common is the lack of built-in microphones for voice control: you can use Siri, Google or Alexa commands to operate the Pulse M, but you’ll need to use external hardware – a speaker. Amazon Echo Dot, for example – to make that happen.
The Pulse M is priced slightly lower than the Sonos Five ($549 / £499 / AU$799), making it a more attractive option for an all-in-one speaker, at least from a standpoint. of cost. But the big question remains whether or not it provides a hefty enough performance boost over the more affordable Sonos One ($219 / £199 / AU$319) to justify the price increase.
There’s only one way to find this out, and that’s a hands-on Pulse M review, which we hope to provide in the near future. Until that happens, check out our best wireless speaker guide to read about other options, as well as our black friday 2022 guide, which features many other great audio and video product offerings.