Bluesound Pulse Soundbar 2i: Nice sound wrapped in a nasty UI

“The superb sound high quality is marred by poor design selections and a nasty person expertise.”

Excellently balanced, impartial sound

Tons of connection and accent choices

Appropriate with wi-fi whole-house audio

Works with Airplay

Cumbersome, tall design limits placement

Poor total person expertise

Costly

Bluesound will not be a family identify, but it surely’s been an in depth competitor to Sonos within the battle of overconnected, good, high-fidelity audio. The Pulse Soundbar 2i is the corporate’s second-generation soundbar designed for the lounge, and it boasts severe audio chops.

At $900, it’s barely costlier than the Sonos Arc, however doesn’t supply Dolby Atmos assist as its competitor does. Does it produce other options which may make it a more sensible choice? Let’s have a look.

Massive drivers, cumbersome housing

The Pulse Soundbar 2i is just not fairly. After we assessment soundbars, we accomplish that from the angle that they need to not draw consideration to themselves. The perfect ones are slim and compact, and if you find yourself compelled to have a look at them, they a minimum of have refined strains and an aesthetic end. The Bose Soundbar 700 is a good instance of this.

The Soundbar 2i seems constructed to do the polar reverse. With extra emphasis positioned on sound high quality than how it could look positioned in a room, the Soundbar 2i stands at a towering 5.5-inches tall. To place that in perspective, the ft on my 65-inch Sony LED tv solely elevate the underside of the TV somewhat greater than 2.5 inches off its media stand.

That implies that if I have been to put the Soundbar 2i in its optimum place instantly under the tv, about two inches of the underside of the TV can be obscured by it. It’s factor the soundbar has an IR receiver on the entrance, as a result of because of its top, the IR receiver on my tv is blocked.

Jaron Schneider | Digital Developments

This isn’t best, and for anybody with the same lounge setup, the Pulse Soundbar 2i goes to look heinously massive and be simply as intrusive. If, nevertheless, you select to wall mount your tv, that is much less of a problem. Bluesound consists of quite a lot of wall mount adapters to assist make that simpler.

If the rationale Bluesound made the Soundbar 2i so tall is to accommodate its system of audio system, then it was completely going for sound high quality above all else. The specs on the drivers on this soundbar are spectacular. It encases two 1-inch tweeters, two Four-inch woofers, two 2-inch midrange drivers, and two Four-inch passive radiators.

Related, however complicated

For those who’re on the lookout for quite a lot of connection choices and codec assist, the Soundbar 2i is flush with them. Along with supporting nearly each audio file format you possibly can consider, it additionally helps a bunch of codecs together with aptX through Bluetooth, in addition to USB, Optical, RCA line-in, HDMI ARC and eARC. There’s additionally Wi-Fi for direct streaming from quite a few companies together with Grasp tracks from Tidal.

If your own home has it, odds are excessive that the Soundbar 2i can play it. Due to Bluesound’s critically spectacular record of assist gadgets, you’ve a number of choices if you happen to plan to take a position on this system.

Must you need a wi-fi connection to the Soundbar 2i, you possibly can seize an NAD M10 A/V receiver that has built-in assist for Bluesound. In case you have an current dwelling theater system that you simply need to combine the Soundbar 2i into, the corporate’s Node 2i will join Bluesound’s app interface to that system and combine all of it with the Soundbar 2i for a multiroom setup with out having to purchase all new tools to get it. The variety of add-on choices right here is critical, and it’s an space the place Bluesound has much more occurring than its competitor Sonos.

For those who’re on the lookout for quite a lot of connection choices and codec assist, the Soundbar 2i is flush with them.

Sadly, I’m not the largest fan of Bluesound’s app, which is the management heart for all of Bluesounds’s tools, together with the Soundbar 2i. Not solely is it buggy, but it surely’s merely not intuitive to make use of. Certain, there are a number of choices within the app that will let you fine-tune the sort of audio you will get out of the Soundbar 2i, however discovering and utilizing these options doesn’t happen how I’d suppose. It’s on this space that Sonos’ app is simply much more usable.

The Bluesound Soundbar 2i makes me really feel silly.

Particularly, utilizing the Soundbar 2i with HDMI ARC was not defined by any of the included literature or via a guided setup within the app, and the soundbar isn’t good sufficient to simply default to incoming HDMI indicators and offer you audio.

After I first plugged the soundbar in and set it up through the app, at no level did it say that I needed to allow HDMI ARC via the app with a view to get sound pass-through. I needed to head to Google and determine the right way to get sound out of the bar. That’s how little I used to be advised by the machine about the way it capabilities.

This can be a step that feels prefer it ought to simply occur, not one thing that I ought to have to inform the soundbar to do through the app. On the very least, the app ought to have been extra forthcoming about what the Soundbar 2i is able to, and the right way to correctly full setup.

RIGHT: That is the house display screen, and you may both faucet the highest proper or left. | MIDDLE: For those who faucet the highest proper, you possibly can choose what output for the soundbar to make use of. This doesn’t permit HDMI pass-through, nevertheless, solely quantity management. | RIGHT: To get HDMI pass-through, it’s a must to faucet the highest left and discover HDMI ARC. This separation is wildly unintuitive.

The Soundbar 2i doesn’t have an included distant. I’m not certain how that was a choice reached by anybody at Bluesound, but it surely’s not one I can get behind.

For one, it’s a speaker system designed for dwelling theater — it wants a distant. Second, if you happen to don’t have HDMI ARC in your tv and plan to attach via optical, good luck simply altering the quantity of this soundbar. The entire controls are discovered within the app (extra on that in a second), however having to make use of an app to manage your soundbar whereas sitting in your individual lounge feels wonky and disjointed, to not point out sluggish and tedious. You may choose up the Bluesound RC1 IR distant, however that’s a further $60 for one thing that ought to have been included. We’ve complained about Sonos charging an excessive amount of for equipment, however Bluesound is taking that to a brand new degree.

On the plus facet, the Soundbar 2i has the flexibility to work with most IR remotes you’ll discover in a family, offered you set them up with the app. That sounds nice, however the app by no means tells you that’s an choice and neither does the literature that ships with the bar. It’s important to nearly detect it as a functionality. This all loops again to the problem at hand — the person expertise is exceptionally poor. All the pieces in regards to the Bluesound expertise feels prefer it was made by an engineer who wished to pack as a lot as attainable into the product, however had nobody’s assist to therapeutic massage usability into it.

The Soundbar 2i makes me really feel silly. Sonos does a superb job strolling you thru the setup of any of its gadgets, mixing image cues with particular directions so that you simply by no means really feel such as you’re misplaced. Whenever you’re working with a number of completely different gadgets that may supply a bunch of companies, this sort of hand-holding is an absolute should. It’s a disgrace Bluesound doesn’t aid you as a shopper via the method, as a result of the acoustic high quality of this soundbar is excellent.

Highly effective, nice, impartial sound

I discussed the spectacular driver array within the Soundbar 2i, and whereas they aren’t fairly to have a look at, they produce an excellent auditory expertise. I’m very happy with the standard of sound popping out of the Soundbar 2i, and it nearly absolutely redeems the product’s aforementioned evident UI points.

Music is the place the Soundbar 2i actually sings.

Although it received’t match the uncooked energy of a subwoofer, the bass within the Soundbar 2i gives greater than ample rumble to films, and provides depth to music.

I really most well-liked the Soundbar 2i as a music listening speaker over a house theater centerpiece. Whereas films sound nice, they lack a encompass sound really feel. Attaining this in a single center-weighted bar is tough, however not inconceivable. The Sonos Arc does a greater job on this division because of its Dolby Atmos assist, and The Fives by Klipsch additionally does a greater job hitting me with top-quality cinema sound because of true left and proper separation.

Jaron Schneider | Digital Developments

Whereas cinema isn’t its strongest go well with, taking part in music is the place the Soundbar 2i actually sings.

All these drivers work collectively to make for sound that permits you to dissect each particular instrument from an orchestra, or clearly hear the nuance of the melodies in a rock ballad. Bluesound has tuned its Soundbar 2i to work nearly like a reference monitor, with unbelievable readability and wonderful impartial sound replica.

I favored the sound out of the Soundbar 2i a lot I moved it away from my tv — because it was blocking the decrease portion of the display screen anyway — and positioned it on my mantle in order that it was in prime place to play music whereas I used to be studying on the sofa. It superbly rendered sound throughout my lounge, and as I loved that pretty musical expertise, I lamented how this excellent piece of sound was being held again by UI choices that have been so simply avoidable.

I did check out the Soundbar 2i with Bluesound’s wi-fi subwoofer, the Pulse Sub, however was unimpressed. The sub, although slim and simple to attach, provided almost no change to how I used to be experiencing both music or films. Even at most energy, it failed to offer me any of the rumble I used to be on the lookout for. I believe the soundbar does a lots good job by itself, so you possibly can be at liberty to cross on the sub for now.

Our take

The Bluesound Pulse Soundbar 2i is a little bit of an oddball within the soundbar area. It’s higher at music than cinema, is formatted to work properly particularly with wall-mounted televisions, and is closely reliant on its app. Glorious total high quality helps redeem it, however most individuals ought to go for Sonos’ extra intuitive choices.

Is there a greater different?

The Sonos Arc is probably the most direct competitor, providing the identical guarantees of a soundbar with multiroom connectivity. As a bonus, the Arc is $100 inexpensive and helps Dolby Atmos. The Bose Soundbar 700 can be a superb selection, and The Fives by Klipsch provides all of them a run for his or her cash as true stereo screens.

How lengthy will it final?

Bluesound gives what’s the customary 1-year guarantee, however the construct high quality is great, and I don’t anticipate this machine to fail any time quickly.

Must you purchase it?

No, it’s onerous to advocate the Soundbar 2i. Regardless of excellent audio high quality, it’s higher as a speaker than a tv soundbar, and the UI wants a number of work. That makes it a cross from me.

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