Bluesound has unveiled its latest soundbar, which is said to offer “audiophile-grade bass response - without a subwoofer”. It also comes packed with HDMI eARC, Apple Airplay 2, and Amazon Alexa support.
Bluesound Pulse 2i soundbar
The company’s “2i” generation succeeds the previous line-up and offers a number of improvements in audio quality and features. The refreshed line-up also includes a soundbar for TVs.
- “Ever since Bluesound’s exciting debut five years ago, we have listened to the marketplace and worked hard to make significant improvements throughout the line,” said Matt Simmonds, Bluesound’s Product Manager. “Gen 2i represents another leap forward with major technological enhancements that make this generation of Bluesound products even more compelling. Best of all, Gen 2i is compatible with existing Bluesound systems.”
One of the most significant new features from an audio perspective is the addition of HDMI eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel). This new HDMI 2.1 feature supports lossless audio from a TV to the soundbar. In the past, standard HDMI ARC has been severely limited in terms of formats and audio quality, and Bluesound’s previous soundbar lacked HDMI entirely. The first TVs with HDMI eARC are the Sony ‘Master’ series TVs but many more are expected in 2019. With eARC, you no longer have to pass-through audio via the soundbar. The TV can be the control center.
Bluesound explains that the soundbar is equipped with 2x1” tweeters, 2x4” woofer, 2x2” midrange drivers, and 2x4” passive radiators for a total of 120W effect. It supports high-res 24-bit audio, too, and has been designed for “movies, games and sports in true high-fidelity”.
On the other hand the soundbar lacks support for object-based audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X that are available on UHD Blu-ray and from streaming services such as iTunes and Netflix. These systems are increasingly being integrated in soundbars from major brands such as LG, Samsung, Sony, Yamaha, and Sennheiser.
Airplay 2 built-in
The Bluesound Pulse 2i soundbar will gain Amazon Alexa and Apple Airplay 2 support via a firmware update that will be “available soon”. It also supports Bluetooth (aptX HD) music streaming and the company’s own multiroom system.
In addition, Bluesound will launch a range of other speakers with Airplay 2, allowing customers to set-up a complete multiroom system via Apple’s protocol for wireless audio or connect the soundbar wirelessly to Apple TV. Airplay 2 furthermore allows customers to mix and match speakers from multiple brands. These new Bluesound speakers include Node 2i, Powernode 2i, Vault 2i, Pulse 2i, Mini 2i, and Flex 2i.
- “AirPlay 2 also gives users more options for control, including using Siri voice assistance. Once you add your Gen 2i Player to the Apple Home App on your iPhone or iPad, Apple Music subscribers can use their iOS device or HomePod to say things like: “Hey Siri, play smooth jazz in the Living Room” or “Hey Siri, turn it up in the Kitchen.” the company said. “By grouping a Gen 2i Player with older Bluesound Players in the BluOS App, existing customers can add AirPlay 2 compatibility to their entire BluOS system.”
The company added that the Pulse 2i soundbar can be combined with the existing Pulse Sub and a pair of Pulse Flex 2i’s for a surround sound experience.
Bluesound’s Pulse 2i soundbar will be available in November for $799 / £799 in black and $899 / £899 in white.
Bluesound Pulse 2i – audio specifications
Supported File Formats MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, ALAC, OPUS
Hi-Res formats - FLAC, MQA, WAV, AIFF
Surround Formats Dolby Digital
Native Sampling Rates 32 - 192 kHz
Bit Depths 16 - 24
Performance Frequency Response: +/_ 1dB 70Hz - 20kHz, 3dB down @ 55Hz, With Sub: +/_ 1dB 30Hz - 20kHz, 3dB down @ 25Hz
Distortion: THD+N - 0.030%
Power Output 120 watts of total system power
Speakers 2 x 1” (25mm) Tweeters 2 x 4” (102mm) Woofers 2 x 2” (50mm) Midrange Drivers 2 x 4” (102mm) Passive Radiators