Firstly, let’s break something down for the everyday Wireless Speaker shopper, like me. You’ve got a basic understanding of what you’re looking for, working within certain restrains and aware of the endless tech reviews that get intricately trapped in the small technical details and, to be honest, they probably tend to lose you halfway through…
Here at Critical Popcorn, we always try to offer a straightforward perspective with constructive criticism and a delve towards the positives when we find them. In the case of trying out the Bluesound Pulse Mini 2i Wireless Speaker, I have been on the hunt for a system that can offer top quality wireless speakers and sound, that you can adjust/balance without an issue, and something that’ll enhance my love of film at home. Also, it’s crucial that it’s easy to install and, even more importantly, that it goes beyond my ridiculously high hopes and while that’s obviously a lot to ask for, this one? It’s pretty close to perfect.
Why the Bluesound Wireless Speaker?
After testing it for the past couple of weeks, for both music and film reasons, and previously owning just a soundbar (now long gone) and various Alexa-based speakers, I was still missing something to heighten how I’ve been listening to my music at home. It was also to connect to my Sony 4K UHD TV and expand that Home Cinema experience. The reason I was particularly intrigued by Bluesound’s Pulse Mini 2i is initially for two reasons: That you can connect via an optical cable (always a better decision for me) and that Bluesound can be connected to TIDAL, the first Global music subscription service that offers genuine high fidelity sound.
This means you’re getting master-quality audio recordings, you’ll hear MQA and uncompressed audio mentioned a lot, and the original way your albums were meant to be heard, alongside 24 bit audio direct from the artists themselves, which is a huge pull, I’m sure you can agree. In an aesthetic sense, it looks great amongst my living room setup as well, most of the pictures you see here are mine, and the Speaker fits the style I’m eager to embrace.
First impressions and music expression
Despite having a fine old record player, yes, I do the vinyl thing (but have for years!), I’ve become acutely aware that all my music is easier to manage in a digital format. So as the CDs have been sold off, and the old CD player just doesn’t quite hit the mark for how I want to listen to my music, the first use of the Bluesound Pulse Mini 2i was initially full of hope, but also true hesitancy.
I’m pleased to quickly announce that all those doubts were blown away immediately. After downloading and setting up the app on my phone, which frankly was an easy process as any app (just make sure you’re ready to connect to your Wi-Fi), and from there, you can control your music, the system and so forth through it. Now, I’ve used similar apps for tech that haven’t always held up to their promise but Bluesound have effortlessly integrated all the main music providers (and internet Radio services) you could need including the aforementioned TIDAL, plus Amazon Music (which I also subscribe to), Deezer, Spotify and so forth – all in 24-bit, high resolution. They also hook up with Amazon Echo and AirPlay 2, but in this test, I’ve stuck with the app.
Diving headfirst in the TIDAL Masters, it took me back to remembering how good my music should be sounding. You get comfortable with the smaller wireless speakers, or old CD players, doing a deceny job but this has been something else. Something huge. Depending on your music taste, I’ve got a favourite from almost every genre, I don’t think the Pulse Mini 2i will let you down. The TIDAL Masters option also gives you something unique when delving and exploring through all the artists, trust me, if you love your music, then you’ll be gone for a few hours once you start. I probably have to admit I’d forgotten the difference but after cueing up the likes of Amy Winehouse, Prince, Tom Petty, Radiohead, Montell Jordan, heck even Carly Rae Jepsen, Ariana Grande, and The Black Keys (I might have got lost for a while on an eclectic musical journey), I couldn’t find any faults with the quality at all. Just hit that track, sit back and feel everything flowing through you, that’s the way it should be.
This isn’t just about the big bands either, it’s also got a real place for the lower key moments with the likes of Bon Iver, David Gray, Laura Marling and the beautifully atmospheric sounds of London Grammar. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to pick out every part of a song, like when you’re lost in a world of music with your headphones on/earphones in. It’s like rediscovering my music all over again, and I know that sounds like excessively flattering but that’s how it has felt, and this is why we’re here.
Elevating the Home Cinema experience
While I feel the Bluesound Pulse Mini 2i is designed more for music, I couldn’t waste the opportunity to hook it up to my Sony 4K TV and give some of my favourite ‘big’ movies a chance. As briefly mentioned, I physically connected the TV and Pulse 2i via an optical cable (check your TV has this option but they’re cheap enough to pick up if you haven’t got one already), and tried out the likes of Extraction (new Chris Hemsworth actioner on Netflix), plus Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim on Blu-ray, to really see where this could take me.
While the huge moments can take over the flat, it’s very welcome although there were a few quieter parts in Extraction that didn’t always come through as clear. However, I discovered the adjustments in the ‘settings’ on the App, which might depend on the type of Home Cinema setup you have. There’s a neat ‘Front Row’ option, in settings > player > audio to adjust to your needs. There’s also TV/Movie/Music options within that menu as well, it’s simple though, with just ‘flick on/off’ buttons, which means you can test it out with music or movies, depending on your requirements.
And now some technical insight
While already mentioning some technical connections, I think this is a simple piece of kit to master and I only really touched the surface of what the Pulse Mini 2i can do. This decent sized, and positively chunky, beast comes with a huge 100W output, which means you can hear everything with quite beautiful clarity. That sound is so packed full of detail and the soundscape, that it completely celebrates the songs you’re listening to, exactly as you’d want it to.
It holds a pair of 10cm woofers for a hell of a performance, with 2cm tweeters instead of their previous 5cm full-range drivers, so whether you’re hosting a party or settling in to a comfortable night with your significant other, you’ll find the right level that doesn’t overwhelm the home, and I live in a flat, but if you really want push it, then there’s a long, expansive sound out ahead.
With genuine honesty, the Bluesound Pulse Mini 2i is one of the most impressive wireless speakers I’ve ever used. Everything ran smoothly via the app, which is actually vital with something at this price and as powerful. There was no drop-out of streaming, nor a lack of options for using other music services, in case you haven’t got the likes of TIDAL or Amazon Music right now.
While the high tag of £499 may be a push for some, Bluesound keeps stepping up and this system doesn’t restrict its levels to one musical genre, it strengthened my Home Cinema adventures and keeps me coming back for more every day. It also comes in black or white, to suit every stylistic, and overall exceeded my expectations.
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And finally, a little more technical breakdown:
- An innovative dual acoustic chamber results in a stunning, size-defying performance.
- Experience deep bass and full-range sound free from distortion.
- Dual band Wi-Fi and support for 2-way Bluetooth aptX HD ensures music playback without interruption.
- Group two PULSE MINI 2i’s together for a seamless stereo pairing.
- Designed to fit seamlessly into your home decor.
- Control music wirelessly with the intuitive BluOS Controller app for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Windows & Mac OS X desktops.
- Control it with the optional Bluesound RC1 Remote Controller
- Connect Bluesound to your Amazon Echo with the skill in the Alexa app and use Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to control Players around the home.
- AirPlay 2 lets you play music or podcasts from wireless speakers throughout your house — all in sync