Bluesound Pulse Flex Speaker Review
Until we got approached, I knew very little about Bluesound, only that they didn’t have the same marketing budget at Sonos! Bluesound produce wireless speakers, in all shapes, sizes & prices. The WiFi enabled speakers can be connected to your wireless network, enabling you to listen music anywhere in your home, from one simple app. Furthermore, build up the collection of speakers, sync them and fill your entire home with audio. We got sent the Pulse Flex speaker to review, so let’s jump into it.
The Pulse Flex is the smallest speaker in their range, which also includes the Mini, which is slightly bigger, and the Pulse, which is the biggest. They also offer a soundbar and subwoofer for TV audio. The Pulse Flex comes in two colours, black or white, but there are rubber ‘skins’ you can purchase, to protect and change the overall colour.
Within the box is the speaker, a power adapter, 3.5mm jack cable and instructions. The speaker itself is relatively compact, it can be handled with one hand, but its heavy. Heavy is good, we like heavy! It feels very robust, well-constructed and it looks very sleek and modern. It’s minimalist design and the materials used, give a premium feel to the speaker. To the top of the speaker is the controls, the usual on/off, change track, volume and pre-set buttons. There is no display. To the rear of the speaker are the inputs, which include ethernet port, normal & mini USB ports, audio in, headphone out, power in, plus a service button.
Setting up the speaker to your wireless network is quite straight forward. You first need to download the Bluesound app, which is free on iOS & Android and follow the instructions on screen. Once connected, you will be greeted by some options, allowing you to play locally stored music, browse online radio stations and add music services. Services include the usual, such as Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, Tidal, plus many more. The Bluesound app integrates into these third party apps, allow you to switch between the two and/or for them to sync together. Via this app, you can control the speaker & the music it plays, as well as change various settings and group speakers together. Picture this, 2 or 3 Flex’s in a large open plan kitchen/living space, or even two Flex’s plus a soundbar to accompany your TV. I was only given the one speaker, so can’t comment on how well this works or if there are any syncing issues (I’ve had this with other brands). As well as wireless connectivity, the speaker also features Bluetooth and aux in.
As for sound performance, the Flex throws 20 watts of power into a 3.5″ & 1″ speakers, with sampling rates up to 192 kHz and it also plays hi res formats such as FLAC & MQA, as well as the standard formats like MP3, AAC etc. That results in something very impressive, and probably the best sound I’ve heard this year. Crystal clear, defined, rich audio, with plenty of oomph, which makes for a very enjoyable and exciting listen. Even though this is the smallest speaker in the range, it will easily fill your living room with glorious sounds, regardless of volume. The quality remains at higher volumes, so it really will get the party started. I listened to music via Spotify & Tidal, as Tidal offers the hi res format and for me, it was subtle, but you could hear the increased quality.
I mentioned earlier about the rubber sleeve, which is accessory number 1. Other accessories available include a wall mount bracket for the speaker, and a battery pack. The bracket is just a bracket, but the battery pack changes the game. This battery pack clips into the back of the speaker (behind the rubber cover) and offers up to 6 hours of playback from a single charge (it charges when its clipped in, via the mains). This means the speaker, although slightly heavy, becomes a portable bluetooth speaker, allowing you to take the party outside. You will see the speaker can be lent on its side, but if the battery pack is installed, you wont be able to do this sucessfully.
Overall, the Pulse Flex is a very versatile and powerful speaker, covering most, if not all audio requirements. It’s very easy to use, set up was relatively easy and even though it’s a little heavy with the battery pack, its portable. Now to the price, its expensive, coming in at £299 rrp, which is £100 more than the Sonos One. I’d love to compare the two together, as im sure the Flex will have a slight edge on performance, but unsure if it justifies the £100 uplift. For more information and to purchase, visit the official Bluesound website.
Note: I had an issued syncing my Spotify up with the Bluesound app. It was one of two things, my phone wasn’t on the same WiFi network as the Flex, or the reinstall of Spotify did the job. Possible bug? who knows but I got it working in the end.