At CEDIA 2016, Canadian networked audio specialist Bluesound introduced what it touts as the world's first soundbar that incorporates high-res streaming audio capability. The Pulse ($1000) is designed for televisions 42 inches and larger, and focuses on audio fidelity by supporting digital audio up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution. It also supports MQA-encoded audio, which promises to deliver studio master-quality sound without gobbling up network bandwidth.
The Bluesound Pulse soundbar debuts at CEDIA2016.
Bluesound says that the pulse can be compared to "fine audiophile speakers" and that it delivers "lifelike realism, detail, and dynamics." While this is a bold claim, my recent experience with soundbars has indicated that the category is maturing with a newfound focus on fidelity.
The Pulse features a true three-way, tri-amplified speaker design that uses DSP and digital crossovers to make the most of this soundbar's custom-designed drivers.
The Pulse's black cabinet is constructed with extruded aluminum, which grants it strength and light weight. The enclosure's design includes internal chambers that are optimized for the drivers.
According to Bluesound, the bass extension of its new soundbar helps set it apart. Thanks to a large internal volume, the use of passive radiators, and judicious application of DSP, this soundbar is flat to 70 Hz, and it's -3dB point is 55 Hz. For anyone seeking more bass extension, Bluesound also plans to introduce a wireless subwoofer, the Pulse Sub ($600), featuring a 6.5" driver and 100 watts of amplification, later this fall. The Soundbar will also support existing wired subwoofers using a dongle.
The Pulse runs on Bluesound's BluOS operating system, which is optimized for networked audio and supports audio codecs including MP3, AAC, WMP, Ogg, FLAC, ALAC, and MQA. The system can access local music files through Wi-Fi and Ethernet as well as stream directly from a variety of natively integrated, cloud-based music services.
Beyond network connections, the pulse features optical, USB, Bluetooth (with aptX) and analog inputs. And while you can control the system with the BluOS app, the pulse also includes a IR sensor with learning function so you can use existing remote controls to operate basic functions such as volume level and muting.
"The PULSE Soundbar is truly an awe-inspiring product" commented John Banks, Director of Market Development and Chief Brand Officer for Bluesound. "Never before has an audio product combined this level of sonic performance with the intelligence and flexibility to drive a whole-home audio system. Both home theater enthusiasts and music lovers alike will readily appreciate what enjoyment the PULSE Soundbar offers."
I had a chance to hear the Pulse on the noisy show floor, it was able to rise above the din and did exhibit great fidelity.
Bluesound will show the Pulse soundbar along with the Pulse Sub ($600) at CEDIA Expo 2017. The soundbar is expected to ship later this month and the sub will ship in October.