Bluesound is a brand that aims to go head to head with Sonos, and generally does so with great success. Much like that company, Bluesound’s product lineup consists of a range of wireless speakers, soundbars, and subwoofers, along with amplifiers that can be used to bring wireless streaming to any old speakers.
The latest wireless speaker to arrive from Bluesound is the Pulse M ($449 / £449 / €549 / around AU$700), which at first glance looks like a somewhat beefier Sonos One. Similar to that model, the Pulse M is a compact standalone speaker with high-res streaming capability that can be paired wirelessly with a second Pulse M for stereo listening, It can also be mated with a wireless subwoofer for extended bass, or used as a surround speaker in a full 5.1 system with one of the company’s soundbars.
Specs-wise, the Pulse M appears to have more going on than the Sonos One, which currently sits at the top of our list of the best wireless speakers. Aside from being slightly larger at 6.7 x 8 x 5.9 inches (W x H x D), Bluesound’s somewhat cylindrical new speaker has a more intricate “Omni-Hybrid” design that mates a 5.25-inch woofer with a pair of 0.75-inch tweeters that are offset from each other at a 45-degree angle.
The Pulse M’s design also incorporates an acoustic reflector that serves to radiate high-frequency sound in a 360-degree pattern. The aim here is to deliver a wide, immersive presentation from a single speaker, with an 80-watt DSP “smart” amplifier working to monitor performance in real time to enhance dynamic range and reduce distortion.
Beyond all that, the Pulse M, which is available in a satin white or black finish with a matching fabric grille, is controlled by the company’s excellent BluOS app and can stream music from a wide range of services via Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or AirPlay 2. MQA decoding is onboard to handle high-res audio from Tidal, and there’s also two-way aptX HD Bluetooth support.
Hardwired inputs are extensive for a compact wireless speaker: along with Ethernet USB type-A ports, the Pulse M has a combination optical digital and analog audio input, and there’s also a 3.5mm output for connecting wired headphones to luxuriate in high-res audio goodness.
Analysis: More than One
With its innovative 360 degree sound-spreading design, the Pulse M seems perhaps less interested in taking on the Sonos One than the Sonos Five, another high-ranking model on our best wireless speakers list. Same as with the Pulse M, that Sonos model is designed to deliver a wide soundstage and to fill the room with as much high-quality audio as possible from a reasonably compact package.
Another thing that the Pulse M and the Sonos Five share in common is a lack of onboard microphones for voice control: you can use Siri, Google, or Alexa commands to operate the Pulse M, but you’ll need to use outboard hardware – an Amazon Echo Dot speaker, for instance – to make that happen.
The Pulse M is priced quite a bit lower than the Sonos Five ($549 / £499 / AU$799), making it a more appealing option for an all-in-one speaker, at least from a cost standpoint. But the big question remains of whether or not it provides a sufficiently beefy performance boost over the more affordable Sonos One ($219 / £199 / AU$319) to justify the price jump.
There’s only one way to find that out, and it’s a hands-on review of the Pulse M, which we hope to provide in the near future. Until that happens, check out our best wireless speaker guide to read about other options, and also our Black Friday 2022 guide, which features many other great audio and video product deals.