01 Feb Pulse Flex 2i Product Manager Illuminates 2nd Generation Speaker
This month we are featuring a product review on the awesome Pulse Flex 2i. The incredible sound produced by this little box is available at such an affordable price it rivals competitors and has them shaking in their boots.
Bluesound product manager, Matt Simmonds, has sat down to answer some questions about their product line. After he impresses you with the Bluesound line, jump over to Issue 62 to read my product review on the awesome Flex Pulse 2i. If you are not a current EDM World Magazine subscriber click here for a free trial of EDM World Magazine to access the Flex Pulse 2i product review or click here for Issue 62.
What are the notable changes in this second generation of the Pulse Flex 2i?
For Generation 2i we really focused on connectivity improvements across our entire platform, making sure our customers had more and better options for connecting to their Bluesound Player.
We added support for Apple Airplay 2, one of the first 3rd-party partners to do so. We updated our WiFi chipset to support WiFi 5 (802.11ac and dual-band), and updated components wherever we could.
Matt, what is your favorite function on your Pulse Flex 2i?
My favorite function is probably something that seems so basic and simple, but really gets underestimated when it comes to all-in-one speakers and electronics – physical, press-able Preset buttons on the top panel!
The Pulse Flex 2i gets used a lot in spaces like kitchens – high-traffic areas where people are cooking, congregating, getting ready for work, getting the kids fed, and out the door for school. Sometimes you don’t want to (or don’t have time) pull out a Phone and an App to get some music playing, so the touch buttons on the top of the Flex 2i can be programmed as presets.
You can preset your favorite radio stations, playlists, and more; the one-touch buttons make it even easier to get your music going.
Our readers listen to a wide variety of EDM from the heavy bass to melodic trance. How does Bluesound cover the different ranges from the lows, the mids, and highs?
There is such a vast variety of EDM music, it’s really fantastic. At Bluesound, our goal is to reproduce the original recording as accurately as possible. We don’t try to color it one way or another, by artificially boosting bass or pushing the upper mids.
If we do our job, the intended sound of the original recording will come through, and then you as the listener have the option to boost bass or treble and use some of our other audio-related features to adjust the sound to your specific taste!
This doesn’t mean that a Bluesound speaker just sounds flat and dull. No, every speaker, including the Flex 2i, still has a frequency curve with boosts and cuts here and there. But our goal is transparency and giving you as much control over your sound as possible.
What are some of your favorite songs to listen to on your Pulse Flex 2i?
Can’t Do Without You – Caribou
Pain – The War On Drugs
Garden Song – Phoebe Bridgers
Frail State of Mind – The 1975
Anything – Tycho
How does the Bluesound family compare to other home systems? What makes Bluesound the wiser choice?
Bluesound is designed for the person who not only loves music but loves it so much that they care about how good it can sound. That’s why all of our speakers and streamers can handle hi-res audio files, from beginning to end, up to 24-bit/192kHz. People will say this type of quality doesn’t matter, but we disagree – you just have to experience and ‘live’ with the higher quality for a while.
One of the things that really sets us apart from other home systems is our approach to product design – we are an audio company first, not a tech/gadget/computer company. We come from a long line of distinguished HiFi brands, including NAD Electronics and PSB Speakers, who were and still are leaders in value-for-money premium audio gear.
The ‘HiFi’ approach to product design means that we put a little more money into the components we use in our products; it means we make tradeoffs that place value on sonic quality, where others will place value on tech trends. A lot of other home audio systems are really designed to be background music machines; Bluesound can do that too. But we really shine in serious, long-lasting listening sessions for people who just absolutely love music.
If someone hasn’t started building their home media ecosystem, what would you suggest as the first, second, and third piece of equipment to purchase from Bluesound to get started?
This is so different for everyone! Of course, our foundational belief is that you need high-quality sound in your life. But after that, it comes down to your lifestyle, your habits, your way of living, and the space you occupy.
If you’ve already got a stereo system or a pair of active monitors, your first Bluesound should likely be a Node 2i. This is a hi-res streamer that you simply add to your system to get access to all the music streaming through a stereo system.
If you have a CD collection that you want to move to storage (who doesn’t love a little de-cluttering!?), then the Vault 2i is the perfect product for you. Not only is it a hi-res streamer like the Node 2i, but it has the added benefits of a CD-ripper and 2TB storage drive, allowing you to get your entire CD collection into the ecosystem for easy access and whole-home listening.
Of course, like so many of us who are limited to smaller apartments and condos, the TV area is the main location in the house for tv, movies, and music. If you’re looking to upgrade your TV sound in a powerful way, I’d suggest your first Bluesound purchase be a Pulse Soundbar 2i. It’s an all-in-one sound system for all your home media needs.
The Pulse Flex 2i, Pulse Mini 2i, and Pulse 2i – our three all-in-one speakers – are the perfect 2nd or 3rd Bluesound purchase. They add hi-fi listening to those other areas of your home, the nooks, and crannies, the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom. This is where Bluesound really starts to show off even more, when you understand that your home audio environment truly can be an ecosystem of music Players in one room, or many rooms, in your house. We truly believe in filling your life with good sound.
How does Bluesound test their speakers to provide such great sound?
We take a truly scientific approach to sound reproduction. Our history is deeply intertwined with renowned loudspeaker brand PSB Speakers, one of Bluesound’s sister companies. Paul Barton, PSB’s founder, and well-known loudspeaker designer, still does all the acoustic design for PSB and for Bluesound.
Paul was part of a group of scientists, musicians, and loudspeaker designers who conducted research on psychoacoustics, which ultimately was able to provide a foundational understanding of what people’s preferences are when listening to music in a double-blind listening environment.
Research, study, and then practical application of these design principles in the creation of Bluesound speakers, like the Pulse Flex 2i. The result of this approach, and what Paul is famous for, are speakers that are perceived as organic sounding – real, alive, and natural.
If a Bluesound consumer runs into technical difficulties what type of support and resources are available?
We have an amazing customer support team, affectionately known as the BluOS Support Crew, who is incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to do whatever it takes to help if there are any issues. We also have a full database of help articles, including step by step videos for certain functions. All of this can be found at support.bluesound.com.
What feature would you like to see in a future release of the Pulse Flex 2i?
The Flex 2i is already able to be set up in a stereo pair and as rear-surrounds of a Home Theater Group. I’d love to see the Flex 2i be able to be used as the Front, Left, Right, and Center channels in a Home Theater setup, in addition to the already supported rear-surrounds.
This would be a true 5.1 system and great for customers looking for a wireless home theater setup. The good news is that this doesn’t even require a new version of the Pulse Flex 2i, but could be released as a software feature sometime in the future. Fingers crossed!