One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive involves my opinion on the best affordable wireless loudspeakers. Most people don’t know that they’re being slightly annoying when they ask it — because they already know what the answer is in their head and I’m apparently just there for validation. Everyone assumes that I going to say something like the Sonos One SL. Much to their dismay this Chanukah, I’m going to suggest the Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i or Pulse Mini 2i instead.
My Sonos One SL review is pretty clear about the fact that I rather liked it, and that the Sonos S2 app is a fantastic experience. If you’re not using that as your benchmark for a wireless speaker — you probably deserve a Crosley turntable under the tree or Menorah this year. I’m looking at you HuffPost.
While I’m still firmly in the passive loudspeaker camp, the reality is that KEF, Bluesound, DALI, Elac, and Audioengine are delivering very compelling wireless products right now.
Wireless and Bluetooth loudspeakers have made enormous strides in the past few years and there is not shortage of high-end products to meet the budgetary needs of every music listener. Sonos have a commanding slice of the pie in this category and with the S2 app — it’s not hard to understand why. Consumers want usability and the best possible sound quality at a price that they can afford.
Consumers want the ability to stream Spotify, Tidal, and Qobuz from their smartphones and tablets, and the process needs to be simple. Don’t tell people to pay $2,500 for your wireless loudspeakers if they need to use two apps to make it work. That doesn’t fly with consumers anymore.
So where does that leave the Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i and Pulse Mini 2i?
The Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i is a more natural rival to the Sonos One SL and you definitely require a stereo pair to really experience what it can do.
One area where Bluesound has invested a lot of time and money is the BluOS app and as someone who has used it for the past few years, it’s quite clear that the user experience keeps getting better.
Bluesound offers access to 23 different music streaming platforms via the app and unless you really need something outside of Qobuz, TIDAL, Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music — you’re good to go.
The system supports Alexa, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, and it’s very easy to group a number of speakers together in a multi-room scenario and control the volume of each speaker independently.
The Sonos S2 app on my iPhone is still superior but I’ve fallen for the OS version of BluOS on my MacBook Pro which makes more sense for me as I’m working in front of my laptop all day long.
I’ll have a more detailed review of both the Pulse Flex 2i and Pulse Mini 2i in about 10 days but I’m already trying to figure out a permanent spot for each in our home.
The Pulse Mini 2i is better than my stereo pair of Sonos One SL speakers for a myriad of reasons; transparency, detail retrieval, mid bass punch, and its warmer tonal balance that gives music much more presence in our kitchen.
Bluesound did its homework kids. Stay tuned as we’re going to try these in a few configurations.
Where to buy: