Home Audio System: Getting to Know Bluesound
At Shade Tree, we make our recommendations based on experience. In that spirit, we tried out a new product line that has definitely evolved our recommendations for sound sources! We are proud to introduce Bluesound as our premier audio source. While we have come to know and love Sonos (a similar system at a comparable price point), there are several areas where Bluesound meets– even exceeds– our expectations, primarily connectivity, user interface, and sound quality.
The products we tested were the Node, the Pulse Soundbar 2i, and the Pulse 2i wireless speaker. All of these items can stand alone as independent audio sources or be integrated as a whole-home audio system. All three pieces have Bluetooth in and out capabilities ( you can send audio from your phone, or use bluetooth headphones to listen discreetly!) and robust wifi connectivity for wireless audio in hard to reach areas, or hard-wired ethernet connection for bullet proof connection. The Node and Pulse Soundbar 2i have HDMI ARC, allowing the devices to pull high-resolution sound from your smart TV to distribute the audio to other areas, as well as RCA and digital coax/optical connections. The devices also feature AirPlay2, Spotify Connect, and Amazon Alexa capabilities. The Node and Pulse 2i speaker have 3.5mm headphone jacks and all devices have USB audio 2.0 ports to connect external hard drives or memory sticks. For me personally, the game-changer was the ease of integration with Control4. While Sonos used to have perfect Control4 integration, they restricted their usage, and furthermore the S2 update made it difficult to integrate. Bluesound gives that control back. It plays perfectly with the latest Control4 operating system, OS 3+, and surprisingly integrates well with older Control4 systems on OS 2.10.6, such as the HC control line. Overall, we have yet to find a way we CAN’T connect a device to a Bluesound system.
After using the BluOS app for several months, we are beyond impressed. Like all electronics, it definitely has its kinks but the manufacturer clearly put a ton of thought into this platform. The simplicity of the interface makes it ideal for people who are less tech-savvy but still includes settings that can satisfy the most discerning audiophiles. We tested the system mostly using our networked attached storage library containing over 150 GB of music (around 1,000 hi-res albums). The app organizes the files nicely using the metadata stored in the library. Files can be sorted by title, artists, genre, albums, and more. You can also build custom playlists from your library and can include songs from streaming services. Even with a vast library to choose from, picking a song is easy and seamless. The grouping and ungrouping features work well making it ideal for whole-home audio.
The Bluesound platform is loaded with the features one expects from a true HiFi wired or wireless ecosystem. Support for up to 64 zones, different or identical music streaming to those zones in perfect sync, and real high resolution support up through 24 bit / 192 kHz. If one’s home network is good enough, streaming 24/192 audio via wireless won’t be a problem via BluOS.
When is Bluesound right for you?
We recommend Bluesound for clients who are looking for a simplified whole home audio solution as well as audiophiles looking for high-res listening. During your consultation, we will ask you about what streaming services you use. Bluesound supports many streaming and internet radio platforms such as Spotify Connect, Tidal, Deezer, Sirius XM, and many more. If your primary streaming service is Pandora, we will have to look at other solutions as Bluesound does not support Pandora at this time. Overall, Bluesound can handle almost any residential audio need.