Canadian audio specialist Bluesound announced its new Pulse Soundbar Plus this week, promising audiophile-friendly features like Dolby Atmos and support for 24-bit Hi-Res Audio formats. But while the company boldly claims the Pulse Soundbar Plus “is to audio what the 8K TV is to video,” there are other tricks that might endear the new soundbar to a much wider audience upon its April release.
We’re particularly interested in what Bluesound calls “zero-lag” performance, courtesy of a customized ARM Cortex A53 chip that processes audio up to 8 times faster than previous Bluesound soundbars. This could make the Pulse Soundbar Plus a fine match for games consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X, where out-of-sync audio can really spoil the fun.
To further enhance stability and performance, the Pulse Soundbar Plus has two Wi-Fi chips, which also enable multi-room capability and AirPlay 2 support. There looks to be plenty of connectivity options in general, with two-way aptX HD Bluetooth adding wireless flexibility and a range of ports that includes HDMI eARC, TOSLINK, RCA and USB. Bluesound’s proprietary music streaming system, BluOS, works as well.
Power-wise, Bluesound claims 120W of output muscle, delivered through a generous 8 full-range drivers. Unlike the other big soundbar launch of this week, the Sony HT-S40R, the Pulse Soundbar Plus is a standalone speaker without a bundled subwoofer and rear speakers.
This might mean the surround sound effect of Dolby Atmos isn’t as strong as it would be on a “true” surround sound system, though you can add to the soundbar by buying the Bluesound’s Pulse Sub Plus ($749) and Pulse Flex 2i satellite speakers ($299 each) separately.
The Pulse Soundbar Plus itself costs $899, making even pricier than the Sonos Arc. Still, with a combination of Hi-Res Audio support, Dolby Atmos and minimal lag, it could well be a soundbar that’s all things to all people. Audiophiles, film fans and gamers, anyway.
It’s available to pre-order now from Bluesound, and will start shipping on April 30.