CES 2014 Bluesound Streaming Media Products
At RMAF last year I moderated a panel discussion with the ridiculously long title, "Lines in the shifting sands of the information age. A look into the future of traditional vs. personal audio and how the landscape is changing." I wanted to tease out some visions of what the future held for personal high-end audio. Knowing of the Bluesound line, I invited Paul to sit on the panel. It was quite the wild ride, and by the end you could almost see the lightbulbs blinking on and off over the panelists heads. You can see the video here.
I mention it here because I think with Bluesound, Paul has driven a stake into the ground: High-end personal audio products are here...and they're cool. Most of the Bluesound line is probably better characterized as "computer audio", but I would certainly place the Pulse ($699) stand-alone streaming speaker in the personal audio category. This relatively large unit contains two 2 1/4" full range drivers and one 5 1/4" bass driver driven by an 80WPC Direct Digital Amplifiersimilar to the NAD M50 direct digital amp. Paul tells me he designed the speakers and enclosure acoustics to sound as good as possible, but the DirectDigital Amps are capable of DSP processing and additional tweaks are implemented to further refine the sound.
The system is capable of playing files to 24/192 in many formats (MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF), which can be accessed from streaming sources over Wi-Fi and Ethernet network connections, and through a Toslink connection from digital sources, or via USB port from music stored on a USB dongle. The Pulse is controlled with an app available for both iOS and Android devices.