Pulse Flex 2i  

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While this may look like just another speaker I can assure you it is not. Just hear the sound quality from any of a range of sources and you will understand, be it Bluetooth, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Optical or even a USB Stick. It is not cheap but if it was then I would know there was something wrong, this is quality.

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The Pulse Flex 2i measures 18x12x9.5cm and weighs 1530grams.

The top has controls for back a track, forward a track, play/pause/on/off, - volume and + volume. In front of this are the numbers 1-5 these allow you to preset various things like a favourite over the air radio station. The rear has external connectors for USB ‘B’, Ethernet and Service in one line, below this another line of connections Headphones out, USB in, Optical In and Analogue In. Finally below this a two pin mains input lead.

Higher up the back is a connection for a battery pack to allow the unit to play where there is no mains supply.

Like so many recent products it works from a freely downloadable App not just for iOS and Android but also for PC and Kindle. I used the last three named at various points during my review.

Assuming the install works correctly you immediately have Wi-Fi (or Ethernet), Bluetooth and worldwide Radio stations available. So any tunes on your phone or PC is available. You also have access via subscriptions to specialised players such as Spotify, Deezer and Tidal the latter has even higher quality output via MQA. Also available are MP3, WAV FLAC and more.

MQA is possibly a new name to a lot of people; if your music service supports it I would suggest playing a CD of your favourite music in the normal way and then if possible playing the same in MQA. The sound is much richer and fuller far closer to what the sound engineer wanted in the studio. In the tunes I played that came in MQA I noticed more direction in where that musician played it as well as having to reduce the overall volume as it is far higher.

My PC has a lot of WAV music on it from a range of sources and playing it via Wi-Fi through the Flex 2i allowed me to get closer to what was recorded originally.

While most will have music on their phones in MP3 and through decent headphones you get reasonable sound here via the Flex 2i you get a chance for several people to get the most from this standard. However MP3 is roughly one tenth the quality of WAV or FLAC and that in turn is less than MQA.

New recordings and remastered recordings may offer MQA and if they do then the Flex 2i is able to let you hear the quality.

However at the moment there are not a huge number of recordings released in MQA but you are future-proofed by the ability of the Flex 2i to support MQA.

The Flex 2i is available in either black or white from the link below for £299; it is also available from some specialised audio shops so you could hear before you buy.

At the time of publication you can also find the Flex 2i available from Amazon, also at £299.

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