Bluesound Pulse 2 vs. Elac Discovery Z3

I’m using a Sonic Transporter as my Roon core with my home network WiFi to my Bluesound speakers. The only issue I have is that when I’m using my wireless photo printer from my laptop my speakers drop in and out. That’s not an issue. No dropped signals otherwise. Also, I only had the Elac Z3 for a short time but I did not get dropped signals either. So does the problem also lay with what hardware is being used as a Roon core? Yes, I too wish other audio companies would make speakers that are RAAT endpoints but I see the challenges. Developing the software to work realiably across all platforms and devices is daunting. It seems these days audio companies must employ electrical engineers and software developers in equal measure if they’re going to survive the wireless route.

P.S. I am amending the above statement. As of late, I do get dropped signals from time to time. It’s normally rectified by going into the Bluesound app and reconnecting. Like others here, I am waiting for a Bluesound software update. It’s a bit concerning for me as I’ve committed to purchasing 5 Bluesound speakers for my wireless set-up.

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I just got the ELAC Z3 yesterday. It is true the app sucks, very basic and crashes a lot, and the wireless connectivity has much to be desired. I’m still not sure I’ve solved all my issues but it appears the speaker can’t connect to a wifi network where the SSID is hidden. The app sees that the network is there(so much for hiding it) but after entering the password multiple times it fails to connect. Un-hide the SSID and it connects. The user manual is garbage too. As for the sound when I connected with a Cat5 cable is pretty darn good. Need to test some more and will post more feedback when I’ve gotten everything straightened out.

All this begs the question about what roon means by roon ready? roon states that the equipment gets thoroughly tested. I wounder how much testing really happens.

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Since I’ve written this review, Bluesound has recently announced the next generation of speakers, of note will be the new Pulse 2i and Pulse Mini 2i. All anyone can do at this moment is speculate about the sound quality of the 2i generation of products.

In my above review I made the observation that for the next generation of of products Bluesound needed to incorporate proper tweeters into their speakers. With the Pulse 2i, Bluesound did this and I’m sure the extended highs will be an improvement over the Pulse 2. My concern now is with the Pulse 2i’s two 5 inch woofers. Having two woofers will increase bass significantly but will the increased bass overpower the midrange? We have just one listening review, so far, from WhatHiFi and their review reflects my concern.

Just based on specs alone, I was hoping that Bluesound would have carried over the two 2.75 inch midrange drivers from the Pulse 2 into the Pulse 2i. Together, having two midrange drivers and two tweeters in the Pulse 2i would most likely have alleviated the concerns in the WhatHiFi review and truly make the Pulse 2i world class wireless speakers. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m sure that the engineers at Bluesound addressed these concerns when they designed the 2i and maybe they designed the woofers to both deepen the bass and clarify the midrange as well. We shall see.

I’m quite excited to get a Pulse 2i and Pulse Mini 2i and do a comparison test with my Pulse 2. I love my Pulse 2 and I’m hoping I will love the 2i generation of speakers even more.

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I keep hoping that Elac will get their act together with their crummy app. I have three of these and want to buy more, but as long as they fail to update the app, I am not going to. The sound is good enough for me and the size is right, but they have had well over a year to make improvements to the app and haven’t cared. I cannot by these speakers for other family member and expect them to be able to reconnect to WiFi if they lose signal.

I have a SonicTransporter with music on USB external SSD. I have Roon Lifetime license for Core server software. With the SonicTransporter plugged into the router with Ethernet cable, I stream music to the Z3’s using the Roon client software on Android phone or Windows laptop, but often just am close enough to Z3 speaker to hit the middle button to pause music or adjust the volume with the up and down buttons. I love this feature. When the Z3’s work, it is great and I am pleased with the sound.

When I have complained more than once about the app, WiFi dropouts and whether this is a product on the decline due to less-than-stellar reviews and little product exposure online, Elac said “Regarding WiFi connectivity, yes, Z3 needs a strong signal. ROON uses quite a lot of bandwidth and needs the router close by or to be very strong. We have heard good reports from folks placing a repeater near a Z3 to improve connection quality. As for the hidden SSID, that’s news to us, we didn’t think we connected to them at all! As far as we know there is no updated Z3 coming in the near future. It really isn’t that old and there is still inventory”

If the Z3 Control app enabled a fast connectivity with good feedback on the pairing process for either WiFi or bluetooth, it would be almost a moot point because it doesn’t need reconnecting too often. However, it is a horrible trial and error process. As far as other issues, I’d be playing some music and Roon would report back on problems loading, without indicating where that loading was. I didn’t know if it was the sonicTransporter music server having problems loading a flac or mp3, or Roon having issues updating metadate to the Roon client interface on the Windows laptop, or Roon in updating info to the Roon Android app? Andrew suggested it was an Elac problem needing a strong solid WiFi signal, and I’m inclined to believe it now. Although, after metatagging all my songs with SongKong and deleting all it had issues with when re-running in problem directories, I don’t think I have had the loading issues again.

I no longer have component equipment or a stereo or even an AVR to hook up all sorts of other devices to get speakers I no longer have to play. Just want a solid alternative to Elac Z3, lol

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How far is your Z3 away from the router? I have no problem with connectivity and have only used the Elac app once. It is not a nice app, for sure. My Z3 is maybe 6-7 meters away, and the signal crosses about three walls. I have a power switch on the power cable so I can switch the speaker off if not used. After switching on it takes about 15 seconds and the Z3 appears on the Roon app and is ready to go. So my experience is ok, sound is good for the kitchen. Hope you can sort it out with stronger WiFi signal. Or can you use Ethernet?

For excellent wireless performance I can recommend some of the latest B&W and Naim devices (Formation and Mu-So Gen 2). I can only compare with a KEF LS50 wireless but it’s a night/day type of difference. These forums make it appear like a lot of these first gen all-in-one connected devices are hit or miss on wireless performance so I guess not too surprising that you’ve struggled slightly with the Z3.

I would imagine most other manufacturers are also improving over time so maybe just look for other speakers that are already on gen 2 or 3

In another post today on the “…loading slowly” problem, I stated that since adding a Zen Wifi mesh, I think my loading slowly issues have gone away. I’ll look for it in case it does show again, but I’m hopeful that it’s all about high wifi needs for the Z3, and it’s not the Roon server (connected to new Fios wifi6 router) or software, it’s whether the Z3 is getting what it needs fast enough.
Of course, if that is true, then I’d like to see a “Your Roon wifi speaker can’t handle our awesomeness in music service so upgrade your cr@ppy wifi” error instead of “loading slowly” because then I think it’s the Roon front-end client on the laptop not getting the info fast enough from the Roon Core server, lol

I’ve just ordered an EX Demo Z3 for £280 and hope I’ll be pleased with it! I have a Pulse Flex 2i that I like but it seems to suffer a lot of annoying drop outs.

I’ve also tried the B&W formation flex which works well but i didn’t like the sound at all, it was very dull to listen to and over bright in presentation compared to the bluesound which sounds pretty good!

Really I wanted to buy a Naim Muso QB V2 but that’s quite a lot of money and this ELAC seems worth a punt!

@Angus_Doe If you have a minute, I’d love to hear how the Elac has worked out.

I’m super pleased with it when used via Roon. Also works well as a bluetooth speaker or via Apple Airplay.

The size and form factor are quite good, not too big not too small etc.

As standard the Bass is a bit Over Boosted but you can adjust that. The sound is very good and we use it loads. No drop outs.

I’d say I’m very happy and would consider another one. It’s pleasing after trying the B&W flex and sending it back because I didn’t like the sound, and I’ve moved my Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i to another room where it actually gets signal.

Main System is Nad M12/M22v2 and Totem Signature one.

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adding my experience with Elac Discovery Z3 for those searching real Roon Ready (RAAT connected) speakers where I also had a hard time to find something:

-it’s actual a Stereo device (not mono as mentioned somewhere in this thread)
-needed some trials to get connected and updated. two firmware updates in my case made it Roon Ready and to be recognized by Roon Core as such. Airplay worked from start up
-it was helpful to bring the Z3 close to the WIFI router for pure WIFI set up and later move it to where it should be located
-very basic app for settings and firmware update. Can be accessed and configured via IP address in web browser and also directly via Roon once connected
-now running connected via RAAT and Airplay to Roon core. I can select which to use depending on required bandwith of source material. RAAT makes a huge difference in sound quality, allowing to stream full 192/24 to the Z3
-finally chose to go for Powerline (LAN over power lines) connection in order to increase bandwith and stability which wasn’t good via WIFI over here (two concrete walls separating router from speaker). Runs perfectly without drop outs or glitches
-bass may sound pronounced, if placed close to a wall or in a corner since the box does host two passive radiators in the back. You may want to change via app or via roon roon (Audio/Device/Device Info/Configure Device)
-you can change the volume and pause / play with button on the front of the device
-sound is very good across the range, it does come with coaxial tweeters.

Can’t compare with Bluesound or B&W, haven’t tried them since only design would potentially push me to change. the Z3 looks very decent/has a small footprint and the current price is low.

This thread’s been around for awhile, but seems still relevant given the dearth of network-attached / Roon-ready powered speakers. I have an Elac Discovery and a Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i for over a year now and can give some test results:

SOUND QUALITY

  • When up and running, they both sound very good. I’m picky about sound, and they’re both over-achievers for their size IMO – especially the Flex 2i. I would say the Elac is more neutral, and more sensitive to room placement, and more sensitive to quality of source material.

INITIAL SET UP:
-(note: my SOP is to set these sorts of devices up while near the router, then move them to the desired locations later.)

  • The Elac connected and updated itself instantly and then did a firmware upgrade. Completely hassle-free. No eyebrows raised.
  • The Flex 2i took to long to get on the network. The instructions are terrible, and there’s a sequence of lights that are meant to indicate status in progress. Not only did the Bluesound fail to quickly connect, it failed to let me know what was going on. Finally, gave up with WiFi, plugged in an ethernet cable and introduced it to my network.

CONTINUOUS CONNECTIVITY

  • The Elac has never let go of my network, despite having moved around the house to several locations. Depending on distance, I’ve noticed it grabbed the 2.4 band or the 5 ghz band – transparently.
  • The Bluesound Flex 2i regularly loses contact with the network, especially between on/off/sleep cycles. Sometimes, I just have to wait a minute or two, but occasionally I’ve had to revert to the ethernet cable and initial setup process. This is a really drag. (Note: I’ve had these same connectivity issues with multiple Flex 2i’s, but never with the Node 2i’s which are always connected via ethernet cable.)

APP / UI / ECOSYSTEM.

  • On this front, these two products are 2 completely different beasts and almost don’t deserved to be compared head-to-head. The Bluesound speaker is designed to fit in to the Bluesound ecosystem. This is a positive only if that ecosystem is feature-laden and easy-to-use – thankfully, it is both. On the other hand, the Elac is designed to fit in anywhere: in addition to being Roon-ready (which allows it to sync play with other Roon endpoints – an interesting, but rarely-used feature in my house), it is also accessible via Airplay and bluetooth (as is the Bluesound speaker). As the purveyor of all things AV & IT in my house, I’ve noticed that, despite my coaching, each user ultimately wants to use these devices from their own preferred sources. For me, that’s Roon usually, but sometimes Airplay (for podcasts, audiobooks, etc.). Others in my house like Spotify (due to integration with Shazam), or Amazon Music, Youtube, etc; and thus Roon makes no sense to them – and also, the very nice Bluesound app, also makes no sense to them. They want to go from their apps directly to the speaker, and would prefer to use bluetooth or Airplay because that’s what they’re used to. The point of all this discussion I think is to defend the Elac from the critics who say the Elac’s software UI is “primitive” or “unacceptable” or whatever. From my observations, that entirely depends on the use case. The uncomfortable fact is, in my house, the majority of users see the network-attached speakers just as they see bluetooth speakers; that is to say, they have no need for another UI layer, or an entire “ecosystem” for that matter.
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Thought I would chime in on the Elac Z3 since I have 2 currently for non-critical listening.

One in the Master Bedroom, replaced my PC/AQ Cobalt Dac/speaker setup so the PC is no longer required for music. The Z3 sounds as good or better than the Cobalt DAC and I really like the simple one box hassle free solution.

The second one is in the Kitchen and does make for good company at the other end of the house. It is also convenient, with the Aux port, as a speaker system for the 20 inch flat screen TV. Sounds much better than the Yamaha sound bar.

Only used the Elac App for the initial firmware upgrade, then the units are Roon Ready and everything, including subsequent firmware upgrades, is handled from the Roon UI.

Both are wired and work perfectly, no drops or interruptions of any kind. Sync up with the Living Room NUC to Receiver HDMI is spot on when grouped for whole house music.

Have not had any experience with Bluesound. If one magically appeared on my doorstep I’d be happy to offer a comparison but that is not going to happen. I have no reason to look for another solution as these fit my needs perfectly.

I will add a 3rd one in the 25 by 35 shop after it gets added to the wired Network. I have a 100 foot Cat 6 cable that I can run across the drive now. Just carry one of the Z3’s out there, plug in the power/ethernet and use my android phone remote to control it.

Although I have very much enjoyed the sound of the Elac Z3’s, only one has been hard-wired into router, and the other two have always been wireless. I’ve upgraded to WiFi mesh and still had same music slowly loading issues, then tried connecting the two wireless speakers to Wi-Fi mesh routers via Ethernet to wirelessly backhaul to main mesh unit and same errors. I did notice that in the Z3 app, which has never been updated to my knowledge, two speakers did not allow me to update to latest firmware until I did a factory reset. Same errors though. Remove two wireless speakers and only use wired Z3… same slowly loading audio files and skipping.
I’m only using Roon Core server on a sonictransporter or when trying different options, on QNAP NAS, both directly connected to Verizon router with Ethernet.
Today, I’m now removing all Z3 speakers and going to try only with two Naim Mu-s- QB 2nd gen speakers to see if that fixes the problem. I will have to say, the Naim app is awesome compared to the Elac app, though on initial sound checks, I may actually like the Z3 sound better on some music than on the Mu-so QB 2nd gen

Still loving my Elac Z3, I think it sounds great for a speaker of its size, the clear highs when listening to Jazz are particularly impressive for example.

I also take it one holiday etc and it does a great job.

I’m just a bit disappointed that I can’t add a second one and run them in Stereo….

Is there not a sneaky way to do this in Roon somehow?

Could I get a second speaker, group them together, and then use Roon’s EQ function to send only right to one speaker and left to another??

Does anyone have any ideas on this?

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Here you are.

Did it work? Did you pair two Z3’s in stereo? It’s an incredible little speaker, the best I’ve heard. Perfect for the kitchen, on top of a refrigerator, or in a small bedroom or office.

I have 4 Z3’s now, Kitchen, Office, Master Bedroom and a rover to use where needed. I had to remove my entertainment system while taking the primary listening space down to studs and concrete for renovation. The Z3 has temporarily replaced the 13 speaker 2 sub surround sound system in that space during destruction/construction and, amazingly fills the room with sound.

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I only have one Z3, but was wanting to try getting another. I guess I could try using an uneven pair to see if the principle works…

Also, just to give an update to my initial review, I upgraded my Pulse 2’s to the Pulse 2i’s. There is an overall improvement in sound but both the 2 and the Z3 were no slouches.