I’ve been using wireless Bluetooth speakers for quite a while now around the house and when I’m outdoors. I love listening to music when I’m either doing chores around the house, hanging by the pool, or just lounging around, but what I do hate is listening to my music from the built in speakers on my mobile device. They sound okay if you’re in a small room, all by yourself, and if it’s completely quiet, but how often does that happen? In my house, that’s almost never. I have grown accustomed to using Bluetooth speakers around the house because they are loud, I’m not tethered to them with wires, and if need be, I can move them around the house. I actually have several of them sitting in different rooms whenever I move around so that I don’t need to move the speakers, I just swap where I’m beaming my music to. Of course not all wireless speakers are created equally and there are those that really stand out. For instance, the JBL Pulse wireless Bluetooth speaker that is not only one of the loudest and nicest sounding wireless speakers I’ve ever used, but it’s also the most entertaining with its built in light show feature.
The JBL Pulse is one of the nicest, most flashiest wireless speakers out on the market that I’ve seen. It’s a cylindrical shaped speaker, similar to many of its competitors, but it has one differentiating feature that really makes it stand out above the rest. You see, the JBL Pulse has built in LED lighting that creates a light show all around the speaker. You wouldn’t know it at first by just looking at it.
When you first unbox the unit, the JBL Pulse just looks like your average, tube shaped speaker. It’s covered entirely in matte black and the only hint of color comes from the little colored dots on one of the sides. There is mesh wire covering the cylinder part of the speaker and is capped off at the sides. One of the capped parts has the JBL logo on it and that’s basically as flashy as it gets upon first glance. A portion of the cylindrical face also has an indent that is flat and allows you to place the speaker on its side if you want to play it like this or you can stand it up vertically as well. The portion that is flat is where the USB charging port and where the aux in port is.
If you stand the JBL Pulse vertically, the top portion has a disc on it that has touch buttons for the power, Bluetooth pairing, and the light button which I’ll talk about in a second. There are also two buttons dedicated for volume control. Like I said above, there is also a ring of colored dots. These serve a purpose and tie in with the light button.
This is where the JBL Pulse gets really interesting. If you tap the light button, the JBL Pulse will come alive in a glowing, jaw dropping light spectacle. Almost the entire cylinder lights up in rainbow of colors that is very hypnotic in nature. Each tap of the light button produces a different, pre-programmed light show with one that even reacts to the music you are listening to. If you tap any of the colored dots that we talked about earlier, these can adjust the color of the light show as well as the intensity of it. This is definitely something that I haven’t seen before on any other speaker and is one that will really draw attention.
With that said, the JBL Pulse has a Jekyll and Hyde persona about it. On one hand, it looks like your every day, tube shaped speaker that just looks very functional with minimalistic style. On the other hand, turn on the LED lights and it’s a completely different animal. The JBL Pulse goes from all business to pure party mode in less than a second and then back again just as quickly. This is a speaker that can play to your moods and the type of music you are listening to.
The JBL Pulse has one purpose and that is to allow you to enjoy your music not only with your ears, but with your eyes. The unit features twin 40mm drivers and a dedicated bass port for your listening enjoyment and an array of colorful LED lights for your visual enjoyment. Other than that, it lacks a few features found in other wireless speakers. You can’t use it as a speakerphone. You can’t control your music with it. Lastly, you can’t use it as a backup battery pack. You can however connect to it in multiple ways. You can either go wireless and connect via Bluetooth or NFC and if you have a device that doesn’t support wireless, you can use the 3.5mm jack.
The main feature however is the LED lighting and there are several ways of controlling it. You can tap the light button to change the lighting effect, there are five total. You can also change the lighting intensity with the left half of the outer touch pad and the color scheme using the right half of the outer touch pad. There is even an option to mix all the colors and have it cycle on its own. If you really want to get creative, there is an optional JBL Music app you can download on either iOS or Android that will allow you to swap out the five lighting effects to another of your choosing. You can even create your own effects and upload them to the JBL Pulse. The app also allows you to update the firmware in the speaker if there is an update.
- JBL sound with 2 high-performance drivers and a built-in bass port
- Built-in LED light show that pulses to your music
- Wireless Bluetooth® stereo streaming with NFC
- Rechargeable Li-ion battery for 5 hours of wireless fun
Honestly, the coolest thing about the JBL Pulse is the light show it emits. As much as I may want to talk about the audio quality of this device, it’s the flashy LED lighting that really gets your attention and the attention of everyone around you. The audio quality is really secondary here. With that said, the JBL Pulse puts on quite a light show. There are five pre-defined effects you can choose from by tapping the light button up top and each is pretty awe inspiring. My favorite though has to be the one that reacts to the music you are playing and flashes based on the frequency of the sounds. The other ones are pretty nice too, but they continue to flash on their own even if no music is playing.
Of course after the novelty of the the lights wear out, you’ll start to notice the audio quality, and for the most part, it’s very good with the JBL Pulse. The speaker features 2x40mm drivers that help push the highs and mids, while a dedicated bass port is for the lows. Now I’m no audiophile and I could care less about stuff like frequency response and blah, blah, blah, but what I can tell you is that the JBL Pulse is loud and doesn’t distort any of your music no matter how loud you crank it. The highs and mids sound very good, although the bass isn’t as deep or thumpy as you might expect or want. It still doesn’t sound bad, it’s just not heavy on bass.
I tried using the JBL Pulse on a variety of genres such as hip-hop, pop, rock, country, and even threw in a little J-pop in there for the heck of it. Music output was fantastic. Again, very loud and clear with no distortion, easily filling the room I was in with sound. There are times though where it could actually get too loud, which isn’t a bad thing as it means it will work just as well outdoors as it does indoors.
Overall, a very good experience with the JBL Pulse, though I do wish the bass was a bit deeper and more thumpy. I like the fact that you can also turn off the lights if you don’t want to use the lighting feature and this will help conserve the battery. Supposedly it has an estimated play time of 5 hours with the lights on, but you can get up to 10 hours with them off.
As someone who has used several wireless speakers from different brands, I’ll have to say that the JBL Pulse is one of my favorites, though not my favorite as I don’t think I have one speaker that I absolutely love over another. Each speaker has its own unique features and the JBL Pulse is that of a portable party in a tube. It doesn’t have features like a speakerphone, backup charging function, or the ability to control playback of your device, but what it does have is room filling sound and the ability to draw oohs and aahs from a crowd. That in itself makes it a must have for anyone who wants a speaker that draws a lot of attention.
Disclaimer: JBL’s PR reps sent these as well as other JBL devices for review purposes. This does not affect the outcome of the review.
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