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April 29, 2014

JBL Pulse Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Review

Almost all wireless speakers claim the same thing – good sound quality in a portable package. But if you’re looking for something that stands out in the crowd then the JBL Pulse is definitely one to consider. Read our review of this trippy wireless Bluetooth speaker to find out why.

jbl-pulse

Design and Construction

The Pulse is probably one of the sleekest looking portable speaker we’ve had the chance of reviewing. Instead of the usual box-type designs we normally see on speakers, this one is cylindrical in shape and actually feels like an over-sized can of soda in hand.

jblpulse

The center of the pulse is wrapped around by a metallic mesh wire while the side ends are covered with rubber-like material. The right side houses physical buttons for power, LED control, and Bluetooth.

jbl pulse_rear

On the left side is the NFC/Bluetooth for quick pairing. Down at the bottom side of the mesh is the micro-USB port for charging, 3.5mm audio port, and five small LED lights that indicates battery life.

Features

One of the key attractions of the Pulse, aside from the speakers, are the LED-pulsed rhythms that work as a Visualizer to your tunes. There are five different visualizations to choose from and you can manually change it by pressing a button on the left side of the Pulse while playing. You can also add more visualizations or customize the LED light show via the Pulse Music app for iOS and Android.

pulse-speakers

The Pulse claims to be “a portable party rolled up into one fun-friendly package.” True enough, it is capable of producing a party-like atmosphere when played in a dimly lit room.

Sound Performance

For a party-centric portable speaker with 2 high-performance drivers and a built-in bass port, we expect the Pulse to deliver great sound experience to match its trippy visuals. We played different music genres and here are the things we observed:

• It’s LOUD! For casual listening, 40% to 50% of the volume is more than enough to fill a large room. We rarely find the ourselves going past 60%. Crank it up higher and the Pulse should be able to serve a small house party well.

• Good for Hip-hop, club and party music. The mids and highs are detailed and clear, however, the Bass is not as powerful as we want it to be. It’s good enough but it could use some boost to heighten the effects.

• Great for rock, classical, and acoustic. Since the Pulse’s is inclined towards the upper end of the spectrum, it is great for tunes dominated by strings, percussion, and vocals. One example is Eric Clapton’s live performance which sounds great on the Pulse.

• Great for movies. If you like watching movies on your smartphone or tablet, the Pulse is great in delivering rich sounds for a better viewing experience.

Battery Life

The Pulse sports a 4,000mAh battery which claims five hours worth of playback with the light show on. Our indicator is the five battery LEDs at the bottom which probably represents 1 hour of playback per LED. True enough, we played it for two straight hours with the light show on and it brought us down to three LEDs left. Play your tunes with the LEDs off and it should double your playback time.

jbl pulse_battery

Our only complaint is that the Pulse doesn’t show how much battery you have left when it’s unplugged. The only way to find out if you have enough juice left is by plugging it to a power source which in turn would light up the battery indicators.

Conclusion

The JBL Pulse is definitely one of the best portable speakers out there. It packs a great build, portable body, long battery life, good set of wireless functions, visually enticing customizable light themes, and very good sound quality. On the downside, it is expensive at Php8,995. If only JBL added waterproofing and dust-proofing to the mix (like the Braven 440 which costs Php3,650) then the Pulse could be the perfect portable wireless speaker solution.

jbl-pulse-speakers

JBL Pulse specs:
Power supply: DV 5V2.3A
Battery: Polymer Li-ion 3.7V 4000mAh, 14.8Wh
Frequency response: 100Hz – 20kHz
Maximum SPL: 86dB
Power output: 2 x 6W
Transmitter power: 0 ~ 4dBm
LED lights: 64 LEDs with 5 pre-programmed light patterns
Bluetooth
NFC

What we liked about it:
* Good build quality
* Fun visualizer
* Very good sound quality
* Long battery life

What we did not like:
* A bit pricey
* LED lights eat up battery too
* LED battery indicator is off when unplugged

The JBL Pulse is available at JBL Stores in:
JBL Acoustical Space SM Megamall – 919 6012
JBL Sound Gallery Bonifacio High Street – 856 5041
JBL Digital Dreams SM North EDSA Annex – 738 2554

JBL Pulse Quick Review: Music and Lights in Action

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