Marketed as containing JBL's 'Lightshow' technology, the Pulse 2 speaker is a new unit with just about every bell and whistle attached that you could hope for.
This medium-sized travel speaker sports various LED lighting function modes, it can read real life colors and turn them into light shows, and has been pitched by the makers as a wholly 'interactive' audio solution.
While it's often that the JBL tag will bring with it great sound quality, there is much more to a portable speaker than that. This review will be looking into whether the features are useful, whether the Pulse 2 offers extra handy accessories, and I'll also be looking into the presented package a whole, discussing price versus performance and build quality.
Packing an exceptionally large 6000mAH internal battery, the Pulse 2 offers a claimed 10 hours of Bluetooth music playback when functioning in fully lit 'light show' modes. While this battery is considerably larger than many competitors, it's worth noting that the relatively average playback time is a direct result of the bright LEDs and the fact that this speaker can be simultaneously connected to three different smartphones.
Marketed as 'splash proof' on the official website, I can't find an official resistance rating, so I would assume that light and drizzling rain would be the most that you would want to subject this product to.
With the ability to simply connect and play through your smartphone or be controlled via an app, JBL has produced its 'Connect' app for this particular device, claiming to offer a customized light show experience to anyone who wishes to take full advantage of this feature.
As for more technical features, the Pulse 2 contains 2x 8W internal speakers, and the internal Lithium-ion polymer battery is claimed to reach full charge under five hours when plugged into its provided 2.3A wall socket. The drivers themselves over a standard frequency response from 85Hz – 20kHz and carry a signal to noise ratio of over 80dB. Measuring in at 84.2 x 194.4 x 84.2mm in total this weighting unit comes in at a hefty 775 grams.
Pricing & Availability
Available from Amazon for $159.99 with free shipping, the Pulse 2 is one of the more expensive portable options available on the market. While there are a plethora of cheaper Bluetooth offerings that vary vastly in quality, JBL will be expecting its brand name and extensive features to help carry it over the lien and into your home.
This pricing puts it in a similar ballpark to my previously-reviewed BRAVEN 805 Bluetooth speaker .
What's in the box?
The simplistic package that JBL provides with the Pulse 2 includes the speaker itself, a well laid out introduction manual, a 2.3A wall charger, and a micro-USB charging cable.
While this package is a little short of what I would like to see, I'd like to start with a compliment about the wall charger. The fluorescent orange cable is a little short for my liking, but it is of adequate length and attaches to the speedy same-colored 2.3A wall charger well. The reason I like this wall charger is it's amperage rating, with many competitors offering lower/slower 1-2A offerings that will take much more time to fill up your battery while on the run.
This aside, I'm disappointed to report that no carry pouch has been included with this package. A carry bag not only helps keep the speaker safe while you're traveling, but also serves as a way to keep your accessories in one place, helping you keep them in your grasp while on the move. Another thing you may notice is that there is no 3.5mm AUX cable included with this package, and that's something incredibly annoying. While the accessories that JBL have provided are top notch, there are just not enough of them to help justify the price tag attached.
Let's dig deeper
As touched on during the introduction spiel, JBL has once again provided on the build quality front with this device. Sporting top and bottom resonators to assist with bass, the overall package presented is sleek and professional.
The LED lighting on this product can be switched between multiple modes, with these including things such as rain, fire, firefly, stars, canvas, traffic, fireworks, and hourglass. If you're not exactly sure on what color to pick, you're also able to point its little camera sensor at a flat surface and have its LEDs mimic the single color that it sees – something that JBL calls 'Prism.'
Due to the 6000mAH battery, this product is quite heavy. It's also cylindrical in shape, and that will make it a little hard for those with small hands to pick it up and move it around. I can certainly see issues here with children dropping the speaker by accident. That being said, it should take a few knocks before breaking.
The AUX and charging ports are nestled underneath a strongly secured rubber flap to keep its splashproof capabilities. Another interesting feature is the visual volume meter, meaning that the whole product will fill up or deflate with LEDs as you turn up or down the volume. The buttons have a lovely soft click feel, and some of them are illuminated, once again helping sell a theme of style and professionalism that you should come to expect from such a brand.
It's Time to Party
Connecting this product to my Samsung Galaxy S4 that plays music through Spotify Premium, I once again loaded a bunch of different tracks to test out the full range of this product.
Instantly, I was extremely impressed with the bass response that this product has to offer, with the top and bottom resonators seemingly helping quite well with this cause. The bass is not quite like anything I have heard before. It's punchy, it's clear, and doesn't falter when the volume is turned up, showing that JBL has employed some great drivers for this model.
Audiofreq's 'WarCry' (linked below) sounded brilliant, with the reverse bass resonating well through the speaker and to my ears. However, everything must eventually fall somewhere. While the bass is precise and responsive and the JBL speaker carries through with notes from top to bottom of the sound spectrum, it ultimately falls in higher-end sounds, providing less clarity than I would have expected.
The clarity issue doesn't seem obvious when listening to this speaker on its own, often due to me being blown away by the pure volume and bass response on offer, but switching between this and my Razer Leviathan Sound Bar and Subwoofer means I'm able to hear a distinct difference. Don't get me wrong; it's not bad by any means, but I feel it could be slightly improved to match the bass response that this speaker has on offer.
Some of the music I tested this product with included:
Seriously big sound: It's loud and fills up the whole room with its warm and welcoming projection of sound.
Clear, punchy bass: The bass response is exceptional. It's clear, it's punchy, and most importantly, it's present.
The style: While I don't often care too much about LEDs, they help compliments this product extremely well or can be turned off when you don't want them.
The accessories: I feel that an AUX cable and carry pouch are essential.
Top end clarity: The speaker sounds a little flat in some songs that require you to listen in closely.
This speaker did not fail to impress me overall. The bass response is exceptional, it's made well and looks great, the provided accessories are well poised and useful, and the asking price isn't too high.
However, no carry case, no AUX cable and with the clarity being a little flat at the top-end brings the total score down a few notches. I could easily forget the slight lapse in clarity if JBL would just include these small-yet-useful accessories and I'm excited to see if they do in the future. That aside, if you want a portable Bluetooth speaker that performs much better than most and looks great while it does it, the JBL Pulse 2 is for you.
Chris' Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z170X-GAMING 3 - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i5 6500 - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock 3 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Apacer BLADE Series DDR4 8GB (2x4GB) 2800MHz
- Storage #1: Kingston HyperX Fury 240GB SSD - Buy from Amazon
- Storage #2: Corsair Force 3 120GB SSD - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage #3: Western Digital Black 6TB HDD - Buy from Amazon
- Storage #4: Apacer PANTHER 240GB SSD
- Case: be quiet! Silent Base 800 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 850W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Monitor #1: BenQ XL2420T - Buy from Amazon
- Monitor #2: Acer X233H
- Keyboard: Tt eSPORTS MEKA G1 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Mouse: Tt eSPORTS Talon Blu - Buy from Amazon
- Mousepad: Tt eSPORTS White-Ra Black - Buy from Amazon
- Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster ZxR - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
|Quality including Design and Build||95%|
|Bundle and Packaging||80%|
|Value for Money||90%|
The Bottom Line: With brilliant bass response and a full set of great features, JBL's Pulse 2 portable wireless speaker is a good buy for anyone looking at listening to punchy tunes.
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