I'll help you cut through all the gimmicks with a Sushi knife! Read on to find out more about the new $339 JBL Pulse 2.
The #JBL Pulse 2 was intended to be a more flashy improvement over version 1. The light show is now more interactive. While you could only use the app to control the light show on the first JBL Pulse, you can now use both the JBL Connect app AND the JBL Prism Color Sensing lens. Simply point the lens at a coloured object and press the Prism button, your light show instantly turns into that colour. With the app, you can also manipulate the various built-in light effects.
It now has a speakerphone and a Splashproof design. The battery life is a confirmed 10 hours and can be easily achieved at 50% volume even WITH the lighting effects. 50% is actually quite loud enough for our testing room.
Sound quality is definitely much better with the new Pulse. With the new bass radiators, loudness and quality is much closer to the performance of the JBL Charge 2+. Vocals sound loud and rich in Michael Buble’s ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’ with a good degree of clarity, and the vocal reverb in ‘Strong’ by London Grammar sounds clear and airy. If you enjoy lots of techno, electronica and house music, the Pulse 2 just sounds mashed up with very little separation of tracks. I actually felt that the lower priced Charge 2+ sounds more open and has better track separation.
Certain design elements do not make sense. Unlike all the other JBL portables, when lying the speaker on its side, the speaker does not sit with the buttons on top, but can only sit on top of the buttons! And that Prism lens.... Many colours are not even supported by the Colour Prism Lens, and the light show effects are quite disappointing! Some do not even work as expected. I actually preferred the effects on the original Pulse. It looked more flashy and was simpler to manupulate. The lighting effects of the Pulse 2 sadly seems more of a gimmick than the first one.
It is obvious that JBL has created this speaker to appeal mainly to the flashy folks. I have warned many times about paying for speakers with flashy gimmicks but I’m ready to make an exception for this one. The only reason I will recommend the Pulse 2 is that the sound quality is actually above average for a speaker that costs $339. Rather than being a major reason for buying it, the light show is more like a bonus and a talking point for friends and family. For me? I’m using it to Zouk up my bathroom.
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