JBL PULSE 4
Design & Construction
JBL Pulse 4, the extraordinary lava lamp speaker that we have all come to embrace in a world of boring black fabric or metal finishing of portable Bluetooth speakers. Whether its elevating the experience of a house party or adding ambience to our quiet night, the Pulse 4 has done it yet again. This time, we are looking at a full 360 degree light show, possibly the best way to show off all its LED goodness especially in a fully dark room. The entire speaker is wrapped with a full acrylic-like glass enclosure which makes it IPX7 waterproof. However, it is not dust-proof and weighs in at a hefty 1.26kg. Being transparent on the outside also made it a fingerprint magnet. On the top end of the speaker is where we find all our necessary controls. Looking straight on we first find our play/pause buttons as well as our volume controls. A single press plays and pause your music while a double press skips forward to the next song. However, triple press didn't allow for skipping backwards which was a bummer. Rotating to the right we get access to the power button and the bluetooth button. Meanwhile, rotating to the left let us find our light show mode switch button and PartyBoost feature button. A single press on the light show switch button will cycle through the different modes of lighting presets. It is also possible to customise the lighting feature in the JBL Connect App, available for download on the App and Play Store. In the app, you can fid three distinct features, the light show, the Party Boost as well as the Stereo pairing option. For the light show option, you may cycle through presets such as Spiritual, Campfire, Equaliser, Wave or customise your very own too! In the preset provided, you may also change the colour via the colour wheel or use your phone's camera to scan your surroundings or item that you would like the speaker to mimic. If you are feeling lazy, you can also use the default since they are already multi-coloured and appealing enough. Alternatively, you can just switch the modes via the button on the speaker or turn it off completely with a long press. Next, we got PartyBoost, a daisy-chain feature that allows you to pair all PartBoost enabled JBL speakers together. Some of the supported speaker models include the Flip 5, Pulse 4 as well as the upcoming Boombox 2. However, Party Boost will not support older JBL speaker are still using the JBL Connect + feature. As of yet, JBL is still adamant about Party Boost being non-compatible with JBL Connect +, citing the old technology needs to move on. A disappointment for those who own older JBL speakers. Lastly, you can use the app to stereo pair another Pulse 4 and sync the music. Notably, you may also shake to sync the light show setting to another Pulse 4 so that not just the music plays in sync but also the lights. At the rear of the speaker, you will find the USB-C port which is meant for charging purpose only, no wired music playback. You can also get knowledge of remaining battery life status with another LED status bar.
Moving on to sound quality, the Pulse 4 may look like a lava lamp from the outside but the sound wasn't compromised just for lights fortunately. It features 360 degree speaker set-up in which the single driver directs sound upwards while a passive radiator directs bass against the bottom surface of the location where the speaker is placed on. It delivers up to 20W of powerful sound and fill up a medium-sized room. Having a frequency range between 70-20KHz, the bass response is deep, punchy and tight. It never manages to distort or bleed into the mids even if you turn up volume. It hits deep and so much more than its competitors. Highs sound bright and filled with plenty of details. Mids are very crisp and instruments separation is excellent. However, in the app, there is no built-in equaliser to change the sound signature of the speaker for different genres. Going third-party or simply using your phone's equaliser does alter the sound signature to your preferences if there is a need. If you are looking to use the Pulse 4 as a speakerphone, it does not support it as well. It also does not have Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa integration for your smart home needs.
Connectivity & Portability
In terms of connectivity, Bluetooth 4.2 is offered, stil not Bluetooth 5.0 unfortunately. The 3.5mm audio-in port now removed so there is no way to use this speaker wired. Its battery life peaks at 12 hours but loud volumes and constant light show will defnitely affect the battery life. The speaker does charge with a USB-C cable and charges up fully with a 3.5 hours charge. There was no mention of quick charging on JBL website or packaging box so I cannot confirm that the speaker has it.
Loud, Powerful Sound
Full Functionality via Speaker Buttons
No Equaliser Sound Customisation
No Speakerphone Function
No Bluetooth 5,0 Support
No 3,5mm Audio Input
The Bottom Line
All in all, the JBL Pulse 4 is a still an iconic party speaker if you are looking to get a audio-visual immersive listening experience. With a capable 360 sound signature, beautiful lights as well as easy to use controls. it will live up to your party life and certainly worth the investment.
WE RATE IT!
Other Notable Competitors
Watch The Video Review