JBL Pulse 3 is bluetooth speaker which stands out among its peers for its unorthodox colorful look.
Package and design
Pulse 3 is available in two colors: white and black.
70% of the speaker surface is a screen covered with acrylic, which gives it cool lava lamp look. Below is a panel with buttons and a grill with the JBL logo hiding the speakers. Membranes of passive radiators are located at the bottom and at the top of the speaker.
This distribution of working areas immediately gives us a hint that sound wasn’t the main selling point of this device.
Dimensions and ergonomics
The column has grown significantly compared to the previous version: now its dimensions are 223 × 92 × 92 mm, and it weighs almost a kilogram. Pulse 3 retained the cylindrical form of its predecessors, but now it is more a manifestation of continuity: you do not want to insert such a monster into the flask holder of your bicycle.
Waterproofness has long become almost mandatory feature of such devices. JBL Pulse 3 is no exception. The class of water resistance is solid – IPX7, allowing a short dive to a depth of up to one meter. This degree of protection seems a little excessive considering that you probably will not travel much with 1 kg speaker, but it can make a great shower speaker.
At the bottom Pulse 3 has a panel with buttons and interfaces. In addition to the standard buttons, you can find two more: the JBL Connect+ icon and the sun image. The first one connects with other JBL speakers, and the latter one is for the backlight mode. Only three control buttons are available: volume settings and Play / Pause. When you double-click the last one, the next track is turned on. The buttons are rather taut and do not respond very pleasantly to pressing, so it’s more convenient to manage music and backlight remotely.
There is a charge indicator above the buttons. The speaker has two inputs under the plug: AUX and microUSB for charging. There are no additional inputs for using the speaker as a battery.
JBL knows that sound is only part of the user experience when listening to music. Indeed, almost everyone who saw the luminous column was surprised and asked how much it costs. An important nuance: the music has not yet played.
The backlight lights up automatically when the device is turned on. It works in eight modes, which can be controlled using the button or the mobile application JBL Connect.
The algorithm for the movement of lights in seven modes is preinstalled, but you can change the color of the highlight, selecting it in the palette or capturing it from the environment with the camera. The most interesting mode is the user mode, where you can assign up to three backlighting templates from nine available.
The lights almost always correctly adjust to the music, so JBL Pulse 3 is not only a wild party device, it makes listening to slower compositions a pleasant experience. If you want a more exact match, you can select the “Equalizer” mode.
Creation of comfort and atmosphere is the task which Pulse 3 handles very well. Just turn on the slow track, and the column will catch the mood of the song. Reduce brightness with JBL Connect, and Pulse 3 will turn into a dim nightlight.
JBL Pulse 3 has three active 40-millimeter radiators with a total output power of 20W. Two passive speakers are responsible for bass. The declared range of the column is 65 Hz – 20 kHz. Judging by the test of the French portal Les Numeriques, it is, but with few caveats. First, there is a drop in the amplitude in the range from 100 to 150 Hz, and secondly, the interval from 1 kHz to 10-12 kHz loses to the low and highest frequencies of the band.
Portable Bluetooth-speakers always have a compromise sound, so JBL Pulse 3, if it loses to the flagships of the market, it’s quite a bit. It can fill a spacious room with a good sound, but it won’t “pump” the crowd at a party.
What is really unpleasant is the delay of more than 300 ms. It does not hurt to listen to music, but forget about the comfortable viewing of movies and videos on YouTube with Pulse 3.
The speaker can synchronize with other speakers of the company: Boombox, Flip 3 or 4, Charge 3, Xtreme and its predecessor Pulse 2. You can connect two devices and listen to music in stereo. Or you can add a few Pulse 3 and arrange a light show of the speakers with synchronous backlighting. Add more – and you will get a party with a cool sound and special effects.
Another cool feature of JBL Pulse 3 is the ability to use Siri and Google Now voice assistants. To enable them, you should reassign the Play / Pause button.
The capacity of the Pulse 3 battery is 6 000 mAh, which is equivalent to 12 hours of work, and according to the manual it can be fully charged in 4.5 hours. Judging by experience and feedback, the operating time may be shorter, and it can be charged more quickly. It depends on many factors: the volume of music, the distance from the speaker to the source of the signal, brightness and backlight modes.
Indicators of autonomy are not so important, if you recall that Pulse 3 is still a home column, not claiming to be used in traveling.
The best Bluetooth-speakers in recent years are not that different: they produce a solid, but compromised sound, show good autonomy and durability, and even look alike. For such devices as JBL Pulse 3, you want to forgive the sag in the frequencies, tight buttons and almost complete absence of additional functions.
If you remove the backlight, you will see a rather ordinary speaker with characteristics not much above the average. But it is this nuance that is decisive, turning Pulse 3 into a very entertaining device, a stylish piece of interior and perhaps the best luminous speaker in the world.