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Review – JBL Pulse 3 Speaker, The Lava Lamp That Sings

This is the speaker I would probably want in my bedroom to replace my boring lamp!

The JBL Pulse 3’s smashing good looks take on the form of a Lava Lamp that flickers to my music’s every beat. And it’s IPX7 waterproof too. Read on to delve into my take of this visually mesmerising speaker.

Build Quality and Design

The Pulse 3’s most iconic feature is that bright LED array hidden behind a glossy translucent canister, somewhat evocative of a vintage Lava Lamp. The light show’s definitely an improvement here. It’s a heck of a lot more vibrant than its previous iteration, the JBL Pulse 2.

At the back is where you’d find the control buttons  and the MicroUSB charging port. A 3.5mm connector is also featured here allowing a wired connection just in case you need to maximise your phone’s juice.

The Pulse 3’s got three speakers inside, arrayed to disperse sound 360-degrees; and a pair of bass radiators, just like its siblings the Charge 3 and the Pulse 2.

Interestingly, the Pulse 3’s passive radiators are noticeably smaller, and though the speaker is about the same size as the Charge 3, it also feels significantly heavier.

Performance and Features

JBL Connect App

The JBL Connect App had seen a welcome refresh not long after the Charge 3 was released. It’s interface feels a lot more colourful, more fun. The app allows you to pair two Pulse 3 speakers in stereo, or more than two to cover a wider area. (Potentially, you could pair up to a hundred!) But if you have only one Pulse 3, you’ll likely use the app just for customising the light show.

Instead of having the ’Colour Prism Lens’ built into the speaker, the Pulse 3 uses your phone’s camera to do the exact same thing through the JBL Connect App. You point your phone’s camera at an object, snap, and the lights copy the colour of that object.

You could also manually change colours with an RGB wheel, and fiddle with up to eight lighting presets in the App. A button at the back of the Pulse 3 lets you toggle through the presets without accessing the app.

Sound Quality

The best thing I love about the Pulse 3? It’s very loud, even at just 50% volume! It sounds bright and clear, relatively detailed in the mid range and highs. And its 360 degree dispersion works well too. I don’t have to worry about facing it in a certain direction – I could just plomp the speaker anywhere, and I’ll still enjoy the same sound quality wherever I sit.

Its upper bass range is decent but the Pulse 3 seems to be holding back a lot on the lower registers, possibly to keep it from distorting. It’s definitely not as bass-y as the Charge 3. That could be caused by the smaller bass radiators here. Aside from that, the Pulse 3 produces no stereo imaging on its own, so you need to pair two of them together to enjoy your music in stereo.

Battery Life

Playing at 50% volume with the light’s brightness settings down to minimum, I got out 13 hours of battery instead of the stated 12 hours. But I found out that the battery life is much shorter with the lights set to max brightness! Even at 50% volume you’ll only get about 3 hours and 45 minutes. That’s how much of a difference it makes!

Bluetooth

JBL speakers are known for their phenomenal Bluetooth range. The Pulse 3 is no exception here. This baby connects quickly and stays connected, even when tethered to legacy Bluetooth devices. Its Bluetooth 4.2 range is a class above, easily exceeding the standard 10m range commonly seen in competitors.

The audio/video sync is a bit off but it was barely noticeable when watching my regular YouTube channels.

Price

Would I pay the S$339 that JBL is asking for the Pulse 3? Perhaps. It really depends on what you’re looking for here. I absolutely love the Lava Lamp part of the speaker. Its audio performance is great too! But if I had to make a choice based on audio and battery life, my money would probably go to the Charge 3 for its better audio dynamics, battery endurance of 20 hours, and more attractive price.

Still, the JBL Pulse 3 is easily the most visually stunning speaker available, and it makes a great night light too! It’s nice enough to get me to ditch those candles when I’m serving up a home-cooked romantic meal for the missus!

Aaron. T.
Aaron's dream is to meet the celestial man in the sky who blessed him with huge ears, and shake his hand with a big smile. His typical day is split between getting Rekt on Battlefield 1 and making exciting YouTube reviews at www.youtube.com/loudwirelesssingapore

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