Written by Soon Kai Hong
JBL has always had a good track record for great sounding portable bluetooth speakers, and the new Pulse 4 is no exception.
But we’ll say this right now, if you’re looking for a rugged, lightweight, portable bluetooth speaker that can take on the elements, look elsewhere, this isn’t it.
So then I hear you asking, then what’s the best use for the Pulse 4?
For people who like to move between rooms yet have their music with them, or those who are on a staycation or having a barbecue at a chalet, and heck, maybe if you want to blast some music in the shower, and more.
All those scenarios that we described? The Pulse 4 performs admirably.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Pulse 4 is most definitely the 360-degree LED light that covers pretty much the entirety of the speaker. It’s basically a light show that you can customize, and the colours are really vibrant.
You can also download the JBL Connect app, which allows you to choose from different lighting profiles such as Spiritual, Campfire, Equalizer, or customize your own effect from a selection of preset animations. If you want to just cycle through the different lighting presets, you can also do so via the button on the Pulse 4 itself.
Despite that, the light isn’t harsh, far from it, and it’ll certainly light up a dark room with ease, giving you an added atmosphere and ambience to boot.
Protecting the lights, and most likely helping it achieve the softness as well, is what feels like plexiglass. It does feel really premium to the touch; it’s definitely well-built, and with how JBL implemented the design, it makes the Pulse 4 look like a thermos flask and a little similar to a lava lamp. Place the Pulse 4 on a table, and it’ll certainly spice up the room, even by itself.
But it’s not without its drawbacks.
Due to the design and the material itself, I would highly suggest not to drop the Pulse 4 at all. It’ll definitely get scratched up, and worst-case scenario? You might end up with a cracked Pulse 4. To add on, this makes the Pulse 4 heavier than most other portable bluetooth speakers out there.
The Pulse 4 comes in at 1.26 kilograms. That’s not definitely not light. So, as we suggested above, use it indoors, and do take care of it.
If you want to use it by the pool though, it’s definitely all right, and you can heave a sigh of relief, knowing that the Pulse 4 is IPX7 rated, which means you can fully submerge it in water up to 3-feet deep and it’ll be fine.
But let’s talk about the main reason why you’ll want to look at this calibre of portable bluetooth speakers, and that’s sound.
The Pulse 4 features a single speaker up top which is able to cover a full 360-degree, while a subwoofer resides in the bottom.
Sound quality is really great and was to be expected from JBL. Vocals are pretty clear and distinct, and instruments like strings and flutes do get portrayed well. There’s also little to no distortion even at 80% to maximum volume, which is pretty loud, coming in at 20W of power.
Detail and texture are both good, along with separation as well, with every instrument in a typical band, like your guitar, bass and drums easily discernible, coming together and providing a well-balanced sound.
Bass is definitely powerful given its size. You’ll even be able to feel the rumble, especially when you place it on a table. Things like explosions do reverberate a little, which is quite nice. On that note, the overall bass does have a little punch and does rumble slightly, but nothing extreme on either end. We would say it was as expected given its size and calibre.
Listening up close to the Pulse 4 does feel like your personal mini cinema or theatre, honestly.
There’s also one really cool thing you can do with the Pulse 4, and that’s the Party Boost feature. In fact, you can link up to 100 Pulse 4, and have them all play the same music, and even the same lighting effects, how cool is that?!
Though of course, let’s be practical, you’ll most likely use the Stereo Mode, especially with friends, which will pair up two Pulse 4 speakers to act as the left and right channels.
As for battery life, it’s not too bad, given that it lasts 12 hours with the LED lights on. It does take a little while to charge it though, or rather, a pretty long while.
A whole 3.5 hours to charge its 7,260mAh battery. So that’s a bummer. Hopefully, the next iteration gets fast charging. But just one last thing we have to touch upon before we end, and that’s price. The Pulse 4 costs S$339.
It’s not expensive, but it’s not that affordable either. So, we’ll say this.
There’s quite a lot going for the Pulse 4, and to sum it up in one sentence? The Pulse 4 sounds pretty fantastic, given its form factor and portable nature, and does stand out with its 360-degree LED light show.
If reading this article has ticked all the boxes on your checklist, the JBL Pulse 4 is one that we’d recommend.
More information and purchase options can be found on JBL’s website.