JBL Pulse 2 Review
+ Light show makes this speaker incredibly cool to watch at night.
+ Battery lasts a very lonng time
+Easy to set up and use
+ Excellent sound quality for music, movies and games
- The USB charging door is a bit hard to get off to charge the device
- The light sensing technology is a bit hit and miss
We have reviewed a number of JBL speakers on our website in the past, with each review we seem to talk about more and more added features and enhancements. The JBL Pulse 2 promises to take the classic JBL sound of previous speakers and add a light show. Did JBL make yet another speaker that deserves to be part of your home? We think it should, and in more ways than past speakers.
The JBL Pulse 2’s packaging is classic JBL with an added twist. If you have read any of our other reviews of past JBL speakers you will instantly see where JBL got its inspiration, the Pulse 2’s big brother the Xtreme. The Pulse 2’s packaging, as everything else JBL does is done extremely well. No worries about shipping damage here; not to mention the packaging looks quite good and fits well with the theme JBL was going with the JBL Pulse 2.
The classic white, black, and orange color scheme can be found throughout the packaging and it shows JBL thinks of everything in all stages of development. Upon opening the front ‘door’ of the packaging (think of it as opening a book), you will find a black box that simply states “Pulse 2” take this out and you will find the Pulse 2 in a small wrap and another black box sitting next to the speaker to keep it from moving. Upon opening the small black box you will find 1 orange USB cable, 1 Orange USB charger and an instruction booklet on how to use the product. There are a TON of features to the Pulse 2 so I recommend reading through this before moving forward.
Before getting into the Pulse 2 itself I must advise you to download “JBL connect” on your smartphone. You will need this soon before you can use all of the Pulse 2’s features so I recommend downloading that app to be ready for it.
Looking at the Pulse 2 I immediately noticed how much it resembled the JBL Charge 2+ that I reviewed previously but just a bit larger. On the front of the speaker (This speaker stands vertically instead of horizontally like other JBL speakers.) you will find the JBL logo and a single button. This button is actually very, very special that I have never seen before, the Pulse 2 features a light sensor on the back of the speaker that you can hold up to ANY color and the speaker’s LED’s will change according to the color that was rendered when pressed. This is implemented very well and the Equalizer not only projects this color but other colors that also complement the color well. I have tested this on almost everything I could find around my home and unless the color is black, the sensor usually picks the color up with no problem and the equalizer imminently changes to the color palette.
You will also find a speaker grill where the LED’s emanate featuring two 8 watt speakers that really pump some music, on the either side you will find a bass radiator. These bass radiators really help with the bass and are by far my favorite feature of all JBL speakers, these bass radiators really move the bass and the radiators start moving when the music starts getting loud. No worries about blowing the Pulse 2 speakers out, all JBL speakers have software built into them that automatically cut the sounds down to a tolerable level for the speaker. You might notice the sound dip a bit during extra loud scenes, this is on purpose and nothing to worry about.
On the back of the Pulse 2, you will find the brains of the JBL speaker, Starting from the bottom, you will find a small door that reveals an AUX input jack (that auto switches from Bluetooth to AUX when a cord is plugged in) and a micro USB charging port. Yes, that’s right; the Pulse 2 charges through micro USB, something I missed in the Extreme and loved in the Charge 2+. The ease of micro USB to charge this speaker makes almost sure you will never run out of battery. Everybody has extra micro USB cables and chargers, however it could take some time to charge, as this battery in this speaker is a whopping 6,000 MaH, ensuring over 10 hours of play time but that means a fairly long charge time as well. It is best to use the included charger when available. One thing to note is that the speaker is splash resistant so this door is watertight. The door is very hard to open with my finger alone, and almost always used other objects to open the door. I do wish this would be easier to open, as right now since I use it exclusively in the bedroom I leave the door open just for ease of use.
The next button up is the normal play/pause button that s found on the Xtreme (but not on the Charge 2+) not only does this light button play and pause, but press it twice fast and the Pulse 2 skips to the next song, press three times and is skips backwards. This isn’t a widely known feature, but a very important feature for people who like to keep phones separate from the music experience during parties for safety sake. Above this, you will find the JBL Connect button. This feature connects two Pulse speakers into either left/right stereo modes or “party” mode, which plays both left and right channels on both speakers to better fill up an area with music during parties both big and small.
Above this you will find plus and minus buttons used for volume controls, these are independent of the Bluetooth source so if you find the sound to be a bit low make sure to turn the volume on both your device and the Pulse 2. On the right side of these buttons you will find a battery level indicator. When the battery is full, all LED’s will be on, each light will turn off until the battery finally dies. The Pulse 2 will give you plenty of warning before hand however.
Above these buttons you will find a sun button. Pressing this rotates between the different light modes when the speaker is turned on. There are 10 different light modes ranging from fire to rain, all of them can be used along with music and will go with your music sort of like an equalizer. My personal favorite part is the fire mode. With the LLED’s turned towards a wall and the light off, there is almost no discernable difference between a real fire and the fire produced by the LED’s visual wise. It is an absolutely awesome feature that I cannot sleep without anymore. The Pulse 2 is an instant mood setter for just about any occasion.
Just above the sun button you will find the Bluetooth button, if you plan on using just one Bluetooth device such as your smartphone you will almost never need this button, but if your speaker does not connect to your phone for any reason just press this button and the speaker will go into “search” mode. Just find it on your device and you should now be connected. Above that, just a normal power button to be used anytime you please, just turn the speaker back on and it should auto-connect to your phone anytime.
Now is finally time to use that JBL Connect app. Turn your Pulse 2 on and connect it to your phone via Bluetooth (Its as easy as finding the Pulse 2 and pressing connect) and go to the app. When the app finds the speaker automatically, It will warn you of a new update for our speaker. I strongly recommend downloading and installing this update for even more usefulness of the speaker. Installing the update takes right around 20 minutes so take some time to read the manual and get acquainted with the speaker and also give it a charge so when it is done updating you should have enough charge to use it.
ith your updated speaker you can now download ambient sounds to go right with the different light modes of the LED’s. For example, when downloaded you can press the music symbol on the bottom right side to actually give quite a nice fire sound to go right along with the fire light show. It is as close to having a fireplace as you an get ambient wise without actually building a fire. You can also pick different eq settings straight through the app without pressing anything on the speaker itself. Taking some time to choose which LED light show I liked I often found myself using the regular equaliser mode to move with the music, it is very fun to watch and the light sensor can change the entire color palette in seconds, or just enjoy a range of almost unlimited colors that auto change with the tempo of the song.
The LED modes are great, but how does the Pulse 2 actually sound? Well, if you have ever listened to a JBL speaker before you will know you are getting quality. With the two 8 watt speakers and the bass radiators the sound really pumps even from a smart phone. Playing music through Deezer from Machine Gun Kelley to Johnny Cash, the Pulse 2 does it all without effort and all sounds excellent in every way. I have never had a complaint about JBL speakers before and the Pulse 2 is no different. While the Pulse 2 does have one of the radiators on the bottom, there is a small indentation where the feet are giving the radiator plenty of room to move and radiate bass. Every sound the smart phone makes will be shown in real time on the equaliser display on the front of the Pulse 2, so no matter what ap you use or what type of music you listen to you will always have a light show ready and willing at any time even by the pool with its splash-proof design.
Once again, JBL has managed to impress me beyond expectations. The LED light show built into the speaker is one of the most intuitive features I have seen In a Bluetooth speaker. The Pulse 2 is another very good sounding speaker ranking right up there with the Charge 2+, while not quite as loud as the Xtreme the Pulse 2 does get plenty loud enough for ambiance sounds and small parties. If you are having a larger party, make sure to buy a second Pulse 2 to listen in party mode. For $199 the JBL Pulse 2 Its a solid deal for what you are getting, an LED light show and strong bass round out an excellent speaker worth your money.