JBL Pulse 2 Bluetooth Speaker Review
THE VERDICT:
The JBL Pulse 2 is a fantastic little bluetooth speaker. However, with nearly every major audio manufacturer offering a wireless speaker of some sort, it’s a tough crowd to stand-out in. The Pulse 2 manages to do just that, both visually and sonically.
Design9.5
Value8
Features9.5
Sound Quality8
The Good
  • The JBL Pulse 2 hits all the right notes. It’s treble, mid-range and bass are all detailed and tight. It’s pulsating lights are hypnotic.
The Bad
  • It’s bass could use a little more oomph at high volumes. Also, a carrying case or bag would be nice.
8.8Overall Score

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JBL Pulse 2 Review

The original JBL Pulse was a fun “party” speaker that delivered pretty good sound while also providing a neat light show. The new JBL Pulse 2 definitely boasts many similarities to the original Pulse, but there are some notable differences. Like the original, the Pulse 2 uses a cylindrical design with two passive radiators on each end. Size-wise, the 2 is slightly taller. The metal grill that wraps around the Pulse 2 has a tighter mesh than that of its predecessor giving it a smoother cleaner appearance.  A strip runs down the back of the speaker that houses most of the controls. Power, bluetooth, lightshow mode, speakerphone, and volume buttons are located here. There’s also a JBL connect button that allows you to link two Pulse 2 speakers together and play the same music on each.  A USB charging port and an auxilary input are also located here hidden beneath a rubber splash guard. JBL markets the Pulse 2 as being splashproof however, it’s not waterproof.

JBL Pulse 2 Review

JBL Pulse 2 Bluetooth Speaker ReviewThe Pulse 2 is a little sparse in the accessory department. In the box, JBL only supplies you with a Power Adaptor and a Micro USB Cable. Regrettably the little speaker doesn’t come with a carrying case. So you’ll need to fork out some extra cash if you need to transport the Pulse 2 from place to place.

 

The JBL Pulse 2’s claim to fame is its dazzling light show. Press the light show button on the back and the multi-colored lights of the Pulse 2 dance and bounce. There are about 14 different light show patterns to choose from. If the bright lights are too distracting, holding down the light show button deactivates the feature. At first glance, the frantic lights appear to jive with the beat of your music. While the bouncing light patterns come close, they don’t quite keep up with the beat. Still, once you activate the light show it will suck you in. The LED lights can be controlled by JBL’s iOS and Android app. New light shows and firmware updates are readily available via the app. The Pulse 2 also lets you make your own custom light show. For instance, hold up a piece of colored paper in front of the speaker’s light sensor and the color spectrum of the LED lights will shift to mimic that color. This doesn’t work perfectly all the time. In our tests, sometimes the sensor struggled to recognize a particular color if it was in a dimly lit room. Despite this, it’s still a pretty cool feature. Is it gimmicky? Yes, but it’s fun as heck to play around with.

 

JBL states that the Pulse 2 has a battery life of about 10 hours. However, volume level and streaming music, for instance, can really tax the battery. Likewise, using the light show can easily take your battery life from 10 hours to about 5. In our listening tests at moderate volume levels we were able to eek out about 10 and half hours. With occasional use of the light show we got about 8.

 

Sound Quality

Many of the smaller bluetooth speakers we’ve listened to have a tendency to over compensate for their small stature by pumping out copious amounts of bass. The end result is that the bass often sounds bloated and distorted as the speakers over extend themselves. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with the JBL Pulse 2.

 

With the Pulse 2, JBL has struck a good balance. The sound isn’t perfect, but for a small portable inexpensive speaker it sounds pretty darn good. The Pulse 2 has surprisingly good bass response for a speaker of its size. When turning the volume up we expected to hear some distortion in the bass department, but the little speaker reigned itself in nicely. Bass was consistently detailed and full sounding. This is partly due to the digital processing within the speaker. Wisely, the little Pulse 2 limits its bass output at high volumes which keeps it from distorting. The only downfall to this is that the bass doesn’t have the same kick when you really crank the Pulse 2’s volume up, but all things considered, we think its a fair trade-off.

 

The speaker also displayed very good mid-range and treble response. Both were detailed and crisp. Vocals really shined on the JBL Pulse 2 as the little speaker surprised us by giving lifelike vocal performances. Not bad for a speaker that you can easily fit in a small bag. Is it as good as a $10,000 pair of bookshelf speakers? Heck No! But, it’s easily one of the better sounding bluetooth speakers you’ll find on the market.

 

Conclusion

JBL really struck gold with the Pulse 2. The original Pulse was fun to look at, but came up a little short in the sound department. The Pulse 2 not only looks good, but sounds good too. Competition is tight in the bluetooth speaker arena. There are a few speakers out there that can match the Pulse 2 in sound quality, but few can dazzle you with lights!


Where to Buy:

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