Review: JBL Pulse 3

Well lit house party

Instead of thunderous bass and glittering light, Pulse provides cosy music and a fireplace ambience.

JBL Pulse 3

Our verdict

Waterproof according to IPX7. Really cool light effects. Can be run as a stereo pair or in party mode.
Inadequate audio resources for outdoor parties. The bass is too weak for electronic dance music.
Output: 20 watt

Drivers: 3 x 40 mm

Audio sources: Aux, Bluetooth 4.2

Battery life: 12 hours

Dimensions/Weight: 22 x 9 x 9 cm/960 g

Website: jbl.com

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Price: £ 2500

We have previously tested JBL’s portable speakers with good results. Just as the practical JBL Charge 3 and the loud JBL Extreme, not to mention the power house JBL Boombox. Pulse 3 is as large as the small Charge, but JBL has covered most of the speaker with light panels instead of speaker drivers. It feels well-built, albeit not as rugged as the speakers with metal grills. However, there is no need to worry about rain showers or losing it in the pool, because it is waterproof according to IPX7. This means that the charging port and auxiliary input are hidden behind a rubber hatch.

Next to them are the buttons for controlling playback, pausing, and starting music, as well as choosing lighting effects. You can also use the JBL Connect app to choose between the seven light animations or create your own. The light show is really cool and impressive, but it falls very short of lighting up the whole room like Sony and Philips. It’s more like a cosy lava lamp. The app is also used to stereo connect two speakers, or connect up to 100 compatible JBL speakers in the party mode. The app also allows one to choose to have the play button activate the phone’s voice assistant, as the speaker also has a microphone to be used as a speakerphone.

 

(Photo: Manufacturer)

Sound pressure and bass

A problem with Pulse 3 is that, despite being almost as big as Charge, on the whole it does not have the same sound resources. This is because JBL had to use smaller speaker drivers, and place them at the bottom, instead of using all of the space to pump out sound. This is therefore not the speaker that will create any euphoria on the dancefloor. Instead, it is something that creates a pleasant mood at a house party. However, the same solution with subwoofers at both ends has been continued. It does provide a deeper bass than would otherwise be possible, but there is no particular kick to it. In addition to that, the treble feels fuzzy. Not ideal for EDM.

Conclusion

The JBL Pulse 3 is a cool and practical speaker in itself. But is it a party speaker? If so, it had better be a very small house party. The speaker drivers are simply too small to enable you to turn up the volume to the max, and the bass is too small to make your feet tap. The reason is that most of the speaker is filled with light panels that have given it its name. The light show is certainly festive, but it doesn’t light up the room like a disco. It is more like a cosy lava lamp to gather around at a house party and mosey to the beat. Or place it by the pool at a barbecue party, since it is waterproof.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

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