One of my favorite portable Bluetooth speakers was the JBL Pulse. It was a really fun speaker to use mainly because of the built in LED lights and the show they would put on while your music played. My kids loved this speaker and would always ask me to play music through it. It was a great speaker, but it’s no longer my favorite anymore. You know why? Because my new favorite just so happens to be the JBL Pulse 2, the update to the original Pulse that is better in almost every possible way.
Design & Features
The new JBL Pulse 2 at first glance doesn’t look that much difference from the original Pulse. It’s not until you put them side by side do you notice that the new Pulse 2 is completely different in many ways. The biggest difference is that the Pulse 2 is larger than the original Pulse with a much smoother design. The mesh surrounding the new speaker is a lot finer with much smaller holes. It’s not as rough to the touch either.
With the Pulse 2, JBL also moved all the controls from one of the side discs to the cylinder surface. All the controls as well as ports are now on one side of the cylinder. There’s a good reason for this. The Pulse 2 now has passive radiators at both ends of the cylinder tube for massive amounts of bass. You can now see and feel the bass thumping through the speakers. That was the one area where the old Pulse had trouble and this new one fixes one of the few negatives about the original.
The Pulse 2 also features a splashproof design making it more durable than the original. It can survive rain and spills and can even be cleaned off by running it through tap water. What you can’t do though is submerge it.
Another new feature on the Pulse 2 is the inclusion of a JBL Prism color sensor lens. The old Pulse had a color selector whereas the new Pulse 2 uses a lens. In theory what you do is aim the lens at a color, shoot it, and it’s supposed to capture the color and use it as part of the light show. In practice however, it doesn’t always work. I think it all depends on how close you are actually holding the color sample. It seems to work better if you hold it up right to the lens. It takes some trial and error to get it working correctly, but it does work, just not all the time.
The last new feature is the inclusion of JBL Connect technology. With it you can wirelessly link multiple JBL Connect enabled speakers together to amplify the listening experience. I’m not really able to test this as I don’t have any other JBL Connect enabled devices.
The JBL Pulse 2 includes a 6000mAh battery good for around 10 hours of playback.
The JBL Pulse 2 is a breeze to pair and I had no problems pairing it with multiple devices. You can’t however use multiple devices at once, just one at a time. It functions like every other portable speaker out there except for the flashy light show it displays. There are several pre-programed light patterns that can be emitted with a push of the button and the color of the light show can be changed via the JBL Prism color sensor lens.
When used with iOS, the volume controls adjust the volume on the device while on Android, the volume on the speaker is separate. If you want more advanced options, you’re encouraged to download the JBL Connect app which can customize each different light show. At the time of writing, the app was quite buggy and I only got it to work maybe like 50% of the time. The other times, the app would just crash or not start.
If you don’t care much for the light show, you’ll be happy to hear that the audio quality of Pulse 2 is excellent. This thing can get really loud if you want it to be with audio that is very crisp and clear. Whereas the old speaker did well with mids and highs, this new speaker also does quite well with low bass. It can really thump on songs that need it and in my opinion, is much better than the original one.
The original JBL Pulse was one of my favorite speakers out there. Even as I continued to check out more and more speakers, I always came back to the Pulse because of the unique light show feature. The JBL Pulse 2 takes everything great about the original and improves upon it. The speaker feels like it’s much higher in quality and build with a design that is a lot cleaner as well.
With that said, it’s finally time to put away the original Pulse because the new king of the hill for me is the JBL Pulse 2. This is a portable speaker that gets a lot right with several unique features not found on other speakers, even if they are a bit gimmicky.