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JBL Pulse 5 evaluate: Lightshow and get together starter

JBL’s Pulse 5 Bluetooth speaker has lots occurring. At its most simple, it carries over the corporate’s skilled audio high quality in a (largely) portable wireless speaker that will work simply as properly at a seashore BBQ as it’s stowed on a shelf in your bathe.

What makes the Pulse 5 actually stand out, although, is its entire secondary position as a smart light. It is in some ways a celebration inside a speaker, containing sufficient energy to fill a room with sound and lightweight for hours if wanted. There are much more sturdy, wealthy sounding Bluetooth speakers on the market, even in JBL’s personal lineup, however for those who’re on the lookout for a Bluetooth speaker that provides the peanut-butter-and-jelly pairing of a extremely customizable gentle and extremely loud sound, you would be hard-pressed to search out something higher.

JBL Pulse 5

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The JBL Pulse 5 combines loud, highly effective bass with a customizable gentle system that may immediately spruce up your subsequent get together or set the temper in your workplace.


  • Customizable gentle patterns
  • Sounds nice out of the field
  • IP67 dustproof and waterproof

  • No bodily quantity controls
  • Heavy

Designed like an alien lava lamp

When it is off, the JBL Pulse 5 is restrained, possibly even plain. At 4.2 x 8.5 x 5.2 inches, it is concerning the peak of a water bottle and solely marginally thicker. Inside, the Pulse 5 has a 2.5-inch 30W woofer and a 0.6-inch 10W tweeter, and a dynamic frequency response vary of 58Hz to 20kHz. JBL has designed the Pulse 5 to have a built-in material carrying strap to make it simpler to port round, and in my time with the Pulse I appreciated it. This speaker, regardless of its dimension, weighs in at 3.2lbs, the burden of most 13-inch laptops. That does not make it unimaginable to elevate, but it surely may make you suppose twice about throwing it in your backpack earlier than strolling to the park.

In fact, that is simply the Pulse 5 when it is off. Press the facility button on the again and the speaker fills with pulsing coloured gentle. JBL is proud to notice that the Pulse 5 is a Red Dot Design Award winner, and I feel it deserves it. The best way the Pulse 5’s gentle supply is ready a number of layers deep into the speaker provides it an added sense of depth that makes the intense gentle and sound that emanates from it all of the extra ethereal and alien.

The JBL Pulse 5 hanging from it's built-in strap and glowing green.

One of many few issues I had with the Pulse 5 was how restricted its controls and inputs are. Apart from an influence button, there is a button to allow Bluetooth pairing, a button for biking by way of the Pulse 5’s varied gentle modes, a button for connecting to different Bluetooth audio system by way of JBL’s PartyBoost function, and a USB Sort-C port for charging audio system.

Noticeably lacking are any sort of quantity controls, which is not an enormous deal, however I discovered it to be annoying the entire time I used the Pulse 5. Audio system, particularly audio system designed to be the centerpiece of a dwelling area due to their distinctive skill to placed on a light-weight present, ought to have a straightforward means for anybody to regulate them, not simply the individual holding the telephone.


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Moody lights and white noise

Paying for the JBL Pulse 5 provides you trendy JBL options, like a straightforward method to group a number of Bluetooth audio system collectively, however the standout is the JBL Moveable app. Companion apps will be hit and miss, and are sometimes straight-up unhealthy, however on this case JBL confirmed restraint. You want the JBL Moveable app to regulate how the Pulse 5 seems whereas it is on, amongst different issues, so it helps that it has some helpful options on high of simply letting you regulate the speaker’s “Lightshow” function.

Completely different colours and lightweight patterns sync to your music, matching the climate, the fluctuating movement of the Aurora Borealis, or the reflections of a spinning disco ball.

As soon as you’ve got related to the Pulse 5 over Bluetooth the JBL Moveable app shows a display screen with a number of preset Lightshow choices to select from, loosely themed round issues like Nature, Cocktails, Climate, and Celebration. Every of those classes has completely different colours and lightweight patterns that may sync to your music, matching the climate, the fluctuating movement of the Aurora Borealis, or the reflections of a spinning disco ball. From there, you’ll be able to change the pace and brightness of the Pulse 5’s patterns, together with turning off total sections of the sunshine (particularly the highest and backside) if you wish to.

These varied gentle patterns are enjoyable and will be additional custom-made with a built-in coloration wheel, however the function I discovered most surprisingly gratifying was the app’s white noise function. Mainly, you’ll be able to choose from a number of preloaded white noise tracks with matching gentle patterns that could possibly be set to finish at particular occasions. That is performance you may get by downloading a easy pomodoro timer app in your smartphone, however I favored utilizing the Pulse 5 to schedule little centered writing sprints for myself that had some background noise, however with out additional distractions.

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Photographs paint a greater image of how the Pulse 5 lights up a room than phrases ever will, however you get fairly a little bit of vary from the speaker relying on whether or not you want moody purple hues for an evening dwelling alone or one thing, brighter, sooner transferring, and enjoyable earlier than pre-gaming an evening out. It is not as customizable as a Philips Hue product, but it surely gave me extra choices to play with than I used to be anticipating.

The back buttons on the JBL Pulse 5.

Loud, bassy, and clear even at larger volumes

You in the end need loudness from a celebration speaker, and the Pulse 5 delivers handily. Even at medium quantity, it fills up a room, and it might get to fairly excessive volumes (larger than I used to be snug with, sharing a wall with my neighbors) with out noticeable distortion.

The speaker has a deep, booming bass that feels higher than its dimension and nearer to what I get out of my TV’s Sonos Ray sound bar.

Positioned on a desk, you’ll be able to hear and really feel thump on songs like Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain. On the entire, nearly all the things I performed on the JBL Pulse 5 sounded crisp and clear. My solely actual situation was an issue I chalked as much as the dimensions of the speaker moderately than something JBL did. You naturally get much less separation between bass and treble on a smaller speaker with fewer woofers and tweeters and I seen it after listening to the Pulse 5 for lengthy sufficient.

It is a testomony to how good the Pulse 5 sounds that that is what stands proud above all the things else. I cherished how a lot texture Katie Crutchfield and MJ Lenderman’s voices had in Waxahatchee’s Proper Again to It, and the groovy riffs of Age of Consent by New Order have been straightforward to throw on repeat due to how a lot punch the bass had. You possibly can most likely get even higher audio high quality by tweaking the equalizer settings, however what JBL provides out of the field is sweet sufficient for most individuals.

The JBL Pulse 5 on a bookshelf with its lights off.

Bumpin’ bass and battery

JBL says the Pulse 5 will get round 12 hours of playback time, which feels correct for prolonged durations of use throughout a social occasion, however could be conservative for those who’re not always altering the Lightshow on show. I made it by way of over 4 days of enjoying music from the Pulse 5 for 2 to 3 hours a day earlier than the battery standing gentle signaled I ought to cost.

You possibly can get much more for those who use the Pulse 5 much less usually. I in the end ended up utilizing the Pulse 5 extra as a result of the speaker’s IP67 dustproof and waterproof rating meant I may use it within the bathe with out having to fret about water injury. The outer plastic layer fogs up, but it surely by no means stopped blasting gentle or sound as I acquired prepared for the day.


The JBL Pulse 5 is a variety of enjoyable, and for a speaker that is so clearly meant to be loved by a crowd, its flaws, weight and an absence of quantity controls fade to the background while you’re entertaining with customizable lights and a punchy, bassy sound. In the end, JBL delivered a reliable get together speaker with some enjoyable options to strive while you’re alone, enjoyable, or making an attempt to focus. There’s not a ton to it, however for those who’re on the lookout for a enjoyable method to play audio at dwelling or an occasion on the go, the JBL Pulse 5 sounds and appears ok for nearly everybody.

A tube-shaped, rainbow-colored Bluetooth speaker with JBL printed on the side.

JBL Pulse 5

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$200 $250 Save $50

Songs I loved on the JBL Pulse 5

As I examined the JBL Pulse 5, these are a number of of my most listened to songs that made listening much more of a pleasure.

  • Age of Consent by New Order
  • The Backside by HEATWAVE
  • Proper Again At It (feat. MJ Lenderman) by Waxahatchee
  • I Been Younger by George Clanton
  • Mushy Axe by Saintseneca

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