JBL Pulse 4 Review: Music Not Just For Your Ears

The most unusual speaker I have ever seen.

There is a very large group of people for whom music is an art form perceived with more than just your ears. They believe that music is something that affects your audiovisual sensors, exposing a much wider range of feelings.

In the 1960s, a style called psychedelic rock emerged – in order to write it, the authors resorted to not very legitimate methods and means.

That is why many people perceive the album as one with its sound and what it represents – the covers, the music videos, the image of the artist on and off stage. The clearest example of a loud image in music is Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie’s fictional character:

And I tend to agree: if we listened to music only as sound, we would hardly be interested in the sound of each individual note and how the musicians play it, playing it at each beat, overtaking it or slowing down before it.

This playfulness influences our perception, the way we will not only hear but also feel the music.

And that’s why JBL Pulse 4 will affect your perception of music in a much greater way. But first things first.

App

Despite the fact that the JBL Pulse 4 can safely work without an app, this speaker has one.

In the app, you can collect all the available speakers, as well as select the glow pattern of your Pulse 4. There are five patterns in total: four already installed and one custom one.

I was particularly pleased with the glow color detection feature using your smartphone camera. Point it at the desired area of the room, where the speaker will stand, fix the color and the speaker picks up a similar shade with the help of RGB-diodes.

Sound

I didn’t like the sound of the JBL Pulse 3. At a certain volume it started to fall apart. And the speaker itself sounded humming, with a very uneven EQ after 1 kHz. Plus, the bass was totally indecipherable.

And then the fourth generation came out. And the JBL Pulse 4 sounds much better. Totally.

If the sound of the third generation can be characterized as “mushy something”, the fourth generation sounds much clearer, each of the instruments is easy to read. There is no feeling of that sticky piece of overcooked mush that it was before.

However, you often want more bass base – the speaker doesn’t play anything below 70 Hz. You can add lows in EQ, but it will create a sub bass simulator – the speaker will hum, but the power will still be insufficient. But there is nothing you can do about it: the size of the cabinet does not allow you to stretch out even further.

To understand how the JBL Pulse 4 plays, you need to understand the structure of the speaker itself. There is only one speaker. The power is 20 watts. It is responsible for the bass, the middle and the tops. Its diameter is 57.2 mm. This size is enough for the middle and the tops, but the bass may be questionable.

The speaker itself emits these frequencies at some volume, but it is not big enough to make the bass volume comparable to that of the mids and tops. That’s why JBL engineers use passive radiators.

It’s essentially a speaker, too, but it doesn’t need electricity to operate. That’s why it’s passive. Its cone is excited by the vibrations of the air inside the speaker space. So with such a simple design, the bass volume is greatly increased.

With the JBL Pulse 4 it’s simple: the speaker always looks up and is located under the “grill” with the brand logo.

The passive radiator looks down to the floor. And that, by the way, improves the sound of the bass. True, this quality varies depending on the type of surface on which the speaker is placed.

In my home, for example, I have a regular chipboard table. And the bass doesn’t sound very good on it. But on a windowsill or a kitchen set it sounds just right.

In general, a lot depends on the position of the speaker and what it’s standing on. By adjusting, you can find a good position of the speaker to you, so that the sound is as advantageous as possible.

I wouldn’t recommend carrying the speaker around. First, it is not very comfortable to hold, even for people with large hands. Second, once you pick up the speaker, the bass becomes flat and quite quiet.

Personally, I found the same flaw in the speaker’s sound as I did with the JBL Charge 3 – it lacks frequencies from 1 to 4 Hz. This is a failing area that can easily be tweaked with your device’s EQ.

But anything above that, I would turn it down a bit – the tops may seem too obtrusive.

What’s the best thing to listen to on this speaker?

I’ve been listening to alternative rock in the form of Biffy Clyro and The New Regime. As I’m typing this, listening to them, I realize that the power of the bass is lacking. I can feel it with my hand as the speaker sits next to me on my mouse pad, but because of the size of the cabinet, it’s not enough.

The GoGo Penguin’s modern jazz, on the other hand, sounds very organic. How cool and clear the double bass sounds on the JBL Pulse 4! I was really surprised.

You can hear every articulation of the musician, the double bass becomes alive.

Cool Plan B uses a very deep bass. You can barely hear it on the speaker, but you can feel it. And this is just the case when the feel was enough.

And I especially liked how the rhythm section of this song sounds:

The bass guitar in conjunction with the toms and kick drums really punch it up.

Visual

It was not for nothing that I started this review in such a lengthy way. After all, the main feature of the Pulse 4 is not its sound, which, I emphasize, is very good. The main thing is how the speaker behaves when the music is playing.

The first time I could not tear myself away from these lights. Then, of course, my interest in the appearance faded.

But the speaker has attracted attention in my posts. After posting it, I got a few messages asking what it was. And several people concluded that it’s very cool to set the mood, appropriate to the music, and also indispensable during a date. This pulsating soft and not very bright light will be a great addition to your moment of privacy with your loved one. The main thing is to choose the right playlist.

Bottom line

On the plus side, I’d put good sound, IPX7 water protection, a 12-hour battery, and incredible looks. The downsides are also there: the weight and the way the case collects fingerprints, as well as the lack of AUX.

Would I buy a JBL Pulse 4? Yes. So now I will save some money for monitor headphones, and then I will buy the Pulse 4.

But personally I am not as excited about the Charge or the Xtreme as I am about the Pulse 4. They are all good portable loudspeakers. But music isn’t just about sound. It’s about your emotions. And there will be much more from the JBL Pulse 4.

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