JBL has been a pioneer in the Bluetooth speaker market for years, thanks to its commitment to sound quality and large number of speakers. In this article, we will be reviewing two of the famous Bluetooth speakers produced by JBL, the Pulse 4 and Charge 5.
Differences at a glance: JBL Pulse 4 vs. JBL Charge 5
Let’s look at the differences between JBL Pulse 4 and Charge 5.
The JBL Pulse 4 has a better design because of the LED light it offers. However, the Charge 5 comes in many different colors for customization.
Both speakers have similar control options with the JBL connect control that allows them to connect multiple devices for a 360-degree audio. JBL Pulse 4 has a light mode which allows the user to customize the patterns for the lightshow.
The JBL Charge 5 has a better audio response. It can offer a bass that is much deeper than that of JBL Pulse 4. It offers more power than Pulse 4.
JBL Charge 5 has built-in Bluetooth 5.1 whereas JBL Pulse 4 has built-in Bluetooth 4.2 version.
The battery life of JBL Charge 5 is much more than that of Pulse 4. Although it takes a little more time to charge than the Pulse 4, the long battery life is worth it.
JBL Pulse 4
The JBL Pulse 4 is an amazing high resolution portable Bluetooth speaker that offers a 360-degree speaker array with an IPX7 waterproof rating and is able to play loud music for maximum 12 hours.
The JBL Pulse 4 is a cylindrical portable Bluetooth speaker that measures8.2 inches tall by 3.8 inches around and weighs 2.8 pounds. This speaker is available in two different color- black and white. However, the main magic lies within the LED lighting panel that is wrapped around the cylindrical Bluetooth speaker enclosure’s midsection. The exterior has a unique transparent design that allows the colors to be visible through it. The LED lighting offers 360-degree RGB lights that can be customized using the buttons on the speaker and the application.
JBL Pulse 4 has good build quality. It’s exterior includes a transparent and rugged glass like plastic housing which protects it and offers durability. Although this feature allows protection, it can easily get dirty with fingerprints so it has to be regularly cleaned. The speaker has a compact design that makes it convenient to carry it around anywhere without much hassle. The bottom of the speaker includes three plastic feet that it uses to stand on the surface. The JBL Pulse 4 is waterproof and it is rated IPX7. This means that the portable speaker can be submerged into 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes without any damage.
At the top of the JBL Pulse 4 are four buttons that can be pressed to control the Bluetooth speaker. There are four different kinds of buttons for adjustment. Each pair of buttons are positioned at the left and right top surface of the Bluetooth speaker. Firstly, there is the power button which is essential for switching on the JBL speaker. There are +/- buttons for adjusting the volume and the play or pause buttons can be pressed twice to skip a track. There is a button for pairing Bluetooth. The Partyboost button can be pressed to link multiple Partyboost compatible speakers. When the power button, partyboost button and the Bluetooth pairing button are enabled, they light up. The light button can be used to adjust the 360-degree RGB lights. In order to connect the lights with other Partyboost compatible speaker, the JBL Pulse 4 can be shaken. Lastly, the back of the portable speaker includes a light that indicates the status of the battery level.
The JBL Pulse 4 is a completely wireless Bluetooth speaker. Neverthless, the speaker does include USB-C to USB-A cable for charging. JBL Pulse 4 includes built-in Bluetooth 4.2 version. With the connectivity of Bluetooth, the user can stream music that has been stored in the Bluetooth enabled device as well as from other music apps wirelessly to the JBL Pulse 4. The speaker also allows multi-device pairing, which means that multiple devices can be connected simultaneously. There is low audio latency with Android devices however the audio latency with IOS is a little higher. This suggests that it is easier to connect with Android devices and watching videos is seamless. The JBL Pulse 4 does not have built-in Wi-Fi.
JBL Pulse 4 has a great audio performance for a mono speaker. The top surface of hthe speaker includes two 2.25-inch, 20-watt driver that is covered with a grille and at the lower panel of the JBL portable speaker is are two 2.25″ passive radiator. The bass response is really impactful and punchy thanks to the passive radiators. Although the bass is not loud enough to shake walls, it does include a punch for the size that the speaker has. The midrange is well balanced and the treble response is also average. Vocal clarity displayed by these speakers is nothing short of amazing. The speaker also includes a directional feature which can be adjusted to blend in with specific locations. Although the speaker may not be as loud, the Paryboost feature allows stereo sound, which is when many speakers can be paired together for an immersive audio experience.
The light show offered by these portable speakers are very impressive. The floating colors are hypnotizing even if they do not always sync perfectly with the audio. There are various patterns available such as Spiritual, Campfire, Equalizer, Wave, or Customized. The speaker control buttons can be used to change the lights according to the liking of the user. One interesting feature is shaking the speaker which makes the lights change color. It is not doubt that these speakers will be quite a show for disco parties.
Battery and Charging
The portable Bluetooth speaker has satisfactory battery performance. The battery that the JBL speaker uses is Lithium-ion polymer, which is integrated into the system. The battery can last upto 12 hours, allowing the users to enjoy 12 hours of uninterrupted music. The speaker automatically shuts down after 20 minutes with no audio input. The device includes a USB-C port and a 4′ USB-C to USB-A cable for charging. The charging time is approximately 3.5 hours. The battery life can, however, vary depending on how frequently the speaker has been used.
One highlighted feature of the JBL Pulse 4 is the JBL Connect Application. This application can be used to wirelessly connect JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers together and thus create a customized lightshow. Two JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers can be connected wirelessly through the app using the Stereo feature for stereo sound. Similarly, multiple JBL PartyBoost-compatible can also be linked together using the Part mode feature for a bigger and louder sound. This feature is useful when there is a loud party. The app can also be used to customize the lightshow that the LED light panel has to offer. There are some standard patterns already installed in the app but the user does have the liberty of choosing a customized pattern from the app’s color wheel or the camera on the phone.
Reasons to buy the JBL Pulse 4
Here are some of the reasons why you should be getting the JBL Pulse 4:
- The speakers offer a unique and impressive design with LED lights for customized light show option.
- JBL Pulse 4 delivers a powerful audio response for compact size.
- The Bluetooth speakers have impressive build quality and are rated IPX7 for waterproof properties.
Reasons to avoid the JBL Pulse 4
These are the following reasons why you should not
- The speakers are expensive.
- JBL Pulse 4 does not include aux input.
JBL Charge 5
The JBL Charge 5 is a durable speaker that offers full range audio response with facilities such as EQ customization and 20 hours of playtime.
The JBL Charge 5 is a cylindrical Bluetooth speaker that are available in many different colors- black, blue, red, grey, green and squad. The speaker is small in size and can be placed horizontally on its base. Much like its other models, the Bluetooth speaker boasts the JBL logo in caps at the front surface. The logo is bigger than its previous models and has simple metallic accents around it for a stylish touch. There is an LED strip on the bottom of the JBL logo that lights up when the speaker is in use. The JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth speaker is extremely small- it weighs around 2.0 lbs. and is very easy to carry around. The body of the speaker includes diagonal lines for traction.
JBL Charge 5 has impressive build quality and it is made up of solid materials. Made mostly of plastic, the portable Bluetooth speaker includes rubber feet on the flat bottom panel so that it stays protected and stops from rolling off when placed horizontally on the surface. A durable fabric grille is wrapped around the speaker for protection. The USB ports found at the back panel of the speaker are also covered to keep it protected from dust and damage. Although the bass drivers at both sides of the speaker are exposed, they are surrounded by a rubber strip. The speaker is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance. This means that it can be submerged in water for 30 minutes and it can also withstand dust in the same time. This makes the JBL Charge 5 suitable for outdoor activities, such as pool parties, camping and so on.
On the top surface of the Bluetooth speaker is the control panel that includes different buttons. The power button and the Bluetooth button are paired at the center. The power button as the name suggests is used to switch the speaker on and off. The Bluetooth button allows the JBL Charge 5 to be paired to Bluetooth enabled devices for hands-free audio streaming. Once the Bluetooth button is paired, a blue LED light would flash. There are + and – buttons at the control panel as well. These buttons are used to adjust the volume level of the audio delivered by the JBL Charge 5. To increase the volume, the + button can be pressed and to decrease the volume the – button is pressed. There is a play and pause button which can also be double pressed to skip a track. There is a PartyBoost button found on the speaker which can be pressed in order to connect other Partyboost compatible speakers with the JBL Charge 5. This feature is essentially useful when loud music has to be played. The horizontal dotted lights at the bottom of the speaker indicate the speaker battery level.
JBL Charge 5 portable Bluetooth speaker includes waterproof USB-C port that can be used for charging. The speaker also has a USB-A port that can be used to charge a smartphone. This means that the JBL speaker can be used to recharge the battery of the Bluetooth enabled device from the built-in USB-A port. This convenient feature allows users to leave behind their phone chargers. Charge 5 does not include aux inputs since it is completely wireless. Charge 5, as mentioned earlier, is a portable speaker and it has built-in Bluetooth 5.1. This feature makes it convenient for the user to wirelessly stream audio from Bluetooth enabled devices such as smartphone. Charge 5 also allows multiple device pairing option and it offers quick and easy switching from one device to another. The Bluetooth speaker does not provide built-in Wi-Fi.
The JBL Charge 5 uses a two-way design and incorporates a single 20mm 10-watt tweeter and a racetrack-style 52mm-by-90mm 30-watt woofer inside it. This is a mono speaker given its compact size but Partyboost option allows it to become stereo when paired with another speaker. There are two 2.25 inch passive radiators that are exposed to open air at two ends of the speaker. Overall, the JBL Charge 5 has a fairly neutral audio profile that makes susre that both vocals and instruments are presented with detail and precision. The specifications show that the speakers have a frequency range of 65-20,000 Hz. Although the woofer may not be able to reach deep down the frequency range, the passive radiators help them achieve an impactful and punchy bass response. To some users who are a fan of bass heavy music such as EDM, the speaker may lack the energetic thump in bass response. However, this can be managed by changing the EQ settings and customizing the bass according to their liking. The midrange is clear and well balanced. The vocals are clear, energized and are given a good presentation in the soundstage. The high frequency audio response is warm and clear and the digital signal processing makes sure that the level of distortion is kept at a minimum. However, at louder volumes the audio does show some signs of distortion. For an optimum audio experience, it is advised to keep the volume levels at 50 to 60%.
Battery and Charging
The JBL Bluetooth speaker has impressive charging features. It consists of a built-in Lithium-ion polymer rechargeable battery which offers play time up to 20 whole hours! What’s even better is that the charging time for these speakers is only 4 hours. The dynamic Bluetooth speaker also has a power saving feature which ensures that the speaker is shut off automatically to save charge when it has been inactive for a while. To charge the JBL Charge 5, there is a USB-A port in a sealed compartment and a Type-C charging port at the pack of the speaker.
An important feature that makes the user experience very convenience is the inclusion of the JBL Portable app. This is an application that is compatible with both Apple iOS 9.0+ or Android OS 5.0+. This app can be used to pair two JBL Partyboost compatible speakers wirelessly for stereo sound. This feature does not only allow two devices to be paired up, but also leaves an option for multiple pairing. This means that multiple JBL Partyboost compatible devices can be paired together to create a bigger and better sound. This app also features a graphic EQ that can be used to customize the audio according to the liking of the user.
Reasons to buy the JBL Charge 5
Here are some of the reasons why you should get the JBL Charge 5:
- JBL Charge 5 has a durable design that is both dustproof and waterproof.
- The speaker provides balanced audio response with clear and detailed sound.
- The playtime for these speakers is very high so they can be used for long period of time.
Reasons to avoid the JBL Charge 5
These are the reasons why you should avoid getting the JBL Charge 5:
- The speaker shows distortion at high volume levels.
- JBL Charge 5 does not include aux input.
We have reviewed some similar alternatives for better comparison. Let’s take a look at the JBL Pulse series and the JBL Charge 2 series separately.
JBL Pulse Series
The JBL Pulse series includes JBL’s Bluetooth speakers that offer exceptional audio quality.
A compact wireless Bluetooth speaker, the JBL Pulse delivers great audio and is aesthetically pleasing. The speaker has a caged design- in the sense that the metal grille wraps around the illuminating body of the speaker. It has a cylindrical shape, with a measurement of 3 inches’ width and 7.2 inches’ length. The bottom of the speaker includes rubber to help it remain sturdy and stop it from rolling off.
There is also a space for micro USB charging port and 3.5mm audio input. At the top of the cylindrical Bluetooth speaker, there are controls that can be used to adjust the audio. The main control buttons include Power, Light, Bluetooth, and Volume Up/Down. There are also color and intensity buttons that can be used to control and customize the LED light.
The JBL Pulse offers a remarkable feature which is the light show. Behind the grille includes an array of LED lights which glow in different colors when switched on. These colors can come in standard options and can also be customized using the JBL music app. Although the speaker slacks off in terms of bass response, which isn’t as punchy and dynamic as many would like it to be, the midrange is smooth and natural which somewhat makes up for a well-balanced sound. The Pulse is very impressive in terms of volume; it can go pretty loud without much noticeable distortion.
- Amazing lightshow
- Can provide loud volume
- Bass can be improved
- No multi-device pairing option
- No calling facility
JBL Pulse 2
The JBL Pulse 2 is a splashproof Bluetooth speaker with a dazzling lightshow and audio response. The cylindrical portable speaker is compact in size, measuring about 7.6-by-3.3-inch and weighing about 1.7 pounds. The LED body is protected with a metallic grille much like its previous model but a little thinner. At the top and bottom of the JBL speaker are exposed passive radiators.
The control panel is located at the top surface of the JBL Pulse 2 and it includes buttons for power, play/pause as well as volume adjustments buttons; one button for Bluetooth pairing and a button for connect mode that allows the speaker to be paired to another Pulse compatible speaker. The Light show mode is important for controlling the light patterns exhibited by the speaker. There is also a micro USB charging port, 3.5mm aux input and a built-in speakerphone which is useful for making calls.
The Pulse 2 offers the user an option of 12 different light show, including rain, fire, waves, stars, rain and fireworks. The speaker has decent bass response for its compact size. The bass is a little better at higher volumes. Nevertheless, the digital signal processor inhibits the speaker from performing to its maximum bass frequency. The midrange is pleasant and the treble response is solid, with clear vocals and instruments.
- Powerful audio response
- Solid and impactful bass
- Can be connected with other JBL speakers for 360 degree sound
- High frequency response can be improved
JBL Pulse 3
JBL Pulse 3 offers solid Bluetooth audio with remarkable lightshow. The speaker design has been updated from its previous model. The metallic grille no longer wraps around plastic body with built-in LED- making the lightshow even more enjoyable. Rather the grille is found at the bottom covered with a tight knit fabric. Pulse 3 is also waterproof and has an IPX7 rating. Exposed bass radiators are found at the top and bottom of the speakers.
At the back of the JBL Pulse 3 are the controls. There are buttons for power, volume, Bluetooth pairing, play/pause/voice assistant, JBL Connect+. There is also a button for light mode which can be used to change the pattern of the LED light. The app allows the user to choose from a variety of different light patterns for the show. There is a built-in mic that offers intelligible clalrity. The speaker is Bluetooth 4.2 compatible.
Jbl Pulse 3 offers 360-degree audio, functioning with a frequency range of 65Hz to 20kHz at 20-watt continuous power. Whilst there have been complaints regarding the bass response in the previous models, the JBLPulse 3 really shows great improvement. The bass sounds heavy and intense with the tight amount of punch. The overall sound is well balanced, with the bass being dynamic, the midrange being crispy clear and the treble being prominent.
- Visually aesthetic
- Crystal clear highs and detailed midrange
- Deep bass response
- Waterproof properties
- Heavy in size so difficult to carry around
JBL Charge Series
The JBL Charge series includes a range of dynamic Bluetooth enabled speakers that perform with style and power.
JBL Charge Series: Differences at a glance
The JBL Charge is a Bluetooth speaker that has a robust design and comes in many different colors such as black, green and blue. The speaker includes 1-5/8-inch (40mm) full-range drivers, a 2×5-watt amplifier and a built-in bass port. Because of its compact size, with dimensions of 2 inches’ width and 6 inches’ length, the speaker is very portable. At the top of the panel there are controls for power, volume and pairing other JBL Charge compatible devices. NFC for automatic pairing is missing, however.
The speaker includes a wall adapter power supply that connects to a USB cable used for charging. There is a micro USB charging jack and 3.5mm Aux input at the back of the speaker. It uses a lithium ion battery which takes around 3.5 hours to recharge fully, and has a playback time of about 12 hours.
The speaker offers solid audio performance at moderate volumes, with rich lows and clear mids and highs. However, the audio gets distorted at high volumes on tracks that include deep bass content.
- Loud audio response
- Great portability
- Lacks deep bass
- Distorts at high volume
JBL Charge 2
The JBL Charge 2 has a cylindrical design that can be placed both horizontally and vertically when playing music. It is a bit heavy but it is extremely durable because of the materials it is constructed with. The speaker is covered with a hard plastic grille and the built-in controls are covered with a silicone layer for better protection. Both ends of the speaker houses passive radiators and at the inside of the speaker are dual 7.5 watt drivers.
Apart from the usual controls such as Power, Bluetooth, Volume Up/Down, Call Answer/End found at the top panel of the speaker, there is also a social mode control button which enables user to pair up to three Bluetooth enabled devices with the speaker. There is a built-in microphone that can be used to make calls. At the base of the speaker is the aux input, and micro USB input for charging both the device as well as smartphone. The built-in 6,000mAh battery offers 12 hours of playback and requires 4 hours for charging.
The speaker offers impressive audio quality for its size. It offers enough audio to fill a small room without much distortion. The passive radiators help to create a large bass response that is impactful and punchy. The crisp high mid-range is smooth and natural when coupled with the bright treble response.
- Great sound quality
- Offers phone charging
- Connects to three Bluetooth devices at once
- Bass can be overpowering
JBL Charge 3
The JBL Charge 3 are dynamic waterproof speakers that fill up the room with powerful audio response. The speaker measures 3.5 by 8.4 by 3.4 inches and weighs around 1.8 pounds which means that it is a bit heavier than most Bluetooth speakers. The rugged design makes the speaker sturdy and durable for outdoor listening. The speaker is rated IPX7 for waterproof properties. JBL Charge 3 is wrapped with a protective grille which covers dual 50mm, 10-watt drivers. At both ends of the speakers are passive radiators which enhances bass response.
There are dedicated buttons for power, play/pause, volume adjustment, Bluetooth pairing found at the top control panel. The JBL connect button allows the user to connect two or more Bluetooth compatible devices with the speaker. Just like its other models, there is a 3.5mm aux input and micro USB connection for charging the speaker. There is a built-in mic for calls. The Charge 3 has a battery life of 20 hours.
The speaker offers a remarkable audio performance. The bass response delivered may be one of the deepest bass response from Bluetooth speakers. The quality of the bass is satisfactory for almost all music genres. Impressively, there is little to no distortion at high volume levels. Whilst the low frequencies shined, the high frequencies were disappointing. Although the treble response was delivered with clarity, it did lack the details that are needed to fulfill the musical experience. Nevertheless, the punchy bass and energetic audio response makes up for it.
- Fully waterproof
- Loud and strong bass response
- Allows phone charging option
- Great battery life
- Charges with micro-USB
- Distortion at high volumes
JBL Charge 4
The JBL Charge 4 has a rugged design combined with waterproof property that makes it suitable for outdoor activities. Its design is much like its predecessors and the speaker comes in ten different colors which allows the user the convenience of customizing their parties. Wrapped around with the JBL’s mesh fabric grille, the speaker is both dustproof and waterproof. The Charge 4 includes a racetrack-style driver that delivers audio in the frequency range of 60Hz to 20KHz.
Much like its predecessors, the control panel includes all the buttons for adjusting volume, playing music, pairing the devices and so on. There is no option for connecting with the Wi-Fi, though. This model however, features a JBL Connect+ button which allows the user to pair up around 100 different speakers together for playing music simultaneously. That’s crazy, right? There is also a speakerphone option which can be used to make calls. Like the JBL Charge 3, the Charge 4 also has a battery life of 20 hours. However, the battery being used has a capacity of 7500mAh.
JBL Charge 4 offers a clean and clear bass response. The audio response of the Charge 4 seems more balanced and natural than that of the previous models. It can get really loud, so loud that it is even suitable for medium sized rooms. This makes the speaker essentially useful for loud outdoor environments. The mids and highs have shown substantial improvement from that of the Charge 3. The high range are boosted to match the midrange but this isn’t as noticeable when they blend in together seamlessly. The vocals are oud and clear and the resolution is satisfactory.
- Powerful audio response
- Allows phone charging option
- Very loud for its size
- Great battery life
- Does not include speakerphone function
Both Pulse 4 and Charge 5 are excellent Bluetooth speakers that offer remarkable audio response. If you want a great audio response and an amazing lightshow then the Pulse 4 should be your first choice. However, if you are only focused on amazing audio performance with long playtime, the Charge 5 is a great option.