Harman Kardon's JBL Pulse 4 is a Bluetooth portable speaker that marks the latest generation of the company's Pulse range, which first launched in 2013. 

Since the original Pulse, the speaker that combines music and light has changed considerably in terms of design, and the newest model is by far the best yet. Here are our first impressions.

Design

  • 360-degree light show
  • Bold branding 
  • Redesign

The JBL Pulse follows in the footsteps of its predecessors when it comes to design and features but it's much more refined this time around. While the Pulse 3 - which launched in 2015 - had a speaker grill at its base which filled the bottom quarter of the device, the Pulse 4 ditches this for a more streamlined and eye-catching look.

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The high-resolution LED lights beneath the sleek surface offer a 360-degree light show covering the entire speaker and while it reminds us a little of a lava lamp, it's very impressive in the flesh with vibrant, punchy colours that blend into one another.

At the top of the curved, smooth cylinder shape is big and bold JBL branding, while a black or white plastic trim around the top of the speaker features the controls - play and volume up and down - at the front, a Bluetooth and power switch on another side and a light and pairing button on another side.

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There's a small JBL tag at the bottom in the centre at the front, while the rear sees the Pulse 4 branding on another black or white plastic trim - mimicking the top - as well as an LED light indicator.

At the base of the Pulse 4 is where you'll find the speaker, allowing for the light to extend all the way down rather than being interrupted by the speaker grill, as it was on the Pulse 3.

Features

  • IP7X waterproof
  • Customisable light show through app
  • Shake to sync

The JBL Pulse 4 doesn't just look great though - it has plenty of features on board including an IPX7 water and dust resistance rating, meaning you can take this sound and light speaker to wherever the party is at. 

The LED lights inside the Pulse 4 are also customisable via the JBL Connect app and it's even possible to use your phone or tablet's camera to replicate a favourite picture, for example. 

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Shake a Pulse 4 next to another Pulse 4 and the LED light show will transfer to the second speaker too - making it easy to sync them with each other. 

There's also JBL's PartyBoost feature on board the Pulse 4, allowing you to wirelessly connect up to 100 PartyBoost enabled speakers together for the ultimate party. 

Performance

  • JBL Signature Sound
  • 6.5mm driver and passive radiator
  • 12 hour battery

The JBL Pulse 4 offers JBL's 360-degree Signature Sound and inside there's a 6.5mm driver coupled with a passive radiator. Based on our first impressions, the Pulse 4 sounds great for its size with good all-round sound, but we will need to test it in the office before we pass proper judgement.

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The light show is fabulous to look at and the colours really pop when you add music, pulsing to the beat. Even when the music is off though, the Pulse 4 makes for a great lamp on its own, drawing your eye and retaining your attention for longer than you'd perhaps expect.

Battery life is promised to be around 12 hours - which is the same as the Pulse 3 - and the Pulse 4 is charged via USB Type-C - positioned on the rear of the speaker.

First Impressions

We'll need to wait to get the JBL Pulse 4 in for full review but from what we have seen so far, we love it. 

It sounds good, it looks great and the refinements in design make it a brilliant step up from its predecessor. We can't wait to party in the office with this speaker and find out what it's really made of. Lights, sound, party.