Saturday, October 31, 2020

JBL Pulse 4 Wireless Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker Review

If you enjoy your music, and also like the outdoors, you may also like to take your tunes with you. JBL has several products that would work for you. Up for review today is the JBL Pulse 4. It’s a waterproof wireless speaker that will also put on a light show to your music.  So whether its out to the lake, or a camping trip where you get rained on, there’s no concern.


Features and specs:

Product Description

Sound you can see

Kick start your party with JBL signature sound and a dazzling LED light show all in 360 degrees. Our bold, IPX7 waterproof design shines bright and will keep the tunes flowing for up to 12 hours on a single charge. Tap the JBL Connect App to change the sound-responsive colors and patterns and connect with other JBL PartyBoost compatible speakers to make your party epic.

General Specifications

Maximum music playing time (hrs):  12

Output power (W):  20

Dimensions

Dimensions (cm):  9.6 x 9.6 x 20.7

Dimensions (in):  3.78 x 3.78 x 8.15

Weight (kgs):  1.26

Weight (lbs):  2.78

Control and Connection Specifications

Bluetooth version:  4.2

Battery

Battery capacity (mAh):  7,260

Charging time (hrs):  3.5

Features

3.5 mm audio cable Input:  No

Auto-power off:  Yes

Bluetooth:  Yes

Lightshow:  Yes

Powerbank:  No

Speakerphone:  No

Voice Assistant integration:  No

Waterproof:  Yes

 

The JBL Pulse 4 came in a nice looking color printed box, with photos and specs of the speaker. Opening the box revealed a well protected speaker held in place by custom molded foam. The speaker was mostly made of plastic and what appeared to be silicone around the edges. Quality of materials used in the construction, as well as the fit and finish was very good. Also included was the owner’s manual and charging cable.

 

I really like the design on the JBL Pulse 4. On the top is an upward firing speaker. On the bottom is a down firing passive radiator. You get 360 degree sound, with good low-end extension for its size. It’s a waterproof design. So the clear smoked plastic on the outside seals the inner components and light show. Towards the bottom is the charge port. At the top are all of the buttons for power, Bluetooth, lights sync, as well as the play and volume control.

 

The JBL Pulse 4 has some excellent features. It has an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning it can handle being submerged for 30 minutes at 1 meter. So no matter if you get caught in a rainstorm on your camping trip, or if it falls into the shallow end of the pool, you’ll be covered. The light show that you get to your music is great. And being able to link multiple of these speakers together is also a really cool feature! Now let’s see how it performs.

 

Timmy Trumpet: Savage Freaks: This little pulse 4 seriously jams! Vocals were crisp and clean with nice timbre and texture. The horns were nice and smooth without being too brassy, with very good harmonics. And the cymbals were crisp and clean. But what impressed me the most was the bass output. It played with better than expected low-end extension. And it played with so much authority my table was resonating! Even when pushed hard, the bass was well controlled with little distortion, and the highs were just a tad bright.

 

Disturbed: Sound of Silence: The vocals were pleasantly raw with very good resolution of the timbre, and very natural sounding. Piano sounded very natural, with nice warmth of the strings, of their harmonics. Guitar was crisp and clean. Drums had good dynamics and low end extensions playing with authority.

 

Michael Jackson: Don’t Stop till You Get Enough: Vocals were very natural sounding with smooth texture. Drums were really dynamic with tight impactful bass. Strings were also smooth with nice resolution of the bows. And I was impressed with the depth of the woodiness of the wood blocks that came through. There were a lot of instruments in this track, and the JBL Pulse 4 resolved them all very well without much perceived compression!

 


I enjoy spending time outdoors. And when I am outdoors, I like bringing my tunes with me. So it’s nice having a product like the JBL Pulse 4 that you don’t need to worry about it getting caught in the rain. I know I would get all that with the Pulse 4. But I was not expecting the sound quality that I heard. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the JBL Pulse 4 has earned our Highly Recommended Award. And not only was the light show a cool addition to the music, it also functions as a great visual for volume level that went up and down as you adjusted the volume. So it was easy to see where you were on the volume level. Based on the $249 MSRP, they are very fairly priced. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.JBL.com.




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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Helios AS-P-603W Smart Power Surge and Line Conditioner

You spend your hard earned money on your home theater equipment. So you should protect it. A common concern that can damage your equipment are power surges. But it isn’t just power surges. There are also EMI/RFI noise to the power, which is typically called dirty power. There is also AC line noise. Up for review today is the Helios AS-P-603W Smart Power Surge and Line Conditioner.  Not only will it protect your equipment, it can increase their performance as well.

 

Features and specs:

4 digital “smart” outlets controlled via mobile app or remote control

4 switched outlets

1 front always-on outlet

2,160 joules of power surge protection

120V / 15A rating

Overload protection

2 pairs of coaxial connectors

65dB EMI/RFI noise filtration

LED display with voltage

Remote 12V DC trigger

8ft power cord

Metal housing

UL approved

Uses Tuya Smart App

3 year limited warranty





The Helios AS-P-603 Smart Power Conditioner came in a great looking color printed box with images and specs of the power conditioner. Opening up the box revealed a well protected product held in place by custom molded foam. Materials used in the construction was mostly metal, with some plastic. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. It had good heft in-hand, and felt like a well made product. Also included was the owner’s manual, wi-fi antenna, power cord, and rack mount kit.

 

There are a lot of potential causes of problems to your power that your equipment is getting. It could be the transmission line supplying the power to your home. It could also be due to any of the electrical devices in your home. There are a multitude of potential causes of surges and EMI/RFI noise to the electricity that your home theater equipment is getting. And it doesn’t need to be just old wiring in an old house. These problems can happen in newer homes as well.

 

The easiest and cheapest fix is for power surges. Sure a cheap $10 surge protector should do it’s job, but you typically get what you pay for. Do you really want to trust a $2000 or even a $300 receiver to a cheap $10 surge protector? Surges can definitely damage equipment, as well as the sound of a large voltage spike can potentially damage your speakers. And the noise from dirty power can also effect the sound quality of your system.

 

The Helios power conditioner also offers newer technology, thanks to the free mobile app. The Helios is a “Smart” product, and offers 4 ‘smart’ outlets that are controlled by the app. Thanks to the app, you can remotely turn on and off equipment, as well as create schedules to turn on and off equipment, form the 4 ‘smart’ outlets. This creates some great usability and functionality.

 

I really like the design on the Helios smart conditioner. It features 9 protected AC outlets. 4 on the back are regular outlets, the other 4 on the back are the ‘smart’ outlets that are controlled by the app. Also included on the back are four coaxial connectors, a remote DC trigger, and the antenna connector for the wi-fi. On the front is an additional always on outlet, two USB ports (one USB A and one USB C) Lastly, the front panel also includes LED for currant voltage and amps, as well as protection status. And the included rack mounts is a nice touch. Now lets see how it performs.

 


Connecting the Helios smart conditioner was very simple. And downloading the app to control the smart outlets was also simple. The owner’s manual, unlike some, was actually easy to follow, step by step. So even if you’re not much for using apps, it’s pretty straight forward. I also liked the LED display so I could see the current voltage and amps in real time.  Unfortunately, downloading the app is not an option.  The Helios smart conditioner comes with the 4 smart outlets not functional.  So while you do not HAVE to install the app…..you could just use it without downloading the app and without using the smart features.  But without installing the app, the 4 smart outlets will not be turned on.  You would only be able to use 4 of the back outlets and the 1 on the front.  The app was very easy to install, and the owner’s manual as well as the onscreen instructions of the app were very clear and easy to follow. Once the app is installed and the Helios smart conditioner was added, you can name which devices are plugged into each of the 4 smart outlets, and pushing the outlet icon lights up the icon turning the outlet on.  And in this screen you can also update any schedules for the outlets.

 

Performance of the Helios smart conditioner was also in spades. While I have not had any recent surges, I still have the peace of mind knowing that I have a high-quality surge protector. And as for any hint of EMI/RFI noise, there is none. And the noise floor is extremely low, only audible from a few inches away from the speaker. So not only does the Helios smart conditioner provide the peace of mind knowing that any equipment is protected, it also helps with the stellar sound quality of the system.

 

No matter the size of investment you have in your home theater system, it is still an investment none the less. It’s an investment that you will want to protect. The Helios smart conditioner does so in spades, and at a good value with an MSRP of only $249. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the Helios smart conditioner has earned our Highly Recommended award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.metraonline.com.  Reference gear includes Onkyo RX-Z920, Outlaw Audio 7000X, Emotiva BasX A-500, RBH Sound SA-500DSP, RBH Sound SI-663R, SI-760R, SI-615, SI-1212, Sony UBP-X700.



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