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So you’re looking for a speaker with a light show that flashes to the beat of your music. Well right now your best option is the brand new JBL Pulse 3 or what I consider a sleeper hit the Sony XB40. Both of these speakers have an impressive light show feature built in but they are very different from one another. This versus video is going to be extra difficult cause i genuinely really like both of these speakers. So lets get into it! Which speaker is right for you? we’re about to find out, don't forget to like comment and subscribe! and you can watch my jbl pulse 3 video here after you're done watching this video.
The JBL Pulse 3 is the newer of these two speakers and currently only comes in black. The White version should be released sometime in September. The Pulse 3 also currently retails for $199.95. The Sony XB40 was released in the spring of 2017 and comes in a few color ways, Black, Blue or Red. The XB40 usually retails for $248 over at amazon but i have seen it go on sale for $198 from time to time. If you want to pick either of these speakers up I’ll have links in the description below and i’ll keep them updated so you can get the best deals possible.
First lets address form factor and materials. The JBL Pulse 3 is a vertical styled speaker that has a hard plastic top, a Nylon mesh fabric bottom, soft touch rubber padding on both end caps that give it a good amount of grip, Passive radiators on both sides that pump out bass, a 360 degree light feature and control buttons on the back. The Sony XB40 is a horizontal style speaker thats supposed to be laid flat but you do have the option to stand it on its side. The majority of the body is covered in soft touch rubber, theres a metal painted grill on the front, On the front you'll also find a multicolored light strip, strobe lights on either side of the speaker, and the control buttons can be found on the top. The JBL Pulse 3 charges a via a micro USB cable while the Sony XB40 uses a 9.5 volt DC in which means if you're going to take this speaker with you somewhere you have to remember to take the charing cable. Both speakers have an AUX jack if you want to have a wired connection, but the Sony XB40 does have an extra USB port so you can charge your phone, a feature that the JBL Pulse 3 does not have. But something the Sony XB40 doesn't have is a fuel gauge, you cant just check your battery at a glance… you have to press and hold the phone button and wait for the XB40 to verbally tell you a battery percentage or you have to go digging through sony’s music center app to see your battery percentage and thats if Sony’s Music center app isn't acting up like it does half the time. The JBL Pulse 3 has a fuel gauge under its power button making it very easy to know how much juice you've got left which is very important to know.
The control buttons of either of these speakers are well laid out, have great tactile feed back, and let you do relatively the same thing. You can adjust your volume, play or pause your music, skip a track, answer or end calls, or active siri. But one thing the Pulse 3 cant do is go back a track which can get a little annoying at times. but the pulse 3 also allows you to cycle through the different light features while on the Sony XB40 you have to do that through the phone app. But like I’ve said in past videos I really wish the Pulse 3 had textured buttons. the button layout on the pulse 3 is an improvement from the Pulse 2 but its still a little harder to know what button you're pressing than on the Sony XB40.
Personally I don't have a problem with either of these two designs, but if space is a big concern for you then you’ll be better off with the JBL Pulse 3. It has a much smaller foot print than the Sony XB40 and it weighs half as much. ThePulse 3 is around 2 pounds while the XB40 is around 4 pounds. Also, the Pulse 3 is much easier to take with you on the go than the xb40. and like i mentioned earlier, it charges via a micro USB cable, if you take this speaker to a friend’s house chances are you'll be able to charge the Pulse 3 while with the Sony XB40 you have to remember to take the charging cable with you.
But if you're looking for something durable you're also better of with the JBL pulse 3 cause its IPX 7 certified. You can splash it and even submerge it under water and not have any problems. It even floats so if it falls off your yacht its very easy to fish out. The Sony XB40 on the other hand is only IPX 5 certified, you can still get it wet.. but i would take it easy with this speaker just to be safe. But for sure don't submerge it under water cause its a real easy way to lose $250. But keep in mind even though the Pulse 3 isn't afraid of water you do risk scratching the plastic top if you're to rough on it.
Now lets jump into specs, both of these speakers are using bluetooth 4.2 and they can each pair to multiple devices at the same time. The range on these speakers is very diffrent. The Sony XB40 has a range of around 40 feet with direct line of sight to your phone but the JBL Pulse 3 has a range of around 70 feet. But they both can keep a solid connection through multiple walls which is good if you want to walk around the house and have uninterrupted music. These speakers can also be paired to other speakers of the same make. You can pair up to 10 sony speakers together and have them all play in sync or you can get another XB40 and pair them together and have them play music in stereo mode. The Pulse 3 is using JBL Connect Plus and can chain up to 100 JBL Speakers together or you can pair a second JBL pulse 3 and also have them play in stereo mode. And initiating the pairing process on either of these two speakers is really easy, you just press the Add or JBL Connect Plus button and you're done. Just keep in mind the Pulse 3 can only pair to other JBL connect Plus enabled speakers like another Pulse 3 or a Flip 4. If you have a JBL speaker thats using the older JBL Connect you're out of luck.
I do want to point out that the Sony Xb40 does have a little more latency than the JBL Pulse 3. if you're going to watch videos with the XB40 you're going to notice lips don't sync up like right now cause I just added some latency to my video. to me latency just takes away from the viewing experience.
Battery life is very different between these two speakers. The JBL Pulse 3 advertises a 12 hour battery life but in my testing I’ve managed to squeeze out 13 hours with the light featured turned on at 25% brightness and the volume set at 50% and i’ve managed to squeeze out 15 hours with the Light feature turned off. Sony on the other hand advertises a 24 hour battery life on the XB40 but with the strobe lights turned on and the volume set at 50% I usually get around 20 hours. I guess if you use the XB40 with the light feature turned off and at a lower volume you could potentially get closer to that advertised 24 hour battery life. But keep in mind, the XB40 is at an advantage cause its much larger.
Now lets talk about what really matters, sound quality. Like i’ve said in past videos the JBL Pulse 3 is a good sounding speaker. It has a good amount of bass to it, the Miss and Highs are clear, it has a wide sound stage that also has a good amount depth, theres good instrument separation, and theres very little distortion at higher volumes. But keep in mind the JBL pulse 3 is now a 360 degree speaker and it does a great job of evenly blanketing an area thanks to its 340mm transducers
The Sony XB40 only shoots out sound through the front. The XB40 also has a wide sound stage with a lot of depth but it does have much more bass which isn't surprising since thats what the XB in XB40 stands for and it does manage to get significantly louder. And thats cause it has 2 61mm full range speakers and it also has dual passive radiators. I would be shocked if it didn't get louder than the Pulse 3. And if i had to pick one of these speakers purely on sound quality i would go with the XB40.
These two speakers are also special because they have built in light features, but hand down the light feature on the Pulse 3 is way better than the one on the XB40. The pulse 3 gives you way more options and it much easier and enjoyable to control. There are multiple light settings and each of them flash to beat of your music but they each do so a little differently. Theres wave, jet, explosion, equalizer, rave, rainbow, fire, and you can even make your own. and you can change the color of the light feature by color matching with your phones camera or you can just use the color wheel. I’ve never had any issues with JBL’s connect app.
Sony’s app is a different story, its gotten slightly better with each update but it still isn't reliable. through sony’s music center app you have a few light modes to choose from… Theres rave, chill, strobe, and a few different calm options. if you use sony’s fiestable app you can also adjust the color. But personally i just leave the light mode on the XB40 on chill or i just keep it turned off most of the time. Long story short, if the light feature is whats important to you then the Pulse 3 wont disappoint.
Now theres one more thing i want to point out before wrapping up this video. Even though I love the Sony XB40 and it has been my go to speaker for a few months now theres a major problem that i have yet been able to fix. If the battery on the XB40 gets below a certain threshold while playing music the speaker will go mute and say “please charge” but then the volume wont go past 30%. this is infuriating especially if you're jamming out and the music all of a sudden just stops. You have no other option than to go and put the XB40 on the charger. cause if you turn it off and turn it back on its going to do the same thing in a few minutes. I have tried and tried to turn this feature off but i cant. if I'm doing it wrong please comment down below. Rant over.
Ok now we can wrap this video up. there are a few things i did skip over but heres the main take away. If you're trying to decide between these two speaker and sound quality, loudness and bass are your main priorities than you're better off with the Sony XB40. I you're looking for something fun that looks great and still sounds good then the JBL pulse 3 is the way to go. The XB40 is great if you're looking for a speaker thats just going to live in your bedroom and you're not going to be moving it a lot cause remember you have to carry around the charging cable and its bigger. The JBL Pulse 3 is the better option if you want something a little smaller with a great light show and thats a little more portable. if you want to learn more about these speakers check out their individual reviews linked below.