Can the JBL Pulse 3's light show top the punch of the UE Boom 3?

We listen to tunes all day while we work — and the errant podcast — often on a Bluetooth device of some sort. We’ve used and tested a multitude of Bluetooth speakers, and we have a great handle on what constitutes greatness and what’s overpriced garbage.

JBL Pulse 3

Beacon of rock

jbl-pulse-3-fire.png

$150 at Amazon

Pros

  • Gorgeous multi-color 360-degree LEDs
  • 12-hour battery life
  • Calls sound great
  • Strong bass

Cons

  • Nearly 2 pounds
  • Overall sound lacks a bit of depth
  • Doesn’t get loud enough for larger rooms

JBL’s Pulse 3 speaker improves upon its predecessors with a seamless LED array and better sound. It’s pretty huge for a portable Bluetooth speaker, but it’s worth it for the light show.

Ultimate Ears Boom 3

Focused on sound

ue-boom-3-blue-speaker.png

$130 at Amazon

Pros

  • Great sound, from bass to treble
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Less expensive than its predecessor
  • 15-hour battery life

Cons

  • Boom app is lackluster
  • No onboard playback controls aside from play/pause

The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 is easily one of the best Bluetooth speakers money can buy. It sounds great, looks great, and shines even without the LED array.

These speakers have relatively similar audio capabilities at the end of the day. The Boom 3 does get somewhat louder, but for most people, both will suffice in that department. So it really all comes down to whether you want a light show or now (and whether or not you’re willing to shell out the extra cash for it).

Light vs. dark

One important difference here is battery life. A difference of three hours may not seem like much, but that 12 hours listed for the Pulse 3 is just for music. Once you start using the LEDs, battery life diminishes significantly, especially if you run the lights the whole time you listen.

Battery life 12 hours 15 hours
Weight 1.76 pounds 1.34 pounds
Water resistance IPX7 IPX7
# of color options 2 4
Frequency response 65Hz – 20kHz 90Hz – 20kHz

Another major consideration to make is how portable you’d like your Bluetooth speaker. The Pulse 3 is nearly half a pound heavier, two inches longer, and almost an inch wider in diameter. That makes for a hefty speaker, while the Boom 3 is more like a can of Arizona Iced Tea.

The Pulse 3’s LED array steals the show.

Both the Boom 3 and Pulse 3 have staggering connectivity capabilities: the Boom 3 can connect to over 150 other Boom or Megaboom speakers, and the Pulse 3 can be paired with up to 100 Connect+-enabled JBL speakers. So the options are endless in that department on both sides.

Which brings us to the main sticking point and really what you should use to decide between these speakers: Do you want a light show with your music? If the answer is yes, then buy the JBL Pulse 3. You’ll be glad you did, because the LED array with all its controllable presets (in the JBL app) is mesmerizingly gorgeous. You can set it to be triggered by an equalizer, or there’s a cool “fire” preset, and a bunch of others.

JBL Pulse 3

Beacon of rock

jbl-pulse-3-fire.png

$150 at Amazon

A light show with sound to back it up

The JBL Pulse 3 sounds as good as it looks, and though it has its shortcomings in its onboard controls, volume, and weight, it more than makes up for it in its core functionality. Light up the party and get ready to rock!

Ultimate Ears Boom 3

Focused on sound

ue-boom-3-red.jpg

Shake the room with Ultimate Ears

$130 at Amazon

The Boom 3 is my favorite portable Bluetooth speaker, and I’m pretty picky with my audio. It features a great mix, has a sleek design, and while it may not have a dazzling LED array, it’ll light up your ears with great sound.