SengLED Pulse – Smart Flood LED Light with JBL Speaker – Sound

Pulse offers room filling sound, easy operation, but, as expected, no serious bass. Use one Pulse for mono, or two for stereo sound.

Read the SengLED Pulse Full Review.

 

JBL Speaker and How it Works

These speakers are not surround sound types.  They only radiate sound out of one surface.  If you have them recessed in the ceiling, that surface would be the bottom surface – same one that has the small protruding LED light.

Therefore in a ceiling, the sound points down.  What does that mean to you?  Well, as with any traditional speaker high frequencies don’t have a wide angle of dispersion.

Thus, you will hear the highs best, when you are right under the light (if it’s facing down) or at least near the vertical angle.  Sengled seems to have designed the speaker cover to enhance dispersion, as you can see in all the “grooves” on the surface, but there’s only so much you can do.

Pulse-sound-dispersion-design

And, that folks, would be similarly true if you were spending many hundreds of dollars on a single traditional high quality in ceiling speaker.

You want room filling sound?  Easy, that’s why Singled sells the Pulse as a pair of lights with sound.  Two in a room really does work!

The two speakers, about eight feet apart in the ceiling of my roughly 420 square foot theater room manage to nicely fill the room with sound.

Click Image to Enlarge

Controlling Audio with the Pulse

Easy to use menus make configuring and use simple.

For the initial setup, insert your Pulse Light/Speakers into the light bulb receptacle.  Provide power.

Fire up Bluetooth on your device, and pair (no serial numbers or code needed).

I’ll assume you have already downloaded the App.  The App uses Wifi to control these aspects of the sound:

  • Master Volume
  • Balance of volume between master and any satellites
  • Setting Master, and each Satellite as Mono, Left, or Right channel
  • Muting one or more of the speakers
  • Frequency Equalization

Once the App is launched, you’ll find the Sound control in the lower right side.  Tap that once to get to the Audio screen.

As you can see, the first Sound menu is primarily the master volume control.  Other than switching to lighting, or the Pulse’s main menu, your remaining choice is the Sound setup menu, which has only one screen.   Once you select that, first option you see is for the equalizer.  Tapping on that option gives you a choice of six presets:

  • Normal
  • Pop
  • Jazz
  • Classic
  • Rock
  • Movie

You’ll note that each preset has a little icon showing you approximately what the equalization curve looks like from bass to tremble.

Although I’ve listened to a pretty wide range of music on the Pulse, I liked some better than others.  Overall though, I’m of the opinion that Rock may be the best one.  Jazz is pretty good for non-vocals.  Normal just didn’t seem to sound that good on a lot of music.  It may mean “flat” as in unequalized, in which case you are hearing the attributes of the speaker without any intentional improvement.  No matter.

Besides the EQ, the other option on the Sound setup is for determining which speaker is the left, which the right, or if you want them to play both sides – mono.  There’s also a Mute button for each speaker, so I could switch from one left, and one right speaker to just running one of those as a single mono speaker, if I had a good reason to.

It’s Bluetooth – when it comes to delivering sound.  So, that means once you have the Bluetooth connection going, you just select your audio.  If I’m playing a movie from my phone, the audio will play through the Pulse rather than the internal speaker.

Here’s the thing.  Let’s say I’m listening to music, but take a walk.  I head to another part of the house, and as expected once beyond about 25 feet, one is out of range for Bluetooth, so the speakers stop playing because they are out of range.

One thing I like about the Pulse is that my iPhone will hang onto the bluetooth connection.  So, if I return to my room with the Pulses installed – say several minutes later, the devices start talking to each other again.  No need to reselect the Pulse from my iPhone.

Of course as with other Bluetooth sound systems, once Bluetooth goes out of range, iTunes switches from Play to Pause mode.   Because of that, when I re-enter the room and am close enough again to resume playing music, I still have to go to iTunes and press Play again.  Again, that’s SOP – standard operating procedure for Bluetooth devices.

One interesting aspect:  I am sitting in my theater.  I turned on the lighting and started playing sound through the Pulse.

I just decided to see what would happen if I turned off the Pulse App:   Nothing!  The lights continued to stay at the 72% brightness that was selected prior.  The music (Luna), is still playing as well.  iTunes is in charge.  Even without the App, I can switch to a different playlist, album etc, and adjust the volume.   So now I’ve got MGMT playing (good choice).  I can control volume from iTunes.  One thing of note.  If I had lowered the sound using the App, to say 25% which is pretty low, and iTunes is, say, at maximum, when I shut off the App, the music would be soft, but I wouldn’t be able to increase it without the app.  Best to therefore run the App up near its maximum setting, and when you want softer – turn it down with iTunes or your Android app – that is, if you plan to turn off the App.

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Sengled Pulse - Menus for Audio Control

Opening Screen

This lasts a few seconds before going to the main menu. The small circular bars rotate while the app looks for installed Pulses

Main Menu

Use controls at top, or at bottom switch to Audio control

EQ and Control

Select the Equalizer sub-menu, determine speaker settings for left, right, mono or off.

Six EQ settings

But no custom option. I favor the Rock and Normal settings.

Normal Stereo

Master set as right speaker, satellite as left (you could easily make it the other way around)

Separate Control

Shown here: One speaker (master) Muted, the other set up to play mono (L+R). Or it would be easy to set both for mono.

How good does the Pulse Sound?

The main thing is, that overall it sounds reasonably good relative to expectations.  I’ve got a portable bluetooth boombox – a Logitech, (among others).  It’s about a $100 unit.  Overall, I’d say fidelity wise they are pretty comparable.  The Logitech a bit better on lows, the Singled better on highs.  Of the two I favor the Logitech overall, but it’s not “stuck” conveniently in my ceiling.

As a “retired” audiophile (I used to sell extremely high end audio in my youth), I’m not going to try to provide any in-depth description to the sound quality.  First of all, how and where you place the speaker and where you are relative to the speaker while listening to it, will have a big impact.

I will say that mid-range overall isn’t bad, perhaps better than most under $100 Bluetooth speakers.  The lower mid-range / upper bass though seems a little off and generally emphasized.  And, as with all of these low cost speaker systems there really isn’t any serious mid-bass and no low bass at all.  High frequencies seem pretty good, unless you are way off angle from the speakers, which would be a problem with most speaker systems.  Overall, though it does a fine job for the average person not looking for serious high fidelity, but rather an cool and practical way of installing sound – along with light, unobtrusively in a ceiling with little effort.

Since I’m also reviewing the Sonos Play 1 speakers – at $199 each so over double the purchase price, those are more elegant sounding but also not especially accurate.

Both Singled and Sonos manage to provide a warm, room filling sound, but I would describe the Play 1 speakers as being the more accurate of the two systems, and better balanced.  But, again, these are hardly direct competitors.  $180 for two lights and two speakers vs. $199 for a single speaker.

Or think this way:  Sonos – $398 for two speakers, vs. $180 for two speakers and two dimmable smart LED lights.  So you are really paying 3x as much for for sound with the Sonos, so they should sound better.

Truth is, I’m not a great candidate for a speaker light combination due to how serious I take my music (20 concerts a year… and ridiculous stereo and surround sound systems at home).  That said, I can appreciate these light/speakers as interesting options for easily adding sound to another room in your house.

I’ll probably move them soon to my testing room for projectors (not the theater).  No sound in there.  It’s about time.

Pulse by Singled: the Bottom Line

Pretty Darn Cool!  And so they shall receive our award of the same name.

Our highest honor would be a Too Cool award, and the Pulse comes close but, for a few things.

Pros:

  • It works!  The App works nicely controlling the lighting and sound
  • The lighting is a pleasant warm white “color”
  • The dimming works well and the light can get very dim (unlike CFLs).   (6% or 7% is as low as the lights will go before they wink out, but that’s pretty dim.)
  • A pair of these Pulses placed well will handle a fairly large room with room filling sound.
  • Remembers the lighting brightness on the dimmer, so that when you turn the lights back on, you get the same brightness as last time.
  • Wide dispersion light – not quite conventional bulb, but more like a wide flood
  • Relies on your iTunes or equivalent android music apps, so no new fancy player system to learn.
  • If you leave the range of Bluetooth for music, and come back within range, they are still connected.  With iOS, all you have to do is hit Play again in iTunes to start the music back up
  • Overall, price seems very reasonable

Cons:

  • It’s not an overly bright light at maximum, but not bad
  • Sound transmitted by Bluetooth – range limited to 25-30 feet maximum – go further and sound goes off
  • Overall sound quality (of course) could be better
  • Lack of any serious bass
  • Singled needs to offer a matching small footprint powered subwoofer to complement the lights, for more bass
  • When power first returned to Pulse (from a hard wall switch) one can confuse the App if it’s started too quickly before the Pulse cycles (a few seconds).  This is minor, as you quickly learn not to do that
  • Sengled needs to make an RGBW version.  Some color lighting would make for another impressive product.  Now that would be even cooler

SengLED Pulse - The Bottom Line

Pretty Darn Cool, so that’s exactly the award we are giving it.  Our new Pretty Darn Cool award will be used by both Projector Reviews and Smarter Home Automation websites, for products that, well, really are (cool).

Almost to my surprise – since many smart products seem unfinished, SengLED’s lights work really well.  If there’s an issue, its that any time you combine two different (or more than two) functions into one device, there are usually compromises.  Or perhaps better stated, one part might do exactly what you want, but the other parts, may not be exactly right for you.

The hardest part of the installation and setup – believe it or not, was getting the two Pulses out of the rather pretty box they came in.  Boy did they pack them in well!  I almost had to cut them out of their box.

The software app really works well.  It’s easy to install, of course, but it’s easy to set up the Master Pulse and Satellites.   Adjusting the brightness between them, or the sound volume was effortless.  Adjusting the overall brightness or sound level, just as easy.

Need one light brighter than the other – no problem.  Need to use mono, instead of stereo – equally easy.  Need the two speakers to be at slightly different volumes, or if you want to Mute one – simple.

Using a QR code for the installation was very cool, it worked first time.  How about that!

Of course it will take years to find out how long the lights LEDs last.

That brings us to the lighting and the sound.

The lighting works. It’s not exceptionally bright, it seems to be roughly the equivalent of a 40-50 watt bulb, which makes sense since each draws 15 watts max between light and sound.  Officially each Pulse is 600 lumens.  The Pulse is technically a flood lamp, claiming a 105 degree spread to the light.  To my observation its more like somewhere between that and a conventional bulb.   Unless you need brighter, not a thing wrong with the lighting side of the Pulse.

The sound works too, but, as stated, you can only get so much out of a small device.  The JBL speaker in each one is a 1.75″ diameter.  Folks that’s either a large tweeter, or a pretty small midrange speaker.  SengLED claims 100Hz to 20kHz.   That’s no doubt pushing it.  There really can’t be any significant bass anywhere near 100 Hz, and getting 20K (which most of us can’t hear anyway) highs is usually reserved for 1 inch or smaller tweeters.

That said, the speaker has reasonable sound.  Thank goodness for the equalizer, it does help.   This isn’t great sound but it works well for background music, if you aren’t playing audiophile.

I’ve got several (at least) bluetooth speakers around here, in all sizes.  A pair of Pulses offers bigger sound than all but my best Bluetooth boombox.  It probably isn’t near the most accurate of those (my old Harmon/JBL Bluetooth rig is the best sounding, but also twice the price, has a small sub-woofer.

From a sound standpoint, what really is missing (besides serious bass), is the solution – a matching Bluetooth subwoofer that could work with the Pulses.  Had there been such a device, I would have upgraded the SengLED Pulse to our higher:  Too Cool Award.

Still, extremely impressive lighting and sound solution if you can live without great sound, and don’t have a problem with running both Wifi and Bluetooth.  Don’t forget – the Pulse is pretty large, it won’t fit in a lot of lamps, but fits fine in the usual 6″ recessed lighting fixtures.

Well done!  I can’t wait to test two of their other products which aren’t shipping yet, especially their combination Snap – an indoor/outdoor LED flood light with built in day/night camera, speaker and microphone.

Now how cool is that for your security system.  That one’s due out later this year.

Click:  First page of Pulse Review

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