Oh, here we go again. With music, convenience, and no shortage of portable options to pick blindly from we occasionally find ourselves reviewing something like TaoTronics’ Pulse X Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with mild curiosity and anticipated reaction. Even if you’ve never heard of the brand, let’s see how well this stands out from the thousands of other choices.
Knowing this, it’s also fair to say that no Bluetooth speaker is created equal and looks can be deceiving the further down the price pole you go. The Pulse X in particular has a style that looks good, sporting a brick-like shell that exudes a go-anywhere attitude, though not actually waterproof. There was some forethought in the basic construction as its main portions and playback buttons are firmly molded in matte plastic, that’s still soft to the touch.
In contrast, the grilles are wide housing two 7-watt HD loudspeakers (14-watts total) with acoustic drivers on opposite sides. Finally, there are two rubber feet which denotes that the Pulse X can be placed standing upright (which is an important part later in this review).
Connectivity is par for the course here, with a Micro-USB output for charging and 3.5mm AUX jack for those who prefer their connections wired. The necessary cords are also included, so that’s a plus. However, Bluetooth is the main draw along with microphone capability for hands-free calling.
With all of the unboxing crap out of the way (try and imagine a YouTube video of this…ugh) let’s jump right into the function and performance of the Pulse X. If you’ve ever paired Bluetooth devices then you’ll instantly know how to make this thing work as intended: turn on the speaker and then use your iPhone/iPad, Galaxy Phone, or Galaxy Note (if it hasn’t spontaneously combusted already) to initiate the 10-second pairing process. If successful then you’re good to go; and if not, you’ve always got the AUX jack to fall back on.
Real-world battery life is good at an ‘almost as-advertised’ 6:46 hours, falling roughly an hour short of that magical workday 8-hour mark. This is an average we got with the Pulse X bumping at a moderate volume level in room-filling capacity. Our recharge time from empty occurred at a little more than 4 hours, which is fair for what you get.
The acoustics of the Pulse X gets the job done in a straightforward manner. Vocals and treble take the front and are clearly emphasized more than weighty bass — somewhat ironic considering its two 7-watt speakers would encourage people to turn up the noise. In this area the Pulse X is somewhat harsh and overly thumpy, and doesn’t hold much promise for any hidden potential, unless you go to the trouble to download a graphic equalizer app for manual adjustment. Overall, the Pulse X is entirely adequate for listening to synthetic Top 40 Pop, your favorite podcasts, short phone calls, and background music for small parties.
But the make-or-break factor of the Pulse X will be placement. For those not aware, this Bluetooth speaker is meant to stand on those two rubber nubs rather than oriented horizontally or tall. This is imperative as its built to absorb the bulk of that driver vibration — otherwise it will quake and shimmy violently on your surface at regular volume like its possessed. Not only that, improper placement transforms its otherwise passable sound quality into distorted garbage and noise, which nearly turned this review negative.
Oddly enough, the Pulse X performed correctly when held or tossed in a backpack; I understand it’s not exactly a resonant speaker, but keep this (severe) limitation in mind when traveling or planning your next party when bassy jams are involved.
Like middle management on casual Friday, TaoTronics’ Pulse X Wireless Bluetooth Speaker is more vanilla than it tries to look. For something like this and the price you pay I’m fine with that, though the performance won’t blow your hipster snob acquaintances away. In conclusion: it’s not terrible — as long as it’s in the correct standing position, of course.