Sengled Pulse Bulbs Review

Bluetooth controlled LED lightbulbs that are also speakers. The Sengled Pulse bulbs are such a crazy idea, they just might work.
Some products come my way because they’re the logical extension of other work I’ve done. New laptops, smartphones, TVs, tablets, you get the idea. The new ones are usually better than the old ones, and the technology cycle continues.
Then there’s the weird products, a category that the Sengled Pulse definitely fits into. Now, I’ve done my fair share of remote controlled LED lights over the past twelve months, covering units such as the Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set or the Yeelight bulbs for example. That aspect of the Sengled Pulse made a solid quantity of sense to me, because there’s some definite utility in lights that you can control from your smartphone, whether it’s for dimming or security purposes. If that’s all the Sengled Pulse lights did, they’d be just another entry in the LED lights market.
What makes the Sengled Pulse stand out, however, is the fact that alongside the lights function that you’d expect out of something bulb shaped, they’ve also got JBL speakers installed within them as well. It’s one of those slightly off-the-shelf ideas that, frankly speaking, I had serious doubts about before they showed up.
My Sengled Pulse bulbs were supplied to me for review by Machtig, but they’re available in more wide retail in Australia through Harvey Norman.
The Sengled Pulse bulbs are initially sold as a two-bulb starter set for a fairly hefty $349 for the pair. That buys you one “Master” bulb and one “Satellite” bulb, and you can add additional satellites — up to seven — for around $169 each. That’s pricey for LED bulbs, but as noted, the Sengled Pulse bulbs aren’t entirely ordinary bulbs.

I like big bulbs and I can't deny... (or at least, if you buy the Sengled Pulse bulbs, you've got to be able to fit them easily into your home decor)
I like big bulbs and I can’t deny… (or at least, if you buy the Sengled Pulse bulbs, you’ve got to be able to fit them easily into your home decor)

For a start, they’re very large, and that may present a challenge depending on where you want to install them. They’re available in white, silver or red to try to match your decor, which in most cases they’ll need to, as they’re tricky to hide. If you’ve got complex existing light fixtures, they may not fit in all that well. They’re available with standard bayonet or edison screw type fittings, and each bulb is quite heavy, thanks to the integrated speaker inside.
Installation of the Sengled Pulse bulbs doesn’t involve much more than screwing the bulb into a socket and powering it up, although in initial setup it’s important to make sure that you plug the Master bulb in first, because the satellite bulbs are essentially dumb terminals that wait for the Master bulb to power up before doing anything. This extends to any kind of activity beyond being simply switched on, which still works in the regular way. More on that shortly.
Once physically installed, the Sengled Pulse bulbs are controlled via the iOS/Android Sengled Pulse app, which allows you to modify bulb brightness and sound level, as well as apply equaliser effects and whether each bulb acts as a separate left or right speaker, or dual channel at once. If you only want music and not lights, it’s feasible to entirely dim the bulb and still have the speakers active, and you can do this for all bulbs or each bulb in turn.
Bluetooth is good for easy pairing, but the obvious downside to that is that these are strictly entertainment bulbs, not the type you can remotely control or set to come on at a specific period. They’re set as 3000K Warm White bulbs with the only user modification being brightness. Given the speaker functionality, it feels like a bit of a missed trick that they’re not colour capable, or for that matter capable of trying to match a musical beat. Maybe that’ll be a feature of the Sengled Pulse II bulbs.
Speaker LEDs called Pulse that can't Pulse with the music. It seems so obvious, doesn't it?
Speaker LEDs called Pulse that can’t Pulse with the music. It seems so obvious, doesn’t it?

The killer question with the Sengled Pulse bulbs is whether they’re any good as speakers. As noted, I had my doubts, because a light bulb doesn’t feel like a natural home for good acoustics.
I was, it’s fair to say, pleasantly surprised with the overall audio quality of the speakers in the Sengled Pulse bulbs, which produced a much better sound than you might expect. As I write this, I’ve got Alison Moyet’s Invisible playing in stereo over my head, and while I don’t think anyone would be particularly throwing out their surround sound systems in favour of the Sengled Pulse bulbs, for basic music duties they’re actually very good.
Which isn’t to say that they’re perfect. As noted, the use of Bluetooth limits range and security capabilities for these bulbs. The satellite bulbs are totally dumb, so if you’ve installed a satellite bulb in a different spot and it’s the one that happens to be on, it won’t play back anything unless you power up the Master bulb first.
Finally, given the asking price, it’s also worth bearing in mind that we’re seeing a lot of home automation gear clustering around a handful of standards to allow for more mixed device environments. In that world, the Sengled Pulse bulbs would essentially stand alone, because they’re not likely to ever talk nicely to Zigbee, HomeKit or any other standardised gear.
As a conversation piece, and as a way to simply hide some speakers in a room while providing illumination, the Sengled Pulse bulbs work very well, but at a stiff asking price.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.