It may seem like Phillips or Sonos have the market cornered for powering the lightning and music in your smart home, but Sengled is trying to combine both features into a more affordable package. The company already provides a wide range of innovative LED lighting solutions that can help extend your Wi-Fi range or even detect intruders to your home, but its Starter Kit for Pulse is all about enhancing a bulb with a speaker. We plugged in the kit to see if Sengled can pull of this combination of both sight and sound.
The Sengled Pulse is a dimmable LED bulb with a Bluetooth JBL speaker inside. The standard Pulse pair of bulbs will run you $150 or you can by a single satellite bulb for $70. Both come in three colors: Candy Apple Red, Pearl White, or Pewter. You can pair these with your phone via Bluetooth, then use the app to play music through the speaker and to control the light. When paired with the Sengled app, you can change the brightness of the bulbs together as a group from 0 to 100 percent. If you want to listen to music without lighting, the system allows you to turn them off and maintain the sound. There is no color changing setting here like you might find in the Phillips Hue. The power for the sound within the lights comes from a 1.75-inch Full-Range High-Fidelity JBL Loudspeaker, and the system is packaged in a way so that the speaker is not detectable at a glance within the bulb.
Our Pulse Link Starter Kit was $200 and is only available with the Pewter-colored bulbs. Also included in the box is the Link adapter, two 1-inch socket extensions (for deeper recessed lights), an auxiliary cable, and an RCA cable to connect sound from either your computer or TV output. The Pulse Link adaptor adds the extra $50 onto the price tag and lets you bring the audio from your TV to up to eight of your bulbs, giving your home theater (or living room) a more immersive feel. The bulbs themselves are very impressive in fit and finish as the silver color has a nice metallic paint quality. The bulbs both screw into a standard E26 light bulb socket and are 5.3 inches high and 3.8 inches in diameter to fit within BR30 recessed can lights.
The setup for the system is simple, as you screw the lights into the socket and they immediately light up as you would expect with a standard LED bulb. Without any further setup, the Pulse lights are now ready to connect to any of your Bluetooth devices by finding “Pulse Link” on your device. The Sengled Pulse mobile app is available for both Android and iOS and lets you control the light and volume intensity of the system, as well as device management settings.
To connect the included Pulse Link, you must first plug it into an outlet close to your media center, television, or whatever audio source you would like to use that has an RCA or AUX audio output. Both included audio cables are over 5 feet long and should give you plenty of room to connect the Pulse Link to your system. Once connected, you will see LED indicators on the Link to show when the unit is powered on, when the Link has made a connection to the Pulse speakers, and when it is connected to an audio source. To switch from a Bluetooth connection on your mobile device to the Pulse Link audio source, you have to go into the application settings and toggle between the two. This is nice for instances when you may want to listen to some music from your phone while your favorite show has cut to commercials. We connected the system through both an AUX output from our media center computer and the RCA audio output on the television and had no issues in either case. The only confusion occurred when we’d try to get sound from the Pulse Link but forgot to switch the toggle in the app.
Lights and sound
The LED lights give a nice warm glow, similar to a normal incandescent 55-watt light bulb, with a temperature of 2700K (warm white as opposed to cool white) and brightness of 600 lumens.
The DT Accessory Pack
We have come to appreciate the sound quality in the full range of JBL products, and they continue to shine in this application. The system powers each bulb with up to 13 watts of power, which may not seem like much, but is plenty to produce very clear highs and can fill a smaller room without issue. However, due to the small size of this particular speaker setup, there is an unsurprising lack of bass in any music or movie effects. Thankfully, the system can be expanded to an additional six satellite Pulse speaker bulbs (eight total) and an additional subwoofer output is available with the Pulse Amp for a more enveloping sound experience. With the simple two-speaker setup, it’s still a fantastic addition to have the sound right above you while watching a movie. You will want to plan your setup carefully, as the speakers are very directional in focus and viewers not directly under the lights may lose some of the quality. Also, due to limits with Bluetooth range, you will occasionally lose the connection between your mobile device and the bulb when walking out into another room out of range for the speakers.
If you are trying to build out an audio experience for your home theater or simply trying to fill your home with music without getting tangled up in wires, Sengled is worth a look. At $200 for this starter package, you can begin to build a budget system without many sacrifices. Sengled has no current support for popular connected applications like IFTTT and the lack of Wi-Fi certainly limits any further interaction with your other smart devices, but there is certainly place in the market for the Sengled system for the features it brings together for a couple hundred bucks.