Sunday, May 12, 2013

Review: Pure Jongo S3

Review: Pure Jongo S3

Review: Pure Jongo S3

Billed as a "truly wireless music system", the Pure Jongo S3 is a family-friendly compact speaker that be used just about anywhere - thanks to its combination of mains and battery power, as well as built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Team it with its partner app for iOS or Android (coming soon) and you have a whole world of music wherever you go. Sound good, so far? The reality is a little different...


When it comes to the noisy bits, the Pure Jongo S3 crams four 19.05mm high frequency drivers and an upward-firing 88.9mm mid-bass driver and a 20W amplifier into its rounded rectangular cuboid body. Around the back you'll find a 3.5mm auxiliary input, power port and a USB-port which is used t o host the external Bluetooth dongle. Plus recessed audio and Wi-Fi buttons and a 25.4mm non-backlit LCD. The front houses the power button, volume controls and a mute button.

The back panel of the Pure Jongo S3 showing its various connectivity options

The Pure Jongo S3 itself feels solid and pretty tough, with cloth covering speakers on the side and metal grille protecting the upward-firing mid-bass driver on the top. The whole thing weighs 1.25kg or a little heavier than a bag of sugar - making it relatively easy to cart around.

As we've already mentioned, the Pure Jongo S3 includes both Wi-Fi (802.11b and 802.11g) and Bluetooth A2DP and you can even buy an optional Ethernet adapter if you want to use a wired connection instead. Sound-wise, the Pure Jongo S3 supports WMA, AAC, MP3 and MP2 audio codecs as well as regular analogue audio, of course.

Usability and performance

The Pure Jongo S3 is relatively straightforward to setup. The power button on the front has a glowing light surround which changes to red, green or amber depending on what state it's in. Getting the Jongo S3 to play sound from your smartphone via Bluetooth is easy to do, as is using the regular 3.5mm analogue audio input. But it's only when you fire up the Wi-Fi option that the Pure Jongo S3 begins to disappoint.

The first bit, getting it setup on your network is easy, but it's then that you hit the device's somewhat arbitrary limitations. You can't just stream music to it from your computer or hi-fi, for example, and the only way to listen in using your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is to download the free Pure Connect app from the iTunes Store - there's no equivalent of AirPlay here. A mobile app for Android users is promised soon.

Subscribe, subscribe

The Pure Connect app for iOS is a shop window for Pure's music portals

As well as enabling you to stream music you own, the Pure Connect app also invites you to sign up to Pure's suite of music portals. Some of these - internet radio and on-demand listening - are free, but the app's constructed in such a way that you'll soon be tempted by the paid-for offerings, such as Pure Music, which charges £4.99 a month. This strikes us as being a little cheeky when you've already forked out £169.95 for a speaker with limited Wi-Fi functionality - and it's the shop window y ou see every time you fire up the app from cold.

When it comes to sound quality the Pure Jongo S3 is no great shakes either. If you're happy to listen to music at relatively low volumes, then the speaker is good company delivering sounds with reasonable fidelity. As befits a company chiefly known for making DAB receivers, the Jongo works best when handling radio broadcasts - particularly spoken word and classical - and internet streams, but things fall apart very quickly the minute you crank the volume.

Then the closed-in nature of the Jongo S3's sound becomes very apparent and it actually becomes harsh and very wearing to listen to, especially when streaming via Bluetooth. It fairs better when you use the analogue audio connection, which is something we actually ended up doing most of the time. We also found when listening to our tunes via Wi-Fi that playback suffered occasional dropouts, while volume adjustment using the Pure Connect app wasn't subtle.

Re member the LCD control and the Audio button on the Jongo S3's back? Using both together enables you to cycle through the speaker's different sound modes, enabling you to choose between Mono 360, Outdoor Boost, Stereo 360 and Stereo Forward Facing, although in our tests there really wasn't a lot of difference between them. Ho-hum.


The Pure Jongo S3 is a great idea in theory, but is a bit of a disappointment in practice. The sound quality is nowhere near good enough for this kind of money - and the fact that you can only stream music over Wi-Fi by using the sales-pushing Pure Connect app is a birrova slap in the face. Ouch.


No comments:

Post a Comment

//PART 2