Hands-On: Pure Jongo Wireless Music System
The Jongo S3 wireless speaker.
We take an in-depth peek at two of the newest entries into this wireless music line.
Everyone seems to be on the go these days. It’s really nice to be able to pack music and other entertainment into a compact form factor, so you’ll never have to be tethered—or bored. However, that type of convenience is pretty contagious, to the point where a lot of us hate to be physically connected even when we’re indoors. For this, there are options that allow music lovers to stream content from a smartphone or tablet directly to some type of speaker. Having that type of freedom is certainly liberating. However, what happens when you want to move to a different room or outside of the house?
You’re going to need a system that can travel or includes whole-house support. This is where the list of options gets slightly smaller. Pure’s Jongo Wireless Music System is designed to do both. It’s small enough to carry around, but can also be linked to several other Jongo products for music in one or more rooms—and all without wires.
The beauty of the Jongo system is that you can go as small or as big as you’d like. Also, there are options in the line that don’t require any wiring whatsoever. Yes, some of those pieces typically don’t even need a power cord. Although the company does have several AirPlay docks, they’re ditching that feature here. Still, it’s friendly to most portable devices, thanks to support for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Now don’t get me wrong; I realize that there are several companies out there doing the same thing. The most obvious is Sonos. While it’s hard to rival a product line that’s so perfect, Pure is certainly trying. Think of Jongo as the poor man’s Sonos. That’s not to say it’s a crappy system. It just doesn’t pack the same type of punch as Sonos. That said, it also doesn’t pack the same price tag.
What’s a Jongo?
Jongo isn’t just one product. It’s an entire line of audio solutions that can work together. However, each product also stands nicely on its own, so you get to go as big or as small as you’d like. If you just need one speaker for the bedroom or don’t mind carrying it from room to room, you’ll be happy with the $199 you’ll spend on the Jongo S3 Wireless Speaker.
Now, Jongo allows you to add speakers for whole-house use—up to 20 of them. If that’s not enough power, you can even add Jongo into a home stereo setup, using the $129 A2 Wireless Hi-Fi Adapter. We will get to both of those products in a minute.
However, a very important piece to the puzzle is the Pure Connect app, which is like Pandora, Spotify and iTunes all rolled into one—or at least it will be at some point. Right now, Pure doesn’t ask for any money (unless you’re offering). Currently, Pure Connect offers over 20,000 internet radio stations, as well as 200,000 on-demand programs and podcasts, all for free. Later this year, the company will launch Pure Music, a cloud-based service with over 15 million streamable music tracks. (At press time, Pure had not announced Pure Music’s launch date, plans or pricing.)
Either way, you’re going to need that app to use more than one Jongo product. Confused yet? Well, Jongo is actually a lot simpler than it sounds.
Optional grille covers allow you to tweak the color of the S3 Speaker.
The S3 Speaker
Pure’s Jongo S3 speaker can work alone or with other parts of the Jongo family. The package comes with one wireless speaker and a power cord to charge it up. That’s all you need. Users can keep the system plugged in or charge it for up to 10 hours of listening without being tethered. This makes it perfect for taking out to the yard or by the pool. It’s also important to note that you aren’t married to any specific speaker color. Pure has optional grille covers available in burnt orange, lime green, mango or white. (Those are $29.99 for the S3 and $19.99 for the A2.) Each one allows you to customize the look of Jongo in a snap—literally.
The speaker has a built in amplification for 20 watts of four-way directional sound. All of the necessary controls are on the front and back creases. The front has buttons for power, volume, and mute. Around the back, there’s a USB port to house a little nub that serves as the Bluetooth dongle, as well as an aux-in jack and buttons for Wi-Fi and Audio. The latter allows you to flip through four sound modes: Mono 360˚, Outdoor Boost, Stereo 360˚, and Stereo Forward Facing. Depending on your music, there isn’t a huge a huge difference between each one. However, I found the 360˚ modes to the best, as well as the loudest.
When the power button is green, you’re ready to rock. When connected via Bluetooth, my iPhone 4 found the speaker in seconds. It doesn’t even require any buttons to push.
I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this small speaker, but I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised. I cranked out everything from Queen to Joan Jett to Eminem. It packs a nice little punch and didn’t have any streaming issues, using my iPhone 4.
The A2 Adapter
The A2 Wireless Hi-Fi Adapter doesn’t have the same portability as the speakers, but adds the power to stream content from your smartphone or tablet right to your existing stereo. It also supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (which we’ll get to in a minute). However, it does need to be tethered.
That’s because the A2 can’t be charged, so it needs a power source. It also needs to be connected to your home theater setup, via analog, coaxial or digital outputs. There’s a USB port for future software upgrades.
Like the speaker, the A2 offered an easy installation process. Packing in a 24-bit 192 KHz DAC, the A2 sounded nice coming through my Energy speakers. Of course, performance may depend on your setup and audio content. However, it’s a nice addition to the Jongo family. Also, at $129, it’s certainly an affordable way to stream music to an existing setup.
The A2 Hi-Fi Adapter has both digital and analog connections.
Now What About Wi-Fi?
Connecting the S3 to Wi-Fi can be a bit more tricky—if you’re like me and didn’t bother with the manual. Otherwise, it’s fairly easy. If the speaker isn’t charged up, you’ll need to plug it in and turn it on. From there, press the power button until it turns a solid green. Once you see that green, it’s a cue to hit the Wi-Fi button on the back of the unit. That power button will start to flash amber. Then go into your iPhone’s settings and connect to the device like you’d connect to any other wireless network.
After that connection is made, you’ll be prompted to a website, where you’ll find your home’s wireless network. If you have a password, that info needs to be entered as well. If you did everything correctly, the power button will show that solid green.
Once you have the one Jongo piece connected, adding others is a breeze. Make sure the first speaker is turned on before turning on another. Then, press and hold the Wi-Fi button on the device that’s already connected to the network. Once that flashes green, press the WiFi button on the device that you want to add. The two will flash like crazy until they’re connected.
To use Jongo’s Wi-Fi features, you’ll need the Pure Connect app, which I’ll have more on in a minute. However, I need to call something out because I completely missed it—like seven times. If you want to use one Jongo speaker and the app, you can start streaming immediately. To make it a multiroom system, you’ll need to enable each speaker by clicking on the little “P” in the bottom right-hand corner of the app. That’s something I needed to put out there, since I missed it in the instructions a few times and had two S3 speakers and one A2 adapter connected to my home theater setup.
Now Stream This!
Because the Jongo has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, there’s a lot of different content to stream. If you opt for a Bluetooth connection, you’re limited to one Jongo device. However, you can tap into a ton of content, including everything that’s stored on your connected portable, as well as streaming services, such as Pandora, Spotify, Netflix, and more.
The Pure Connect app is currently available for iOS and Android devices.
As I mentioned before, if you’re going to use the Wi-Fi, you’re going to need the Pure Connect app. It’s also a necessity for hooking up a multiroom system. Because the multiroom setup only works via WiFi, all of the content has to be funneled through the Pure Connect app. That means that you can’t stream Pandora or other services through the multiroom system. However, Pure Connect offers plenty of freebies, including the aforementioned 20,000 web radio stations, 200,000 free on-demand programs and podcasts, and over 15 million streamable music tracks (they’re coming!).
Later this year, Pure plans to launch Pure Music, an on-demand subscription music service. Currently, it’s an exclusive in the UK and Germany. Pure also plans to add Pure Tag into the family at some point this year. This feature will allow users to bookmark tracks, albums and artists, as well as get recommendations for similar content.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to wireless multiroom music, Sonos absolutely rules the roost. Nothing compares to that company, when it comes to ease of use and sound quality. However, Pure has certainly provided a nice alternative with Jongo. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly a nice option. Jongo products do work well on their own, but it’s a definite bonus that you can add on easily—and at a more affordable price.
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