When it comes to multi-room audio, Sonos is the king. But while its gear is awesome, its pricing definitely isn't. Pure's new Jongo S3 wireless speaker is the first salvo in its new affordable, adaptable multi-room audio assault, and it's really rather good.
A rechargeable wireless speaker that can receive tunes via Bluetooth, over Wi-Fi via Pure Connect, or through a line-in jack.
For people who want a wireless speaker that's a bit more than just a Bluetooth receiver. The Pure Jongo S340B (S3 for short) is capable of being linked-up with the rest of the Jongo range, as well as some of Pure's connected radios, which you might have dotted about your house, creating a Wi-Fi-powered multi-room modular audio system on-the-cheap.
The speaker itself is pretty compact, standing just 13.5cm high and 13.1x13.9cm square. That makes it pretty easy to fit just about anywhere, which is handy for hulking them out and about, or for fitting on book shelves or the mantelpiece, that kind of thing.
It's mostly speaker grill, with a thin front and back plastic panel, one side sporting volume controls and a power button, the other audio and connectivity settings, an LCD, and the S3's ports. The top is a mesh grill allowing the up-firing mid-bass speaker to punch though. It's quite attractive for a speaker, and comes in various colours with either a black or white body and coloured grills to match your drapes.
Setting the thing up is pretty straightforward. Via Bluetooth you just pair it when you first power on the S3 and away you go. For Wi-Fi, Pure's worked-in a web interface, where you connect to the Jongo directly with another device like a phone, hit up the web configuration page, and plug in your router's details. The speaker will then disconnect from your device and hook up to your home network, ready to start streaming. It's a lot better than trying to mess around typing out a password with just a couple of buttons on a tiny screen, and you only really have to do it once.
The S3 has four different audio modes: Mono 360, stereo front-facing, stereo 360, or outdoor-boost for when you take your Jongo out into the garden. The rest of the experience, apart from simple Bluetooth streaming, is controlled through the Pure Connect app.
The app is available on both iOS and Android, however the iOS Pure Connect app got a big upgrade recently, and while the Android app works to some extent already, it'll be getting everything the iOS app has in an update hitting soon. Each speaker or radio connected to the system can be independently volume-controlled, either via the app or on the speaker itself. The app will stream any music on your device, or via iTunes Match if that's how you roll, but will also give you access to Pure's own music service which is powered by 7digital. Unfortunately, on the Android app, Google Music from the cloud isn't supported yet, even if you've stored the tracks for offline playback.
Once you hit play, the Jongos figure out the timing so they all end up playing perfectly in-sync no matter how far apart they are, which means you can fill your entire house with high quality music streamed direct from your device of choice.
They sound pretty good for a small speaker too. The stereo separation isn't marvellous, but it is actually there, which is relatively impressive for a small box. They will also easily fill a room with music, especially in the 360-degree configuration, and while there's no real deep boombing bass to speak of, compared to other portable Bluetooth speakers, the Jongo S3 is up there with the best of them. They aren't Sonos or Bose Speaker Dock-level, but then they're not in the same price range either.
10 hours of battery life in a portable, adaptable package that actually sounds good. The Jongo can replace a couple of devices, and work best with a few of the things (or Pure's connected radios if you've already got them) dotted about your house.
The Android app not playing music from your Google Music library is a real downer. It's the kind of thing that could be fixed in an update, but at the time of writing I couldn't get it to work. It'd be nice if it worked with Spotify too, but I can't see that happening.
For some reason Pure decided to gift Bluetooth support to the S3 via a small USB dongle. Why it didn't integrate Bluetooth into the box, I don't know. It works fine, it just looks a bit odd and you could snap the thing off if you're not careful with it in a bag or something.
- Skipping between tracks is certainly not instant. It takes a little while for the audio to hit each speaker, but they're in-sync all the time, so I guess that's better than them all playing slightly out of time and murdering your audio experience.
- They're pretty light as battery-packing speakers with their room-filling sound capability go, so you can carry them out with you if you fancy it. I took a couple to a party, and they worked a treat once hooked up to Wi-Fi.
- You can get different coloured speaker grills to match your décor -- black, white, red, green, and yellow.
- Charging them takes a good couple of hours, but you can use them while plugged in, so you could have a place for them to live normally, and then just pick them up and go when you need a bit more portability.
- If Wi-Fi just doesn't cut it for you, there's an option of an Ethernet adapter, but you'll have to plug it in via the USB socket, which means no Bluetooth. Still, you can always swap between the two, I guess.
- There's no pause or play buttons on the speakers themselves, which would be handy, but the mute and volume buttons get you there, kind of.
As a singular item, probably not. The Jongo's strength lies in numbers. Because each speaker can work with the Pure Connect system, and hook up with any existing internet-connected Pure radios you've got strewn across your house, you can build yourself a simple, easy-to-use multi-room audio setup quickly and relatively cheaply.
Pure's got a whole range of Jongo connected speakers and adapters on the way, making the S3 a cracking start. It's great for taking out into the park, has a good 10-hour battery life, room-filling sound, and looks pretty good sitting on a bookshelf or coffee table too. At a suggested price of £170 it's not dirt cheap, but it won't break the bank either; I have a feeling you'll be able to pick these things up for quite a lot cheaper soon, making them even better value. If you're looking to start a multi-room audio setup without spending Sonos-money, then you won't go far wrong with the Jongo S3.
Power Output: 4 x 2.5W + 10W RMS
Speakers: 4 x Mylar 3/4-inch high frequency drivers, 1 x 3.5-inch Neodymium upward firing mid/bass driver
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
Dimensions: 131mm x 139mm x 135mm
Weight: 1.25kg with battery
Battery life: Up to 10 hours