Entry level multi-room wireless system not so low-end (August 12th, 2014)
Product Manufacturer: Pure
- Cost to entry low
- Good speaker response for class
- Good networking performance
- Not a good solo speaker for the money
- No ALAC, FLAC support
Multi-room audio compatibility is a key metric for wireless sound systems these days. The entry cost into a house-spanning system can be problematic for many buyers, with many mid-range systems costing many thousands of dollars for even a small installation. Pure has a solution -- the Jongo speaker system. We've lived with a few Jongo T2 speakers for a while now. How well does the system perform, and when up against higher-end competitors, how does it stand up?
The Jongo system spans five different speakers, with the T2 in the middle of the line. Pure calls it a "compact all-rounder that packs a punch." Specs-wise, the speaker has two 10w Class D drivers in a 4.6 x 9.8 x 5.9-inch package. It is a Wi-Fi speaker set, but can also use Bluetooth streaming, as well as a auxiliary input for direct connection.
Setting up the speaker is pretty easy -- the speaker at power-up is a Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing users to connect a mobile device directly to the speaker by way of the Pure Connect app. Users then connect the speaker to an existing Wi-Fi network. We had no issue whatsoever connecting, even in the congested Wi-Fi environment that is our testing area.
A single speaker can be streamed to with Bluetooth -- but that's not the best use of the speaker. The Pure Connect app utilizes the speaker to its fullest extent. Without it, there's no multi-room connectivity! We'd rather the experience be more universal, and we're not sure exactly why Pure needed to have a "one app to control them all" mentality. That said, Pure Connect has a music subscription service with over 15 million tracks, and its free for a month with purchase. This is integrated very well to the Jongo ecosystem, so depending on what a listener's future needs may be, or current subscriptions are, this is a fairly compelling offering.
Construction of the speaker is ... surprising. We expect speakers to have a weightiness to them, but the Jongo T2 is light. Seams are fitted well, no extra glue or residue from construction present. Ports are reinforced, but the whole point of a wireless system is no auxiliary connectors, so with any luck, you'll plug this into power once, and be done with it. The front grille fabric is "slippy," for lack of a better term, but not badly. This wasn't the case with a different color grille which we were also provided for testing.
We tested the Jongo T2 and the network of other speakers that we set up with a variety of musical styles and compositions including classical, modern rock, classic rock, adult contemporary, rap, heavy metal, and dubstep. All tracks were ripped from an original CD, at four different bitrates: 128kbit MP3 using iTunes 10.6.3, average 256kbit AAC VBR with Max 0.9.1, 256kbit AAC with iTunes 10.6.3, and Apple Lossless with iTunes 10.6.3. Following this reviewer's personal assessment of the device, we added five-person testing panel and comparatively listened to nearly four hours of music. Additionally, the unit has been in service for several months, and has been used in parallel with offerings from other companies for a longer-term evaluation of the speaker.
From a networking perspective, we have never had any problems with the Jongo. We had two speakers provided by the manufacturer for testing, and acquired four more from colleagues for testing. Six various Jongo devices, all connected to a single base station, covered our multi-room test environment well, with no dropouts or other networking problems. They all remained in perfect sync for the duration of the test. We were very pleased with this aspect of our examination.
Here's the problem -- there's no Apple lossless support, nor FLAC. The speaker supports WMA, AAC, MP3, and MP2 files - ie, only compressed audio. The lack of lossless streaming may not be a hindrance to many users, but it is worth mentioning. That said, the (even not lossless-formatted) sound is very, very good from a speaker of this size. Bass is powerful, and distortion-free. Frequency response in the mid-range and high-end is crisper than we thought it would be as well, with a good balanced response -- no aspect of the sound is highlighted more than any other.
To be clear, this isn't a Geneva system, or other equipment from super-high-end manufacturers. The sound is excellent for its class, but it can't compete against pricey audiophile-grade gear. We don't recommend one Jongo T2 speaker on its own -- dedicated single-speaker solutions or the larger Jongo units outclass the T2 for that. We do recommend two or more, blanketing an area with perfectly synchronized sound for less cash out of pocket than competing solutions.