CE Pro contributor Fred Harding of Capitol Sales reviews PulseAudio's PA360 2.1 audio indoor/outdoor speaker with Bluetooth wireless capabilities.
“Calling out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat? Summer’s here and the time is right for dancin’ in the street.”
Written by Marvin Gaye, his first hit with Martha and The Vandellas, this song captures a sweaty, humid summer day and night fun, dancing with your pals.
The PulseAudio PA360 fits this song to a T.
Let’s start with the basics. The PA360 is almost a cylinder. It’s about 26 inches high, about a foot round. It has casters, and it’s got a handle. It’s called an indoor/outdoor speaker, so it can get splashed. It's probably not a great idea to go deep sea diving with it, but it can certainly take mild rain, mist or dew.
Did I mention it weighs about 25 pounds? Casters and a handle, indeed.
It is battery-powered, and can, of course, also plug into electricity. It plays both right and left channels out of a complement of mid-range/tweeters, and features an 8-inch woofer to augment the bottom. High frequencies are driven by a 2 x 20 watt amplifier, and the sub by an additional 45 watt amp.
What to do with this? Well, it features a built-in Bluetooth receiver, but also has a 3.5 mm stereo jack on it for other conventional consumer stereo sources.
Putting PulseAudio's PA360 to the Test
I got the unit out on my front sidewalk the other night, much to the amusement of passing traffic, and played. I used my iPad as my Bluetooth source, and in the spirit of Ms. Reeves, played a bunch of rhythm and blues using the Bluetooth connection.
The folks at PulseAudio claim it will work up to 150 feet. Your mileage may vary; I was able to push play on the iPad while listening to the great Betty LaVette singing covers of British Rock songs (strange concept, but it works very well) as I walked down the street. I got three houses away before it cut out. I certainly didn’t measure the distance, but that seemed pretty good.
I was able to hear the sound clearly at that distance; as I walked back, it got loud enough so that you’d have to raise your voice to be heard. Not concert levels, but it is portable and it sounded great.
The speaker has a control panel on the top for power, transport controls (via Bluetooth), and for pairing to your Bluetooth source. It was easy to pair, and a nice chirp through the system let me know it was ready to play.
Continuing to play with it, I selected the classic Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows' live chestnut “Live from Chicago! Bigger than Life!” and grinned as this great horn loaded outfit ran through a bunch or R&B staples.
By this time, folks were pulling their cars over, and that cooler of New Glarus Moon Man was tested. Folks dug it, and by the time calmer heads had prevailed, we had had a pretty nice little party.
This speaker is not going to replace a real solid installed system, but it is an order of magnitude better than an old-school boom box. It’s portable, and it ran for the three-plus hours we were listening. The spec sheet says up to eight hours, and your results may vary, but I won’t disagree with their number.
Tailgating, picnics, fancy pants car camping — all will be enhanced with this system.
Suggested retail of $799.