Smart home audio is a traditionally expensive hobby, with devices like the Sonos Play:3 starting at £259. Pure’s Jongo is pitched to achieve the same from £100.
The Jongo A2 (below left) is a wireless hi-fi adaptor with Bluetooth, designed to give your home audio system an upgrade to 21st century technology.
The Jongo S3 (below right) is a portable stereo speaker, also with both WiFi and Bluetooth, and the family will be completed soon by the Jongo T6, a mains-powered stereo speaker with more oomph.
What unites all the Jongos is Pure Connect, an app/website combining internet radio with Spotify-style music streaming and discovery, and a music player for your own audio files.
Pure Connect’s strengths and weaknesses are as much a part of reviewing the Jongos as the devices themselves, since without it they’re just Bluetooth speakers.
Pure Jongo A2 & S3 review: design and connections
They’re both attractive pieces of home tech:
The A2’s compact and simple appearance is probably the perfect match for your hi-fi in black, although you could fork out an unlikely £20 to change the colour to white, lime, mango or burnt orange (red).
At 1.25kg and the size of a couple of George RR Martin novels, the S3 is about as large and heavy as a portable speaker can get, and also comes with a choice of speaker grilles in mango, lime or burnt orange for £13 each, if you don’t like the standard black or burnt orange.
The A2 is well set-up for connecting to your stereo system, with coaxial and optical digital audio as well as the standard analogue stereo phono pair. The S3’s equipped with a 3.5mm stereo phono jack input if your Bluetooth or WiFi connection fails.
Both devices have a large USB A port, but it’s just for software updates and the S3’s Bluetooth dongle – you can’t plug in USB storage to play back files directly.
|Feature||Jongo A2||Jongo S3|
|WiFi||802.11b/g with with WEP and WPA/WPA2||802.11b/g with with WEP and WPA/WPA2|
|Bluetooth||A2DP Bluetooth 2.0||A2DP Bluetooth 2.0 via dongle|
|Outputs||S/PDIF optical and coaxial digital audio, analogue stereo phono||–|
|USB||USB A for software updates||USB A for software updates/ Bluetooth dongle|
|Power||5.5V DC external||8800mA ChargePAK, 9V DC external|
Pure Jongo A2 & S3 review: setup and Pure Connect
The Jongo A2 and S3 have the same WiFi setup process: for the first device on your network, you’ll have to put it in ‘base station’ mode where it becomes an open WiFi hotspot.
Connect with a browser and you’ll see a home page where you can choose your home network’s WiFi SSID and input the password. The Jongo will log in and you never need to see that page again.
When you add a second Jongo device to your WiFi network, you put them in pairing mode using the front panel buttons, and the first one will pass on your login details to the new device. It’s clever, although potentially open to abuse.
Bluetooth setup is the same as many other Bluetooth audio devices: the Jongos are always visible, so you just search and connect, using the default PIN.
Pure Jongo A2 & S3 review: Pure Connect
With WiFi set up, you’ll be able to find the Jongos with the Pure Connect app on your iOS/Android phone or tablet, or accessing the Pure Connect website on any device connected to your home network.
Free services include streaming the huge variety of internet radio stations and a huge library of podcasts and radio shows, such as 6Music sessions, although you’ll need to set up an account to access them. There are also Pure Sounds: whales, storms and the like to soothe your soul.
There’s no app for Mac, PC, Windows Phone or BlackBerry (except using Bluetooth), but Pure’s latest DAB radios can connect to the Jongos via WiFi.
Playback from an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3 was faultless, but our audio files wouldn’t play from an HTC Desire X, and the Jongo A2 seemed to buffer and pause a lot playing back from a Motorola RAZRi (we suspect file management issues on the phone side are to blame). Sadly, you can’t access files on networked storage and there’s no DLNA support.
You can play back to several Jongos at once from one device, creating multi-room audio at a fraction of the usual price.
The paid side of Pure Connect gives you a Spotify-style online on-demand music library from Pure Music for £5/month. There’s nothing to fault about the repertoire of 15 million streamable tracks (provided by 7digital), 20,000 global radio stations, and 200,000 free on-demand programmes and podcasts. A downloadable option will launch later this year for £10/month.
Though we can see how this might look like an attractive business for Pure, from a practical point of view it’s hard to see how many music fans will choose Pure Music over Spotify, especially if they’ve already got a Spotify account. Maybe if it was compatible with other music services using 7digital’s library.
Pure Jongo A2 & S3 review: performance
When they’re behaving, both Jongos delivered very good playback and digital-audio conversion, providing as much detail as you can extract from high quality MP3s.
Though the same electronics are supposed to be inside both Jongos, our playback issues hint that the A2 may have less memory on board. In Bluetooth mode, where they’re simply wireless speakers, both performed very well.
We took the S3’s five speakers to full volume with very little distortion, and compared to many compact Bluetooth speakers it’s both rich and punchy, with none of the tinniness common to portable audio.
The top-mounted woofer is responsible for much of this richness, while the ability to switch from four-speaker to two-speaker stereo delivered better when plopping the S3 in a corner. The midrange-boosting outdoor mode also effectively boosts the S3’s performance without muddying the audio quality too much (compared to other noise you might expect outdoors).
We got a good four hours of playback from the S3, and although it takes a while to recharge for its next run, you can play while it’s plugged in.
|4 x Mylar ¾” high frequency drivers, 1 x Neodymium motor upward firing mid/bass driver 3.5″|
|Output power||–||4×2.5W + 10W RMS|
|Controls||standby, WiFi connect||Power, volume up/down/mute, audio mode, Wi-Fi setup, reset|
|Codec support||WMA (standard V9), AAC, MP3, MP2||WMA (standard V9), AAC, MP3, MP2|
|Audio DAC||24-bit, 192kHz||24-bit, 192kHz|
Pure Jongo A2 & S3 review: verdict
Full credit to Pure for putting network audio into the mainstream market with a range of products to suit different users (and there’s more to come), although we have our doubts over Pure Music.
Pure Connect has some device-specific niggles, but the free internet radio, podcast library and playback of your own music are very nice, with impressive quality. We’re not so sure about the nature sounds.
The A2 is compact and easy to set up, and while the S3’s hardly throw-in-a-bag portable, but it’s perfectly acceptable as a travelling companion around your house and garden, with enough noise for parties.
They’re both very reasonably priced for multiroom network audio compared to the likes of Sonos, though not so well against simpler Bluetooth devices.