A large, powerful device, the JBL Boombox Bluetooth Speaker is today’s version of the old boomboxes from back in the day.
[table id=2 hide_columns=”all” show_columns=”a,b,f,m,r”/] Specs from manufacturer. If incorrect, please contact us.
I’ve been waiting for a new JBL Xtreme for a very long time… I was maybe expecting something more rugged, better battery life, maybe refined audio, better yet, maybe they would add some LED lights – shoutout to the JBL Pulse – but… what I recently ordered is a complete surprise. This is the JBL Boombox and this shit is HUGE. I personally paid for this at the retail price of $449, very expensive indeed, but what’s offered might be justified. As always, I’ll place my Affiliate links up above, click on those links and they’ll give you the most updated prices as of today. You never know when these things might go on sale.
Now, take a look at the JBL Boombox, reminiscent of the boomboxes back in the day with a sturdy handle up-top. The weight comes in at 11 and a half pounds or 5.25 kilograms for my international fans out there.
If you can’t lift a 10lb dumbbell and find this heavy… man up, as this speaker is all about being rugged. From the durable fabric mesh grill that’s on all JBL speakers these days, to the IPX7 rating, meaning this can be dropped and submerged in water, up to 3.3 feet and up to 30 minutes. With my testing, because my bucket at the office was too small, I tossed this into the nearest… and nastiest water fountain I could find nearby. My hands are ok, also, the speaker is still functioning fine. I’m also glad to see, the speaker floats.
The passive bass radiators on the side are exposed like all JBL speakers, although not recommended to be pressed in, I pressed them in all the way and the rubber surround doesn’t tear or rip. Hopefully, they hold up over time.
For those who are new to JBL, although rugged fabric goes all the way around, there are no speakers on the rear. I don’t think the trend of folks carrying their Boombox on their shoulders will ever return, but… considering how big this is, considering Fugoo, UE, and the newer Bose Revolve Plus has 360-degree audio, that would have been great here. That’s what we’re lacking with the Boombox.
Looking at the very top, the buttons are on your screen, pretty straightforward – very clicky and satisfying to press.
The biggest and most notable feature is the JBL Connect Plus feature. If you’re looking to fill large rooms, and I’ve had viewers and fans of the channel ask about filling up conference rooms, birthday parties and such, if you’re able to afford two of these, you can pair them together and have them play in stereo. With the Connect Plus feature, you can pair over 100 of these speakers and have them all play in sync if you’d like.
One big benefit, you can mix and match with other Connect Plus products. A quick illustration, here’s two of my JBL Pulse 3’s on either side and the JBL Boombox in the middle.
Going back to the buttons, on the far right, you have the option to change this to answer phone calls, which worked well but captured all of my background noise. Option two, through the JBL app, you can change this to activate Google Assistant or Siri by holding it down.
As a side note, going into 2018, we’ll start seeing more speakers with Google and Alexa built-in, so instead of pressing a button, we can physically say the command and have it work. Be on the lookout for that. I have two speakers under embargo that is releasing soon with this feature. Last on the front, at the very bottom, there’s a Battery level indicator light, and although they do justice, I think it’s time for JBL to move them up to the top for better visibility.
PORTS AND CONNECTIONS
Quickly touching base on Bluetooth. JBL utilizes Bluetooth 4.2 which is still very good these days. Considering this is the Boombox meant to be used in large open areas. I tested Bluetooth range and was able to achieve 90 linear feet outdoors with my Samsung S8+.
Rotating to the rear, there’s a water sealed flap that offers a 3.5mm input for physical connections. Not one but two charges out ports, so you can charge two devices at the same time, just like a power bank. And to the right is the wall adaptor to leave plugged in for jamming sessions. If you’re on a boat or at the beach with no outlets, JBL is claiming up to 24hrs of playback time.
With my testing, playing at 50% volume to get a middle of the road result, I was able to achieve 20hrs and 46minutes. One thing I wanted to point out, after 12 hours of use, out of the 5 white LED’s on the bottom, I only had one remaining thinking it was going to die soon, but it didn’t.
It lasted close to another nine hours.
The VERY last button I wanted to show you, there’s an indoor and outdoor mode. Either one offers a different audio profile meant to sound better in the environment you’re in. Of course, I’ll demonstrate this for you.
Holy freak, does this sound CRAZY. I’m going to try my best to break my audio analysis down. There are four categories, there’s indoor performance, outdoor performance, and testing these at moderate volume and last is high volume. Keep that in mind.
So starting with how loud these can get, the JBL Boombox Bluetooth Speaker makes the JBL Charge 3 and Xtreme sound like small and medium-sized speakers respectively. In general, yes, this will fill up large open areas and those catering to events. Family gatherings at the park, birthday parties, for sure on the boat, at the beach, this can handle it. Indoors, I’ll admit, it is a bit overkill, but… if you value bass and can shell out $450, this will rattle the house.
Bass is super predominant on the JBL Boombox Bluetooth Speaker, especially indoors. This is the type of bass that if you go downstairs, you can still hear the sub-bass beating and pounding through the walls. At moderate levels of volume, I loved the audio signature. Every beat is emphasized and specific genre’s like EDM, Pop, and Hip-hop stands out that much more, this speaker gets’s you in the mood to jam out. Hands down, the Boombox is a crazy good experience.
Now, if you are entertaining and pushing volume close to maximum, the bass does somewhat get distorted. The clarity and depth is somewhat lost for a louder experience. Again, that’s indoors. Going outdoors and more so for entertaining, having music in the background, when you’re standing further away or working on something in the distance, you don’t notice the issue as much. If anything, being outdoors, the bass somewhat goes away, despite how bassy it was initially indoors.
Either or, this still outperforms practically every speaker I’ve tested on the channel so far in regards to loudness and bass.
Since we’re speaking about the outdoor performance, once you toggle that button on the rear and switch to the outdoor profile, I mostly notice the midrange and higher frequencies becoming slightly more forward and pronounced. It is slight, but does help nonetheless. I went ahead and measured my distances to help you gauge what you need for your situation.
At 50% volume, audio was enjoyable up to 50 feet from the speaker. Beyond 50 feet, it’s still audible, but it’s simply not as loud or as present in your ears. Bump this up to 100% volume, and it’s enjoyable up to 140 linear feet away which is highly impressive. Keep in mind, the audio is a bit directional since there are no speakers on the rear or active speakers on the sides.
Jumping into the mid-range frequencies, we’re talking about vocal performance, where most instruments are heard by the human ear, and the area where if there’s bad audio, most people can distinguish it. From my experience, the Boombox sounded great at moderate volumes with clarity and detail.
The vocal performance is pushed forward enough to make them stand out and appreciated. Again, once you start pushing volume up, the bass does somewhat distort the mid-range a bit, but if you are intending on using this outdoors, standing further away does help, standing further away gives the speaker a chance to disperse it’s audio. This is common among entertaining and loudspeakers in general.
The higher tones from instruments like cymbal crashes, snare drums, some of the fast-paced EDM music does get jumbled and sadly a little raspy at those high volumes though. Very similar to the mid-range frequencies, if you stand further away, it does help. But listening to this within say a 10-foot radius at loud volumes, you’re going to hear the quality dissipate. At medium volume indoors, I very much liked the audio quality and the Boombox accompanied the other frequency bands well.
This speaker is loud, in your face, it can get the job done for those large events and outdoor areas. That’s where I see the most value. For those using this indoors, don’t get me wrong, it sounds great! If you have the money, the Boombox is outrageous for a Bluetooth speaker. But as I stated earlier, it might be a bit overkill.
The JBL Boombox Bluetooth Speaker indeed had some new features, but it wasn’t much to sway a decision on the physical front in my opinion. For indoor users, you’re paying essentially for how loud it can get, which has some value. You make the call. Let me know in the comment section down below.
So that’s it, folks. Be sure to support my work by following me on social media. You guys take care, and I’ll see you on the next one.