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Review Jbl Charge Essential Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Editor’s note: This review was updated on October 15, 2021, include information about the Charge 5. Yes, the tough waterproof fabric makes a comeback along with the IPX7 certification that lets you submerge it for up to 30 minutes in a meter of water.

It also floats for a bit if you do drop it in the water so you don’t have to worry about losing it if it falls off of a boat or a deck. These also have the characteristic exposed dual passive radiators on either end just like most of the new JBL speakers over the last few years.

Editor’s note: Sara tested a JBL Flip 4’s IPX7 rating by submerging it in a pool for about 10 seconds, and it came out broken. The bottom is a small built-in stand with five tiny LED lights that let you know how much battery life is left when you tap the power button, and around back is a rubber flap that keeps all of the ports protected from water.

The Charge 4 also doesn’t have a built-in microphone so if you tend to use your speaker for phone calls you might be annoyed. Unfortunately, if you bought an older speaker with the regular JBL Connect (like the Charge 3), it isn’t compatible with this new plus version.

So if you and a few friends are going to splurge on 100 of these and throw a “Project X” style party, this could be a feature that you might be interested in.

If you’re having trouble connecting to your Charge 4 then it might be a good idea to just reset it and start from scratch. That will take a hit though if you decide to also charge your devices via the USB-A output on the back. This was the part where I was most surprised because I was expecting the sound quality to be an improvement over the Charge 3, but it seems to be extremely similar to my ears.

JBL went with a single driver over dual-drivers this time around, but besides a few minor complaints, I don’t think many people who buy this speaker are going to notice. Just like the previous model, the new JBL Charge 4 has a strong low end for its size which is no doubt helped by those passive radiators. Bass notes throughout the song Tearing at the Seams by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats were distinct and easy to follow along with, but the speaker suffers from the same lack of clarity in the mids that the last model did. This was especially true in the song Lost on You by LP, where the vocals sounded like they were in competition with the strings and background melodies throughout the chorus.

JBL Charge portable Bluetooth speaker review: Jolt of sound with a dash of power

Like the Flip, the cylindrical speaker can be placed horizontally or vertically, though one side is vented, so you need to make sure you stand it up correctly without covering the port. Luckily, at just a hair over a pound, it does weigh more than a mini football and feels pretty solid in one’s hand. The Charge, which comes in multiple color options, is technically a stereo speaker with two 1-5/8-inch (40mm) full-range drivers and a 2×5-watt amplifier. The speaker also has an auxiliary input for connecting non Bluetooth-enabled audio devices with an optional cable.

The Charge exhibited those qualities, but as I say with all these speakers, you can’t expect incredibly rich, open sound, with room-rattling bass. Also, because the drivers are so close together, if you stand more than a few feet away from them, you get very little in the way of stereo separation, so you’re essentially listening to mono sound.

What I can tell you is this does sound better (not night-and-day better, but a little improvement) than a lot of other mini Bluetooth speakers in the $80-to-$150 price range. While the moderately priced Philips SB7200 is more rugged and built to withstand impacts better, the JBL offered more in the way of clarity and sounded bigger and better overall.

I look at a lot of these mini Bluetooth speakers and think that JBL has done a good job with the Flip, Micro Wireless, and the Charge reviewed here. That it also offers a charging component is a nice extra that gives it a small but significant differentiating point.

JBL Charge Essential

nt so don’t need massive speakers, etc and even at default out of the box volume this fills my lounge with good clear sound and even has decent bass for such a compact device rated at 10W So yes for those who just want a bluetooth speaker that sounds good and does what it needs to do without all the extra things like being able to pair multiple speakers together then this is a great buy And you can purchase Charge 3 carry cases as thisis the same size as that unit so I was able to get a carry case easily as well

Which JBL speaker should you buy? Flip 6, Charge 5, Xtreme 3, Link Portable

Bluetooth speakers and tunes are like fish and chips, Netflix and chilling, ballroom dancing and sequins: they just go together. These often inexpensive sonic boxes turn everyone’s phone into a sound system small enough to whisk away on your next adventure.

Add to this the fact that many models are waterproof, (making them ideal for the beach or pool) and, all things considered, you really have to take one of these little Bobby Dazzlers along for the ride.

Generally speaking, the more you pay, the bigger the battery, giving you not only more time between recharges, but also the potential to juice up your phone or tablet directly from the speaker itself.

But considering its predecessor scored five stars in our JBL Flip 5 review, we’re expecting great things.) That means it has the same waterproof rating as the Flip 5 (surviving full submersion in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes), while also being completely dust-tight. And it has the same PartyBoost feature (which lets you wirelessly pair it with other JBL speakers – including the Flip 5 – for a louder sound) and same 12-hour battery life. The Flip 6 comes in Dusty Pink, Grey Stone, River Teal, Fiesta Red, Ocean Blue, Midnight Black, Steel White, Forest Green and Squad. Like its predecessor, it doubles as a portable battery pack, charging up your smartphone or tablet – the clue’s in the name.

The exterior has also been overhauled: the ends of its barrel-like bodywork boast a slightly more robust rubberised reinforcement, while the speaker itself is a whole 1mm taller, 2mm deeper, 3mm wider and 5g heavier than its older brother.

You can either sync them to all play the same song, or split it so one speaker handles the left channel and one the right, for a greater sense of scale. Two smartphones or tablets can connect wirelessly to the Charge 5 at once, so you can share it with a friend (as long as they have a good music taste) and it comes in plenty of colours.

Behind the grille are two 7cm woofers for low frequencies and two 20mm tweeters for the highs, while at either end of the speaker you’ll find a chunky passive bass radiator that pulses enthusiastically along with every bassline. The fact they’re completely sealed around the edges, combined with the resilient exterior material means that, should the Xtreme 3 somehow find itself in the middle of a swimming pool or sandstorm, it should emerge unscathed. Just press the button, and you can summon either Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, much like you can with your headphones’ in-line remote. There’s Bluetooth 5.1 (compared to 4.2 on the Xtreme 2) but no wi-fi, so you can’t stream Spotify or Tidal without going through your phone. JBL PartyBoost comes as standard (the Xtreme 2 has Connect+, so can’t pair with its successor), as does a 10,000mAh battery that’s good for 15 hours before needing a charge. The Xtreme 3 has more features than the Charge 5, and that carry handle is a great addition to music lovers on the move. These are smart speakers with access to Google Assistant, but like JBL’s other devices they are waterproof and have a rechargeable battery – the Link Portable even boasts a charging cradle in the box. It will survive being submerged in water for up to 30 minutes, so it’s more than qualified to accompany you to the beach or pool (or, more likely, a downpour in the middle of a barbecue).

In the bass department, there’s plenty of low-end rumble to trouble the neighbours, coupled with a healthy dose of warmth and stability.

There are new reinforced rubber panels to protect the device, and the Go 2’s 3.5mm port for wired listening and the mic for speakerphone duties have both been nixed.

JBL Charge Essential Portable Speaker Black

Large items will be delivered separately within 1-5 business days and will incur an additional delivery fee of $49.95. Large items will be delivered separately within 1-5 business days and will incur an additional delivery fee of $59.95. Officeworks delivery zones are determined by the serviceability from our courier companies’ distribution centres. To determine the zone of your Postcode & Suburb, please refer to the Delivery Fee Calculator.

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