JBL has been in the audio electronics industry for years, but the company has made solid efforts in creating speakers, headphones, and other devices for the everyday music listener as of late. We recently reviewed their latest line of headphones, the JBL Everest Elite 700 series, and were very impressed by the product’s quality and integration of Bluetooth playback. For our latest review, we take a look at JBL’s portable, Bluetooth speaker: the JBL Xtreme.
The JBL Xtreme speaker is designed to be a portable speaker for users on the go. Like the Everest Elite 700 headphones, the speaker comes built-in with Bluetooth wireless support. This makes the speaker perfect for portable use, freeing users of chords and gear that would otherwise prevent on-the-go use. The best part: this portable speaker packs power, significantly more power than many portable (and even stationary) speakers on the market.
As is the case with every audio device out there, sound ranks as the most important component to a device’s quality. If it sounds mediocre or poor, then it’s not worth using. Luckily, JBL knows how to design the sound to their devices, and the JBL Xtreme exemplifies that quality to a T. The speaker’s output is smooth and clean, balancing the lows, mids, and highs perfectly across the aural spectrum. The bass comes in subtlety, but plays powerfully enough for a portable speaker of this relatively quaint size.
The volume control on the speaker enables playback for all types of scenarios, from quiet get-togethers to boisterous parties. Despite being one sole speaker, the playback carries well across all sorts of spaces, and the equal prioritization of its playback keeps features like basslines and vocals looped together in equal measure. The limitations innate to portable speakers, like lack of surround design (except when paired with the JBL Connect app, but more on that below) and crystal clear clarity, are present here, but those are faults more attributable to current portable speaker technology rather than to JBL. It’s rare to see a portable speaker built with such dynamic sound design, but JBL worked its magic and created a speaker that truly lives up to its name: Xtreme.
Most portable speakers lack a wealth of features, but the JBL Xtreme manages to offer a variety of perks to justify its $300 price tag. The Bluetooth playback does wonders for its portability (but more on that below), and its 10,000mAh Li-ion battery enables the speaker to run for 15 hours of playback. The speaker takes very little time to recharge, making it a perfect example of efficient battery design.
A strap accompanying the device gives it a more portable design, and dual USB charge out opens up a lot of charging options. An echo cancelling speakerphone suits more business-minded users, and the JBL Connect app can link multiple speakers together to create a more dynamic environment. This makes up for its stereo sound limitations, but a user’s mileage may vary in getting the chance to have multiple speakers within the same vicinity for the same occasion.
The speaker’s flagship component, the Bluetooth playback, works well for the most part. The range on the speaker captures devices within a few feet, but going beyond that distance can cause playback issues and hiccups. The speaker’s Bluetooth strength also falters when the speaker and source device are separated by doors and walls, so it’s best to keep the speaker and source device close to one another during use. That stands as the speaker’s biggest flaw, but it isn’t such a negative that it detriments the speaker as a whole. Luckily the speaker only weighs a little over 4.5 pounds, and is small enough to carry without worry.
The speaker is splash-proof, resisting water splashes, rain drops, and even running water. It’s not completely waterproof, as it cannot be submerged completely, but this benefit enables users to use the speaker near bathtubs, pools, beaches, and other aqueous areas for lounging. In terms of aesthetics, the speaker looks slick. It comes in red, black, and blue colors, and its waterproof coating gives the speaker a distinct, stylish appearance. One very cool design perk is the speaker’s passive radiators on its sides. This allows the user to see the radiators treble from the pass on the outside. Not an essential element, but a very welcome one once one sees how the radiators interact with all sorts of genre playback.
Overall, the JBL Xtreme really personifies the greatest qualities of the JBL design. It’s visually and aurally appealing, and its Bluetooth and size dimensions give it truly portable use. We wish the speaker’s Bluetooth capabilities were a bit more powerful, but as a whole this speaker is long and away worth the price tag.