Oooooooh it’s your main man Michael right here, and we’ve got a treat of a review for you. JBL have done TIG a massive solid and supplied us with their latest mid-range Bluetooth Speaker and god damn was I impressed! Robbie, Ross, Alex, Shelly, and I have been using this inside, outside, upside down, and right way up all over Christchurch (We still haven’t charged it since the inital first charge in Wellington). Oh dang, it also supplied the mad dog beats on a roadtrip in my mum’s car. I hope I can keep it <3
I spent like a solid two minutes trying to find when the original JBL Charge released, but figured Robbie would find it faster and put it in these brackets here (2012-2013ish give or take). We’re up to the fourth iteration of the JBL Charge, and I really, really dig it. I’ve had quite some experience when it comes to Bluetooth speakers, having owned so many that I have supplied many family members and friends with the cast offs when I upgraded. Up until the JBL Charge 4 I had been rocking the Logitech UE Boom 2 which I absolutely loved, but the Charge 4 has come and stolen my affection, and whisked me away to a world of happiness and rainbows, and oh yeah music I guess.
So let’s break down the techy stuff that no one is interested in before we crack this speaker open (figuratively JBL, don’t worry):
- Wirelessly connect up to two smartphones at once
- 20 hours of playtime (honestly ridiculous)
- IPX7 Waterproofing (I’m not testing this out, I like my dreams not sad)
- 7,500 mAh battery
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 30W RMS
- USB C Charging
- Powerbank capability, plug your device into the USB A slot to charge while you listen
- Aux in (3.5mm) for those devices without Bluetooth
We got the stunningly red version of the speaker, and as a keen lover of all things bright, I was not disappointed. Most people tend to be a lot more subtle than I, but all I’ve heard is complements when I wop this bad boy out. The material feels rugged but also clean, and the entire package is a clean look, very similar to the JBL Charge 3. This is actually something I really like about JBL, they have very consistent image that they want their speakers to look like, and they stick to it. Meaning that even the older speakers still resemble the newer ones.
Something that is always a big concern for the smaller speakers is quality of sound versus loudness (quantity of sound?). We used the speaker to listen to some chill music while hanging out inside, and also used it to blast some beats outside for a group of people. While it’s not going to be anywhere near as powerful as the Xtreme speakers, the JBL Charge 4 certainly impresses and would be plenty powerful for most users. At the high highs, you’ll notice some tinnyness but the lows were beautiful and booming and will likely shock you given the small size of the speaker. Robbie was especially impressed with the mid volume range. Sound production was clear and had a sort of vibrancy to it. I did find at higher volumes the mid range became somewhat mushy as those big side drivers took over pounding the bass.
I hate testing this aspect out because I’m always scared that something bad will happen and I’ll be down one speaker. But, for you fine readers I would travel to the ends of the earth. The JBL Charge 4 got the same rigorous testing that I apply to all Bluetooth speakers. It got a classic Michael workout, it got some travel, it got wet, it got dropped and honestly there isn’t a single mark on this beast. I’m just impressed with this midrange speaker as I am with JBL’s upper end products.
If you’re looking for a speaker with a clean aesthetic, great sound, amazing battery, and of course an absurdly decent price then I wouldn’t look anywhere else than at the JBL Charge 4. It’s not the best at the higher ranges of sound, but for the majority of use cases, this little number will more than do the job. The JBL Connect app will help you access some otherwise locked aspects of the speaker such as daisy-chaining and multiple phone control, but even without it you’re still going to fall in love.