JBL Xtreme Review
THE VERDICT
The JBL Xtreme is one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers on the market. It has a few drawbacks, but if you’re looking for a speaker that can get loud and still sound great, then you should consider the Xtreme.

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Design8
Features8
Value8.5
Ease of Use9
Sound Quality9.5
The Good
  • The JBL Xtreme has a wide sound stage. Bass is deep and powerful. Fantastic battery life.
The Bad
  • No way to adjust the equalization settings. The Xtreme is big and bulky for a portbable speaker. Treble can become harsh at high volume.
9Overall Score

The JBL Xtreme is basically a Flip 4 on steroids. It’s bigger and badder in just about every way. The Xtreme is heavy for a portable Bluetooth speaker at 4.6 lbs, but luckily JBL includes a carrying strap that makes it easier to transport. The Xtreme isn’t the type of speaker that you’ll just throw in a backpack and go.

JBL Xtreme Review

The Xtreme has a solid brick-like construction and definitely doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy. The body of the speaker is wrapped in a tight splashproof woven mesh. The operative word in that sentence is splashproof. Whereas we’re starting to see a variety of waterproof speakers on the market, the Xtreme is only splashproof. You can spritz it with water or even place it under running tap, however, submerge this beast and you can kiss your speaker bye bye.

 

Internally, the JBL Xtreme has two 63mm woofers and dual 35mm tweeters. Like its smaller brethren, the Xtreme has two passive radiators on each side to amplify bass. The speaker’s frequency response is estimated at 70Hz – 20kHz which is an impressive range for a small speaker.

JBL Xtreme Bass Radiators

Powering the Xtreme’s drivers is a 10,000 mAH battery. JBL claims that you can expect to get about 15 hours of use on a single charge. This estimate is fairly close as I got an average of about 14.5 hours of use out of the Xtreme. Of course, if you max out the volume you’ll probably get significantly less play time.

 

If you look top-side you’ll see the standard array of controls on the Xtreme – play/pause, Bluetooth, volume, power and a JBL connect button. The JBL connect button can be used to sync multiple JBL’s together while the play button is tasked with multiple functions. Besides just playing tracks, double tapping the button will let you navigate to the next song. And if you use the Xtreme’s speaker phone function the play button also lets you answer and end phone calls.

 

Connecting to the Xtreme via Bluetooth is extremely fast and easy.  The signal was usually strong and stable although on a couple occasions I did experience a slight signal drop, but these instances were few and far between.

JBL Xtreme Controls

On the bottom of the speaker are rubber feet that keep the JBL Xtreme stable when in use. In theory, you can stand the Xtreme upright when listening to it. However, based on the location of the feet it’s safe to assume that JBL would probably prefer that you don’t.

 

JBL chose a unique way to conceal the speaker’s connectors. While most manufacturers use a rubber flap, JBL uses a zipper to hide all the sensitive bits. Unzipping the compartment reveals dual USB inputs (for charging mobile devices), a 3.5 mm auxiliary port, and a power adapter port. I’m not a huge fan of the zipper as it made accessing the ports a little difficult, but I do give JBL credit for thinking outside the box.

JBL Xtreme Connectors

Sound Quality

If you’re throwing a party, be it indoor or outdoor, the JBL Xtreme is the speaker you want with you. The Xtreme can play loud, very loud. What’s more surprising is that even when you crank the volume, it shows very few signs of distortion. Most Bluetooth speakers when taken outside sound small. That was not the case with the Xtreme. It cast a wide soundstage no matter where I dragged it.

 

So what’s your favorite genre of music – Hip Hop, Jazz, Rock, Classical? The Xtreme can handle it all. I threw some of the most intense bass tracks I have in my collection at the JBL and it didn’t flinch. Somehow this little speaker managed to pump out copious amounts of tight bass with relative ease.

 

The Xtreme pairs its impressive bass response with a warm, rich mid-range which was probably the best that I’ve heard from a portable Bluetooth speaker to date. High frequencies were detailed and focused, however, when I really pushed the volume the treble did develop a slight harshness.

 

A couple weeks ago we reviewed UE’s Megaboom and one of the stand-out features is the equalizer adjustment settings inside the app. Unfortunately, JBL’s app isn’t as deep and doesn’t give you control over the speaker’s treble and bass settings. If it did, the harshness I experienced with higher frequencies on the Xtreme could have been corrected.

 

When our review unit first came in, there was one annoying thing that kept cropping up on the Xtreme. When switching to a new track, the volume would dip just for a second or two. Initially, I didn’t notice this, but after spending a few days with the speaker it became more apparent and distracting. Luckily, as I was wrapping up this review, JBL released an update which seems to have addressed this issue. Anyone having the same problem I suggest you run out and grab the update ASAP.

 

The Verdict

The JBL Xtreme is one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers we’ve tested. Whether outdoors or indoors, the Xtreme is sure to be the hit of the party. This speaker not only has power, but it also has agility and subtlety. It’s mid-range is warm, it’s bass is deep, and its treble is detailed and crisp. We recently wrapped up our review of the UE Megaboom and comparing these two speakers side -by-side I have to give the edge to the Xtreme in overall audio performance. That being said the Xtreme isn’t perfect. For instance, the JBL Xtreme isn’t completely waterproof. Also, for a speaker that’s supposedly portable, the Xtreme is big and heavy. Despite these drawbacks it’s still one of the best sounding portable Bluetooth speakers available.

 


Where to Buy:

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