The JBL Xtreme is a powerful Bluetooth speaker with stereo sound, four active speakers and two bass radiators and a crystal clear sound. In this review we take a detailed look at the loudspeaker.
JBL Xtreme – design and installation
When you put the JBL Xtreme in your living room, it is a striking monster. Fortunately, the shape is therefore no less ergonomic, even if you decide to take him to a picnic or other outing. Yes, the Bluetooth speaker is heavy, especially if you compare it with similar models and in its price range. But that is not strange, because of the violence that the Xtreme has under the bonnet. Of course, four speakers and two bass radiators do not weigh anything and we have noticed that.
But because I mainly used it in the house and occasionally picked it up to place it elsewhere in the house, I did not really notice it. That the loudspeaker is so heavy, in this case, means that a great sound comes out (more about that later). There is a bass radiator on both sides and the four speakers are all at the front. When you look at the design of the speaker, you would think that there are also speakers at the back – but that is (unfortunately) not the case.
Installing has been done like that. When you switch on the speaker, you can immediately search for an audio device via a Bluetooth connection. When the devices have found each other (such as a smartphone or tablet), you can indicate on the external device to make the connection and Kees is ready. From that moment on you can immediately start streaming music, podcast and more. It is even possible to connect multiple Xtreme speakers together, as well as up to three smartphones and tablets.
At the bottom of the speaker are rubber feet where you put the JBL Xtreme on. These legs are pretty sturdy and let the speaker nicely in place (provided that the surface is of course also solid). At the top we see two hooks: there you can attach the supplied shoulder strap, so you can take it anywhere. Furthermore, the speaker is equipped with a sturdy rubber, splashproof housing that can withstand a knock. It is also possible to clean the speaker under the tap.
JBL Xtreme – use
Our first impression was that the JBL Xtreme stands for two things: a beautiful sound and ease of use. With details such as those legs at the bottom and the sturdy casing, that is also true to a certain extent, until you start using the speaker every day. Then you notice a few small things that are annoying, unfortunately (because the audio quality is not). For example, the Bluetooth speaker only supports Bluetooth 4.1, but there is no NFC available. In addition, there is no AirPlay, but you can connect a device via audio-in.
The latter option is located at the back of the JBL Xtreme, more towards the bottom. If you want to reach the extra options, you have to roll over the speaker a bit and pull the zipper to the left. There you will not only find the Aux-in, but also two USB ports for charging smart devices, as well as the power connection. The speaker has a nice big battery with a capacity of ten thousand milliamps and lasts up to fifteen hours on a full battery. In addition, that battery is charged in about three to four hours.
To some extent that user convenience is present; the things that miss do not, in our opinion, count for the final verdict. However, when you add all the small things together, you naturally get a bigger set of downsides. For example, missing the ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons on the hardware. JBL has taken care of it by giving the start and pause button extra functions (press twice for the next track and three times for the previous one) but it can be easier.
There are other buttons available, such as the start and pause button, the volume buttons, the Bluetooth button and the pairing button for other JBL Xtreme speakers nearby. Finally, there is of course the on and off button. It is fairly basic, but it suffices – except for those two missing buttons. In addition, we have noticed that the speaker is not always able to maintain the Bluetooth connection, so you sometimes hear a hole in the music. This was not very common, but often enough that it started to stand out.
JBL Xtreme – audio quality
Then we arrive at the most important part and the part where JBL makes us forget a lot of those small negatives: the sound. Whether you listen to music with a lot of bass or high tones, the Xtreme seems to be able to handle it all. Sometimes such a lower sound may occasionally sink, but in general you notice little of it. Whether a song has a lot or a lot of bass, it always works well. Do songs have a subtle bass line, then it is fortunately not blown up: subtle also remains subtle.
The voice of an artist is also very beautiful and does not fall away in the higher or lower tones – but it does not really stand out. It works well with those other tones, leaving you with a balanced sound experience. If you put the speaker just too loud (and that can take a while, because it can be very loud) then the higher tones will sound shrill in the ears. But that problem can be solved by putting the speaker a bit softer. But when you bring the Xtreme outside, this flaw is already gone.
JBL Xtreme – conclusion
Then we have not actually talked about the price. With a suggested retail price of 299 euros, you can experience the JBL Xtreme as expensive. Do you quickly get the same build and sound quality for a lower amount? I doubt that – perhaps one of the two, but not both in one product. The Xtreme has its negatives: very often the connection is gone, there are no physical next and previous buttons and the lack of an NFC chip can also be disadvantageous. Whether the speaker is too heavy, you can decide for yourself when you have it.
However, if you hear the quality of the sound from the speaker, then a lot of the lesser features will disappear. The lack of these two nodes is surmountable and after you have connected the smart device, you will not soon use that NFC chip. The low tones are nice and low, the middle tones are crystal clear and the highs are also good, even if it is at a slightly lower noise level. But when you sit outside, you will not be bothered by that either – and that is what the JBL Xtreme is meant for.