If you are looking for a Bluetooth wireless speaker that offers a clean yet rugged look and serves plenty of bass for under $150 you’ll want to check out the JBL Charge 2. This is a seriously loud portable speaker. Better still, as the name suggests, this speaker can double as an external battery for your phone or tablet.
An update to the original JBL Charge, the changes are subtle but significant. The original JBL Charge had two 5W speakers. It got plenty loud. The new JBL Charge 2 has two 7.5w speakers and twin passive bass radiators. It gets even louder and has far more bass. The new version also offers slightly better frequency response (75Hz – 20kHz vs 150Hz – 20kHz). The 6000mAh battery that can play up to 12 hours per charge remains unchanged.
Inside the box you will find:
- The JBL Charge 2
- A 5V 2.3A USB adapter
- A 1 meter long Micro USB cable for charging
- A Safety sheet
- A Quick start guide
Strikingly the company did not see fit to include a protective carrying bag or a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm aux in cable. Both strike me as oversights and missed opportunities to add an inexpensive bit of extra value to the package.
JBL describes this new speaker stating:
The new JBL Charge 2, a portable stereo speaker offering best-in-class sound with dual drivers and twin passive radiators that deliver deep, accurate bass so powerful that you can actually see them trembling – even as their sound hits your ears. Featuring a 6000mAh Li-ion battery that can play up to 12 hours of music, the Charge 2 is built to outlast all-night parties – as well as charge other portable devices by way of its USB port. And with its versatile Bluetooth wireless functionality, you can carry the Charge 2 with you anywhere and still listen to music. The JBL Charge 2 also features a hands-free conference speakerphone complete with patented noise and echo cancellation technology that brings greater resonance and clarity to the sound of your calls. Finally, the Charge 2 has a Bluetooth Social Mode that lets up to three different users take their respective turns playing their own Bluetooth-enabled devices on the same speaker. Whatever color you end up going with – black, white, red, blue, or purple – you’re going further – and louder – with Charge 2 than anything else in its class or price.
The speaker is made from thick rubber and has a metal grill that is ready to take on the world. It looks tough and it is. At 1.3 pounds it is also surprisingly heavy for a speaker this size.
Controls along the top are simple and clearly marked. Going from left to right you have the power buttons, the Bluetooth pairing and indicator light, volume down, volume up, social mode, the call answer/reject button and the hole for the noise and echo cancellation microphone.
Social Mode is an interesting addition to this version of the speaker. It lets up to three people connect their phone, tablet or laptop to the speaker and then take turns playing their music of choice. I honestly don’t see this feature seeing much use in the real world but it is a nice differentiator for JBL to have included.
On the back of the speaker is the microUSB charging port, the 3.5mm AuxIn port and the full-size USB port that is used to charge your phone or tablet from the internal 6000mAh battery in the speaker. It is worth noting that this USB charging port has been moved from the end of the speaker to the back. I suspect this was, in large part, done because the ends of the speaker now house the passive bass radiators — you can see them moving when playing music at medium to high volume — but the new location is a far more logical one since it puts all the ports in the same place.
Anti-branding folks may not love the fact that the aforementioned passive radiator carries the JBL logo, but it is worth noting that these are on the ends and recessed a bit.
The branding on the front grill is smaller but far more noticeable.
[Affiliate Link] Buy it here on Amazon!
Video review of the JBL Charge 2:
- Passive Radiators: Passive radiators field enough bass for you to actually see them trembling from the outside.
- Built-in Microphone: The built-in microphone allows you to answer calls without skipping a beat
- Recharges your Media Device: This speaker charges your device so you can listen longer and be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
- Bluetooth Connectivity: Allows you to wirelessly stream music through any Bluetooth enabled device.
- Rechargeable Battery: Features a rechargeable battery for convenient portability and extended playback time.
As I note in the video review, I love JBL products and am consistently impressed. This speaker is no exception. It is solidly-built, easy to use and gets quite loud. The fact that it can recharge your phone on the go is a nice addition and makes this a good choice for anyone who uses their phone or tablet heavily over the course of a day. The heavy bass the speaker serves up makes it fairly clear that this speaker is tuned for members of the “Beats generation.” I’m not one of them and found the bass to be a bit much for my taste. It isn’t that I don’t like this speaker — I do — but for my taste, some of the other portable Bluetooth speakers from JBL or Harman edge this out. If you love bass, are looking for a speaker that gets loud and puts out a ton of bass this sub-$150 speaker is worth checking out! Learn more here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the JBL Charge 2
What I Like: Rugged; Under $150; Excellent quality; Gets loud; Can recharge your phone or tablet
What Needs Improvement: No carry bag included; No Aux In cable included; Not weatherproofed; A bit too heavy on the bass for me