JBL PartyBox On-The-Go Review: Big 100W Portable Speaker That’s Ready to Party

The Lowdown

If you want a large yet portable speaker that can put out a lot of sound with built-in options for adding microphones and a guitar with a synchronized light show, then you will love the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go.



  • Loud with plenty of Bass
  • Perfect for parties — indoors or out
  • Included wireless microphone and built-in jack for an electric guitar or a wired mic with gain and effects
  • The light show is a fun feature for parties
  • Can be paired with up to eight devices
  • Built-in bottle opener on the strap
  • Can be used as a portable amp for an electric guitar
  • All-in-One PA system


  • No included car charger
  • It’s got a lot of extra features if you’re just buying it to use in your living room with occasional outdoor use, so another portable speaker might be better in that instance

I love a large portable speaker, and my latest in for testing is the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go. This massive and multi-talented speaker pumps out 100W of bass-boosted sound that can easily fill a large room or the typical backyard. If you like to sing along, the PartyBox On-The-Go includes a wireless mic with adjustable gain, echo treble, and bass. If you or a friend plays guitar, they can plug-in and either strum along to the music or use the PartyBox as an amp to play their own compositions.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

The JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is big; it measures 19.3″ long by 9.6″ tall by 8.8″ deep and weighs 16 and a half pounds. This is not some lightweight speaker that pushes out a satisfactory 40W when indoors but can’t handle a backyard party. Instead, it’s a beast in every sense of the word. And if your yard is large or your party is extra crowded, you can double (or even triple) its output by pairing it with another JBL PartyBox On-The-Go using the True Wireless Stereo (TWS) Bluetooth connection.

The PartyBox has a water-resistance of IPX4, which means it is splash-resistant but not waterproof. So you can confidently use it in the backyard, at the beach, or the pool, but it probably won’t survive a trip to the bottom of a creek or swimming pool; keep that in mind.

Included in the box are the PartyBox On-The-Go, a wireless microphone (batteries included), a pouch to store the microphone in, a shoulder strap, a power cord, a quick start guide, a safety sheet, and a warranty card.


The JBL PartyBox On-The-Go’s body is composed of matte black plastic; it feels quite solid but not necessarily ruggedized; it doesn’t have rubber on every corner or anything. On the front, it has a black metal grille with a red JBL badge in the center. Behind the grille are two 1.75″ (44mm) tweeters, a 5.25″ (133mm) woofer, and a circular lightbar around the center woofer, which is ready to activate anytime you want to include a light show with your listening experience.

It may not be obvious in this photo (you can click it to make it larger), but the knobs and buttons on the top of the PartyBox are oriented for control from the backside. There’s even a handy slot for holding your phone or tablet — which will be perfect if you want to have a place to set your streaming phone or tablet while looking at lyrics as you sing along to the music with the included wireless microphone.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

Generously sized handles are molded into each end of the PartyBox’s body, but there are two integrated metal hoops next to them when you want to use the detachable shoulder strap. The strap is a much easier way to schlep the PartyBox around without needing two hands, and it even has a handy built-in bottle opener.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go Strap with Bottle Opener

Now we are looking at the top of the JBL PartyBox Party On-The-Go from the speaker’s backside. You can see the slot for your phone or tablet and all of the controls. There are many of them, so let’s start at the upper left and work our way around. The BassBoost button has three options: Level 1, Level 2, and off. The next row of rubberized buttons includes a “+” for raising the volume, a “” for lowing the volume, and the triangular play button in the center, which also will pause or resume the audio playing.

In the center, there are five knobs. The top-left button controls the microphone’s volume, and the top-right button controls the guitar volume when one is plugged in. Under those, there are knobs for adjusting the echo, treble, and bass on the microphone or guitar.

The next row includes a battery level indicator with five white LEDs to indicate the remaining power in 20% increments; it will flash red when the battery is low, pulse white when the battery is charging, and glow solid white when the battery is full. Under it are a Power button and a Bluetooth connect button. The first time you turn the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go on, it will go directly into pairing mode, but pressing the button will allow you to pair it with up to seven other devices.

The final button on the top row controls the light show; there are three different light patterns available that will synchronize with the music playing, or the lights can be turned off entirely.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go Review: Big 100W Portable Speaker That's Ready to Party

Under the Bass Boost button, a rubberized flap covers a microphone socket for a wired mic with a mic gain adjuster underneath. The JBL PartyBox On-the-Go comes with one wireless mic, but the speaker can handle up to two wireless mics if you pick up another one. With this port, a third wired microphone can be added if needed.

Mic socket and mic gain on JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

There is a plug for a guitar with a gain adjustment knob underneath under the light show button.

Guitar plug and gain on JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

Here’s a look at the left side …

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

… and a look at the right side. You can get a better look at the size of the built-in handles in these photos.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

It may seem weird that the speaker’s back is covered in nicely padded black faux-leather, but it really does make carrying it with the shoulder strap more comfortable on your hip!

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

Built into both sides of the back are elastic loops; this might also seem weird at first, but they are so you can carry up to two microphones with the PartyBox.

In the back’s center, there is a rubber door. Opening it reveals the power port, a USB port that can be used to either play music directly from a USB thumb drive or to charge the mobile device beings used to stream music. There is also a 3.5mm aux-in port in case you need it for an older MP3 device.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

On the bottom of the JBL PartyBox On-the-Go, there are four orange rubber feet.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

So let’s talk about actually using the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go!

The first thing you should know is that it gets quite loud! With the Bass Boost off, the sound is great indoors; it can easily fill a larger room with music. After listening to a variety of my favorite songs over it, I have been impressed. The sound produced is very good, but it seems to be tuned slightly differently from some of JBL’s other large portable speakers, like the  JBL Boombox 2, for instance.

The PartyBox On-The-Go definitely has more bass than the Boombox 2, and it seems tuned to do better in larger spaces or outdoors, which makes sense considering it’s the smallest in the PartyBox line.

When the time comes that we can all gather indoors safely together again, a quick press of the Bass Boost button (it will glow white when on) will add extra thump to your favorite dance tracks. If you prefer to rattle the tchotchkes on your shelves, you can hit the Bass Boost button one more time. Pressing the button one last time will turn Bass Boost off.

The light show is a fun feature when you’re listening to dance music; it can be a bit distracting when you’re just listening to music and don’t want it, so you can always turn it off. Unlike the JBL Pulse 4, which also has a built-in light show, the PartyBox On-The-Go does not connect to the JBL Connect app to allow light show customizations.

Instead, the three light shows are pre-programmed and easily accessible by pressing the dedicated button. While it would be nice to customize the light show patterns a bit more, it probably would add an unneeded layer of complexity for something that’s otherwise plug-and-play in every way.

The first light show option is a synchronized, colorful spinner that slows and speeds up to the music’s beat. The alternating colors include yellow, blue, red, purple, green, teal, magenta, and there are likely a few others in the mix.

The second light show option is a circle that breaks into quadrants of varying colors to the beat.

The third light show is a colorful equalizer effect that starts at the bottom of the circle and glows up both sides of the circle to the music’s beat while alternating through the colors.

The effect is quite fun when you’re in a dark backyard listening to music. I noticed that the PartyBox On-The-Go is slightly louder and has more bass when it is plugged in, so if you are planning on max sound, plug it in.

It takes about three or so hours to charge the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go fully, and they rate it as lasting for around six hours, but let’s be real — that’s with the light show off, the Bass Boost off, and the volume at around 50%. If you plan on playing it at max volume with Bass Boost and the light show on, and you want to enjoy it for more than a few hours, then you should make sure that there is a power outlet nearby. It would be really nice if JBL included a car-charger with this PartyBox, as it could come in really handy on-the-go.

Although it’s even louder and there are no concerns about battery life when it is plugged in, the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go does quite well as a portable.

If you want a large yet portable speaker that can put out a lot of sound with built-in options for adding microphones and a guitar with a synchronized light show, then you will love the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go. If you need a portable amplifier for your electric guitar that can do more, the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is a great option. If you regularly march in protests and need a portable amplifier to use with a mic, the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is an all-in-one solution. If you miss karaoke night at your favorite bar, the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go can help you recreate it — complete with light effects.

But if you want a large portable speaker with excellent sound that will mainly be used in your living room but can safely go outdoors, check out the JBL Xtreme 3 or the JBL BoomBox 2.

The JBL PartyBox On-The-Go sells for $299.95, and it is available directly from the manufacturer and other retailers, including Amazon, B&H Photo, Target, T-Mobile, Electronic Express, and more. Be advised that it is new and popular, so it is selling out fast.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Loud with plenty of Bass; Perfect for parties — indoors or out; Included wireless microphone and built-in jack for an electric guitar or a wired mic with gain and effects; The light show is a fun feature for parties; Can be paired with up to eight devices; Built-in bottle opener on the strap; Can be used as a portable amp for an electric guitar; All-in-One PA system

What Needs Improvement: No included car charger; It’s got a lot of extra features if you’re just buying it to use in your living room with occasional outdoor use, so another portable speaker might be better in that instance

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.