JBL Charge 5 Review: Delivers Next-Level Sound Anywhere, Anytime

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The Lowdown

Between the excellent battery life, the ability to keep your mobile device charged on the go, the increased durability, and the fantastic sound, the JBL Charge 5 is definitely one of the top contenders in the portable Bluetooth speaker space.

Overall
5

Pros

  • Amazing battery life, and the speaker’s battery’s charging port can also be used to recharge portable devices
  • USB-C charging
  • IP67 rating for water and dust protection
  • PartyBoost feature will be a draw for some people
  • Amazingly great sound

Cons

  • Design isn’t all that compelling (I actually appreciate the simple design, but some may not)
JBL Charge 5 Review: Delivers Next-Level Sound Anywhere, Anytime Listen to this article

JBL’s portable Bluetooth speakers have always been impressive, and each successive model has gotten better and better. The JBL Charge 5, the latest generation of their wildly popular portable speaker with a powerbank, is their best portable speaker yet. It blasts music, recharges phones, and it’s ready to hit the beach, the mountains, or your next backyard barbecue.

JBL Charge 5

JBL describes the upcoming Charge 5 this way:

Take the party with you no matter what the weather. The JBL Charge 5 speaker delivers bold JBL Original Pro Sound, with its optimized long excursion driver, separate tweeter and dual pumping JBL bass radiators. Up to 20 hours of playtime and a handy powerbank to keep your devices charged to keep the party going all night. Rain? Spilled drinks? Beach sand? The IP67 waterproof and dustproof Charge 5 survives whatever comes its way. Thanks to PartyBoost, you can connect multiple JBL PartyBoost-enabled speakers for a sound big enough for any crowd. With all-new colors inspired by the latest street fashion trends, it looks as great as it sounds.

Available in Black, Blue, Gray, Red, Teal, and Camo, the JBL Charge 5 will have an MSRP of $179.95. That’s the same price as its predecessor, but you’ll get more for your money with the new model, as you will see. Inside the box, you’ll find the JBL Charge 5, a Type C USB Cable (way to go, JBL, and thank you for moving to USB-C), and some paperwork.

The Charge 5 sits between the JBL Flip and the JBL Extreme with regard to size, weight, and price. It measures 8.7 x 3.76 x 3.67 inches and weighs a bit more than two pounds. That makes it large enough to pump out serious sound while remaining small and light enough to take pretty much anywhere.

Inside, it has a 20mm tweeter that puts out 10W and a “racer shaped” 52mm by 90mm driver that pumps out a whopping 30W! Yes, this speaker gets loud. It also sounds good. We’ll come back to that shortly.

If you are familiar with any of the previous JBL Charge speakers, you will immediately find the design of the Charge 5 familiar.

JBL Charge 5

IP67 waterproof and dustproof: To the pool. To the park. JBL Charge 5 is IP67 waterproof and dustproof, so you can bring your speaker anywhere.

Cylindrical in design, the end caps are made from rubber, and each surrounds a side-firing passive radiator.

JBL Charge 5

 

The speaker’s body is covered in acoustic cloth that looks refined and does a decent job of reeling dirt. However, the acoustic fabric serves an additional purpose and plays a key role in the speaker’s IP67 rating. That means that, in addition to being able to be submerged in water for up to thirty minutes, the Charge 5 is now fully protected from dust.

JBL Charge 5

The latest iteration of the JBL Charge Series features silicon bumpers and an eye-catching JBL logo, for a new spin on JBL’s iconic design.

The JBL logo is embossed along the top in large letters. This might bother me more if the logo wasn’t in the same black color as my review sample but, since it is, the logo mostly disappears after you’ve used the speaker a few times.

JBL Charge 5

All the controls sit on the top of the speaker.

Going from left to right, you’ll find a button to activate JBL’s PartyBoost feature, a volume down button, a power button, a Bluetooth pairing button, a volume up button, and a button to play/pause or advance the track. It is a simple design, but the buttons’ layout and size make them easy to find and activate.

At the back of the speaker, you’ll find a USB-C charging port and, hidden behind a sealed rubber cover, a USB-A port to access the speaker’s powerbank feature.

JBL Charge 5

The bottom of the JBL Charge 5 has a series of rubber stripes that keep it from sliding around. That’s important if, for example, you are taking the speaker with you for an afternoon of sailing.

In all, it looks nice and refined, although it is not the most exciting design.

JBL Charge 5

20 hours of playtime: The fun doesn’t have to stop. Packed with an incredible 20 hours of battery life, JBL Charge 5 lets you party all day and into the night.

The 7500mAh battery inside takes four hours to charge and delivers up to 20 hours of playback. Of course, your actual playback time will depend on the volume level and audio content. The speaker’s playback time will also be reduced when you use the USB-C port on the back to charge your phone. Regardless, I have no complaints about the amount of playback time I’m getting, and I don’t think you will either.

The Charge 5 upgrades the Bluetooth to BT 5.1 for solid, great-sounding playback. Bluetooth 5.1 also means you can connect up to two smartphones or tablets at the same time.

JBL Charge 5

The speaker also features JBL’s PartyBoost feature. PartyBoost allows users to pair two JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers a create a stereo pair. Or, if you need even bigger sound, you can connect even more speakers. When you consider the fact that this speaker is under $180, it isn’t unreasonable to think many consumers will opt to purchase two so they can fill with entire backyard with music this summer.

JBL Charge 5

All that is good and well, but the real question is, how does the JBL Charge 5 sound? JBL puts it this way:

Bold JBL Original Pro Sound: Take the amazing power of JBL Pro Sound with you. The JBL Charge 5 has an optimized long excursion driver, a separate tweeter, and dual JBL bass radiators, all delivering impressively rich and clear audio. Get that big room sound, even when outdoors.

Then again, this is THEIR speaker. Of course, they are going to think it sounds good. But does it?

In a word — YES.

And in two words — OH, YES.

Allow me to unpack that a bit.

JBL Charge 5

I’m sitting here at my desk writing this review with the JBL Charge 5 sitting next to me. My wife Raina came into the room, and I told her how amazing it is. She looked at the speaker and said, “Another black cylindrical speaker… what’s the big deal?”

“Well,” I said, it gets up to twenty hours per charge, can also charge your phone while listening to it, and it has an IP67 rating, so it can get thrown into the pool this summer and be just fine.”

She still looked skeptical. I turned on the speaker, started playing Tep No’s “Swear Like a Stranger,” and set the volume to just 30%.

“Okay,” she said, “That is one fantastic-sounding speaker. It’s really loud. Can you turn it down a bit?” She didn’t believe me when I told her that the volume was at just 30%.

Editorial Note: I’m often asked why I don’t include audio samples when reviewing speakers like this. The answer is simple. You can’t truly appreciate the sound of a speaker like this from a YouTube video playing through your laptop or tablet. The good news is that JBL has a generous return policy. That allows you to check out the speaker for yourself and actually hear the speaker itself. And, if you aren’t happy you can return it. But trust me, you won’t be returning it!

JBL Charge 5

Features:

  • Built with an IP67 rated waterproof and dustproof design
  • Enabled with JBL PartyBoost
  • Wireless Bluetooth v5.1 Streaming
  • Built-in 7500mAh Powerbank: Rechargeable Li-ion battery supports 20 hours of playtime and offers the ability to charge devices via USB-Charge Out
  • Racetrack-shaped driver, separate tweeter, and dual passive JBL Bass Radiators
  • Packaged in paper-based, eco packaging

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 doesn’t break any new ground in the design arena. In fact, while I no longer have the earlier version of the JBL Charge I reviewed a few years ago, it looks quite similar to what I remember. But this new JBL Charge 5 has enough new features to make it a no-brainer if you are in the market for a Bluetooth speaker to use this summer. It is even a compelling upgrade to consider if you already have a JBL speaker!

Between the excellent battery life, the ability to keep your mobile device charged on the go, the increased durability, and the fantastic sound, the JBL Charge 5 is definitely one of the top contenders in the portable Bluetooth speaker space. In fact, its sound is big and refined enough that I expect you’ll be equally happy using this inside as you will on the go. It is still listed as “Coming Soon,” but I expect it will begin shipping shortly. Check it out.

The JBL Charge 5 sells for $179.95; it is available directly from the manufacturer and other retailers.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Amazing battery life, and the speaker’s battery’s charging port can also be used to recharge portable devices; USB-C charging; IP67 rating for water and dust protection; PartyBoost feature will be a draw for some people; Amazingly great sound

What Needs Improvement: Design isn’t all that compelling (I actually appreciate the simple design, but some may not)

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.