JBL SoundBoost 2 review: Updated design with promising software updates en route

Android / Audio / Audio Hardware Reviews / Mobile / Mobile Reviews / Reviews
JBL-SoundBoost-2-review

The JBL SoundBoost 2 has a marginal design update over the previous version, but incoming software sound updates should eventually add to the upgrade value.

TA-ratings-87Last October, we first reviewed the Moto Z smartphones and four Moto Mods including the JBL SoundBoost Speaker. Our JBL SoundBoost 2 review takes a look at the updated version of one of the original four Moto Mods for the Moto Z smartphone family. Read on to see if it’s an improvement over the original.

Specifications

The JBL SoundBoost 2 Moto Mod has the following features and specifications:

  • High-quality JBL audio
  • Listen in a snap
  • Built-in kickstand
  • Built-in battery
  • Speakerphone
  • Number of speakers: 2 speakers @ 27 mm diameter, stereo sound
  • Speaker power: 3W per speaker, 6W total
  • Frequency response range: 200 Hz—20 kHz
  • Loudness: 80 dBSPL @ 0.5 m
  • Speakerphone support: Yes
  • Integrated battery: Yes
  • Battery size: 1000 mAh
  • Battery life: 10 hours
  • External charging: USB Type C
  • Charge rate: 1A/5W
  • Waterproof protection: Splashproof
  • Compatibility: JBL SoundBoost 2 is compatible with any phone in the Moto Z Family
  • Dimensions: 152 x 73 x 14.5 mm
  • Weight: 135 g

What’s in the Box

  • JBL SoundBoost 2 Moto Mod
  • User guide

Design

The JBL SoundBoost 2 is very similar in design to the JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod. There are a few notable improvements though. For starters, the orange kickstand that sits in the middle of the speaker has been replaced with a black one, and the speaker grilles have been replaced with a fabric overlay instead of the full plastic construction of the original. In addition, the fabric extends further to the left and right (when in landscape orientation) which definitely gives it a more speaker-like look and finish.

JBL-SoundBoost-2-review-01

The JBL SoundBoost 2 Moto Mod has a much nicer fabric finish.

The JBL SoundBoost 2 is also more tapered on each end and the camera cutout is oval shaped instead of round. Even though it’s 1.5mm thicker, the tapered ends drop the weight by 10g, not that the original version was overly heavy.

As with the original, the back of the JBL SoundBoost 2 has the necessary Moto Mods Connector panel, a USB Type-C port for recharging it, and a charge level button for determining how much battery life you have left in it. One of my main complaints about the original Moto Mod was that the USB Type-C port was on the back of the speaker which doesn’t allow for charging it independently while it’s attached to your Moto Z smartphone (it will charge the phone though after the phone is fully charged). Unfortunately, this remains the case with the new version of the JBL SoundBoost.

JBL-SoundBoost-2-review-02

The USB Type-C port remains on the back of the Moto Mod.

Another welcome addition to the design is a splash-proof coating which protects the speaker against spills and light rain, alleviating worry for accidental spills or splashes. The JBL SoundBoost 2 definitely looks more like a higher-quality speaker over the previous iteration.

The JBL SoundBoost 2 is compatible with all Moto Z and Moto Z2 devices, so you’ll be able to use it with either generation of Motorola’s modular smartphones.

Ease of Use

As with any other Moto Mods, simply place the JBL SoundBoost Speaker on the back of any Moto Z smartphone, and start playing music, videos, or any other audio content and it will play through the speaker. To change the volume, simply use the volume buttons on your Moto Z smartphone. Unlike with other Bluetooth speakers, no pairing is necessary. Once the speaker is attached to your phone, you’re ready to play.

Software

With the JBL SoundBoost 2, JBL has introduced an app called My JBL SoundBoost 2. In its current iteration, the main feature of the app is allowing you to pick one of six preset equalizer settings: Normal, Metal, Pop, Jazz, Classical, or Rock. While these do tweak the sound for better balance or tone preference, the app doesn’t allow you to create custom equalizer settings. As such, you’re better off with using the equalizer on your Moto Z device to get the balance exactly as you want it.

My-JBL-SoundBoost-2-screenshot

My JBL SoundBoost 2 screenshot.

However, the app also teases an upcoming feature called Immersive Sound. Currently, there is a demo song which you can listen to and the app will play through and toggle the Dirac Panorama Sound on and off throughout to let you hear the difference. At this time, there is no word on when the actual feature will launch but it definitely makes a noticeable difference.

For those of you with the original JBL SoundBoost Speaker, unfortunately, the My JBL SoundBoost 2 app will not work with it.

Sound

While the design of the JBL SoundBoost 2 differs slightly from its predecessor, the sound internals are 100% identical. With its dual 3W speakers, the JBL SoundBoost 2 still offers loud stereo sound that is pretty crisp and clear without being distorted when at full volume. As with the previous version, the one thing that is lacking though is more range on the bass end, overall the sound is still very good for such a small speaker and most types of music, as well as videos, sound much better when listened to or viewed while using the JBL SoundBoost 2.

If you were hoping for a sound quality boost in the JBL SoundBoost 2, you’ll definitely be disappointed as it sounds identical to the JBL SoundBoost Speaker. As mentioned in the previous section though, a new Immersive Sound feature is being worked on and is coming soon.

Call Quality

Again, there were no issues with using the JBL SoundBoost 2 as a speakerphone for when a call came through on your Moto Z smartphone.

Battery Life

Battery life on the JBL SoundBoost 2 remains the same at a solid 10 hours when used at 50-75% volume. While I still wish the USB Type-C port was accessible while connected to your Moto Z, the Moto Mod will charge while attached to the smartphone after the phone itself is fully charged.

Price/Value

The original JBL SoundBoost Speaker was priced at $79.99USD ($99CAD). The JBL SoundBoost 2 is currently being offered as a free bonus in Canada at select carriers for a limited time while supplies last when you purchase a Moto Z2 Play. Once the promotion is over, the speaker will have an MSRP of around $114CAD — a $15 increase over the original. While the design is definitely nicer, the determining factor on whether the price increase is justified will depend on when the Immersive Sound feature is ready and released, and how big of a difference it makes when listening to music or watching videos.

Wrap-up

Like the JBL SoundBoost Speaker, the JBL SoundBoost 2 definitely adds louder and better quality stereo sound to your Moto Z family smartphone and eliminates the need to carry around a separate, bulkier Bluetooth speaker. However, like the Moto Z2 Play, in its current configuration, it’s only a marginal upgrade in the looks department, but that could well change once the Immersive Sound feature is added in the future. Once that is live and rolled out, we’ll definitely be revisiting this review with an update. For owners of the original JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod, it’d be nice to see the app support extend to that one as well.

*We were sent a sample of the JBL SoundBoost 2 Moto Mod for the purposes of this review.

JBL SoundBoost 2

JBL SoundBoost 2
8.7

Design

10/10

    Ease of Use

    10/10

      Software

      5/10

        Sound

        9/10

          Call Quality

          9/10

            Battery Life

            10/10

              Price/Value

              9/10

                Nailed it

                • Higher-end looking design
                • Fabric finish
                • Splashproof coating
                • Immersive Sound feature sounds promising

                Needs work

                • Identical sound to orginal
                • Identical battery life to original
                • App doesn't let you create custom equalizer
                • USB Type-C port still on the back
                Comments
                To Top