Last week JLab Audio released their new portable bluetooth speaker dubbed the Crasher 2.0. JLab Audio was kind enough to send us a unit for review so here we go!
I’ve always pondered the usefulness of portable Bluetooth speakers, I have a desk job so I’m usually using laptop speakers, but there have been times out working in the yard that I wish I had better sound than just what’s coming through the speaker(s) on my phone or tablet. On that note, I never really got around to actively shopping for one, so when JLab Audio offered to send us a unit for review, I jumped at the opportunity.
If you’re short on time, the TL;DR version of this review is this – the JLab Audio Crasher 2.0 Portable Bluetooth Speaker is solidly constructed with clear sound, a decent volume, and insane battery life – and well worth the $79.99USD. The fact that it doubles as a portable battery for your cell phone or tablet is the icing on the cake. Now on to the detailed review.
Who doesn’t like an unboxing these days? Upon first opening the box, you are presented with a couple for a FREE JLab Crasher skin from Skinit.
Underneath of course, is the Crasher 2.0 unit itself, and then the rest of the accessories.
Once everything is out of the box, you can see that you get:
- Crasher 2.0 unit
- USB AC power adapter
- Micro USB cable
- AUX cable
- Microfiber carrying bag
Like many hardware devices these days, the manual isn’t included but you can get it on the JLab Audio website.
The body of the Crasher 2.0 is a solid wrap around metal piece, painted a nice matte black. The ends of the unit are a dark grey plastic, and two soft rubber feet adorn the bottom. The Crasher 2.0 feels solid, and I would feel confident that it would still work if accidentally dropped (no, we didn’t run it through drop tests!).
One end of the unit houses the power button, Bluetooth sync/battery check button, AUX IN port, AUX OUT port, micro USB port, battery level indicator lights, and charging status light. The other side of the speaker features the telephone call button, volume up and down buttons, and full sized USB port for charging.
Pairing the device was simple, simply press and hold the Bluetooth pairing button, and select JLab Crasher on your mobile device (I tested this with a Nexus 5 and a Nexus 7) and you’re good to go!
The Crasher 2.0 features a couple upgrades from the original Crasher including C3™ sound technology, and Bluetooth 4.o. Two hi-fi drivers can be seen through the front grill, and a passive subwoofer sits behind those at the rear of the device. After pairing the speaker to my phone, my first order of business was to see just how loud this speaker went. I headed out to the backyard, fired up Google Play Music and turned the Crasher up to full volume. To my dismay, the track (Revolution by R3hab, NERVO and Ummet Ozcan) sounded tinny and there didn’t sound like much bass going through. I went into the settings on Google Play Music, turned on the equalizer, set it to Normal with Bass boost and Surround sound, and that’s when the speaker started to shine. At maximum volume, a few bass heavy songs caused a bit of vibration and distortion – dropping the volume down a notch or two took care of that though. I set the speaker on the deck and headed to the other side of the yard and could still hear it clearly well over 20′ away.
For the past two days, I’ve been using it in my office paired with my Nexus 7 and at mid-level the music actually sounds better than my laptop speakers, which I’d been using in the past for streaming music while at work. Whether playing Wasted by Tiësto, All Eyez on Me by 2Pac, Closer by Nine Inch Nails, or Unretentide by Mediæval Bæbes, I had no complaints about the sound.
I also checked out a few videos on Youtube – both music and game trailers, and the sound I’d come to expect from listening to music held up here as well. As a last sound test, I fired up Transformers: Dark of the Moon on Google Play Movies on my Nexus 5 and was very impressed with the range of sound during the battle scenes.
As with any mobile or portable device, battery life is one of the primary concerns when purchasing a product. JLab Audio claims the Crasher 2.0 has a battery life of 18 hours (tested at medium volume) – compared to 5 hours of the JBL Flip 2.0. Fully charging the unit overnight, I was set to see just how fast I could drain the Crasher 2.0.
Wow! Battery life is NOT an issue on this unit at all. Running at medium (or slightly below medium) volume, I managed to get a full 2 days (17 hours) out of it – and the battery indicator still showed at least 25% battery left on the speaker.
Other portable Bluetooth speakers included some form of speakerphone functionality, as does the Crasher 2.0. I tested it briefly and while I could hear the caller fine, they were having issues hearing me saying it was very low. Thinking this may have been an issue with my being outside at the time, I moved inside to a room and tested it again and was told that I could be heard better, but it was obvious I was speaking through another device as opposed to directly through my phone. To be honest though, while this may be a useful feature, it’s one that I don’t really see myself using that often – if ever.
The other feature that the Crasher 2.0 has that I haven’t seen that often in a Bluetooth speaker is the inclusion of a portable charger functionality for your other mobile devices. When I unboxed the speaker, it was sitting at above 50% battery life. After some quick initial sound tests, I plugged my phone into the speaker via the USB port and in about 2 hours my phone was fully charged from 44%. As for the speaker, the indicator lights still showed at least 50% battery left. I can easily see myself using this speaker while camping to stream music from my phone (or tablet), and using it to charge my phone at the same time.
You can also extend the sound of the Crasher 2.0 speaker by daisy chaining multiple units together using the auxiliary in/out ports. As I only had one unit, I wasn’t able to test how this impacted sound quality. The auxiliary in port can also be used to connect a music device that isn’t Bluetooth compatible. I connected a Sony Walkman using this method to the Crasher 2.0 and the speaker worked great with it.
Overall, I couldn’t find anything that I didn’t like about the Crasher 2.0. As I mentioned, the speakerphone quality on the receiving end might be a bit lacking, but that definitely isn’t a show stopper for me. While I like the battery indicator life lights, I did find that I was wondering exactly how much battery life I had left. After being fully charged, the 4th indicator light didn’t stay lit for long as a battery life check after 15 minutes or so only illuminated 3 lights – which in hindsight would be expected as that would indicate between 75-100% remaining battery life.
For the price, the sound was about what I expected, and by adding portable charging capabilities for mobile devices to the unit, JLab Audio has really boosted the value. As well, for a portable Bluetooth speaker with a 1500 mAh battery, I was more than pleased with the battery life I got out of it. If you’re looking for an affordable, well constructed, decent sounding portable Bluetooth speaker, you can’t go wrong with the Crasher 2.0.
You can get more information and order the Crasher 2.0 over on the JLab Audio website.Purchase JLab Audio Crasher on Amazon
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