Bluetooth speakers pretty much rain in our offices, I mean literally pour out of the ceiling. We’ve done so many Bluetooth speaker reviews we could probably do sound for a The Rolling Stones concert with all these speakers. As we’ve been doing these reviews we’ve learned that each speaker has a different level of sound and quality, all dependent on price. We’ve reviewed really cheap speakers that sounded great, for the price that was being asked. And we’ve reviewed really expensive speakers that sounded awesome but not everyone would want to sell their firstborn to buy them. All of these speakers have been tested and usually we reserve judgement until we’re completely satisfied with our investigation. Not so with the JBL Charge 3 — the first time I heard this thing I was instantly sold. Basically, if you want to skip all the rest of this review, the JBL Charge 3 is worth every penny.
JBL Charge 3 Specifications
- Battery type: Lithium-ion Polymer (22.2Wh)
- Music playing time: up to 20 hours (varies by volume level and content)
- Rated power: 2 x 10W
- USB charge out: 5V / 2A (maximum)
- Support: A2DP V1.3, AVRCP V1.5, HFP V1.6, HSP V1.2
- Frequency Response: 65Hz-20kHz
- Transducer size: 2 x 50mm
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >80dB
- Bluetooth transmitted modulation: GFSK, π/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK
- Battery charge time: 4.5 hrs
- Weight: 800g
- Power supply: 5V / 2.3A
With a barrel shaped design and an element on each end, the JBL Charge 3 is a rugged yet sleek looking piece of hardware. Along the top you’ll find the power button, JBL connect button, Bluetooth pairing button, volume up and down, and play and pause buttons. On the front is a very nicely done JBL logo in that nice orange color. Around the back of the unit you’ll find the AUX connection, power connection, and a microUSB port for charging external devices. The sides house a pair of passive radiators, while the speaker elements are on the front, and the whole unit is IPX7 rated — just be sure the back connections are covered with the rubber protector before splashing. The Charge 3 also acts as an external battery giving you 6000 mAh of power to charge devices.
Overall the design is nice, it’s heavier than it looks but not overbearingly heavy and it’s just a solid build quality all around.
Ease of Use
Bluetooth devices are dead simple to setup these days. Push the pairing button and wait for it to go into pairing mode then find it on your device and connect, simply. You can also use the JBL Connect button to daisy chain more JBL Charge 3 units or other JBL products with that feature to it. That’s pretty nice especially if you have multiple JBL Connect speakers and want to fill a larger room. Overall the ease of use is an easy 5 out of 5.
This is the killer feature for a speaker at this price point. The sound is super killer and rich in deep tones without murdering the mids and highs. Yes it’s bass heavier — but not obnoxiously so, and does it with class. This thing is really strong enough to be good enough for most people in a small party, depending on the room size. Everything from Pink Floyd and Coldplay to LL Cool J and Frank Sinatra sounded amazing on this unit. Are there other better sounding speakers I’ve used? Yes, but at this price point the JBL Charge 3 is easily at the top with others. Overall the sound here is amazing. Oh, and independent volume control, check! That’s always a plus on any speaker. Even if you’re not into heavy bass, this speaker will not kill you with bass it really is well balanced with a slight padding on the low end.
Reception is fine but call quality isn’t always the best, I would never use a Bluetooth speaker for phone calls anyway but I understand some people do. The problem with these speakers is distance. You really need to be close to the speaker for the caller to understand you clearly. When you’re close enough though, it works brilliantly but this is the only area I gave the JBL Charge 3 a bit of a ding. Not so much cause its bad but just because most Bluetooth wireless speakers aren’t the ideal way to have a conversation.
JBL advertises 20 hours of battery life and that will vary by use. If you’re charging devices and playing music your battery life will probably not be at 20 hours. Volume plays a big part in how much battery is used as well. We tested the JBL Charge 3 at half volume and were able to get just over 20 hours so an A+ for battery life in moderate use. If you plan on cranking this thing up though your battery life will also go down. Overall though, this has great battery life!
Listed at $149.95USD this speaker is well worth your time. JBL makes great products but this one is exceptional and one of the best I’ve used yet and takes a Top Pick award for 2016. Are there other speakers that compete? Sure. So now you have some thinking to do. But really, this is a solid choice and you might save yourself some time and just pick this up.
Looking for a sub $150 speaker with beefy sound, great build quality and good looks? The JBL Charge 3 should be on your shopping list.
*We were sent a review sample of the JBL Charge 3 for the purposes of this review.
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