JBL PartyBox On-The-Go review: A fun and excellent outdoor portable party speaker

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There’s nothing like hosting a party filled with food, fun, and music. A good host always thinks about making the party last longer and be the best it can be. Depending on the party, music is a huge part of that, and the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go does an excellent job of being a party speaker.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

The company has made speakers of this size before, but the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go adds a few features that really expand on the party and outdoor listening experience. This beast not only brings the sound, but it brings the fun with the addition of a microphone for karaoke and a 1/4″ input to plug in an instrument. Read on for the full review!

Specifications

The JBL PartyBox On-The-Go has the following features and specifications

  • Transducer: 5.25 in (133mm) woofers + 2x 1.75 in (44 mm) tweeters
  • Output power: 100W RMS
  • Frequency response: 50 Hz – 20 KHz (-6 dB)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: >80dBA
  • Wireless Microphone Specifications
    • Frequency response: 65Hz – 15kHz
    • Signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio: >60dBA
    • UHF frequency band: 657~662MHz (depends on SKU)
    • Transmitter transmitting power: <10mW
  • Bluetooth version: 4.2
  • Bluetooth profile: A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.6
  • Bluetooth transmitter frequency range: 2.4 – 2.48GHz
  • Bluetooth transmitter power: 10 dBm (EIRP)
  • Bluetooth transmitter modulation: GFSK, π/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK
  • Bluetooth range: Approx. 10m (33ft)
  • USB format: FAT16, FAT32
  • USB file format: mp3, wma, wav
  • Battery type: Lithium-ion 18Wh (7.2V @ 2500mAh)
  • USB output: 5V/2.1A
  • Digital input: Bluetooth / USB-9dBFS
  • Power Supply: 100 – 240V – 50/60Hz
  • Standby power consumption: <2 W with BT connecting; < 0.5 W without BT connecting
  • Battery charge time: 3.5 hrs
  • Battery play time: 6 hrs
  • Product Dimension (W x H x D): 489x 244.5 x 224 mm / 19.3 x 9.6 x 8.8 in
  • Packaging Dimension (W x H x D): 600 x 367 x 314 mm / 23.62 x 14.45x 12.36 in
  • Net weight: 7.5 kg / 16.5 lbs
  • Gross weight: 10.15 kg / 22.38 lbs
  • IPX4 Splashproof

What’s In The Box

  • JBL PartyBox On-The-Go
  • Wireless microphone with pouch and batteries
  • Carrying strap
  • Quick-start guide
  • Safety sheet
  • Warranty sheet
  • Power cable
JBL PartyBox On-The-Go review: A fun and excellent outdoor portable party speaker
Strap, Mic, and Speaker…there’s more but this is the meat of it.

Design

There is no question that the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is a beast of a device. While it is considered portable, it’s also not light. Thankfully, the included shoulder strap helps just a little when moving this thing from one place to another. While it’s portability isn’t exactly easy, the features and capabilities it brings to the party are well worth the effort.

Most of the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is made of durable and high-quality plastics. The front speaker grille is made of metal, perhaps aluminum and the back has a faux leather covering. Speaking of the front, it’s behind that grille where the LED light ring is housed. The bottom has four very nice sturdy feet that keep it planted on a level surface.

On either side of the JBL PartyBo, On-The-Go are carrying handles so that you can move the PartyBox with relative ease. Flanking those handles are metal lugs used to secure the carrying strap to the PartyBox. On the rear of the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is a weather-protected port array that houses the power port, AUX port, and USB-A port.

On the top of the PartyBox is a long channel that is used to hold your device. My iPhone 12 Pro Max fits just fine in it with a case. It’s also long enough that it should be able to hold some tablets, depending on thickness. And I’d say it would be safer to place the tablet in landscape rather than portrait.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go review: A fun and excellent outdoor portable party speaker
Physical knobs and buttons people! YES!

Also, on the top are real honest to God physical control knobs and buttons. With so many things going to touch interfaces, this was excellent to see. These are the controls you’ll find at the top:

  • Bass Boost Button
  • Volume/Track/Play Button
  • Covered Mic Input (with gain control)
  • Mic Volume Knob
  • Guitar Volume Knob
  • Echo Knob
  • Treble Knob
  • Bass Knob
  • Power Button
  • Bluetooth Button
  • Covered Guitar/Instrument Input (with gain control)

Overall, the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go design is fairly close to some of its previous boom box style speakers. The PartyBox is slightly bigger and, of course, adds the LED light ring and extra features of the larger PartyBox series. It’s a solid design, well-built and robust…you can feel it the second you pick it up.

JBL guitar port
Plug your guitar in and jam.

Ease of Use

Using the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is simple and we’re glad JBL made it that way. No one wants to be fiddling around with the speaker or an extra app when they’re trying to get a party going. To connect your device to the speaker you can use the AUX port, Bluetooth, or even a thumb drive with mp3 files.

Connecting via Bluetooth is as simple as any other Bluetooth device; push the Bluetooth button and look for the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go in your device’s Bluetooth settings and connect. The PartyBox can remember up to 8 devices so that you can have multiple devices at the ready. Connecting via the AUX port is simple as well; plug your device into the AUX port, and you’re ready to go.

Connecting via a thumb drive is a little different but thankfully no harder than the other methods.

  • Grab a thumb drive that’s USB 2.0 or better and format it with FAT16 or FAT32
  • The PartyBox only supports the following file formats
    • WAVE: with Codec PCM, LPCM, IMA_ADPCM, MPEG, MULAW with sample rates of 44.1KHz ~ 192KHz and a bitrate of <5Mbps
    • MP3: with Codec MPEG1 layer 1/2/3, MPEG2 layer 1/2/3, MPEG2.5 layer 3 with sample rates of 32KHz ~ 48KHz, 16KHz ~ 24KHz, 8KHz ~ 12KHz, and bitrates of 32Kbps ~ 320Kbps and 8Kbps ~ 160Kbps.
    • WMA: no Codec specified with a sample rate of ≤320Kbps and a bitrate of 8Kbps ~ 160Kbps
  • The JBL PartyBox On-The-Go supports up to 8 subfolders.
  • Playback will occur in alphabetical order with main folders first, then subfolders.
  • Use the controls at the top to skip songs, play, pause.

Connecting the wireless microphone included is a simple as putting the included battery in the microphone and turning it on. Our microphone auto-connected on channel 3, and the connection was solid. You can also plug a wired mic in the mic input.

Playback controls are simple, and the volume knobs for the mic and instrument are separate. The echo, bass, and treble knobs control the mix for both the mic and instrument. The playback controls are as follows:

  • Skip forward: Double press the play button
  • Skip back: Triple press the play button
  • Play/Pause: Press the play button

Overall, the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is fairly simple to use. I’d suggest getting familiar with its capabilities and functions before you actually throw the party; it’s better not to fumble through in front of your guests.

A fun and excellent outdoor portable party speaker
Big sound with a synced LED light ring.

Sound

The JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is, well, it’s loud. But that’s exactly what this speaker is designed for. This is for an outdoor environment or an indoor house party. The bass is immediately noticeable. I’m not a huge fan of extra bass in my audio products, but that rule generally applies to devices I personally use.

The PartyBox is designed for, well, parties. So, in this case, I can forgive JBL for the extra bass, as it is the bass that often keeps the party moving. But the bass isn’t overwhelming the other frequencies here; JBL has done a decent job of keeping the bass thumping but not drowning out vocals, guitars, cymbals, and other nuances of the music.

The wireless microphone included with the PartyBox also has an excellent sound for a wireless microphone. I found there was a very slight bit of lag but virtually unnoticeable. It’s really not a huge issue, and most people won’t notice it. Having performed in bands and mixed on mixing boards, I can tell subtitles like this, so it caught my ear.

Overall, the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go does exactly what it’s supposed to do, be loud and deliver room thumping bass to keep your guests moving.

JBL Microphone

Party Features

We’ve talked a bit about the party features of the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go already, and it’s important to note that this model of PartyBox does not support the JBL PartyBox App some of the other PartyBox devices use. This is perfectly fine by me, I’m not a fan of extra apps, and I love that everything is self-contained.

So the main party features here are the ability to use an instrument, use a microphone, and the LED light ring. The LED light ring is certainly a lot of fun, and it looks really great flashing in a campfire setting. I’m not so sure how it would look at a party with a few dozen people everywhere.

But you can connect a second PartyBox via True Wireless Stereo (TWS) mode. Having two PartyBox’s would certainly make the LED light sync feature that much more fun.

Connecting an instrument to the PartyBox is easy. Just plug it in with your 1/4″ instrument cable. I was even able to connect my effects rig directly into the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go. That being said, the PartyBox is great in a pinch and for portability, but it’s no quality tube amp. But it sounds great for a quick small gathering; I wouldn’t use it to play guitar and perform for anything more than 20-30 people. This actually may be a great little speaker for street performers

Set your device on top for karaoke night!
Set your device on top for karaoke night!

Finally, the one feature which is probably going to be used the most, the wireless microphone. Perfect for those karaoke parties! The plus here is the device holder at the top; if you place your device there and stream something like Apple Music or Spotify, the lyrics are presented to you…perfect for karaoke!

You can adjust the volume of the microphone and the device independently, so if your singer is singing too softly, you can pull the music sound back and push their volume up. The microphone is also solid; it’s built really well and doesn’t feel like a cheap toy. This feature is the icing on the cake, and the one most people are going to use.

Overall, the party features on the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go will make a lot of people happy. These party features are great for any backyard, camping, or indoor house party.

Battery

The advertised battery life of the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is 6-hours of playtime, which will vary. Depending on how loud your music is, if you’re using the microphone or instrument and how far your Bluetooth device is from the PartyBox.

Keep in mind, you can still operate the PartyBox with the included power cable, and I’d recommend using that if you can. It’s also worth noting that you can charge your device via the USB port on the back; doing this will add to your battery drain, so keep that in mind.

That being said, I think the battery life needs to be worked on. 6-hours of playtime, if you’re at optimal usage, isn’t enough for most parties. I don’t think this is a deal-breaker, but I think JBL needs to work on the battery life just a bit more.

JBL speaker Techaeris
The back of the PartyBox, under the logo are the power port, USB port and Aux port.

Price/Value

Priced at just under US$300, the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is priced competitively compared to speakers of similar size. I think the value comes from the party features, and while the battery life needs improving, it is worth the price if you can deal with the battery life and using the power cable.

Wrap Up

The JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is really a great device, and it does what it sets out to do and does it well. Since this speaker doesn’t use an app, I’m not sure if JBL can improve battery life with an update, but it would be nice to see battery life improved.

The only other thing that may deter some users is how big it is. It’s not a light speaker, but you’re also not likely to move it around too much. Once you have it set up, it’ll probably stay there. I’d recommend this to those who have frequent parties and even street performers. I enjoyed this speaker for the party features, and I think you will too.

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Last Updated on July 15, 2021.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

US$299.95

Design

9.5/10

Ease of Use

9.5/10

Sound

9.0/10

Party Features

10.0/10

Battery

8.0/10

Price/Value

9.0/10

Nailed it

  • Very cool design with a nice LED synced light ring
  • Nice features including nice carry handles, strap, and a slot for your phone
  • Easy controls and easy to setup
  • Great sound, loud and perfect for the outdoors
  • Party features like the wireless mic and lights add to the fun
  • Priced very competitively

Needs work

  • Beastly speaker that is portable but can get heavy
  • Battery life is just okay, I'd like to see this go for 8-hours or more
JBL PartyBox On-The-Go Feature Image Techaeris
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