JBL Xtreme 3 REVIEW – Acres of Oonst
PAT PILCHER freezes his ass off in the hope that his freak flag will follow while testing the Witchdoctor award-winning JBL Xtreme 3.
It might not be picnic or beach weather, but shivering outside with the BBQ allowed me to try out JBL’s latest portable Bluetooth speaker, the Xtreme 3. It’s a beast. It is built like a brick you-know-what house. Clearly, JBL intends for the Xtreme 3 to last. Durability aside, the big question to my mind and my chattering teeth was this: is it any good?
The review unit was black, but a quick check revealed that it can be had in blue or camouflage. It might be portable, but it isn’t petite, measuring 29.85 x 13.59 x 13.41 cm (HWD). Sheer size aside, it weighs in at 1.97kg, so taking it out with you won’t require a visit to the chiropractor. The overall design reminds me of an elongated taiko drum thanks to its nifty cylindrical build, complete with passive radiators on either end. Just so you don’t forget who made it, JBL has plastered their logo on its front wraparound grille. Keeping things portable, it also has built-in handles (which a bundled strap can attach to). Slinging it over your shoulder isn’t tricky either. Plunking it down, small rubber strips on its underside keep it stable on flat surfaces.
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Being designed for outdoor use, the Xtreme 3 is durable, thanks to its IP67 rating. This means the Xtreme 3 can be submerged in water up to a meter deep for 30 minutes. That, unfortunately, doesn’t mean you can get in-pool audio, as Bluetooth doesn’t work underwater. Still, with an accidental dunking, spills and so on, it’s perfect. Along its top, there’s Bluetooth, volume, play/pause (a double press skips tracks), and a PartyBoost button (which pairs the Xtreme 3 with other PartyBoost compatible speakers).
Swinging the Xtreme 3 around and opening a small cover reveals a USB-C port for the bundled charger/power adaptor, plus a 3.5mm aux input. A USB-A port for charging devices is also there. While at the BBQ, the charging feature came into its own. My phone – which is vital for driving my Meater wireless meat thermometer needed topping up. Speaking of its battery, JBL says the Xtreme 3’s battery life should be 15 hours. Still, your mileage is likely to vary depending on volume levels and the type of audio connection used and if you’re using the Xtreme 3 for charging widgets.
The Xtreme 3’s sonic sweetness is delivered via two 25-watt, 2.8-inch woofers and twin 25-watt, 0.8-inch tweeters. Bass is given a helping hand by dual radiators. For wireless connectivity, Bluetooth 5.1 and AAC plus SBC codecs are supported. Like many other JBL portable speakers, the JBL Portable app (Android/iOS) can link up JBL speakers or tweak audio settings.
Testing it out with some Fat Freddy’s drop saw the Xtreme 3 delivering plenty of bottom end depth. Cranking it up saw bass levels drop slightly, but with the added benefit of it being plenty loud and (crucially) mostly distortion-free. If you like a kick to your bass, the Xtreme 3’s passive radiators add a near physical presence to your vitamin-oonst diet. Bass aside, the Xtreme 3 delivered surprisingly balanced audio.
While it leans more bass-forward than many similar-sized portable speakers, this is countered somewhat by crisp mids and highs. Audio purists might scoff, but hey, we’re talking about a portable Bluetooth speaker and for use at my BBQ. My neighbours, their neighbours, and the lovely chap from noise control all really liked it too.
For audio on the move without resorting to anti-social ear-gear, the JBL Xtreme 3 is a great choice. A well thought out and portable design means taking it with you isn’t too demanding. Once there, its IP67 rating means it won’t die if it rains. Its audio is plenty powerful, and best of all, the entire show somehow manages to stay distortion free when your neighbours ask for the 10th rendition of AC/DCs ‘Highway To Hell at top volume. So, is it any good? Hell yes!