JBL’s Boombox 3: More bass, more loud, just more!

9/10

Summary

JBL Boombox 3 REVIEW

It’s an ace with bass and it goes really, really loud. But does JBL’s Boombox justify its premium price? PAT PILCHER annoys the neighbours.

$669.95

JBL scored a win with the Boombox 2, their XXL-sized Bluetooth speaker. They’re back with another ginormous Bluetooth speaker, the JBL Boombox 3, which promises to deliver more bass and volume. But is it any good?

JBL’s Boombox 3 reminds me of what you’d get if the well-regarded Flip 6 developed a serious steroid habit. It’s a giant version of the Flip 6, essentially an XXL-sized cigar-shaped speaker with a carry handle. The handle feels reassuringly solid and is crafted from a big chunk of aluminium. Given its intended use in the great outdoors, beach parties, homes and picnics, it’s also IP67-rated, which gives it a good measure of dust and water resistance.

I was itching to power it up, and I wasn’t disappointed: the Boombox 3 delivers oodles of bass. I was also pleasantly surprised (my neighbours were too) at how loud I could crank it up without noticeable distortion, making it party friendly. When it comes to audio quality, I found its sound to be far more refined than the earlier Boombox 2. By this, I mean it has a more balanced sound profile that did just as well with Beethoven as with Led Zeppelin. When I say it delivers oodles of bass, I wasn’t kidding; the bass that the Boombox 3 was able to crank out had a real kick, and I felt it as much as I heard it. This is partly due to the inclusion of large passive radiators on both ends as well as its subwoofer.

Further helping audio along is the JBL Portable app (Android/iOS). It comes with a three-band EQ, allows you to see battery levels at a glance, check for software updates, and enable the PartyBoost function – where you can link the Boombox 3 to other JBL speakers for even more room-filling sound.

On the connectivity front, The Boombox 3 offers Bluetooth connectivity with a surprising range. Having set up the review unit in the dining room, with music streaming from my phone, I could walk to the other end of the house and the music kept playing. Even nicer still, I was also able to pair two phones (or PCs/Macs, tablets, etc) to the speaker simultaneously and seamlessly switch between audio sources. Frustratingly, support is limited to the SBC codec. Higher quality AAC or AptX are MIA. While this isn’t likely to be a huge issue given we are going for outdoor sound at volume, higher-end codec support would have been nice given the price premium charged for the Boombox 3.

 

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Driving it is intuitive. This is thanks to easy-to-operate controls on its top. These consist of a PartyBoost button (for pairing other JBL speakers to get a stereo effect), volume, Bluetooth pairing and play/pause, which also acts as a forward skip control if you press it twice. Unfortunately, there is no option for skipping back to the previous track. A back panel houses a compartment for a power cable socket, a USB-A port (for charging other devices), and a 3.5mm socket for a wired aux input.

If the Boombox 3 is plugged into mains power, it’ll deliver 80 watts to its built-in subwoofer, 40 watts to its midrange drivers and 10 watts to both tweeters. On battery power, this drops to 60 watts for the sub, 30 watts for the mids and 8 watts for the tweeters.

I easily got a full day of use out of the Boombox 3, and this with it cranked up loud (my neighbours were shouting over it, and while I couldn’t hear them, I was sure they were demanding more thrash metal goodness!). Another nifty option is that I could also charge phones and tablets using the speaker’s USB port.

If that’s the good news with the JBL Boombox 3, its price might give some pause for thought. At $669.95, it’s squarely aimed at the premium end of the market. It’s a case of the old adage that you get quality if you pay a premium. While you can get cheaper party speakers, few are as powerful, bass-capable, or able to go loud enough without apparent distortion.

JBL’s Boombox 3 is a solid portable Bluetooth speaker that delivers acres of bass and can handle being cranked up. It’s built like a brick you-know-what-house being both water and dust-resistant. Add to this rock-solid multi-point Bluetooth connectivity and there is plenty to like. If you can afford it, the Boombox 3 is definitely a worthy investment.

https://www.jbl.co.nz/BOOMBOX-3-.html

 

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