JBL Xtreme and JBL Flip 3 Review

Submitted by Robbie Pyckhout on Thu, 10/15/2015 - 17:23

Introduction

JBL, one of the most known brands of Audio Solutions under Harman's name, revealed two new portable speakers in June with a very interesting new design and features set. As they're actually meant to use indoors and outdoors, JBL got their engineers to create a waterproof as well as strong design. The form factor of both speakers is kinda the same as the previous Flip model apart from the extra passive radiators on both ends. 

 

 

Design and Features

The JBL Xtreme's design certainly isn't strange from the Charge 2+ portable bluetooth speaker. With it's super-sized volume and barrel-form, the speaker is quite robust in almost every aspect. In addition to that, the speaker has 2 fabulous 3.0-inch passive radiators on each end of the tubular design. To protect the portable outdoor speaker for all dangers in open air, JBL designed a water-proof coating to keep the bluetooth speaker safe for rain or local splashes! 

A speaker this big, containing a huge battery and extensive speaker system, is usually pretty heavy. That makes the JBL Xtreme far less portable than other similar devices in or beneath the 300 Euro price tag. You can carry it with you in a bag or with the straps provided by JBL.

The Xtreme is also very attractive with the woven speaker grille which has a cross view between metal and some sort of cloth. Available colors are black, blue or red. Under the hood, you'll find not one, but two 2.5 inch transducers and two 1.5 inch tweeters and of course the 2 extra passive radiators at both ends which give the bass an extra boost. Internal speaker design is bi-amplified like the Creative's Sound Blaster Roar and Roar 2 which we've used in some of the previous audio reviews. However, the speaker seems to incline more to the bassy side of things, which makes the sound a little less well balanced. Anyway, the extra bass is something many music-lovers appreciate very much.

To protect the speaker from even the littlest water danger, they provided a zippered cover over the electronical connectors which include two USB ports, a micro USB port, AUX-in and the power connector. Two USB ports are meant as to charge tablets or smartphones from the 10 000mAh battery. If you use only one USB port, you'll get the full 2 amps charging your device's battery. The speaker also has 2 little stands made of rubber which elevate the speaker so it doesn't stand in piddles.

Also the control system on top of it is pretty easy to handle. A bluetooth button, a pause/play button, on/of, volume up/down and a button to connect with other JBL speakers via JBL connect are available. Even the dumbest people are able to understand the working of these buttons and how to get the speaker to play.

Its Smaller Edition

The second audio device we're testing today is the JBL Flip 3, which is almost identical to the JBL Xtreme in every aspect but its size and power. Made of the same materials as the JBL Xtreme, this speakers presents every bit as robust like its big brother. Another win of this particular clothing is the water-resistance of the speaker.

Just like the JBL Xtreme, this one features 2 passive radiators on both sides of the housing. 

 
JBL supplies the Flip 3 in 8 different colors from which we received the blue edition. Compared to the Flip 2 and the JBL Xtreme, the Flip 3 offers less buttons on its case to work with. Therefor, it doesn't have any less options compared to the 2 others. The Phone-shaped button is mainly used for enabling speakerphone, but apart from that it can be used as a Pause/Play button as well as a button to skip to the next song (by pressing twice). Also the Flip 3 features the ability to link itself to other speakers with JBL Connect enabled. You can easily create a stereo sound with several of these speakers.

 

Performance & Battery

It'd be good to pair up a couple of these, but a single Flip 3 sounds just fine and plays pretty loud for its size with ample bass, though a speaker this compact has its limitations. The original Flip delivered 2x5 watts of sound while the Flip 2 was augmented to 6 watts. This model gets an additional boost to 8 watts -- and it makes a difference.

The JBL Xtreme delivers extreme bass response in all sub-bass tracks, something we did barely hear in other portable speakers. This makes JBL top of its class in terms of lows. Although the bass stands out as major factor, JBL manages to keep the balance of different frequencies in check. You might even notice that the speaker delivers a more significant bass boost on lower volumes, which could also be an effect of the digital signal processing to filter any possible distortion. In general, the JBL Xtreme provides a warm and spacious sound which can fill most larger rooms and even large areas outdoors. 

Both speakers can be connected through JBL connect, which is actually an awesome feature to create a more dynamic sound from all angles/directions. It can be used outside as well to spread music over the whole garden.

When it comes to battery life, you won't find any better options than these two speakers. Both of them play longer than Bose's SoundLink mini II and Creative's SB Roar. With a battery able to play almost 11 hours on medium to high volume settings, you can't deny the great longevity of both products.

 

Conclusion

JBL's Xtreme comes as a suprise with the very deep, spacious and warm sound. It's pretty much a heavy weight in comparison to other portable speakers. Anyway, in exchange you get a waterproof speaker with 2 awesome looking passive radiators which are a spectacle to be seen, a very lenghty battery life and the ability to connect more speakers through JBL Connect. To solve the weight problem, they deliver a carrying strap with the speaker as well. There's no other portable speaker on the market that can offer you a real bass like this one. Of course, all of this comes with slight a premium price, but this is nicely measured with its capabilities.

The second speaker we've tested today is the JBL Flip 3. A speaker very much from the likes of its bigger brother. The same features including water resistance, JBL Connect, 2 passive radiators and a very long battery life. Well, I forgot to mention that the JBL Xtreme has the ability to charge 2 devices as well, which the Flip 3 (given its size and battery capacity) doesn't offer. According to our tests, the Flip 3 packs quite a punch for its size, but comparing it to the soundlink mini II and SB roar (which is actually only 25 euro more expensive) may convince you to spend extra money in buying the SB Roar which is slightly more balanced and less glaring and offers more (and bigger) drivers to deliver a more broad sound. That said, the JBL Flip 3 is and stays one of the very best in its price range offering quite some usefull features, easy portability, a nice design and a suprisingly loud sound.

JBL settles a unique position between the other brands with 2 suprisingly interesting speakers which are worth considering.

JBL Xtreme JBL Flip 3

Performance / Sound Quality = 9.5/10

Battery = 5/5

Design = 4.75/5

Features: 4.5/5

Value = 4.5/5

 

Total Score ≈ 9.4/10

 

We decided to give the JBL Xtreme a Gold award!

 

More Information about our awards and High resolution versions can be found here

Performance / Sound Quality = 8.5/10

Battery = 5/5

Design = 4.75/5

Features: 4/5

Value = 4/5

 

Total Score ≈ 8.75/10

 

We decided to give the JBL Flip 3 a silver award!

 

More Information about our awards and High resolution versions can be found here

About the Author

Keeping up with new inventions and technological improvements is kinda my thing. Writing about technology is just a result of my fascination with it. I hope to provide readers with as much news as possible, everyday.
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