The Splash-proof JBL Charge 2+ sports a very similar design to its previous counterpart. You could only tell them apart by the color of its two Bass Radiators, which are now Black instead of Silver.
This time, it comes in 8 shades compared to the initial 5. Black, Blue, Gray, Purple, Orange, Green, Yellow and my favourite Red! Is it really splash-proof? Well, LP can vouch for its water resistance - we BATHED the speaker under a running tap just to try try and it came out unscathed!
The JBL Charge 2+ has the same Social Mode, speakerphone and a 12 hour battery life. But this time, we have personally confirmed the battery life to be more than 12 hours, on 50 percent volume playing continuously! No kidding! We left it playing an Enya Album at 1pm and checked on it at 1am, and it still showed 2.5 (half) LEDs on the battery indicator! Charging the battery only took 3 hours plus. Power siol! Voice quality on the speakerphone is excellent and loud both ways, with only a bit of lag, but it is something I don’t personally use much of.
Pairing the speaker was child’s play. Connection remained stable at 10 meters distance (line of sight), and pairing multiple devices was a breeze. But I’m really concerned about the sound quality here. How different will it be this time? After trying out many ‘bottle' speakers from different brands, I have concluded that it is very unlikely that speakers of this design could deliver much soundstaging. Since they were designed to be played lying flat or standing up like a Coke bottle, is it as unlikely as Jon Snow being resurrected? (Sorry GoT fans!)
We played many different songs on the Charge 2+ for a period of 2 weeks and I must say, it's a speaker that I have come to enjoy a lot. Playing 'Baby it's Cold Outside', Diana Panton's vocals sounded refreshingly clear and natural, even at louder volumes! The bass guitar sounded meaty and tight, and the whole song just sounded clear, rich and smooth. Somehow the overall bass and clarity sounded more lifelike than the older JBL Charge 2!
'Have a good time' by the Brand New Heavies really showed how much the soundstaging had improved. The different trumpets, drum kit and vocals all sounded well separated and there is much better soundstaging! I could place the vocals above the speaker while I could place the other instruments to the left and right of the speaker. This is something sorely lacking in the previous version! Music sounds more spacious overall. Place it standing up and you get lesser sound-staging, but this is to be expected.
I will prefer a bit more bass extension but this had no impact on my listening enjoyment. My only gripes are that at higher volume levels, the highs tend to distort, the bass gets much softer and the different instruments become more mashed up. But having used this for 2 weeks I would say this is not an issue, as even at 50% the speaker is loud enough for a living room. One more factor to consider is that, sadly, this awesome battery is not replaceable, and like other rechargeable batteries, will not retain as much charge after roughly 500 charging cycles.
At the size of a water bottle, the JBL Charge 2+ is one of THE DYNAMITES among portables. Being priced at $279, I feel this irresistable urge to surrender my wallet! Once you've auditioned it, you will too!