Unpacking the JBL Xtreme was like running the Stanchart marathon… Ok not exactly but close! Aside from all the adapters etc, the speaker was pretty hefty. The speaker is huge, when I carry it, it reminds me of a large 1 litre coke bottle! But does the size really mean this is the best JBL portable?
The JBL Xtreme is entirely wrapped around with water resistant fabric except the bass radiators at the side, and I confirmed the resistance in the pic below. It has a huge battery, 10000mAH which provides 15 hours of play time, which is an impressive feat given how loud the speaker can go. In addition, there are 2 USB ports at the back which lets you charge 2 devices at the same time while playing music. There’s also an auxiliary input which lets you play music without using bluetooth (to save battery). Both USB ports and the auxiliary and charging ports are hidden behind a zip at the back of the speaker. I know this was meant to protect the ports from dirt/water, but the tight opening also makes the ports more difficult to access. Wouldn’t it be better to use a rubber or plastic cover instead?
There’s a speakerphone but strangely, even though the music is playing loud enough, the speakerphone is so soft that I had to turn the volume up just to hear my friend talking to me! I personally don’t think I need a speakerphone very much but for my fellow kakis who are considering buying the JBL Xtreme, I hope JBL comes up with a fix very soon.
As with the JBL Flip 3, the Xtreme has JBL Connect built in. It allows for pairing multiple devices, and connection of another JBL Connect-equipped speaker just to spread its juicy audio over a wider area. Useful for outdoor parties I suppose? But then again, bringing out one JBL Xtreme speaker is quite tough already… But no worries... Apparently JBL has your welfare at heart. They’ve included a strap making it easier to carry, like a rifle-sling! All the bros in Tekong please don’t get any funny ideas… Be Tactical!
All the buttons are in a single row on top, and just like the Flip 3, some of them are actually on the fabric itself. The buttons felt firm and easy to press. Pairing this speaker with my phone was a fairly simple task, as with the other JBL speakers I’ve tested. Now comes the best part…
This thing screams BASS. I mean, really. Even with moderate volume (50%) I could already hear the wooden kitchen counter behind me rattling a bit! The speaker was very stable standing on its raised legs even though the bass was weighty. But the bass was well balanced and not overpowering. Diana Panton's ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ sounds just as clear as when I played it on its smaller cousins, only that her vocals were a teeny bit more eased up, and the bass guitars flaunted its weight better. Playing ‘Royals’ by Lorde and the bass radiators really kicked in. the Xtreme delivered some of the most punchy bass I’ve ever felt from a portable speaker. Impressive!
Playing the Brand New Heavies’ “Have a Good Time” the instruments were separated well with high clarity and rich meaty bass. The speaker had moderate spaciousness which sort of corresponded to the speaker’s size, but it didn’t impress me. Due to its bigger size, I had expected the speaker to exceed the spaciousness of the Bose Soundlink Speaker III but it had barely managed to match it. That said, I was still impressed with that crystal clear, well balanced sound with powerful bass, that did not crack even at very high volumes. This is definitely the speaker for your private rave parties!
Over the few weeks that I have lived with the JBL Xtreme, I do have a few gripes with it. Besides the hard-to-access ports at the back and the speakerphone, the audio fades out and back in when I’m changing songs across playlists. It would be okay if the issue happened before the song starts playing, but the audio fades out one second into the song, which is weird! I thought that this had to do with my phone but when I tested it on the other Bluetooth Speakers that I had, everything was snappy and that fade-out problem did not occur at all. I hope this is an issue that can be resolved with a software update in future.
Mai tuu liao. Overall, I consider the S$399 JBL Xtreme as one of the most powerful portables that you can get for the money. Its clean, powerful bass performance alone will compel you to get THIS speaker for your next Rave-out. Indeed, the JBL Xtreme is one of LP’s top choices!