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JBL Charge 2+ Portable Speaker Review
      10/12/15 05:55 PM

The JBL Charge 2 Bluetooth speaker was a popular speaker and now the Charge 2+ adds splash-proof and more rugged features to the mix. Like the Charge 2, the new model offers two good-sized transducers and passive radiators. The speaker features excellent audio clarity and integrity as well as loud volume. The Bluetooth speaker supports stereo audio streaming as well as voice calls and has a built-in noise-cancelling microphone. It has rugged and splash-proof construction that makes the Charge 2+ a perfect speaker for the beach, poolside events and more. The JBL Charge 2+ comes in 8 colors.


The JBL Charge 2+ Portable Speaker has a very similar design as its predecessor, the Charge 2. It's slightly larger than the Charge 2, measuring 7.29 inches long and 3.11 inches round. The speaker weighs 1.3 pounds. The tube-shaped speaker comes in eight color options including black, red, blue, gray, yellow, orange, pink and teal. The speaker has metal construction and grille that protect the internals of the speaker and two plastic end caps covering the movable bass radiators. Like the larger JBL Xtreme, the Charge 2+ is well constructed and protected, and it's also water-resistant. One thing that's different between the Xtreme and the Charge 2+ is that the ports on the Xtreme have the protection of a rubber seal from water splashes while the ports on the Charge 2+ don't have any rubber seal.

The JBL Charge 2+ has all the control buttons on the top of the speaker for easy access. The buttons under the rubber exterior protection include power on/off, Bluetooth pairing, volume down/up, JBL Connect and call buttons. The built-in microphone and five tiny LED lights also live on the top of the speaker. All ports live on the underside and they include the micro USB recharging port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a full USB charging port. The metal casing and water-resistant build give the JBL Charge 2+ some rugged features that allow you to rinse the speaker out with water after a day on the beach or a camping trip but I'd be careful not to get water into the unprotected ports. Also the speaker isn't safe for submergence.


Like the larger JBL Xtreme, the JBL Charge 2+ offers high volume. Though not as loud as its bigger brother, the Charge 2+ can put out enough volume to fill a large room and it's loud enough for a poolside party. The speaker has two 45mm drivers and two passive radiators that move with the bass beats. The JBL Charge 2+ offers excellent audio clarity in highs and mids and it doesn't muddy the bass in most tracks. In our tests, vocals sounded silky smooth and orchestra instruments had clear and sharp sounds without distortion. Bass sounded clear though not super powerful. The characteristic precise quality of the sound and range were will presented, which makes this speaker a decent sound stage for enjoying symphonies, operas, chamber music and instrumental tracks. For Rock, Rap and R&B, the speaker offers good reproduction of the track engineering with smooth vocals and full range of all instruments. Deeper bass had some limited range in various tracks we tested, but overall, the track sounded clean, sharp and powerful.


The JBL Charge 2+ Portable Speaker has built-in Bluetooth 3.0 and it supports AD2P and AVRCP for stereo streaming and HFP and HSP for voice calls. We tested it with several smartphones including the iPhone 6s and the Samsung Galaxy S6, and several tablets including iPad and Android models, and found the speaker pairing and connecting with all easily. The range between the devices and the speaker could generally reach 20 feet, and there was a slight delay in Bluetooth steaming. The speaker is clear for voice calls as a speakerphone, however, the volume seems to be a bit lower on voice calls compared to music streaming.


As with the JBL Xtreme, the Charge 2+ also can charge your smartphone while playing music. The speaker comes with a 6000mAh internal Lithium Polymer battery that can power itself as well as your mobile device. The speaker also supports power pass-through, which means you can charge your phone while the speaker is plugged in to AC. The Charge 2+ comes with an AC adapter and a USB cable. With a full charge, the speaker can run all day, about 8-10 hours continuously, and it takes about 5 hours to recharge using the included charger.


The JBL Charge 2+ Portable Speaker intends to compete in the portable speaker category where users can take the speaker in their backpacks or purses, mount on their bikes, and carry with them on their trips. It's small and light enough yet can produce large sound. The Charge 2+ offers JBL's signature clarity of sound reproduction, loud volume and clear and powerful bass. The speaker has long battery life and can charge additional devices. We like the color options and the strong and protective construction. The speaker is water-resistant, though not for submerging in water or splashing water into its ports.

Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4
What's Hot: Small and light, clear audio and long battery life.
What's Not: Has some limitations on lower bass, unprotected ports.
Price: $149.95
Website: JBL

Reviewed by: Tong Zhang



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