Best JBL Boombox
The JBL Boombox 2 is a big, portable Bluetooth speaker that delivers powerful bass depth and high volumes. At $499.95, it’s also quite expensive. The speaker’s boosted bass and sculpted highs likely won’t appeal to purists, but fans of a big sound will enjoy its robust output. While you can certainly find speakers that deliver a more nuanced sonic experience at this price, if you’re looking for an outdoor-friendly, fully waterproof party system, the Boombox 2 won’t disappoint.
JBL Boombox 2
The Denon AVR-X4700H is a mid-budget receiver that can satisfy even the most demanding music lovers with its sound. However, the X4700H is the transitional link between Denon`s top-end and mid-range receivers and already has a killer sound and feature set.
Available in black or camouflage models, the 10.1-by-19.1-by-7.9-inch (HWD), 13-pound Boombox 2 isn’t the kind of portable speaker you can throw in a bag. It’s big and heavy, and portable in the sense that it has a built-in handle for taking it to the backyard, rooftop, or to and from your car’s trunk. Its IPX7 rating means it can be submerged up to 3.3 feet underwater for up to 30 minutes. We don’t advise this, as Bluetooth doesn’t work well underwater, but the point is that the speaker can get drenched and work just fine.
The look of the Boombox 2 is similar to its predecessor. A huge handle is situated over a cylindrical housing covered in grille. Beneath the grille, dual 30-watt, 0.8-inch tweeters and dual 40-watt, 4-inch woofers combine for a frequency range of 50Hz to 20kHz. On either end of the speaker, there are two large passive radiators that aid in pumping out bass.
Across the front face of the speaker, there are controls for power, Bluetooth pairing, play/pause (this button can also skip forward a track with two presses, but oddly cannot skip backward with three), and plus/minus buttons for volume control. There’s also a Partyboost button for linking the Boombox 2 with other JBL speakers to output the same audio. A status LED strip on the front face also gives a battery life readout.
- Very powerful audio performance, with booming bass and sculpted highs
- Can charge mobile devices
- Heavy and bulky
- Sound signature not for those seeking accuracy
JBL BOOMBOX 2 SPECS
A covered panel on the back of the speaker houses connections for the included power supply, a USB port for charging mobile devices, a micro USB port for service only, and a 3.5mm aux input for wired music sources. The included power supply is bulky, but ships with a cable cinch to keep the wire slack under control.
What’s missing? A cable for the aux input would’ve been nice, and there’s no companion app, so no EQ adjustments can be made. There’s also no speakerphone functionality, which isn’t really a surprise for a speaker this size, even if it’s common among smaller models.
The Boombox 2 is compatible with Bluetooth 5.1, but supports only the SBC Bluetooth codec, not AAC nor AptX. For a portable Bluetooth speaker, this isn’t really a surprise, but for a $500 speaker, it feels a bit off.
JBL estimates battery life to be roughly 24 hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Boombox 2 delivers powerful low-frequency response. At top volumes (this speaker can get quite loud), the bass doesn’t distort, though the DSP (digital signal processing) kicks in and thins out the lows slightly. Regardless, even when the DSP is thinning the bass to avoid distortion, the response is still quite intense. At moderate to high volumes, you get the most bass depth and the least DSP meddling.
See How We Test Speakers
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the Boombox 2’s general sound signature. The drums on this track sound borderline thunderous—there’s a great deal of bass boosting happening here. Callahan’s baritone vocals also receive an extra helping of low-mid richness, but thankfully, there’s plenty of high-mid and high-frequency sculpting to balance the boosted lows. So while there’s a bass element that’s a little too dialed-up, the higher-register percussive hits and acoustic strums aren’t buried by the low-frequency blitz. Overall, this is a very sculpted, boosted sound signature that is somewhat scooped—there’s lots of boosting in the lows and highs, with far less in the way of midrange presence.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives plenty of high-mid presence, allowing its attack to retain its punchy presence in the mix. However, the loop’s sustain gets far more bass depth than we are used to hearing, adding some serious thump to the equation. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are powerful, but not as in-your-face as the beefed-up drum loop—this isn’t normally the case. Usually, the sub-bass synth hits are the most bass-heavy and powerful element in the mix. So the boosting in the lows is strong, but it tapers off a bit before it reaches the super-low subwoofer realm. The vocals on this track are delivered cleanly and clearly, without much added sibilance.
On Fiona Apple’s new album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, the vocals are also clear and crisp. The lack of added sibilance is a hard trick to pull off when balancing the highs with lows that are this boosted, but JBL manages to make it happen.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, have a somewhat natural sound despite the added bass depth. Purists won’t be pleased, but for all the boosting and sculpting in the Boombox 2’s sound signature, it delivers a relatively balanced, crisp, rich performance that doesn’t lean too heavily on the lows.
When it comes to big, outdoor-friendly speakers, we’re also fans of Braven’s $399.99 BRV-XXL/2, while JBL’s PartyBox 300, also $500, is an even larger system complete with a light show, but is decidedly less easy to move around. The $400 Ultimate Ears Hyperboom is also an excellent, powerful portable Bluetooth speaker, though it has a less impressive water-resistance rating. This JBL Boombox 2 fits in with these speakers nicely, providing plenty of power for outdoor parties in a nostalgic design. Considering there’s no shortage of high-quality large, powerful models available right now, we suggest choosing the one that has the most features you’re looking for.