One look at the JBL Xtreme 2 and you'll know it's not designed as a fancy-looking speaker to sit pride of place on your polished wooden furniture. Nope, this tubular (perhaps construed as if we're in the 1980s, dudes) speaker's design is clearly targeted at the big outdoors.
The Xtreme 2 is fully water-resistant and comes with a strap, which clips onto the speaker's carry handles for portability. Add beefy sound and big volume and is this the perfect portable Bluetooth speaker to take the party outside?
Design & Connectivity
- Bluetooth 4.2 wireless, 3.5mm AUX wired input, USB output
- Pair with other JBL speakers via JBL Connect+
- IPX7 water-resistant counters full submersion
- Included carry handle, clips on/off
- 136 x 288 x 132mm , 2.4kg
With its robust mesh exterior and near-cylindrical shape, the Xtreme 2 is designed to give optimum space for the two woofers at either side. One features the JBL logo, the other an exclamation mark just to make a statement. Not that it's needed, as when the bass kicks these woofers spasm profusely and will make your eyes want to go crossed.
To look at the Xtreme 2 isn't exactly pretty, but it's practical as a portable speaker. The included carry strap, which clips onto the rigid metal connectors up top, is a long way away from 2018 ghetto blaster – it's more like carrying around a musical holdall (that you can put nothing into). There are feet on the bottom to ensure it can stand on surfaces and be positioned correctly for the best output.
Between those carry clips up top are the controls, comprising Bluetooth connectivity, separate plus and minus volume controls, and a JBL Connect+ pairing control (used to connect up other JBL speakers, should you have any – we don't, so couldn't test this pairing feature).
In terms of sources, the JBL is fairly basic: there's Bluetooth 4.2 and a 3.5mm AUX input behind a panel to the rear. The panel is a pain in the backside to open, but it's firmly fixed to ensure there's no water ingress, which is part and parcel of its IPX7 rating (meaning you can lob the product in a pool and it's not going to spontaneously explode). The charging port and USB out (for charging other devices, like your phone, if you want to drain the battery extra fast) are also behind this rear panel.
Sound Quality & Battery Life
- 2x 2.75in woofers; 2x 0.79in tweeters; 2x 20W amps
- 55-20,000Hz frequency response, stereo output
- 15 hours battery life (when used as portable)
- Quick charge (3.5hrs to full)
We took the Xtreme 2 to a remote wedding in France, where its portability proved to be a great asset. It fitted in a suitcase carry-on no problems, was easy to cart around the site and position as pleased. As it happened there was a pool, no near-by electrical sources, and so the JBL proved the perfect partner for this post-marriage pool party.
The Xtreme 2 is also really, really loud. Even in a huge open space in the middle of nowhere, with dozens of people, its volume needn't be cranked to the max to entertain. It's impressively loud, while remaining perfectly clear too – far more so than, say, the Marshall Kilburn II.
The greatest thing about this JBL is its bass delivery. Although its lowest-end output is 55Hz, it delivers this low-frequency with great clarity and vigour, yet is far cleaner sounding than the aforementioned Marshall. With house music, garage and d&b it's able to pick out those all-important basslines and let them roll. Equally, with classic rock and some pop party bangers this speaker is adept right across the board.
Despite its loud output, the on-board battery can last for up to 15 hours, should you not crank it to maximum volume at all times. We've been using it as an office speaker, where it's delivered a couple of days worth of tunes no problems, so the battery life measure is accurate. There's an LED bar towards the lower section of the front, too, to give cues about how much battery life remains.
The only lacking – if it could be called that, really – is the cylindrical design doesn't deliver true 360-degree sound. It's very much a front-on speaker only, with the rear not offering output, thus high-end frequencies only sound crisp when facing the speaker from the correct angle. A smaller portable like the UE Megaboom 3 is better at all-round sound projection.
It might not be the prettiest speaker ever, but the JBL Xtreme 2 is designed with purpose and highly practical for outdoors use thanks to its carry handle and robust, water-resistant design.
Most importantly, however, is that this speaker hammers out the sound. It's loud and crisp, while delivering clean bass that really thumps no matter what musical genre you happen to throw its way.
And while the price tag might seem a little steep, for this kind of sound quality it's worth every penny. If you're looking for an outdoors party speaker then look no further, JBL has hit the nail on the head in the Xtreme 2.
B&O Play Beolit 17
The B&O Play might look like a fancy picnic hamper and cost more money than the JBL, but it's got a certain class about it that you might prefer as a speaker for both indoors and outdoors use.