Stereo Guide Rating
+ very full, balanced sound tuning
+ size-related very good level capabilities, rich bass
+ Powerbank function
- No analog input
- Pairing/Party mode not compatible with older devices
Sound: Tonal Balance / Transparency8
Ease-of-use / Connectivity8
Sound: Bass / Dynamics7.6
The JBL Charge is the 5th generation of the well-known and popular Bluetooth speaker. It’s larger than the Flip 5 or Flip 6, but smaller than the Extreme 3 despite a similar design. Its weight remains just under the one-kilo mark, the footprint under 10 x10 centimeters, and the flanks are protected with rubber pads.
New is the water and dust resistance according to IP67. The Charge also relies on a mono concept for playback and does not even attempt to project a spatial sound image. Instead, it separates the audible range into frequencies for the woofer and tweeter.
Power and sound instead of pseudo-space
The predecessor used a full range driver, here it is an oval bass-midrange driver. The support of two passive bass radiators on both sides remains, and should be responsible for the already legendary low bass from a small cabinet. Instead of 30 watts there are now 40 watts as amplification, whereby the tweeter is equipped with a separate power amplifier, which brings a lot of clarity and cleanliness, especially in the party border area, compared to a full-range concept.
Party in the form of the interconnection of several JBL still works, but the technology used is now called PartyBoost and is no longer compatible with speakers according to the Connect+ standard. For this, up to 100 pieces can make music together. The free JBL app for iOS or Android allows you to pair two Charge 5s together in a stereo pair.
The battery life is a very good 20 hours. Charging is done via a USB-C port. In addition, the Charge – nomen est omen – also provides a USB-A port that sits behind a rubber flap and serves as a power bank. This also allows you to charge your smartphone while making music. Very practical.
Practice and connections of the JBL Charge 5
The operation on the device works via rubberized buttons. And it’s excellent. Volume control, Start/Stop/Skip Forward and PartyBoost also work without unlocking the smartphone.
The feed is via Bluetooth, there is no optional analogue or digital input.
This is how one Kilo Bluetooth speaker sounds
In the listening test, the Charge 5 makes the most of its 2-way technology, especially at higher levels: it sounds clean, resolved and precise, which is an excellent match for the powerful bass. And also stands out well against the background noise at a spontaneous open air party.
The levels that the JBL Charge 5 mobilizes are impressive considering its size. Of course, at some point he takes back the bass, which is clearly audible especially with impulsive rhythms of hiphop and electronic music. However, since the mids remain clear and the highs nuanced, this is never annoying in practice.
A certain directionality of the sound has to be accepted, also the Charge 5 doesn’t even try to do any kind of room sound or surround sound.
Conclusion and alternatives to the JBL Charge 5
In the JBL Charge 5 is a no-frills concept, but unbeaten for its ruggedness and excellent ratio of size, price and dynamic capabilities.
Specifications JBL Charge 5
- Price: approx. 180 $
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 22.3 x 9.4 x 9.7 cm
- Weight: 960 g
- Battery life up to 20 hours
- Features: waterproof according to protection class IPX7, JBL Party Boost, powerbank function
- More at: www.jbl.com