STEREO GUIDE test verdict
+ very dynamic sound
+ good sense of rhythm & impulse response
+ Rich punch with bass boost
+ Cool Light Show
- bass not as deep, sometimes bloated
Sound: tonal balance / transparency7.8
Sound: Bass / Dynamics9.3
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9.5
JBL´s Partybox 110 is a bestseller in their portable sound reinforcement portfolio – and not without good reason. The featureset of the larger Partybox 310 is cast into more handy dimensions. Since it doesn’t have any wheels, you have to carry it by the handles, which is not particularly a pleasure when it comes to sigificant distances: the weight is of just under 11 kilograms. In return, this battery-powered P.A. system could be placed either in upright position or laid flat ´wedge style´ on its side, pointing the sound angled upwards towards the crowd.
Compared to the larger 310 model, you could clearly notice how much more compact the Partybox 110 is. On the other hand, you hardly have to make any concessions in terms of performance, features and rigidity – IPX4 splash water protection is what you would expect from a floorstanding sound reinforcement system operated in open-air conditions. There is a slight compromise to that as the battery life is just a maximum of 12 hours (compared to 18 for the Partybox 310). However, that is still ahead of the competition.
Connections and playback options
Although the power supply is built in and the party box connects to the power outlet with a simple cable, recharging an empty battery takes a whopping 3.5 hours.
Besides Bluetooth 5.1, an analogue AUX input and a USB A are available. In addition, you could connect both a mic and an instrument such as an electric guitar simultaneously. For both, there is a gain adjustmend in addition to a volume control, which makes it possible to adapt to various different microphone types and instruments.
Light and power
The built-in light effects surrounding the four loudspeaker drivers somehow are enough to create an idea of a lightshow – the LED rings are multi-coloured, and there are additional strobes flashing. However, you should not expect too much light when having a party in the cellar. By flipping through the light presets, you can also deactivate the strobes.
The four drivers are powered by a total of 160 watts. The two woofers are 5.25″ types (15cm). They are supported by a large bass reflex vent on the back. Interestingly, JBL claims to make no difference between Partybox 110 and 310 in terms of bass cutoff frequency.
The two 2″ (5.5cm) mid/tweeters provide clear treble resolution and better omnidirectional sound than any larger full-range or horn design ever could. However, you shouldn’t expect too much of a sweet spot or staging, just because the two mid/tweeters sit quite close to each other between the woofers on both sides of the baffle.
If you want to provide a larger dancefloor with party-appropriate SPL or enjoy a true stereo image, you can wirelessly pair two or more party speakers. This can be done via the app, or also via the “TWS” button on the back.
Operation and app
The control panel on the top is not entirely self-explanatory, but it is quite intuitive after you got used to it. The buttons for on/off, Bluetooth pairing and the two-stage bass boost are self-explanatory. You have to get used to the partybox providing feedback solely by blinking, glowing or dimming its whie LED. On the other hand, the battery level indicator is quite easy to decode and starts blinking like crazy as soon as battery is almost empty.
The left turn/push knob controls the lighting effects including strobe. To turn the latter on and off, you have to press it longer. The right control is responsible for master volume and playback control via Bluetooth. We were a bit surprised about the fact that Partybox 110 does not allow to skip tracks.
Handy features for DJs and entertainers
Connections of external sources are located in a second panel on the back. In addition to volume and gain controls for instrument and wired microphone, there is an analogue input for any type of analogue line level equipment. You might also want to daisy-chain several partyboxes by using outputs and inputs. If you got only two units, you could do the same wirelessly using the “TWS” button.
Some features and settings could furthermore be controlled via the JBL PartyBox app for iOS and Android coming free of charge. This is not to be confused with the JBL Portable app for other JBL mobile bluetooth speakers. At least it offers bass, midrange and treble control being called EQ as well as differentiated control over the light elements (see screenshots of the JBL Partybox app).
Sound quality evaluation of JBL´s Partybox 110
Those who like to get the crowd to the dancefloor quickly would be thrilled by the Partybox 110. We experienced overwhelmingly dynamic sound and pretty grippy impulse response. However, one might come to the conclusion that speed, dynamics and drive took precedence over tonal balance. Voices appeared to be a bit pressed if not squeezed, high female voices might even show a slight aggressiveness when being reproduced at higher SPLs.
As far as bass reproduction is concerned, the JBL speaker twitches appealingly in time with the beats could not convince us unreservedly either. Without activating the bass boost, in free-field conditions it did not sound particularly full-bodied, but at the same time a bit imprecise. Nevertheless, it could get slightly bloated of boomy in smaller rooms. The second problem could not get anyhow solved by activating the bass boost mode which could be adjusted between “Deep” or “Punchy” in the app. But at least it delivered a rich and also quite deep bass fundament with the first setting being activated, which was really fun with any type of pop, rock or electronic music.
Some tracks even managed to cause you goose bumps. Admittingly, the Partybox 110 showed a certain imperfection when it comes to tonal balance, but made it up for witch a send of impulses´ timing, dynamic leaps and punches. Speaking of punch: The sound preset “Punchy” did result in kind of an overdose of exactly that. you might find some older tracks which clearly benefit from that. However, for those with concert experience and expertise in evaluating elaborate hi-fi speakers, this particular mode´s bass reproduction is somewhat weird. With our tracks, the Partybox 110 then sounded bloated and lacked real depth. But overall, the JBL Bluetooth box was really fun to use. After all, you shouldn’t forget that it is a portable system with the integrated handle, at least over short distances, despite its weight, and that it remains a good bit below the Partybox 310 tested a while ago in terms of price.
Verdict and alternatives to the JBL Partybox 110
The JBL Partybox 110 is almost a classic of the genre and offers a really coherent overall package for a proper open-air sound reinforcement system. Whether you would really find it handy to carry coming in at a whopping 10.8 kilograms is left to your individual judgement. The Klipsch Gig XXL is lighter offering a slightly more hi-fi like, less dynamic performance, but doesn’t come even close to the JBL in terms of battery life. The in-house competition of the JBL Partybox Encore offers a surprising bunch of additional features, such as a wireless micr, but it is far from rivalling the 110´s SPL capability. A real alternative in terms of size and price is the Mackie Thump Go 8“, which comes with a lot of pro features, pretty robust housing, replaceable battery and an overall more balanced tuning. However, you have to do without the really nice, customizable lightshow of the JBL.
Specifications JBL Partybox 110
- Retail price: approx. 400 dollars/pounds/euros
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 19 x 57 x 30 cm
- Weight: 10.8 kg
- Battery life up to 12 hours
- Features: splash-proof according to protection class IPX4, bass boost, 240 V and 12 V power supply, 2 jack inputs (microphone/instrument)
- More at: jbl.com
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