JBL Charge 5 review: A great party machine for under $200

In the Charge 5, JBL has packed 40 W of power into a compact housing. At the same time, this Bluetooth speaker is IP67 certified for water and dust resistance and is available in a variety of colors. So does JBL have a speaker that costs about $180 that does everything well? We will listen to music in the next test to find out!

If you are ready to spend $180 on a pure Bluetooth speaker, then you can’t go wrong with JBL’s Charge 5. This Bluetooth speaker offers excellent and very powerful sound quality. At the same time, the IP67 certification ensures durability and sufficient ruggedness for outdoor use. The only downsides are the lack of a jack connection and the very long charging time.

Design and construction

Weighing less than 1 kg (2.11 pounds) and with a length of 22 cm (8.7 inches), the Charge 5 is not the most compact Bluetooth speaker. However, the IP67 certification in the data sheet already shows that it is a high-quality and rugged speaker. JBL also offers the Charge 5 in a variety of colors. Unfortunately, there is no option to attach the Bluetooth speaker to a backpack, etc. JBL provided us with the Charge 5 in the “Squad” color variant for this review. But don’t worry, the manufacturer offers the Bluetooth speaker in a total of nine different colors. If you don’t like the military look and don’t want to constantly hear jokes about the Charge 5 being invisible, you’ll definitely find a model that suits your taste. Regardless of the color, the Charge 5 is always made of recycled plastic and a recycled fabric cover. This is very securely fixed to the speaker’s housing and won’t slip off even under heavy pressure. The manufacturer highlights this sturdy construction by giving it an IP67 certification. This means you can take the Charge 5 outdoors or to a festival campsite with confidence. Dust and water are not a problem for the speaker The two exposed bass radiators on the left and right sides of the speaker were a bit of a negative feature during testing. While these seem pretty sturdy, they remain a weak point under heavy pressure. Installing two protective cross braces here would have made the Charge 5 look even more sturdy.

In addition to the bass radiators on the sides, there are two tweeters, which radiate forward in the direction of the JBL logo. This means that the sound is very clearly directed forward, which is a bit of a disadvantage when using it at a table in the middle of a group. But more on that later.

At this point, I want to take another look at the speaker’s operation. There are a total of six buttons on the top that control the volume and the connection to smartphones and other JBL speakers. JBL also provides a companion app that can be used to adjust the sound using the equalizer.

Overall, there’s nothing special about the design of the Charge 5, but it’s very sturdy. The workmanship is excellent, and I personally really welcome the fact that the BT speaker is IP67 certified.

Apps and convenience features

JBL provides the Charge 5 with a “JBL Portable” app. This allows you to change the equalizer of the Bluetooth speaker and connect other Bluetooth speakers in Partylink mode. The ability to connect multiple devices to the speaker is also a welcome feature.

The range of features offered by the Charge 5 is not huge, so the app is also relatively simple. The Wi-Fi model is slightly different, as you can set it up as a Wi-Fi speaker in your home network. The model we tested offers the same sound, but only connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth. However, what JBL offers here is more than a couple of JBL advertises the Charge 5 as a party speaker, and this compact speaker often gets top marks online. In fact, the advertised 40 W total output is more than enough in such a compact housing. The speaker can be comfortably placed in a conventional bicycle basket, the center console of a car or a backpack. Even a large waist bag can accommodate the Charge 5.

Using the app’s equalizer, I slightly turned up the bass and removed the mids. This is because the Charge 5 sounded a little too spongy for me. However, thanks to this adjustment, the clarity of the Bluetooth speaker is impressive, and it is able to separate bass and treble well despite the compact housing.

JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth Speakers Battery

and Charging

With the Charge 5, you can listen to music for up to 20 hours. Clever: You can charge your smartphone or other device via the USB-A output. The Charge 5 does not have a wireless charging option, but charges via USB-Ctakes a whopping four hours.

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