Back in the day, if you had JBL speakers in your guitar or bass speaker cabinet, then the sound was usually excellent. I say usually because, for some reason, Celestion speakers always seemed to sound better in a Marshall 4 x 12. But generally speaking, they were great speakers.
Today we are looking at one of their high quality portable speakers for this JBL Charge 5 review. It is a different ballpark, of course. But speaker quality is important, whatever the size of its cabinet.
Established in 1927, they grew to be a prominent manufacturer of high-end speakers. However, they lost quite a bit of their kudos through the deaths of the founders. Add on later mismanagement and subsequent lawsuits, and this inevitably affected the quality of the product.
Eventually, they were bought by Harman International who was subsequently bought out by Samsung. The product became lower level and much more consumer-based. Even though they still managed to maintain a strong base as monitors in some professional recording studios.
The founders were only concerned with making great speakers. The owners today are mainly concerned with making money.
Products these days are made in Mexico, China, and Hungary. For a consumer-producer, the standards are better than average, and one thing they do excel at is portable speakers. As I said, that is what we are looking at today.
Once you have been good, unless you really screw it up, you are still able to maintain a good reputation. JBL has managed to do that. The quality is still usually good, and most importantly, so is the sound. So, let’s take an in-depth look at the JBL Charge 5.
It has a design that is popular these days for a portable speaker. Shaped a little bit like a Rugby ball or an American football, it measures 8.7 by 3.67 by 3.76 inches and weighs 2.1 pounds. Meaning it’s a compact and lightweight Bluetooth speaker.
The speaker is covered in a woven cloth cover. And there is a small foot-like stand on the bottom for balance when it is being used. JBL markets this speaker as portable, but it is not as ‘portable’ as some we have seen.
However, it is not heavy, just a little awkward to carry around. It can be carried in one hand, and because it is battery powered, you can take it with you wherever you go.
The plastic foot arrangement on the bottom allows it to sit securely horizontally when in use. There are indicator lights that will illuminate when the speaker is turned on.
Unfortunately, it has no Voice Assistant connections or WiFi and has no built-in microphone. That said, it comes in nine different color options.
This is a subject that always seems to rattle my cage. Now I don’t believe that manufacturers don’t understand the difference between “waterproof” and “water-resistant.” But it seems that when some of them describe their products, they get very confused.
You get “waterproof” written all over the packaging, often without an official rating included. But then a light shower ten miles away, and your speaker just stops.
People often don’t trust what is written. I don’t blame them. Fortunately, that doesn’t apply with this speaker, as it has an official IP67 rating. That means it is dustproof, but it also can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Making this one of the best waterproof portable speakers you can buy.
When Is Water Not Water
Whilst it has an IP rating that doesn’t necessarily include chlorinated water from a swimming pool. Neither does it include the saltwater in the sea; it is just good old plain tap water. Care still needs to be taken on the beach or around the pool.
The fish, though, are gonna love it. So splashes and even briefly dropping it in water, and it will still be fine. The fabric covering is going to get wet, of course, but it doesn’t affect the internal components.
It is obvious, but perhaps it is a good idea to mention. You never know when it might be exposed to water or even moisture. Therefore, it is a good idea to ensure the flap of the charging port is securely closed at all times.
The operating controls are simple to use, and most are located on the top of the speaker. They are very basic, to say the least. If you want to be fussy, there is a lack of control over the sound on this speaker.
The controls do have a pressure action, so there are no knobs or dials. You just apply pressure to the chosen rubber indicator. But there are no bass or treble controls and no bass boost on the speaker. You can skip forward by double-clicking on the play button, but there is no skip back control.
On the rear are connections for a Type-C port for charging and the USB-A port I mentioned that is sealed. There is not an aux port, so you cannot use it wired.
It has Bluetooth 5.1, which is a slightly more energy-efficient system than the previous 5.0. To pair up with your device, you just press the symbol for Bluetooth on the top of the speaker. The speaker will then show up on your device’s menu, and you just select it.
While it may be considered a bit lightweight in terms of the controls and sound options, multipoint functionality is an asset. It means you can take turns in playing your music with a friend.
Normally you would have to switch between sources. This feature means you won’t have to keep changing between those sources.
It has a fairly standard range of about 100 feet or 30 meters. But this distance relies on no walls or other solid objects in the way.
It may be lacking in some areas where controls and connections are concerned. But, if what you want is a speaker where the battery gives you a decent length of playtime, this could be it.
The battery life on this speaker is above what you might expect and is one of its plus points. From a four-hour charge, you can expect to get 20 hours of playtime. Four hours is a reasonable amount of time, but there is no fast charge.
How Loud Will You Play It?
The length of playtime will, as always, depend on the volume you play your music at. The louder it is, the more the battery will be used up.
Given that this is a speaker that is designed predominately for outdoor use, it is likely you will require some volume. However, even at higher volumes, you can still expect enough playtime for it to last the party.
A valuable asset to have built-in is a power bank. This feature allows you to charge devices without having to turn off the speaker. The music continues while the devices are being charged.
I have briefly mentioned the indicator light. It will glow white when the speaker is in use. When the speaker is being charged, the same light will flash white. Once it stops flashing and remains white, then the speaker is fully charged.
So let’s cut to the chase. How good is the sound? The arrangement of the speakers inside this unit certainly gives it a good start. There is a tweeter and a long-excursion driver. These add sharpness and nice middle to the top frequencies. This ensures the vocals will be clear and defined.
The lower frequencies are served by the passive bass radiators situated at each end. This adds an extra dimension to the overall sound and provides a nice balance with the higher frequencies.
Not For Certain Genres
This sound platform will be suitable for most genres. However, it probably won’t be so good for the deep throb necessary for bass-heavy music. It is possible to adjust the sound profile through the EQ on the app provided. But that would still not provide enough bottom end.
Volume-wise, the JBL Charge 5 carries plenty, and certainly enough for the average-size outdoor party. It will generate 40 watts RMS which for a speaker this size is quite good.
Some people do like to compare JBL and Bose speakers. The Bose SoundLink Mini and the Bose SoundLink Flex are both similar speakers to this and are both popular.
However, the JBL is certainly louder, and the bass radiators give you warmer low frequencies. Therefore, one must conclude that given this and that the price points are similar, the JBL Charge 5 has the edge.
What Would You Use It For?
Probably isn’t a speaker that you would buy to use at home. It is more of a speaker designed for use in the garden, around a pool, or at the beach. The waterproofing is an advantage, as is the ability to be able to pair it with other speakers.
The build quality is also going to make it able to handle a few of the inevitable knocks that may occur. In other words, it’s one of the most durable outdoor speakers you can buy.
It isn’t over-endowed in the way of extras. You do get a protective fabric covering and a charging cable. Also included is some documentation about the speaker. But, when you are including documentation in the ‘extras,’ then you know you are struggling.
JBL Charge 5 Review – Pros and Cons
- Good battery life up to 20 hours, depending on how you use it.
- Good level of waterproofing.
- Multipoint functionality.
- An app that offers some control over the sound, EQ, etc.
- A decent quality sound across the frequencies.
- Reasonable price point.
- No Aux port for wired use.
- Does not have a Bass boost or bass and treble controls built-in.
- Four-hour charge time with no fast charge.
- Not suitable for bass-heavy music.
- Lightweight but doesn’t excel for its portability.
Looking for more Great Speaker Options?
Well, we can help you with that. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Waterproof Speakers, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best JBL Floor Standing Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, and the Best Wireless Computer Speakers you can buy in 2023.
Interested in JBL speakers? Don’t miss our detailed JBL Flip 4 Review, our JBL Xtreme 2 Review, our JBL Xtreme Review, our JBL Charge 4 Review, our JBL Charge 3 Review, and our JBL Clip 3 Review for more awesome speakers currently on the market.
JBL Charge 5 Review – What Do I Think?
If you already own the Charge 3 or 4, then I would say that maybe you should stick with them. There aren’t enough improvements made from those two speakers to warrant the extra cash by going to a Charge 5.
But, if you are buying a JBL Charge speaker for the first time, then it is a good choice for use in certain situations. The audio quality is good, and also the battery life. It is a shame there is no quick charge feature. However, up to 20 hours of playtime ought to be enough.
I am tempted to say it is quite a basic speaker without too much in the way of frills. But, if what you want is a speaker with this sort of battery life and a decent sound and volume level, it fits the bill. At the price point a good buy.
Until next time, happy listening.