At first glance, the JBL Xtreme 2 seems like a relic from a bygone era of boom boxes, displaying none of the subtlety and refinement that smaller smart speakers usually opt for. But, if you’re always the person that brings a speaker to the BBQ party or beach. And you want something that can get very loud without an over-reliance on bass; this is where a speaker like the Xtreme 2 comes into its own.
In situations where a smaller speaker just won’t cut it, the JBL Xtreme 2 offers some of the most well-balanced sound you can get from a Bluetooth speaker. It’s described as portable, although the fact that it comes with its own strap should tell you that you can’t just throw it in any old bag.
No, this is a speaker for party people who like to bring sonic quality with them wherever they go, rather than for your average camping trip.
Therefore, we decided to put the JBL Xtreme 2 through its paces and were rather pleased with the results. Read on to find out why we’re such fans…
Design & Build
JBL has gone for a rather in your face design with the Xtreme 2. It’s not something that most people would want in their living room – it’s really designed for outdoor use. You can choose between black, dark blue and forest green.
The tough fabric grille and rubber port covers give this a very high waterproof rating of IPX7. This means it can survive being dropped down to a depth of 1.5m and is more than capable of withstanding any rain or splashback when used beside a pool. Basically, this is one hardy performer, which looks like it was built well enough to handle the rough and tumble of outdoor use.
The shoulder strap is hooked into the top of the speaker via carabiners and is slightly padded in case you need to carry it over longer distances. Weighing in at 5.3 pounds and measuring 11.3 inches long, the strap is certainly a necessary feature. The metal adjuster for the strap can also be used as a bottle opener, which is always a bonus!
The rugged aesthetic is completed by dual passive radiators at either end finishing off the muscular look. A small stand is built into the design so you can put it down in most places without it rolling away.
All the button controls are on top of the speaker, and the ports are at the back, protected by a waterproof flap. The flap is initially difficult to pry open, which I suppose is a good thing from a waterproofing perspective. Fortunately, it becomes easier over time.
A pair of 2.75-inch woofers and a set of 0.8-inch tweeters provide the firepower together with the 3.5-inch passive bass radiators. An internal amp powers the four active drivers delivering 10 watts to each when plugged into an outlet. This drops a little when using the speaker under battery power.
Connectivity & Features
The JBL Xtreme 2 uses Bluetooth 4.2 and for distances up to a pretty standard 30 feet. And we experienced no stuttering whatsoever. Unfortunately, there is no compatibility with high-quality audio codecs like aptX and AAC. Therefore, you can certainly expect some latency issues when streaming video content.
Pairing with both an iPhone X and a Galaxy S10 was extremely simple, and the speaker can remain paired to two different devices at the same time. Calls can be handled as the JBL has a built-in microphone to pick up your voice. It’s not the smoothest experience ever, but they’re not exactly built for conference calls, so this can be forgiven.
You can’t talk directly to Alexa or Google Assistant, although they can be accessed via the touch of a button. The only out of the ordinary feature is JBL Connect+, which gives you the ability to connect up to one hundred Xtreme 2’s together.
I guess this could come in handy for some kind of commercial use, but I can’t see anyone buying more than two of these. We’d be interested to hear the effect, mind you.
A USB output port allows you to charge devices directly from the speaker. Although this will obviously affect the overall battery life of the JBL itself.
JBL seems to undersell the battery life of the Xtreme2. They claim 15 hours of continuous playback. We actually managed 18.5 at reasonably high volume. Not exactly sure what’s going on there, but this would be ample time for a full day’s outdoor use whatever you may be doing.
Annoyingly the only way to charge the JBL Xtreme 2 is via an AC outlet. It’s hard to see why JBL didn’t include USB charging options for the obvious convenience this would bring. Hopefully, this is something that they can easily fix on the next generation.
Five LED indicators on the rear of the speaker let you know how much charge is remaining.
So let’s get down to it. Do the JBL Xtreme 2 sound any good?
Yes, they do. To look at them, you’d wrongly predict an over-emphasized bass signature to appeal to the young party crowd. Surprisingly and very satisfyingly, this is not the case. The highly obvious passive radiators may give the Xtreme 2 a forceful look, but the sound signature is surprisingly tasteful.
Don’t’ fret, the bass is deep and powerful, but it’s the balance that is the key here. It seamlessly mixes with the mids and trebles, never sounding over-exaggerated. Trebles are crisp, detailed, and never too shiny. The mids are also given ample space to make themselves heard.
Everything holds together well at loud volume. You’ll have no distortion worries when turning these up loud, and they can certainly pump out the decibels.
The Xtreme 2 is most definitely the best sounding wireless speaker that JBL have made up until now. If you can put up with the rugged look, these sound almost as good as some studio monitor speakers and create a great stereo sound which is dispersed very well across the room or patio.
If anything, they should have a slightly bassier profile option for use outside as the refined balance can get a little lost in the great outdoors.
So while bass heads may be attracted by the aggressive look, they might be disappointed by the lack of boom. Conversely, audiophiles may also be put off by making the same assumption in reverse. Fortunately, we can assure them that the sound profile of the JBL Xtreme 2 is a far subtler and pleasing experience than their outward appearance would suggest.
JBL Xtreme 2 Pros & Cons
- Loud, well-balanced sound.
- Not overly bassy.
- Highly waterproof.
- Tough build.
- Decent battery life.
- No USB charging.
- Limited wireless features.
- Unsubtle look may not suit some.
More Outdoor Speaker Options
Looking for even more choices? If so, please check out our reviews of the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Bluetooth Speakers with Radio, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, and the Best Tailgate Speakers Best currently available.
So who is the kind of person that the JBL Xtreme 2 would appeal to? Well, someone that likes to bring their tunes and a serious amount of volume to the numerous outdoor gatherings they regularly attend. In short, a young party animal. That’s not to say older party animals will not appreciate them too (probably at a lower volume), there’s just less of them.
The Xtreme 2 is a seriously robust speaker that will handle the unpredictable nature of outdoor use with ease. Hi-spec waterproofing makes this the perfect companion for the pool. It will even survive being fully submersed, although we wouldn’t recommend testing this out. Take our word for it.
Our favorite aspect of the JBL Xtreme 2 has to be the finely balanced sound signature, which gives this speaker an appeal beyond the younger market. Musical genres across the board sound faithfully reproduced, giving them a broader appeal.
The sound profile is anything but Xtreme, so the name purely refers to the rugged nature of the design. This branding might confuse potential buyers and mislead them regarding the actual nature of the sound. Hopefully, if you’ve made it to the end of this review, then you’ll know otherwise.
At around the correct price, the JBL Xtreme 2 offers the kind of value you’d expect, with a pleasant and loud sound lurking under the tough exterior. We salute JBL for marrying the two in this surprising package.
Happy listening, however Xtreme the conditions!