The JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is the modern-day equivalent of the 100W freaking loud boom box.
JBL PartyBox On-The-Go is not the biggest in the PartyBox range (here) – that is the JBL PartyBox 1000 with 1100W, but it’s the most portable, and the sound is far better than you should expect from a ‘thumpin’ boom box.
And it comes with two wireless party mics for Karaoke (lost me right there) as well as a carry strap and more. But wait, there is a lot more. Bluetooth, USB and 3.5mm AUX-in for audio content, a 6.5mm wired mic port, and a 6.5mm guitar port make it a very flexible device. Add an 18Wh battery and 5V/2.1A power bank capability, and that’s a ‘rap’.
Review – JBL PartyBox On-The-Go Model JBLPARTYBOXGOBAS2
Price: $579.95 but on special at JBL for $549.95 inc free freight in Australia
Warranty: One year ACL
Country of manufacture: China
JBL (Est. the mid-40s) is short for James B Lansing (Yes, he was the Lansing in Altec Lansing as well.) Now it’s part of the Harman group of companies owned by Samsung. You can read more GadgetGuy JBL news and reviews here.
It is big but nowhere as big as the 100, 300, 310 (new) and 1000 Party Box. It is transportable if you call 489 x 244.5 x 224mm x 7.5kg on a nice fat shoulder strap. The front is entirely an acoustic grill hiding an RBG speaker ring. It is a nice touch, not overdone and can use pre-sets or sync to the music. While it is well made, you should take care not to scratch the metallic grill paint.
The top is old-style with five rotary controls and some push buttons for volume, play, bass boost, and more. Oh, and there is a bottle opener and two mic holders as well. One more thing – it is mono with a 133mm woofer and two 44mm tweeters. There are also two front passive bass ports. It can pair using True Wireless (TWS) to another.
The mono speaker is foreword firing and essentially creates a cone of sound. The sound stage width is about 3 metres wide at 3 metres, so if you want to cover a larger area, it needs to be a little further away. If you are using it as a party box, then consider placing it on a tabletop or even a little higher. When placed on the ground, the sound levels dropped a little.
It has 100W on mains power and 50W battery power – the power source impacts volume. To a degree, the volume also depends on the sound source (smartphone BT SBC codec is a max of 80dB). We could coax it to 104dB – very loud – but harmonic distortion crept in. Still not bad for a party box.
Harman claims 50Hz to 20kHz, and that is largely true. It also has a bass boost button (two levels) that kicks in the mid-bass nicely. Overall once the bass kicks in, treble recesses giving it a bass signature. It can be a bit boomy. Without bass boost, it has a more neutral to warm and sweet signature perfect for most music and movies.
You can read about sound signatures and why they are so important here.
You can use TWS to stereo pair two On-The-Go. You cannot pair with other JBL products.
USB will play MP3, WMA and WAV with various codecs. The maximum res is 192KHz for WAV and 48Khz for MP3. 3.5 AUX is analogue and plays whatever signal it is given (PCM 1.0 or 2.0) up to 370mV. BT has an SBC codec and plays 16-bit/44.1Hz (CD quality) up to 300kbps (based on a Samsung S20 Ultra). We understand that it also has AAC for Apple devices (not tested).
Wireless Mics model OTGM100W are not bad (65Hz-15kHz) with a uni-directional pickup (from the top) and a reasonably effective pop filter. So remember, you need to hold it close to your mouth. It seems sturdy, but it does have a plastic barrel that houses 2xAA batteries. We did not test for battery life, but JBL claim <10 hours. You can connect up to two mics, but only one gain adjustment, so use the same mics. You can adjust echo, treble and bass. There are two 6.5mm cable inputs. One can double as a guitar or mic input, and the other is for a mic only (20mV). You can mix these inputs. We understand it will accept up to 100mV.
Power and battery
It has a 240V input that charges a 7.2V/2500mAh/18Wh battery. JBL claim <6hrs battery life at 50% volume with the lights off. We tested it at 100% and got 2.65hrs and 70% for 3.85hrs. Charge time (claimed) is <3.5hrs. There is no app to measure the charge, but five white LEDs show charge in 20% levels. On our three tests, it averages just over 4.25hrs for 0-100%.
‘Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect’. It is not dust rated and, as such, avoid too much sand.
The light control button accesses rock, neon, club and off. There is no app. The lights default to pulsing to the music beat.
The performance is commensurate with the price. This is ideal when you want to party in the backyard or the beach or entertain the gym. The whole package is well thought out, including a bottle opener on the strap. The lack of an App or EQ is not an issue – it is all about portability. And when you take it home, it is perfect in the teenager’s room, although giving them 104dB is a bit risky.
It’s a loud mono speaker, especially so when on mains power. The sound signature is good too. It scores higher for mains power use. The added functionality (karaoke mics, guitar etc.) is really only for mains power as they are battery sapping. As a portable, you lose volume and battery life under load can be as little as 2-3 hours. It loses a few points here. As long as battery-powered portability is not your need, then we have done our job.
A great transportable party in a box
Value for money
Ease of use
Loud 104dB with reasonable music quality
Bass from 70Hz (bass boost level 2)
Uni-directional mic means hold it close to your mouth
Battey life can be as low as 2 hours under load