The new JBL Xtreme 3 is the best ‘Xtreme’ yet seriously challenging most transportable speakers for sound, battery life and rugged looks. It is a gutsy speaker capable of 90dB, and the carry strap has that all-important bottle opener.
I have always been a fan of JBL’s portable BT speakers, and the JBL Xtreme 3 is the next generation of its Xstream series (Xtreme 2 reviewed here 9.4/10). Back then, I commented on the fantastic frequency response from a sealed, waterproof speaker offering accurate mid-bass, solid mid and even some treble. JBL Xtreme 3 improves with a little more bass and some subtle JBL sound refinements while keeping the price the same – $399.95, and that is a bargain.
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.
First impression – OK, it is a JBL Xtreme 2 but a little more refined
It has that same aggressive, serious music stance with a carry strap and IP67 waterproofing (1m for 30 minutes, but it does not float). Along the way, it has lost 425g making it eminently more portable at 298.5 x 136 x 134mm and 1.968kg.
I like the look, and everyone that sees it quite likes it too.
Speaker specs (Wattage is on mains power)
2 x 25W, 70mm woofers
2 x 25W, 20mm tweeters
Passive bass radiators (each end)
Claimed volume: 80dB but tested to 85dB (90db at a push)
Claimed frequency response – 53.5Hz to 20kHz (confirmed)
We estimate that wattage RMS drops about 5% on battery
You can push it quite comfortably to 85dB (max around 90dB). Note that volume depends on input source – smartphones are limited to 80dB.
Low-bass from 50Hz is evident. It builds well to 86Hz and then is flat (good) until 4kHz. From there, it dips slightly, and it flat (good) to 20khz. While you could call it bass-centric, it really depends on the music content/genre. Because the flat (good) response neither adds nor subtracts from the original content. Let’s call it warm instead of sweet.
PS – don’t try to use it vertically – it impedes the bottom passive radiator and completely changes the speaker’s response.
It is primarily a BT SBC 16-bit/44.1Hz CVD music quality speaker. It has a 3.5mm three-pole stereo AUX-in port as well. We noticed a lag on BT – not that you would notice unless you were using it with a TV. The 3.5mm AUX-in is lag-free. It has a USB-C port for upstream charging and a USB-A port (no music – for service) or as a 5V/2A (maximum) power bank output. The USB-C port can provide 5V/1.5A (maximum) as power bank as well – the maximum combined is 2.5A. We tested the figures with a Power-Z metre, and they are accurate, so you can charge your 7.5/10W smartphone, albeit at those rates.
It is a 12.1V/3000mAh/36.3Wh battery, and under lab conditions, it will give up to 15 hours at 50%. We could only do one complete test, and we settled on 75% volume giving just over 10 hours of battery life. There is a 3-part LED (2/50/100) battery indicator.
Recharge is claimed at 2.5hrs with the charger outputting 20V/3A/60W. It is a USB-C PD 2.0 charger capable of 5/9/12/15/20V at 3A and lacks the micro-negotiation finesse of a PD 3.0 charger. What that means is that it talks to the battery and selects the best fixed voltage/amperage. So if it is empty, it will get 20V/3A for about 60% and then step down to 9 and 5V to finish off. As a powerbank, it can recharge a 4000mAH smartphone battery twice.
It is compatible with other PartyBost enabled speakers like Boombox 2, Flip 5, and Pulse 4 – BT 5.1 speakers. You can also pair two Xtreme 3 for stereo (not tested). This is not the old Connect+, so those BT 4.1 speakers won’t pair up. Being BT 5.1, you can pair two BT 5.0 host devices (one active at a time).
GadgetGuy’s take – JBL Xtreme 3 is a refinement
Don’t panic if you have the previous version – you will get many years of pleasure from it. Knowing that JBL doesn’t stand still when you next buy an Xtreme V.whatever, it will be even better. Interestingly DXOMARK reviewed the JBL Xtreme 3, and it scored 136, well above any other portable, let alone any IP67 portable. By comparison, a similar portable – the Bose Revolve II was 107. DXOMARK test scores are consistent, and the JBL Xtreme 3 had excellent timbre (that refinement we mentioned) and artifacts (clarity) followed by dynamics (frequency response). We quote
The JBL Xtreme 3 exhibits great high-end extension, good midrange reproduction, strong sub-bass, impactful dynamics, good spatial attributes overall, fairly loud maximum volume, and almost no sonic artifacts — whether spectral or temporal. The speaker is well-suited for listening to podcasts, watching movies, and for outdoor, kitchen, or bathroom use.“
Some reviews comment that it lacks low bass. Well, that only comes from a sub-woofer, so the reviews are not very professional. It has more mid-bass than any other portable IP67 speaker I have reviewed.
The Xtreme 2 received 9.4/10, and this exceeds it in bass and clarity.
JBL Xtreme 3 BT speaker
The best portable, OP67 rugged BT speaker tested to date
Value for money
Ease of use
Great punchy mid-bass and an excellent flat frequency response
L/R stereo sound stage is clearly defined but could be a little wider
No difference in music quality on power or battery – just volume
Great BT 5.1 distance to nearly 60m
Rugged – the nearly perfect portable
The flat response means it is sound quality reflects the original – GIGO