JBL Charge 5 review: beautiful, loud, standalonePaul Roberts 23 / February / 21 Visitors: 240
The new product comes in nine colours: from classic black to soft pink. Although the design has been freshened up a bit, JBL speakers are difficult to confuse with models from other manufacturers - the signature style is instantly recognizable. Almost the entire surface of the case is covered with a dense, soft-touch, wear-resistant fabric, thanks to which Charge 5 does not slip in your hands.
Unlike the previous version, Charge 5 has small rubber feet in the form of strips. These help the gadget to stay firmly on the surface. The new gadget can be safely placed on pool tiles. Other noticeable changes include the charging port being moved out from under the rubber cover while retaining moisture protection, and the battery indicator being in the form of a bar instead of circles. The rear latch is now easier to open. The control buttons are now crisper and more pleasant to use.
Water resistance has also been improved: the JBL Charge 5 is IP67 certified. The speaker system can operate during heavy rain, withstands accidental dropping into a pool to a depth of one meter and is not afraid of sand and dust. In case of dirt, it can be easily washed under the tap. During testing, the editorial sample was immersed in water several times, but this had no effect on its performance.
It's not compact: it weighs almost a kilo. On the other hand, it fits easily into a small bag or backpack and takes up minimal shelf space. A good option for picnics, training and similar activities.
The control keys are on the top, so it's easy to grip when you're blind. Both power and pairing buttons are illuminated in the middle. On the sides are the volume, play and pause buttons, plus PartyBoost. The Charge 5 is mounted both vertically and horizontally. Only the USB-A port for charging gadgets is protected by a rubber cover. To prevent the speaker from getting wet, the cover must be kept tightly closed.
A key enhancement to the Charge 5 is the high-frequency speaker. It now functions in tandem with a broadband speaker and a pair of passive radiators. In comparison, the Charge 4 had only one driver.
The power rating is 40 watts, which is 25% more than in the previous version. The volume reserve is huge: in a small flat, the neighbours already start to strain at medium level. The Charge 5 isn't portable for nothing, though. Its main purpose is to play music outdoors.
Like other JBL devices, it reproduces tracks with pronounced and powerful bass. However, the engineers have worked hard on the treble, which used to be a source of complaints for audiophiles. The sound is now perfectly balanced: the bass is in full force and the midrange and treble are not bogged down by the additional speaker. With the gadget you can comfortably listen to rhythmic electronics, hip-hop and even heavy rock.
It is needless to say that this is not a professional model aimed at picky Hi-Fi connoisseurs. For its category, the Five has an impressive sound. I like the fact that even at maximum volume JBL Charge 5 pleases with clear sound without crackles.
The new device has lost its AUX jack. Now you can listen to tracks exclusively via Bluetooth 5.1 with the SBC codec - this is enough for many streaming audio services. Connecting to your smartphone is simple: press the power button and wait a couple of seconds for the Bluetooth logo to blink. Then all you have to do is find the Charge 5 in the device list and connect to it.
Paul Roberts 51 years old Born in Edinburgh. Married. Studied at University of Oxford, Department of Public Policy and Social Work. Graduated in 1997. Works at Standard Life Aberdeen plc.